Hickson's double-double helps Nuggets beat Pelicans

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Dec. 15, 2013 23:26

In Ty Lawson’s words, Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw put everyone “on blast” after a listless home performance against the Utah Jazz.

Lawson and his teammates responded by raising their game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Lawson had 12 points and eight assists and J.J. Hickson added 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Nuggets played with better energy, effort and intensity Sunday night in a 102-93 win at Pepsi Center.

The victory came two days after Shaw expressed dismay with his starting unit and contemplated changes to the lineup. After a strong practice Saturday, he was rewarded by sticking with the same group of Lawson, Hickson, Randy Foye, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler.

Faried had 12 points and nine rebounds, Chandler scored 19 points and Foye scored seven points before sitting for much of the second half with a sore ankle.

“We definitely had to (respond),” Lawson said. “The challenge (Shaw) gave us was crazy. Being a competitor, you have to respond. We all took it to heart. We had to get better and we did.”

The Nuggets (14-9) made their coach a little uneasy in the opening minutes, falling behind 8-0 just 2:08 into the game. Shaw called a 20-second timeout, and Denver responded with a 22-8 run.

Denver’s defense improved as the game went along; the Pelicans were 11-of-18 from the field in the first quarter but went 26-for-67 (.388) the rest of the game. The Nuggets also finished with a 51-32 rebounding advantage.

“We just got outworked,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “We were minus-20 on the boards. Anytime you do that against a team on their home floor you’re going to find yourself in a tough spot.”

After going into halftime tied at 52, the Nuggets slowly took control in the second half. Nate Robinson sparked Denver off the bench with 14 points, including six during an 11-5 run that pushed an eight-point lead to 14 in the fourth quarter.

“At halftime I just told them to relax,” Shaw said. “It seemed like we were tight. It seemed like we were holding back. Even though we got down early in the game, I felt like we were in control the whole time. I just wanted our guys to relax and let it go.”

Shaw rarely has to tell Robinson to have fun on the court, and Sunday was no exception. Robinson had his teammates celebrating on the bench with two blocked shots, including one against Eric Gordon that he turned into a layup at the other end.

“I had on my Dikembe Mutombo and Shaquille O’Neal – I’m on my old-school swag,” Robinson said. “I just really try to take pride in my defense. I have a Napoleon complex when guys try to post me up, so I really try to use my strength and my jumping ability to try and block shots if I can. Tonight, I got two good blocks and hopefully I’ll get some more.”

Robinson played the entire fourth quarter – half of it alongside Lawson, giving the Nuggets two speedy playmakers. Lawson was more aggressive and effective Sunday after going scoreless in his first game back from a hamstring injury on Friday.

Hickson also bounced back, converting easy baskets on rolls to the rim. He made 8 of 12 shots and finished with his sixth double-double of the season.

“I know the type of player that I am; I’m effective at the rim,” Hickson said. “Our guards do a great job of spoon-feeding me and making my job easy.”

Little will come easy when the Nuggets continue their four-game homestand Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have won six games in a row and 14 of their past 15.

Shaw told his team as much immediately after Sunday’s victory: “If we want any chance of winning against Oklahoma City, we’re going to have to do a lot better in every area.”

STAR OF THE GAME

J.J. Hickson

Points 19 8-12 FG, 0-0 3FG, 3-6 FT
Rebounds 11, 4 OFF 7 DEF
Assists 2
Steals 2
Blocks 1

GAME LEADERS

Points Ryan Anderson 26
Rebounds J.J. Hickson 11
Assists Ty Lawson 8
Steals Six with 2
Blocks Jason Smith 4

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets guard Nate Robinson on his two blocked shots against New Orleans

"I had on my Dikembe Mutombo and Shaquille O’Neal -- I’m on my old school swag. I told the guards to watch out, I’m blocking shots."

KEY MOMENT

Robinson fuels decisive fourth-quarter push

With the Pelicans still hanging around, Nate Robinson scored six points and blocked a shot to spark an 11-5 run that gave the Nuggets a 14-point lead with less than four minutes remaining.

VIDEO: FARIED DUNK

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On the slow starts in the past and the cause:

“Tonight I thought our energy was better to start the game. We had guys that kind of a couple of times that ran in to each other, just kind of buzzard luck. Can’t kill anything, won’t let anything die. There’s another way of saying it but I can’t say it out loud. We had another ball or two that they shot bounce all the way over the backboard and go back in. One of the things that held us in the first half as well, we were perfect from the line, eight for eight, in the first half and that was better. They [the team] concentrated on that after having missed ten free throws in the last game Friday night against Utah. So all in all it was a little better effort and I told them just now that if we want any chance winning against Oklahoma City [Thunder], we’re going to have to do a lot better in every area to even have a chance to win that game.”

On staying with Nate Robinson in the fourth quarter:
“His energy was good. Randy [Foye] got clipped a couple of times trying to fight over screens. [He] rolled his ankle a little bit and so I just wanted to stay with Nate [Robinson] at that point he had kind of started to get it going a little bit offensively attacking the basket; like I said he had good energy. Defensively he was talking to our guys and so I just rolled with him down the stretch and I felt I could do that because we had a ten point lead so I just wanted to milk it and let those guys stay in as long as we could hold on to that lead.”

Nuggets guard Nate Robinson

On recording two blocked shots tonight:
“I had on my Dikembe Mutombo and Shaquille O’Neal—I’m on my old school swag. I told the guards to watch out, I’m blocking shots. I just really try to take pride in my defense, I told the fans I have a Napoleon complex when guys try to post me up, so I really try to use my strength and my jumping ability to try and block shots if I can. If not, just try to disrupt his shot or make him pass it. Tonight I got two good blocks and hopefully I’ll get some more.”

On the team defense in the second half:

“Just to be scrappy—we knew we aren’t going to lock anybody up and not let them score because this is the NBA and everybody is great at what they do. Ryan Anderson does a great job of picking and popping and making tough shots. Jrue Holiday does a good job of penetrating, (Al-Farouq) Aminu is always crashing the boards—they have scrappy guys just like we do. We just had to take the challenge tonight and win our matchups and I think every guy did that tonight.”

Nuggets forward/center J.J. Hickson

On what the key was to getting the win tonight:
“Our defense, I don’t know what they shot in the second half, but it couldn’t have been that high. We just wanted to contest all their shots and make all their shots tough, and I think that we did that.”

On how they were able to matchup with a talented New Orleans team:
“We’re deep at every position, so whatever group is in there Coach feels like they can get it done, and throughout the season we have been getting the job done late in games. This game didn’t come down to the wire, but we started to get that mentality of putting our foot on a team’s neck.”

On if he likes getting the crowd into games with his dunks:
“I know the type of player that I am, I’m effective at the rim—I like to finish at the rim. Our guards do a great job of spoon feeding me and making my job easy.”

Pelicans coach Monty Williams

On loss to Nuggets:

“I wouldn’t put the game in a nutshell as it relates to the second half. I think some of the things that happened to us started in the first half. We just got outworked tonight. We were minus 20 on the boards. Anytime t you do that against a team on their home floor you’re going to find yourself in a tough spot. They had 19 turnovers and we didn’t take advantage of that because we gave them so many extra possessions. If they are plus 20 on the boards and they have 19 turnovers they still feel like they’re golden because they’ve done so many things well rebounding the ball. We just didn’t have the same juice tonight that we’ve had. We had a lot of guys miss shots. We had a lot of open looks we just didn’t make those shots. We just didn’t have the type of juice that you need to have on the road to win a game that was winnable. I thought the three before halftime really took some life out of us because it would’ve been really nice to go into halftime with a three-point lead as opposed to being tied up.”

On what Nuggets did offensively:
“They made a point of getting to the basket or throwing it inside and attacking us at the rim. We settled for a lot of jump shots and anytime you do that in this altitude with the ball bouncing the way it does here, you set yourself up for fast breaks or you just have bad floor balance headed back on defense.”

On foul trouble:
“I thought the bigger issue was when Jrue (Holiday) picked up his fourth (foul). That really hurt us. He’s out there guarding the ball full-court and to pick up that foul really hurt us. I’m not blaming the referees. I just didn’t think that was the kind of foul that you call, especially as hard as he plays. It was a physical game to begin with. Foul trouble, it is what it is. You gameplan for that and guys have to come into the game ready to play.”

Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday

On missed shots:

“We got the shots we wanted, I thought a lot of our shots rimmed in and out. It deflates our energy. The Nuggets got a lot offensive rebounds.”

On the offensive rhythm tonight:
“I had a bad game, sometimes it ends up being like that. I tried penetrating to make something happen but they just played good defense.”

On moving forward to the next game:
“There are a lot of games left. This is a big road trip; we have another opponent coming up who are pretty good. It’s a basketball game we have to focus on that and move forward.”

Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson

On playing together as a team:

“It’s just staying together and playing hard. We know on the road that team’s are going to make runs so we just have to stay together as a team and keep playing hard.”

On team shooting performance:
“We play together as a team. We’re going out there and sharing the ball. Guys are making shots and when they make shots the open it up for me.”

On matchup against the Spurs and Tim Duncan:
“That’s the NBA. You go from one guy to the next. San Antonio is a good team too overall. We have to be ready to play them.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• J.J. Hickson registered 19 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes tonight. It was Hickson’s sixth double-double of the year and second in his last four games. Hickson ranked seventh in the NBA in 2012-13 with 40 double-doubles.

• Wilson Chandler scored a season-high tying 19 points to go with five rebounds and one block in 32 minutes. It was Chandler’s third straight game with 17+ points, 5+ rebounds and 1+ block, tying the longest streak of his career (has done two other times, most recently in November 2010).

• Additionally, Chandler is averaging 17.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.76 blocks over his last three games. He is also shooting .525 (21-40) from the field and .412 (7-17) from three during this stretch.

• Nate Robinson posted 14 points, four assists and two blocks in 27 minutes off the bench. It was the fourth game of Robinson’s career with 2+ blocks, and he has scored 14+ in all four.

• Ryan Anderson led all scorers with 26 points and six rebounds in 41 minutes. It was his fourth game this season with 26+ points and 17th overall (his teams are 11-6 in those games).

• Austin Rivers scored 17 points off the bench for New Orleans, his second career game with 17+ points (scored 27 vs. Min on 12/14/12).

TEAM

• With tonight’s win, Denver has now won four straight home games over New Orleans. They have also won seven of their last eight home games overall.

• The Nuggets scored 102 in the win and have now won 48 of their last 49 home games when scoring 100-or-more points.

• Denver moves to 10-2 on the season when holding their opponent to fewer than 100 points.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Pelicans 51-32 tonight. It was their sixth game of the year with 50+ rebounds and they are now 11-3 when outrebounding their opponent.

• Additionally, the Nuggets’ +19 rebounding differential ties their largest of the year and it is their fourth time posting a +14-or-better.

• The Pelicans’ 32 rebounds sets a new Denver opponent season low. The Nuggets collected 32 rebounds in the second half alone.

• New Orleans tied a Nuggets’ opponent season-low with 32 points in the paint (three other teams had scored 32 as well).

• Both Denver and New Orleans shot identically from the field (37-85, .435) and three-point range (7-24, .292). The only difference in shooting was from the free throw line, with Denver going 21-of-28 (.750) compared to New Orleans going 12-of-19 (.632).

• The Nuggets had four starters score in double-figures for the first time since 11/29 vs. NYK.