Home win streak ends at four as Nuggets fall to Cavs

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Jan. 18, 2014 00:19

Over the past nine days, the Denver Nuggets have proven themselves capable of posting signature wins.

Validating those victories has been more difficult.

Four days after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, they fell to the Utah Jazz. Two nights after a road win at Golden State, they stumbled at home Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“When we’ve had wins that we considered big wins, we’ve turned around and lost the next game,” Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “It’s something we definitely need to find a remedy for and do better at.”

Defense and rebounding were the trouble spots against the Cavaliers, who improved to 5-17 on the road with a 117-109 victory at Pepsi Center.

Cleveland scored a season-high 42 points in the second quarter and a season-high 68 points on .565 shooting in the first half. The Cavs cooled off somewhat after halftime but outrebounded Denver 49-41 and converted 28 of 35 free throws overall.

“I think it’s just the mindset,” Nuggets guard Randy Foye said. “Whatever we put our minds to, we can do. We put our minds to beating OKC. We put our minds to going into Golden State, a hostile environment, and beating them. Our mindset wasn’t right tonight.”

Despite trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, the Nuggets (20-19) started to chip away and trimmed the deficit to seven heading to the fourth.

Nate Robinson, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter two nights earlier, was a catalyst again. He hit a corner 3 with 3:27 remaining and converted a layup 8 seconds later when Ty Lawson intercepted an inbounds pass by Anderson Varejao.

The quick burst brought the Nuggets within three, but Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving converted a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession and scored on a layup after another Denver defensive breakdown to push the lead back to seven.

Wilson Chandler made it a one-possession game again with back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 70 seconds, only to see Irving come up with an offensive rebound during a mad scramble and find Luol Deng for a dunk to put Cleveland back up five with 43.8 seconds to play.

“I thought we played hard enough; we didn’t play smart in a lot of circumstances,” Shaw said. “The second shots and the fouling is what hurt us tonight.”

Chandler hit five 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 23 points, while Lawson posted his eighth double-double in the past nine games.

The Nuggets went 14-of-37 from 3-point range, falling one attempt short of the franchise record.

“We were taking what the defense gave us,” Shaw said. “I think 37 3s is a lot. In the second half, we threw up a lot because we were down and trying to get back in the game. But I don’t think our offense was hurting us. Defensively, middle penetration hurt us all night. We’re a team that tries to keep the ball out of the middle, and we weren’t able to do that. Therefore, it just opened up Pandora’s Box for them.”

Denver will return to practice Saturday before heading to Phoenix to take on the Suns at US Airways Center on Sunday.

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 19 5-16 FG, 7-7 FT
Rebounds 4, 1 OFF 3 DEF
Assists 11
Steals 2
Blocks 0

GAME LEADERS

Points Ty Lawson, Kyrie Irving 23
Rebounds Anderson Varejao
Assists Ty Lawson 11
Steals Anderson Varejao 3
Blocks Timofey Mozgov 5

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets guard Randy Foye on surrendering 42 points to Cleveland in second quarter

“The second quarter just killed us. I thought it was our game, but the second quarter just was too big of a gap to come back from."

KEY MOMENT

Cavaliers withstand late Nuggets rally

Denver had the Pepsi Center crowd on its feet after Nate Robinson scored five points in 8 seconds to cut Cleveland's lead to three with 3:19 remaining. After a timeout, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving made two free throws and scored on a layup to push the advantage back to seven.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On tonight’s game:

“Just from the looks of this we didn’t defend very well. They shot almost 48 percent from the field. We couldn’t play defense without fouling and they got 35 free throw attempts and they got 16 offensive rebounds. You allow a team to have that many looks and they don’t hit [them] and they get an opportunity to get a second shot and you’re fouling as much as we were; I thought we played hard. I thought offensively we were able to get where we needed to get but that 42 point second quarter just along with all the fouling that we did throughout the game hurt us in the long run.”

On whether tonight a letdown performance after Wednesday’s win:
“Yeah, it is a letdown. Not to take anything away from Cleveland; obviously they beat us in Cleveland and they had the formula and they swept us on the season series but we did mention and talk to the team about so far this season when we’ve had wins that we considered big wins, we’ve turned around and lost the next game. The last one being we beat Oklahoma City here and then went to Utah [Jazz] and lost there. [It’s] something we definitely need to find a remedy for and do better at. It just takes kind of takes away from the win that we got at Golden State, especially when we can’t beat a Cleveland team who is 4-17 going into tonight on the road on our home floor.”

On Denver's 37 3-point attempts:
“It wasn’t anything offensively. We’re taking what the defense is giving us. I think 37 3s or whatever we attempted is a lot and I think in the second half we threw up a lot because we were down and trying to get back in the game but I don’t think our offense was hurting us; it’s [our] defense. Middle penetration hurt us all night. One of the emphases on tonight’s game was impacting the ball in screen and roll situations with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters coming off the screens, even Jarrett Jack. We didn’t do a good job of containing them off the screens. When they did get the ball out of their hands we allowed them middle penetration and that breaks us down. We’re a team that tries to keep the ball out of the middle and we weren’t able to do that, therefore it just opened up Pandora’s Box for them.”

Nuggets guard Randy Foye

On tonight's game:
“I think we came out pretty good, the first quarter we moved the ball around and set the tone of the game. The second quarter we gave up to many points. The second quarter just killed us. I thought it was our game but the second quarter just was too big of a gap to come back from.”

On defense:
“Our defense is built to push everybody to the baseline, that what we practice and work on. We are not familiar when the ball goes to the middle. We need to have a better mindset going into the game because whenever we have a good mindset we can win games, against the Golden State Warriors we were focused about beating those guys. Our mindset just was not right tonight.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On if Nuggets felt good being down three with 3 minutes to go:
“Yeah, we felt good and then we committed some fouls. I think we sent Kyrie (Irving) to the line. Then I think they got an easy layup or an and-1 when we were trying to get some pressure. Just some things that didn’t go our way tonight.”

On if it’s discouraging losing tonight after beating Golden State on Wednesday:
“These games should be in the win column, we should get these. I’m mad that Phoenix lost tonight, Golden State is losing right now and we should be gaining ground on these teams and we just keep letting easy games go. This playoff race is going to get deep, our last month is tough, so we have to get these games right now and solidify our spot.”

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown

On tonight’s game:
“Obviously it is a good road win for us and a good way to finish out our road trip. The thing that I told the guys I am most proud of is that in Sacramento, we got our behinds handed to us, and the sky was falling in everybody’s opinion. Our guys did a nice job of staying the course, staying in the circle, and making sure we had each other’s backs. On the road it is basically us against the world. So, I am most proud of our guys for doing that. This is a tough place to come and get a win. We had a lot of guys step up tonight. I thought we were aggressive with the 35 free throw attempts. Tristan [Thompson] had one rebound at half and ended up with 10 boards and 20 points. Anderson [Varejao] ended with 16 boards and seven assists, which is phenomenal. Jarrett Jack off the bench was great and in the huddles down the stretch too, I thought he stepped up like a true veteran should. Kyrie [Irving] and CJ [Miles] obviously had a good basketball game for us with putting points on the board. Denver is a tough team, especially with the way they play and how they score their points. It was a high possession game. I thought for the most part we tried to defend as best we could. For [the Nuggets] to shoot 43.5 percent from the floor, it was a good night for us. So, give our guys credit for hanging in there.”

On what has changed in their game since Sacramento:
“We are competing defensively. I think it is just a simple formula. We are moving the basketball and trying to play for one another. We are getting a little better each time we step on the floor. Every once in a while we may get hit in the mouth, like we did in Sacramento. Hopefully that doesn’t happen anymore. But I am proud of our guys in that locker-room for the way they responded tonight.”

Cavaliers forward Luol Deng:

On winning two consecutive to end the road trip:

“I think guys are excited. The biggest thing with winning really is just coming together as the game goes on. I said it when we lost to Portland. I said we played great in the Lakers game, we were able to hold on and get the win. We just have to keep making progress. When you’re winning it’s fun.”

On different players on the team being productive:
“We have guys that can score. Sometimes its realizing when you’re not shooting well or the ball is not going in, just stay positive and do something for the team and just focus on the win. There are nights where you don’t play great. It’s always about your attitude and how you are with your teammates and just focusing on the win.”

On being a team leader:
“I’ve been in the league 10 years now. I really understand how much just one person’s attitude can drag down everybody’s. I try to stay focused within the game, getting up on the bench and letting guys know that it’s a long game and it’s ok to miss shots. It’s totally fine. I think we’re starting to get that as a team.”

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving

On finishing road trip with consecutive wins:

“It definitely feels good, especially having a winning record on this road trip. We played our butts off. Our bigs did a great job of rebounding this whole entire trip. Tristan [Thompson] and [Anderson Varejao] were really competing as well as [Luol Deng] bringing his energy and Dion just bringing his energy off the bench every game. We need that consistently. We usually have that at home but to have that on the road really meant a lot.”

On grinding out a win:
“It was just our competitive fire. We just wanted it. We went out and took it. We had a few mistakes at the end but it definitely didn’t rattle us. We just wanted to keep fighting until the buzzer went off.”

On Nate Robinson's 3-pointer, steal and lay-up in fourth quarter to bring Nuggets within 3 points:
“We just wanted to stay aggressive. We still had the lead. Obviously the momentum was in their favor but that happens within the game, especially on the road playing against a good home team. You just have to continue to compete on both ends of the floor, just remain aggressive and that’s what we did.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 23 points (5-12 3FG) to go with four rebounds and four assists. It was the seventh time in his career he has scored 23+ points while connecting on 5+ threes. His 12 attempts tied his career-high.

• Ty Lawson posted 19 points, 11 assists and two steals, his eighth double-double in the last nine games (14th on the year). Lawson is averaging 18.7 points, 11.4 assists and 1.78 steals in his last nine games.

• Timofey Mozgov tallied his fourth double-double of the year with 10 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. It was his 14th multi-block game of the year.

• Nate Robinson led the bench with 19 points (8-11 FG, 3-5 3FG) in 21 minutes. Robinson is averaging 21.5 points, 2.5 assists and 1.00 steals while shooting .739 (17-23 FG) from the field and .600 (6-10 3FG) from long range in his last two games.

• JJ Hickson grabbed 10 rebounds tonight, his fifth game with double-digit boards. It is tied for the third longest such streak in his career (longest was nine in Dec. 2012).

• Randy Foye had 16 points tonight while going 4-of-9 (.444) from three-point range. He has made 4+ threes in four of his last six games, shooting .521 (25-48 3FG) from three during this stretch.

• Tristan Thompson totaled 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks tonight and has now grabbed 10+ rebounds in nine of his last 11 games. It was just the sixth 20-point/10-rebound game of his career.

• Thompson is averaging 18.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.50 blocks while shooting .636 (14-22 FG) from the field in two games vs. Denver this season.

TEAM

• Denver lost their second straight home game to the Cavs and finished the season series 0-2. It’s the second time in the last three years that Denver has failed to win a game in the series after being shut out just once in the previous 10 seasons (2008-09).

• The Nuggets connected on a season-high tying 14-of-37 (.378) from long range tonight. After making 12+ just once in their first 32 games, they have made 12+ threes in six of their last seven (85-206, .413 during stretch).

• Denver’s 37 three-point attempts is a season-high and one shy of their all-time franchise record (shot 38 vs. MIN on 4/9/11).

• Tonight was the third straight game Denver has allowed 116+ points and the 13th time this season they have allowed 110+ (5-8 in those games).

• Denver scored 19 fast break points tonight and are averaging 22.0 per game over their past seven (averaged 13.2 per game in first 32 games).

• The Nuggets scored 24 second chance points, their second most this season and most since they had 36 vs. LAL on 11/13.

• The Cavs’ 42 second-quarter points and 68 first-half are both season-highs for points in a quarter and half. Their 68 points also tied a Nuggets’ opponent season-high.