Ty Lawson scores 26 but Nuggets fall to Heat

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Dec. 30, 2013 23:57

Running the floor, hitting 3s and controlling the paint, the Denver Nuggets had the defending champs on the ropes.

And then halftime interrupted the fun.

Given a 15-minute intermission to regroup, the Miami Heat regained their composure and showed why they are the team to beat in pursuit of a third consecutive NBA title.

Miami scored the first 13 points of the third quarter and made some timely plays in the game’s final seconds to escape with a 97-94 victory over the Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Monday night.

“A game like this, you almost hate for halftime to come because we were going well,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “The momentum was in our favor and that just kind of cooled things off.”

Ty Lawson scored 26 points and added seven assists for the Nuggets (14-16), who lost their fourth straight home game and seventh in a row overall.

“It’s tough,” Lawson said. “I’ve never gone through this. I don’t think I was ever on a losing team since I’ve played basketball. It’s tough for me. I just have to come in and work harder. Hopefully I can change things and produce wins.”

Lawson hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but his potential game-tying attempt rimmed out with 2.9 seconds to play.

“It was a good look. I felt like it was going in,” he said. “I made a concerted effort to shoot the 3 more. It keeps (the defense) honest. It was going in for me tonight. Hopefully it continues.”

Denver had one final chance to tie the game when Miami lost the ball out of bounds after Lawson’s miss. With the Heat switching everything defensively, J.J. Hickson couldn’t find anyone open and was whistled for a five-second violation.

“Regardless, we have to throw the ball in anyways and try and get the ball in there,” Shaw said. “It’s a long shot but we have to get the ball (inbounds) in that situation and at least attempt a shot.”

Hickson finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Darrell Arthur added 13 points off the bench after missing two games with a bruised quadriceps.

“We wanted to end 2013 on a high note by winning the game and start trying to build for the beginning in 2014,” Shaw said. “We weren’t able to do that, but there are definitely are a lot of positives we can take away from the game.”

The Nuggets had been struggling on the defensive boards but limited the Heat to just five offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points. They also outscored Miami 48-28 in the paint and recorded more than 20 assists for the first time in six games.

Denver will return to practice Tuesday in advance of a New Year’s Day game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“We’re trying to put it together,” Arthur said. “(Tuesday) is going to be a good day of practice ... I think we’re starting to get it. We’re on a seven-game losing streak, but hopefully we can turn this thing around and get back above .500.”

STAR OF THE GAME

LeBron James

Points 26 8-15 FG, 5-9 3FG, 5-8 FT
Rebounds 6, 1 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 10
Steals 0
Blocks 1

GAME LEADERS

Points LeBron James, Ty Lawson 26
Rebounds J.J. Hickson 11
Assists LeBron James 10
Steals Chris Bosh, J.J. Hickson 2
Blocks Six with 1

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw on team's overall energy in loss to Heat

"Individual statistics don’t matter. The wins and losses matter more than individual statistics. The sooner we learn that, then we’ll be better off."

KEY MOMENT

Heat erase halftime deficit in matter of minutes

After building a 55-46 lead at the half, the Nuggets saw it disappear quickly as the Heat went on a 13-0 run in the first 3:14 of the third quarter. Neither team led by more than six points the rest of the way.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On overall play by Nuggets:

“A valiant effort from our guys. I think that if we play with that kind of passion and that kind of intensity we’ll win more games than we lose. A few breakdowns in the end that allowed them to get three point shots that hurt us but I think that the biggest area that hurt us tonight was the beginning of the third quarter. You go in to halftime with a nine point lead and Miami comes out. You could see and feel the sense of urgency that they had and they immediately went on an 11-0 run coming out of halftime to basically nullify all the hard work we did in the first half to build up the nine point lead at halftime. I think I looked up and there was 8:46 left in the third quarter and we were down two, after having been up nine. Lesson to be learned from our guys especially when you’re playing the world champs; they have another gear they can go to and you need to be prepared to come out. A game like this you almost hate for halftime to come because we were going well, the momentum was in our favor and that just kind of cooled things off. They made adjustments, we made adjustments to their adjustments and competed but those couple areas ended hurting us ultimately.”

On the last possession inbound pass:
“JJ [Hickson] said that he didn’t think anybody was open. We talked about regardless we have to throw the ball in anyways and try and get the ball in there but they switched everything on the outside and I guess he felt the windows that he had to throw the ball in, he didn’t trust that they were there. It’s a long shot anyways but we have to get the ball in that situation and at least attempt a shot.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On team’s effort and energy:
It was a lot better. We made it a game. It was close. We just didn’t make the necessary stops down the road to win the game.

On his 3-point attempt in final seconds:
It was a good look. It just rimmed it and out. I felt like it was going in. I made a concerted effort to shoot the 3 more. It keeps (the defense) honest. It was going in for me tonight. Hopefully it continues.

On LeBron defending him as Denver tried to inbound the ball with 1.8 seconds left:
He didn’t want me to get nowhere near the ball. It was a tough situation.

Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur

On the Heat erasing a nine-point halftime deficit:
“They came out aggressive in the second half with an 11-0 run to go up two points—we fought, I thought we fought and played pretty good, those guys just made plays in the end. We missed a couple shots that we attempted at the end and that was all she wrote. I think we’re starting to get it, starting to turn this thing around—obviously, we’re on a seven-game losing streak, but hopefully we can turn this thing around and get back above .500.”

On if it’s more frustrating that they have lost seven consecutive games or how they’ve lost:
“I think it’s a mixture of everything. We’re trying to put it together, tomorrow is going to be a good day of practice, turn some things around and get ready for the next one.”

On Nuggets Guard Randy Foye making plays tonight:
“He played well tonight—guys look for him to shoot, so they close out hard and he just goes right by them and makes plays. He’s a veteran; he knows how to play the game. We just have to come ready in the second half, that’s our biggest threat—that’s our Achilles heel right now, so we just have to come ready to play.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

On tonight’s performance:

“It wasn’t necessarily a pretty game, but it was a good way to end the trip. We had some adversity tonight. Dwayne [Wade] took a spill at the beginning of the half and couldn’t go back in. Norris [Cole] took a really hard spill that we all saw. We weren’t sure if he was going to be able to shoot his free throws or not, so he couldn’t come back into the game. Other guys had to step up and we made enough plays when we were down to get back in the game. Holding them to 17 in the fourth quarter obviously helped us going down the stretch.”

On the difference in defense in the second half:
“Just a better commitment. I don’t think there was anything that we were necessarily doing wrong schematically in the first half. We just weren’t bringing the requisite passion and energy and multiple efforts to do it. In the fourth you could see a much better commitment. Even the shots they [the Nuggets] were making were tougher and more contested. Rebounds were tougher for them [the Nuggets] to get. We had five guys rebounding at the end of the game.”

On Norris Cole’s injury:
“He is fine right now and he could have gone back in. Those are scary situations and that is a strange loophole in the rule because you don’t know and you don’t want to prop a guy up there if he’s not right to shoot. You want to make sure that he is okay and that he has his faculties about him. So, you have to go back into the locker room. He went back and after a few minutes he was fine, he is just going to have a fat lip tomorrow. If that is not an endorsement to wear your mouth guard, I do not know what is. He is a tough kid and he would have been ready to play if we needed him. ”

Heat forward LeBron James

On beating the Nuggets in Denver:

“We know this team had lost six in a row but they’re a very good team. They have a lot of talent and they’re definitely very good at home. So it’s good that we were able to get this win.”

On Nuggets 5-second violation on final in-bound play:
“I just wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page. I wanted to kind of visualize and also go through what possibly could happen. It was great. We were able to stay home. Everybody bodied up on their man and we were able to get a 5-second call.”

On Michael Beasley’s three-pointer to put Heat up 96-92:
“That was a huge shot. I think it’s going to be great for his confidence for him to step up and make a huge shot like that. For me I didn’t ever second-guess it. I trust my teammates and whoever is on the floor. If I have an open guy they’re going to get the ball and it happened to be [Michael] Beasley and he knocked it down.”

On if the groin injury bothered him:
“I took whatever I wanted. They went under a lot of pick-and-rolls. They left me open at the three-point line. I took nine three’s and all of them felt good besides the one at the end of the first quarter when I had to take the heave. The groin wasn’t an issue at all.”

Heat guard Dwyane Wade

On how injuries affected Heat’s win:

“That’s the NBA. If you look over at [the Nuggets] they had injuries as well. They had some guys that weren’t playing. We’ve had that on this trip. We’ve had Ray [Allen] miss games, Birdman, myself and Lebron [James]. We’re a team here. It was a great second half out of those guys. Michael Beasley came in and had a big role in the win. So it was a great team win.”

On back injury:
“It’s just spasms. It just locked up. I don’t know I’m just going day-by-day right now … I’ve had spasms before in my career, not a lot. It’s nothing I’m concerned about.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson posted 26 points and seven assists. It was his second straight 20-point game and his 13th of the year. Lawson has now registered 26+ points and 7+ assists 12 times in his career.

• Ty Lawson connected on 5-of-8 threes tonight, his fifth career game with five-or-more threes. Lawson has scored at least 26 points in all five of those contests.

• J.J. Hickson registered 12 points and 11 rebounds. It was his fifth double-double in his last eight games and his seventh of the year.

• Randy Foye tallied 11 points and a season-high seven assists. It was his 32nd career game with 11+ points and 7+ assists in the same game.

• Darrell Arthur scored 13 points to go with four rebounds and two assists. It was his fifth game of the year scoring 10+ points.

• LeBron James totaled 26 points, six rebounds and 10 assists tonight. It was his 60th career game and first this season with 26+ points, 10+ assists and 6+ rebounds.

TEAM

• Denver has now lost seven straight games overall and four straight at Pepsi Center. It is their first seven-game losing streak since they lost the final eight games of the 2002-03 season. It is their first four-game home losing streak since they lost five straight from 1/29/12 to 2/9/12.

• The Nuggets have now lost two straight home games to Miami after winning 10 straight from 2002-03 to 2011-12.

• Denver scored 94 points and is now 3-12 when failing to reach 100 points. It was Denver’s fourth straight home game under 100 points and 11 times in their last 13 overall games (3-10).

• The Miami Heat outscored Denver 8-0 to begin the game, and outscored Denver 13-0 to begin the second half.

• The Heat shot over 50% from the field for the ninth time in their last 12 games and the 20th time overall this season.

• Denver outrebounded Miami 37-31 tonight. The Nuggets started the season 8-1 when outrebounding their opponent, but have gone 3-6 when doing so since.

• Miami’s 31 total rebounds is a new Nuggets’ opponent season-low.

• The Nuggets attempted a season-low 11 free throws, but connected on 10 of them for a season-high percentage of .909.

• Denver scored a season-low four points off turnovers while allowing 17 points off turnovers for Miami. Over their last five games, Denver is giving up 22.3 points off turnovers per game compared to 14.5 per game in their first 26 games.