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Nuggets good as gold, extend win streak to four

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Nov. 25 2012 23:05AM

It was a flashback night for Denver Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala.

After being recognized for helping Team USA win the Olympic gold medal before Denver’s game against the New Orleans Hornets, Iguodala channeled childhood memories of watching former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen.

Iguodala scored 23 points and neutralized Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez (six points, six turnovers) defensively as the Nuggets routed New Orleans 102-84 at Pepsi Center on Friday night.

“Tonight was kind of like a Scottie Pippen night,” said Iguodala, born and raised in Springfield, Ill. “Defending a point guard, pressuring him up the floor full court, trying to create some havoc – and then be a force on the offensive end as well. I watched (Pippen) so much growing up, it was kind of like that. I had that in mind going into the game.”

The Nuggets (8-6) also got 17 points from point guard Ty Lawson and 14 points and 12 rebounds from Kenneth Faried as they raced to their fourth straight victory. Denver took the lead 5:15 into the game and never trailed the rest of the way.

“We feel like we had to give our fans something to cheer about and get into the game early,” forward Corey Brewer said. “Our starters did a great job and we were able to get a win.”

In addition to honoring Iguodala, the Nuggets also recognized center Timofey Mozgov, who won the bronze medal while playing for his native Russia. Denver resident Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals in swimming, presented the game ball.

“It was a surprise for me but it felt good,” Mozgov said. “It was more for Andre than for me, but it’s a good memory for all my life.”

Playing in their alternate third jerseys, the Nuggets were also good as gold.

They outscored New Orleans 58-38 in the paint, converted 14 turnovers into 26 points and tied a season-high with 12 blocked shots, including a career-high tying five by Kosta Koufos. It all added up to the seventh straight loss for the Hornets.

“I just didn’t think we had enough from the start of the game,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “We cut the lead to two and it just seemed like things were going our way, but I didn’t feel like we were happy about it or ready to seize the opportunity.

“The NBA is a cruel league and teams are going to try and embarrass you every night. That’s what we saw tonight.”

After a 10-0 run by New Orleans late in the second quarter, the Nuggets responded with an 11-3 stretch to close the half. Denver never gave the Hornets any chance after the break, pushing the advantage to as many as 28 after a 27-9 run to open the third quarter.

The Hornets never got closer than 18 the rest of the way as Denver cruised to its fourth win in five home games.

“Coach (George Karl) really harped on where our mental focus would be at, being that we’re young but have a lot of talent,” Iguodala said. “With the beginning of our schedule so road heavy, these home games would be really important for us. We’ve done a good job in that area.”

With a big advantage throughout the second half, the Nuggets were able to rest most of their rotation players in advance of Monday night’s game in Utah.

“It’s a tough place to play a game,” Lawson said. “They’ve got the crazy fans. It feels like everybody’s on top of you the way the stands go straight up. And it’s loud. We have to come out strong.”

Lawson, Iguodala and forward Danilo Gallinari have played well during Denver’s four-game win streak. As a group, they are averaging a combined 53.3 points on 48.1 percent shooting (77 of 160) during that stretch.

"Gallo, Andre and Ty have played at such a better level (that) there’s a lot of confidence going on right now,” Karl said. "Hopefully we can sustain it.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Andre Iguodala

Points 23, 8-13 FGs, 3-4 3FGs
Rebounds 2, 1 OFF 1 DEF
Assists 3
Steals 0
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Iguodala 23, 8-13 FGs
Rebounds Kenneth Faried 12, 2 OFF 10 DEF
Assists Andre Miller 7
Steals Four tied 2
Blocks Kosta Koufos 5
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Corey Brewer on halftime adjustments:

"We take it personal, make some adjustments at halftime. If a guy’s making shots in the first half, the second half, we have to cut that water out."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets close half strong, extend lead in third quarter

After New Orleans pulled within two points late in the first half, Denver bridged the second and third quarters with a 38-12 run to build a 28-point lead. The Hornets never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On Andre Iguodala’s shooting performance:
“He is a professional. He’s worked hard at it. Sometimes the speed of our game, or how we want to play, has sped him up a little too fast. I think he is kind of getting at times to where we want him to be aggressive. I think it is all on him. He is learning how much we want to penetrate. The last two games have been our best consistent attacks. Both teams were pretty good defensive teams. We passed the ball in the second half very, very well. I thought Iguodala was not only great offensively but his defensive pressure on (Greivis) Vasquez was probably the key to the game. It was a good start to a very tough week.”

On continuing to play well in the second half:
“First half I thought we were pretty good except where there was a four minute stretch where we had a nine, ten point lead and gave it back to them with our bad shots. After that we pulled it back up. I thought the flow of the game was where we like it. Ty (Lawson) had his moments; (Andrew) Iguodala had his moments. Our bench was in to the game even though we didn’t have a big number there. I thought (Timofey Mozgov’s) minutes showed that he was staying alert and being engaged.”

On Kosta Koufos being plus 34 in the game:
It is his job. Young players that do their job are very valuable. He is really focused and he is not motivated by scoring. He knows that there are a lot of other things to do out there to keep him on the court. He is getting to be a pretty good defender around the basket. His defense around the basket, learning to stay big and staying present I think sometimes big guys try to be athletic and all you have to do is be like a board in front of the basket. His rebounding per minute is pretty good. I know tonight his rebounding, we talked about Kenneth (Faried) being a good rebounder but Kosta has been good as well.

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

“On his effectiveness from the three-point line:
“I’ve just been playing with confidence. I’m starting to get a better feel of our system. He [Coach Karl] wants lay-ups first, free-throw second, and three-pointers third. I’m just trying to get a good mixture of things. Ty [Lawson] is playing well, which is getting me open. Gallo [Danilo Gallinari] making shots got me open. We’re really playing well off each other right now.”

On his overall game tonight:
“Tonight was like a typical Scottie Pippen night. I was defending point guards, pressuring them up the floor full court, just trying to create some havoc and be a force on the offensive side as well. I watched him [Pippen] so much growing up, it was kind of like that, and I had that mindset going into the game.”

On getting comfortable:
“What’s funny is that I’m not even all the way there yet. I probably say I’m at about 70 percent. I understand what he wants [Coach Karl] and have started getting a better feel of my teammates and what they want and where they will be at. We’re not even 15 games in yet. I didn’t think I was going to hit my stride until January, so hopefully I can stay consistent throughout the feeling-out stage.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On enjoying themselves tonight:
“We did enjoy ourselves out there tonight. We just played Nuggets basketball, and that’s what we have to do every night.”

On taking care of business for three quarters:
“It’s important to take care of business every quarter. To me, I just personally come out and play my hardest. You give it all and just stay focused on the main goal, and that’s what we did tonight. We tried to stop their [the Hornets] three-point shooters, especially Ryan Anderson, he’s had the hot hand. We just tried to stop him and contain everyone else. I think we did a great job on him.”

On matchup against Utah Jazz tomorrow night:
“A lot of physicality, a lot of just hitting and grinding, and a lot of battle on the boards. Their [the Jazz] two big-men are fantastic under there in Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap. They have great bigs on the bench in Enez Kanter and Derrick Favors, so we’re going to have a battle on the boards.

Hornets coach Monty Williams

On takeaways from the game:
“There are not many things to take away from a game like this. We have guys on our roster who don’t understand how we’ve played here the last couple years. Unfortunately it shows up on nights like tonight against a really good team on their home floor. I just didn’t think we had enough, whatever you want to call it, from the start of the game. Our starters for whatever reason didn’t have it. We cut the lead to two and it just seemed like things were going our way but I didn’t feel like we were happy about it or ready to seize the opportunity. The NBA is a cruel league and teams are going to try and embarrass you every night and that’s what we saw tonight.”

On if the players understand his mentality:
“We do have guys but they are young guys. They are trying to find out what we are supposed to do. It is hard to ask them to lead the team. It is an unfortunate situation to have so many young guys, you as a head coach become a leader. That is my job. I have to get guys out of this funk so we can play like we did against Phoenix but to have an opportunity to play that way every night. I don’t think guys understand, especially when your young guys, the mental fortitude that it takes every single night.”

On coaching with a large deficit:
“I put Brian [Roberts] and Austin [Rivers] in pick and roll situations that way they can attack the basket and explore a little bit. Darius [Miller] gave us some good minutes tonight when the game got away from us. It is one of those situations when it doesn’t matter what the score is because you always want to play winning basketball. Even if you are down 10, two, 20 it doesn’t matter, you want to play winning basketball. That is what we try to teach these guys when you play a team like that and you’re down 15 points.”

Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez

On the loss:
“It’s disappointing. I thought we played out of character tonight. I just hated the play of especially myself, that’s just not who I am. I love the game; I’m passionate about the game no matter who I’m playing against. It’s just a big setback and in times like this you have to look at yourself before you start looking at everyone else. I’m just disappointed in myself; I need to do better as the leader of this team. We’re just not playing to the best of our abilities.”

On the emotions of the loss:
“We’re having mental problems right now. This is the NBA, and nobody cares. They [the Nuggets] don’t care. Probably the best point guard in the league tomorrow, [LA Clippers Chris Paul] he doesn’t care. He’s going to try and embarrass me tomorrow. I understand that being three years in the league. I’ve got to change my mindset real quick. I’ve got to do better for me to expect someone else to do better. It starts with me.

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala led all scorers tonight with 23 points, marking the second-straight 20+ game and the second straight game he has led the team in scoring.

• Additionally, Iguodala shot 8-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 behind the arc. In his last three contests, Iguodala is averaging 23.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting .542 (26-48) from the field and .600 (9-15) from three.

• Kenneth Faried scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in tonight’s victory. It marks the eighth double-double of the season for Faried. In his last 10 games, Faried is averaging 13.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.20 steals and 1.10 blocks.

• Additionally, Faried was 7-of-8 (.875) from the field tonight and is shooting .608 (23-38 FG) in his past five games.

• Kosta Koufos tied a career high by blocking five shots tonight. Koufos has now accomplished this feat three times in his career, with two coming this month (also did on 11/10 at Golden State).

• Ty Lawson registered 17 points, six assists and two steals in tonight’s victory. It marks the third-straight game that Lawson has scored 17+ points. In those three games, Lawson is averaging 17.6 points, 8.0 assists and 1.66 steals.

• Ryan Anderson scored 16 points tonight, the eighth-straight game that he has scored 15+ points. In the last two contests, Anderson is averaging 25.0 points.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat New Orleans 102-84, earning their fourth consecutive win and moving to 8-6 on the year.

• Denver has dominated in the second half of their past three games (tonight vs. NOH, 11/23 vs. GSW and 11/21 at MIN), outscoring their opponents 163-117 while shooting .508 (61-120 FG) compared to their opponents .333 (42-126 FG).

• The Nuggets are outscoring their opponents by a combined 40-6 in the first 4:30 of the last three third quarters. Outscored New Orleans 11-4 in first 3:50, outscored Golden State 15-0 in first 4:09 and outscored Minnesota 14-2 in first 4:28.

• Denver held New Orleans to 84 points, tying the season-low for points by an opponent (happened twice previously). Denver is now 3-1 on the year when holding their opponent below 90 points.

• The Nuggets starters combined for 67 points tonight, and Denver is now 8-2 when their starters combine for 60+ points.

• Denver registered nine steals in the win, moving to 7-1 this season when collecting nine-or-more steals. • The Nuggets’ blocked 12 shots, tying their season-high and moving to 3-1 on the year when blocking 10+ shots. Denver was 4-0 when accomplishing this last season.

• Denver outrebounded New Orleans 41-40, and have now outrebounded their opponents in 11 of their 14 games.

• The Nuggets handed out a non-overtime season-high 27 assists, and are now 3-1 when dishing out 25+ assists (23-7 last year).

• Denver shot .533 from the field, their fourth time shooting over 50% but their first win when doing so.

• New Orleans shot just .388 from the field, and Denver is now 5-1 this season when their opponent shoots below 40%.

• Denver’s 25 fast break points and 26 points off turnovers were both season-highs, while their nine second chance points and nine offensive rebounds were season-lows.