Momentum building for Nuggets heading into homestand

Denver plays next three games at Pepsi Center, starting Tuesday against Boston Celtics
by Aaron Lopez

The clouds of December are lifting for the Denver Nuggets.

After an eight-game losing streak that led to some inner soul-searching, the Nuggets have put together back-to-back wins heading into their three-game homestand that starts Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.

The reversal of fortune came after several hours of team and individual meetings on Jan. 2.

“We really just checked each guy’s attitude at the door,” guard Nate Robinson said. “Every guy just came in and said we’re going to just be ourselves and more of a team-oriented team.”

The Nuggets (16-17) were a portrait of balance and unselfish play Sunday night in Los Angeles. Seven players scored in double-figures, and Denver finished with 137 points and 32 assists – both season-highs.

Pace, passing and defensive persistence were a big part of the winning formula as the Nuggets scored 30 points in transition, aided in part by a season-high-tying 12 steals.

The final steal of the night led to a 3-on-1 fast break capped by an alley oop from 5-foot-11 point guard Ty Lawson to the 5-9 Robinson.

“I just threw it up and Nate went and got it,,” Lawson said. “It was a fun play. I was just excited to see Nate catch an alley-oop in a game.”

As icing on the cake in a 22-point victory, the play illustrated the freedom Denver has played with over the past two games. They’ve scored 100 points in three games in a row after falling short of the century mark seven straight times.

“It just feels like a weight has lifted,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “Our meetings last week were very positive, and it’s been reflective in the way we’ve been playing the last two games.
“I really like what I’m seeing. Offensively, the pace we’re playing, we’re getting the scores back up to where we want them to be, running on makes and misses.”

Shaw wants to see more of the same Tuesday against Boston. The Celtics scored 39 points in the first quarter against the Nuggets on Dec. 6 and then held on a for a 106-98 win in Boston.

“We won the second, third and fourth quarters against them, but we dug such a big hole that we weren’t able to come back from that,” Shaw said. “We remember what they did. They’re a different team right now; we’re a different team right now. We’re looking forward to getting a chance to get back at them and change the results form the last time we faced each other.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; AM-950

DENVER (16-17)

F Wilson Chandler
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

BOSTON (13-21)
F Jeff Green
F Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger
G Jordan Crawford
G Avery Bradley

Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
BOSTON: Rajon Rondo (knee) is out.

The Nuggets have won eight of the last nine games against the Celtics in Denver. The one loss during that stretch came on Feb. 23, 2009, at Pepsi Center by 38 points (114-76) . . . That 38-point loss tied the largest margin of defeat ever for the Nuggets at the hands of the Celtics, as well as the third-worst home loss in team history . . . The series has been evenly matched in recent years, with the overall series tied at 11-11 since 2002-03 . . . 2012-13 marked the seventh time in eight years the season series was tied between these teams (1-1) . . . Denver’s 1-0 sweep in 2011-12 was the first Nuggets sweep since 2004-05 and just the third all-time . . . Paul Pierce owns the highest scoring game by a Celtic vs. the Nuggets in team history (45 points at Boston on Jan. 24, 2003).