Nuggets-Rockets Gameday

by Aaron Lopez
Nuggets.com

Iguodala leads charge as Nuggets win 20th straight home game

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted April 7 2013 00:06

From the opening tip, Andre Iguodala looked for his shot. Even better, he didn’t have to sacrifice his playmaking.

As the Nuggets played without injured starters Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson, Iguodala made a run at a triple-double and Denver cruised to a 132-114 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Iguodala made three jump shots in the game’s first 4 minutes and finished with 18 points, a season-high 14 assists and seven rebounds as the Nuggets matched their NBA franchise record by extending their home winning streak to 20 games.

“I changed the approach up a little bit,” said Iguodala, who is averaging 12.6 points on the season. “It’s been working for me all year as far as how I approach the game and how I want to play to be most effective.”

Behind a balanced attack and a season-high 40 assists, Denver (53-24) improved to an NBA-best 35-3 at home and solidified its hold on the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The Nuggets lead Memphis by 1.5 games and the Los Angeles Clippers by 2.5.

“If we put 56 wins on the board, we can’t ask for much more than that,” Denver coach George Karl said.

With three home games remaining, 56 wins is certainly within reach – even without Gallinari, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, and Lawson, who is recovering from a plantar fascia tear in his right heel.

Wilson Chandler started in Gallinari’s place against Houston and scored all 21 of his points after the first quarter. Corey Brewer led the Nuggets with 22 points off the bench, and Andre Miller added 11 points and 12 assists.

Miller and Iguodala became the first Nuggets teammates with at least 12 assists in the same game since Michael Adams and Fat Lever had 13 apiece on Jan. 10, 1989.

“Guys really focused in,” Iguodala said. “With Gallo going down, we realize we have to step up. We did some good things. We are trying to get a groove going and that might have been the case tonight.”

Iguodala, a strong candidate for the NBA All-Defensive first team and Defensive Player of the Year, also helped limit Houston guard James Harden to 14 points on 2-of-10 shooting.

“He’s been our leader all year, even if he doesn’t score points,” Chandler said. “He plays defense, he passes the ball and makes basketball plays.”

After a quick start, the Nuggets trailed by 12 points when Houston went on a 28-8 run in the first quarter.

The tide turned in the second as reserves Brewer, Evan Fournier and JaVale McGee sparked an 18-4 run over a 3:22 stretch. Rockets committed three of their 19 turnovers during that span and never fully recovered.

Denver scored 32 points off Houston’s turnovers and had 13 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.

“We really just couldn’t get stops, we couldn’t get rebounds, they were hitting their 3s,” Houston point guard Jeremy Lin said. “They pretty much just broke it open in the second and third quarter. They challenged us to play that pace for 48 minutes, which we weren’t able to sustain.”

The Nuggets pushed the lead to as many as 28 in the second half and finished with 35 fast-break points. They also set a season-high for total points – despite being without their top two scorers.

“Even when Gallo was here, it’s always been a team effort,” Chandler said. “It’s a credit to the maturity of the team. We all know losing Gallo hurts a lot, but we have to have everybody step up. One person can’t do it. It has to be the whole team.”

The Nuggets now get three days to prepare for Wednesday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs. A victory would tie the single-season franchise record of 54 wins set in 1987-88 and matched in 2008-09.

After Saturday’s performance, Karl has to like Denver’s chances.

“My team has been very good about meeting challenges schedule-wise, injury-wise and perseverance-wise,” he said. “They have a competitive spirit that for a young team is pretty strong.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Andre Iguodala

Points 18 7-13 FG, 2-3 FT
Rebounds 7, 0 OFF 7 DEF
Assists 14
Steals 2
Blocks 0

GAME LEADERS

Points Corey Brewer 22
Rebounds Omer Asik 9
Assists Andre Iguodala 14
Steals Anthony Randolph 4
Blocks Kenneth Faried 3

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Rockets coach Kevin McHale on committing 19 turnovers and being swept 4-0 by Denver in season series

"They beat us the same way all the time; we throw them the ball quite a bit and they score it. I don’t know about 20 in a row (Nuggets’ home streak), but they have beat us the same way four times."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets erase double-digit deficit with second-quarter surge

Trailing 37-27 early in the second quarter, Denver outscored Houston 18-4 over a 3:22 span. Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee combined for 12 points during the run.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On scoring 132 points in tonight’s game:

“I think we wore them out a little bit. They surprised us early with the three-ball and the free throw line got out of control early in the game. I thought they surprised us with how fast they played; I didn’t think our transition defense was very first-class early in the game. As the game wore on, we seemed to get control of the running. We were the running team. We created some turnovers with our active hands. 32 points is, I think, the season-high for points off of turnovers. I think they hit the wall. They hit the wall mid-third quarter. You have to give [Andre Iguodala] some credit. If we don’t foul [James] Harden, we have an incredible defensive game against him. In the second half, I thought we did a better job on [Jeremy] Lin and controlled him. I really think our defense has to stay more engaged and more consistent. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, the ball movement was spectacular and we made the three-ball. We played really good at both ends of the court.”

On team’s that try to play fast against the Nuggets:
“Houston is the only team in the league that has a better pace than we have but again, I think we create more defensive offense. Early in the game, they were packed in pretty tight. Our offense was okay but it wasn’t very good and I just thought the defense, and we weren’t going to slow down. I think they have had a good year playing a lot like we play and I think a lot of reason as to why they’ve have a good year, is because [James] Harden is a hell of a good player. They play faster than more teams; their outlets are really quick. They inbound the ball really well.”

On a variety of player contributions:
“He came in at a time when the game was kind of shaky and played eight or nine minutes, he would have played the whole half if he didn’t get in foul trouble, he was playing so well. I thought I had to protect him instead of play him. Corey [Brewer] had a good game and [Andre Iguodala] and [Andre Miller] passed the ball well. When you have 40 assists, it is fun to play basketball and I think the interesting challenge is to figure out our personality quickly, in the next four or five games.”

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

On playing without Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari:
“We have been doing it all year. I am just trying to be the most effective I can be without taking from other guys, really making them better. I feel like I have been able to do that, whether it shows on the stat sheet or not. When we have guys go down, you change some things up, try to make up for the loss, not by myself, but by making other guys better. It worked out tonight. We are going to have to continue to do that as a unit.”

On playing team’s best offensive game of the year:
“We did some good things. We have had some great games with Ty [Lawson] and [Danilo Gallinari] and the whole lineup, at full strength. The New York game was good for us but at home, we catch some teams on a back-to-back and try to tire them out a little bit. Things kind of go our way a little bit. We are trying to get a groove going and that might have been the case tonight.”

On scoring 132 points without the two leading scorers:
“Not really. Like I said, we’ve gotten really comfortable at home. We put up big numbers at home, especially teams who come in on the second night of a back-to-back. [The Rockets] got in late last night and I am pretty sure they were kind of tired. The altitude always seems to work in our favor. All those things play a factor in the game.”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

On getting so many points off of turnovers:

“We played great defense. Once we get stops, we get out and get easy baskets. We have really athletic guys that can get out and finish on the break.”

On defense picking up over the last few weeks:
“I just think that trusting in each other, like when one person steps up and the next one steps up, it just shows a lot of maturity in [our team].”

On causing so many Houston turnovers:
“First of all, it starts with [Andre Iguodala]. He does a great job on James Harden. I think everyone else locks in even after he pushes them.”

Rocketes coach Kevin McHale

On defense as a focal point of the problem in the game tonight:

“I think throwing the ball to [the Nuggets] was a bigger point. They had 32 points off of our turnovers and 18 points off of offensive boards; that’s 50 points. There’s no defense for throwing them the ball; that’s very hard to overcome.”

On a strong first quarter:
“We played really well. [Evan] Fournier and [Corey] Brewer came in and just changed the whole dynamic, started scrapping and started double-teaming the back court. We couldn’t push, we couldn’t move it and then it just snowballed.”

On their record against the Nuggets this season:
“They beat us the same way all the time; we throw them the ball quite a bit and they score it. I don’t know about 20 in a row [Nuggets’ home streak], but they have beat us the same way four times.”

Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin

On matching pace with Denver:
“I think when you play a team like Denver that runs like we run, we have to be more wise. We definitely want to push the pace, but there’s a way to push the pace conservatively so we don’t give them [Nuggets] 20 to 50 points in transition. That’s what it seems like we’ve been doing, giving them lots of points in transition off of our turnovers. I think we can push the pace without being so loose with the ball.”

On the second quarter:
“[The Nuggets] scored 38 and 39 in the second and third quarters. We really just couldn’t get stops, we couldn’t get rebounds, they were hitting their 3s; they pretty much just broke it open in the second and third quarter. They challenged us to play that pace for 48 minutes, which we weren’t able to sustain.”

On possibly facing Denver in the first round of the playoffs:
“I think we’re confident, and it doesn’t matter who we play. I think we’ve shown to ourselves that we can beat anyone in this league, that’s in no way a guarantee, but going into whoever we face, we feel like with who we have in this locker room, we’ll be just fine.”

Rockets guard James Anderson

On the second quarter:
“We let the momentum change from our end to theirs [Nuggets] and we let the crowd get into it, and that really affected the game a lot. It was totally the opposite, what we were doing they started doing. We kind of let it get out of hand.”

On possibly facing Denver in the first round of the playoffs:
“We definitely have to go back and look at the film and see what we are messing up on. Turnovers are a big key for us. I think we are averaging 20 something turnovers a game and they [Nuggets] turn it into points. If it happens to be them [Nuggets] in the first round we will definitely go back and learn from this game, and the past three.”

On transition defense:
“I am definitely disappointed in that because we work on it every day. We know our principles, and we didn’t stick to it tonight.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala finished the game with 18 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds, marking the 34th time that Iguodala has registered a point-assist double-double. His teams have gone 23-2 in his last 25 games with a double-double.

• Additionally, Iguodala is just the fourth player this season (along with Paul Pierce, Lebron James and John Wall) to register at least 18 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds in a single game.

• Since 2001, Iguodala is the third Nuggets player to hit these numbers in a single game (Ty Lawson and Nick Van Exel).

• Coming off the bench, Anthony Randolph tied for the Nuggets lead in rebounding for the first time this year. Randolph finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals, marking just the second time in his career he has reached these numbers (vs. SAS 4/13/09).

• Evan Fournier registered at least 20 minutes in a game for the third time this season (third in the last four). Fournier is averaging 18.0 points, 3.0 assists and 2.67 steals per game when he plays at least 20 minutes (Nuggets 3-0).

• With 22 points, Corey Brewer led the bench in scoring for the 31st time this season, and has done so in nine of the last 13 games. The Nuggets are now 22-9 when Brewer leads the bench in scoring.

• Andre Miller recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 assists. Denver is now 20-5 over the last two seasons when he registers 10+ assists.

• Keneth Faried registered three blocks in the game, marking the third consecutive game he has recorded multiple blocks. Over the last three games, Faried is averaging 14.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.00 blocks.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Rockets 132-114, winning their 20th straight home game, tying their longest NBA home-winning streak (won 20 straight at home from 1/9/85 to 3/30/85). Denver is now 35-3 at home this year (best home record in team history was 36-5 in 1976-77).

• The Nuggets’ 132 points is their most in a game since 4/11/11 vs. GSW (134-111). Denver has won 38 of its last 39 home games when scoring 100+ points.

• Denver scored 39 points in the second quarter and 38 points in the third. They are just the second team to score 38+ points in back-to-back quarters this season (other team to do so was HOU on 2/5/13 vs. GSW). It was the first time the Nuggets have accomplished this since 1/11/11 vs. PHX.

• The Nuggets handed out a season-high 40 assists tonight, their most in a game since 3/26/08 vs. SEA (44). Denver has now won 41 straight games when registering 30-or-more assists.

• Andre Iguodala handed out 14 assists and Andre Miller had 12. It was the first time two Nugget teammates have both had 12+ assists in a game since 1/10/89 at WAS (Michael Adams and Fat Lever both had 13 assists).

• Denver shot .545 (54-99 FG) tonight and they are now 13-0 at home this season when shooting 50%-or-better. Additionally, they have now won 47 straight home games, 66 of their last 67 and 85 of their last 87 home games when shooting 50%-or-better.

• Corey Brewer scored 22 points off the bench, moving Denver to 16-2 when a reserve scores 20+ points.

• Additionally, both Brewer and Wilson Chandler (21 points) scored 20+ points and the Nuggets are now 20-6 when two-or-more players score 20+. They have now won 16 straight when accomplishing this.

• Both Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller registered double-doubles, moving Denver to 12-2 on the year when two players post a double-double in the same game.

• The Nuggets scored 74 points in the paint tonight, their 10th time this season with 70+ (7-3 in those games). It was their 33rd game with 60+ paint points.

• Denver scored a season-high 35 fast break points tonight (previous was 33 on three occasions). They are 15-1 when scoring 25+ fast break points.

• The Nuggets went 11-of-25 (.440) from long range, moving to 6-2 on the year when connecting on 10+ three-pointers.

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