Nuggets hold off T-Wolves after Lawson leaves with eye injury

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Nov. 15, 2013 23:43

His right eye was half-closed, and there was a small cut in the corner near the bridge of his nose.

Sitting on the Denver Nuggets bench, Ty Lawson looked like he had just been through 12 rounds of a welterweight bout.

“I couldn’t open my eye, man,” he said. “When I did open it, I saw two (people) on this side, one on this side.”

With their pace-setting point guard knocked from the game, the Nuggets survived a late flurry of desperation punches from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Lawson was one of three Nuggets to record a double-double and one of seven to score in double-figures as Denver ran its winning streak to three games with a 117-113 victory over Minnesota at Pepsi Center.

“I want the guys to like this feeling of winning,” Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “The fact that we are 4-4 now after a three-game win streak just means we didn’t start out the way wanted. We have to start trying to develop a winning mentality.”

Behind Lawson’s playmaking (14 points, 10 assists), the hot shooting of Wilson Chandler (19 points) and the energy of Kenneth Faried (16 points, 10 rebounds), the Nuggets led by 13 points with 3:55 remaining before Minnesota made a final push.

Former Nuggets forward Corey Brewer capped a 12-3 run with a 3-pointer to pull Minnesota within four with 49.5 seconds left. He inadvertently poked Lawson in the eye 17 seconds later, sending Lawson falling to the ground.

“I just remember driving. After that, it was a wrap,” Lawson said. “I don’t remember anything.”

Through blurred vision, Lawson was able to see 37-year-old Andre Miller make the key play of the game as the Nuggets tried to convert free throws down the stretch.

With Denver leading by three with 15 seconds to go, Chandler missed the second of two free throws, but Miller swooped in from the perimeter to outleap everyone for the offensive rebound.

“You pick and choose when you want to go in there and jump with everybody,” Miller said. “I didn’t think Will would miss the free throw, but I just snuck in there just in case.”

The Timberwolves thought Miller should have been called for a lane violation on the play.

“I saw Andre in the lane before the ball left (Chandler’s) hand, so you can’t do anything about that,” Brewer said. “It was a good play by him. You’re not supposed to be there (early), but if the refs don’t call it and you get away with it then it’s a good play.”

Miller was fouled immediately and converted one of two free throws to give the Nuggets a four-point lead with 12.1 seconds left. The Timberwolves misfired on their final possession and fell to the Nuggets for the 22nd time in the past 26 meetings.

“We have to get our killer instinct, so to speak,” Denver forward/center J.J. Hickson said. “We had a couple of lapses. We knew we had our hands full and we accepted the challenge and went out and got the win.”

The Nuggets will have their hands full again Saturday when they face center Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on the road.

Lawson said his eye was feeling better within 45 minutes after Friday’s game. Listed as probable for the Houston game, he and his teammates will be ready to step back into the ring.

STAR OF THE GAME

Kenneth Faried

Points 19 6-9 FG, 3-4 3FG, 3-4 FT
Rebounds 4, 1 OFF 3 DEF
Assists 3
Steals 2
Blocks 0

GAME LEADERS

Points Kevin Love 28
Rebounds J J Hickson 11
Assists Ricky Rubio 12
Steals Kevin Love 3, Ricky Rubio 3
Blocks Four with 2

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson on being poked in the right eye

"I couldn’t open my eye, man. I tried to. When I did open it, I seen two on this side, one on this side. There was no chance (to re-enter the game).

KEY MOMENT

Miller rises for offensive rebound on missed free throw

With the Nuggets leading by three with 12.9 seconds remaining, Wilson Chandler missed the second of two free throws, but teammate Andre Miller outjumped everyone to secure the rebound. He then hit one of two free throws to help put the game out of reach.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On what needs improvement:

“We gave up two 30 point quarters. We have been getting better in the fourth quarter on kind of locking down but we ended up giving up 32 points in the fourth quarter. We’re just taking a step backwards based on what we had been doing lately but I thought overall we made the plays we needed to make, and that was the difference in the game. I talked to our team about having killer instinct. I know at one point I think the score was 109-96. We had a 13-point lead, and it seemed like we had the game in control but [the Timberwolves] would go on a 7-0 run, we would score, and then [the Timberwolves] would go on a 5-0 run. Those were the kind of things that we can’t allow to happen, especially late in the game. We have to develop that kind of killer instinct and put a team down, especially when we know we have a game the next night.”

On Ty Lawson at the end of the game:
“Ty got poked in the eye. I think Corey [Brewer’s] finger went into his eyeball. Our trainers are attending to him right now. [The injury] was pretty significant to the point where [Lawson’s] vision was blurry and he didn’t feel comfortable staying in the game.”

On getting back to .500:
“We got another win and we have a three game win streak now. I want the guys to like this feeling of winning. The fact that we are 4-4 now after 3 game win streak just means we didn’t start out the way wanted. We put ourselves in the hole [earlier in the season], and now we are heading out on the road. We’ve got to start trying to develop winning plays and develop a road mentality.”

Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson

On the team needing to develop a killer instinct at the end of a game:
“It’s a process. We have to get our killer instinct so to speak. We have to play better team defense, we had a couple of lapses. We gave up 113 points, but we’ll take the win.”

On how Denver did against a strong Minnesota front line:
“We felt good, we got the win. I think Faried’s activity was key, we knew we had our hands full, we accepted the challenge and went out and got the win.”

On how his chemistry with teammate Kenneth Faried:
“It’s great. I think once we can just play off of instinct and stop thinking so much we will be better off. We’re both very active in the paint. It’s a process just like anything else, but I think we’ll get better.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On if he tried to go back in the game after being hit in the right eye late in the game:
“No, I couldn’t even open my eye. I tried, but when I opened my eye, I saw two on this side and one on this side, so there was no chance I could go back in the game.”

On if he will be ready to play tomorrow night in Houston:
“They said it should be better tomorrow, so we’ll see. They put a bunch of eye drops and whatever else they put in there, but I should be ready.”

On if he feels better about missing the end of the game due to injury with the Nuggets winning:
“Yeah, of course. That was the only thing I was hoping, was that they would pull out the win. It gets us back to .500 before this road trip and that’s what we needed to do.”

On if he saw Andre Miller grab the offensive rebound off a missed free throw late in the game:
“Yeah, I saw that. I was looking with one eye and was just hoping we would pull it out. We were up by five or six late, and we needed this game.”

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman

On tonight’s overall performance:

“We have to defend better than that. We weren’t reacting from the weak side at all. We made so many mental mistakes and gave them so many easy baskets. The second quarter was the only time where we actually did a decent job. We just have to come back tomorrow.”

On their play in the third:
“We didn’t defend. We gave them so many easy baskets. Same thing happened in the first quarter. You’re not going to win this league giving up easy baskets like that.”

On Andre Miller’s big offensive rebound in the final seconds:
“Big offensive rebound? It makes no sense why the league allows that to happen. It is the only shot in basketball where you can’t box out on. You can’t box him out; he is at the 3-point line. They would call a foul if you boxed him out. They let him run in there and there is a wrestling match inside. For 10 years I have never understood why they just don’t say nobody can go until the ball touches the rim. Then, the defensive team has a chance to get the rebound. But, right now, it is bad for the officials because they don’t know what to call. It is just one of those things that you have to deal with. But, with all the stuff we change, we never look at that situation. Somebody doesn’t want to do it. Somebody will lose a big game in the playoffs, and then they will change it. But I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Like I said, of all the shots in basketball, you can’t box out on that one. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but [Andre] Miller made a nice play and it hurt.”

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love

On Nuggets offensive rebounding:

“They just kept getting offensive board after offensive board. We definitely have to help each other out. We did that against the Pelicans but we came out tonight and didn’t show it. Luckily we have more games to go but we still work to do and we just have to work on it.”

On own performance:
“I know I can play. I’m just going out there and doing what I have to do when I get minutes and have fun with it, just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer

On lack of defense:

“We were bad tonight. Defensively we gave up too many layups and points in the paint. We can’t do that for us to win. We still stayed in the game and gave ourselves our chances. For us to be any good and make the playoffs like we want to and be the team we want to be we have to protect the paint.”

On playing in altitude:
“We have to give a better effort. We were a little tired. That’s how they get you. I played here for two years so I understand. You have to fight through that. For us to be a good team we have to fight through all that. We have to battle. We have to pack it in and play team defense. You feel it but it’s no excuse. For us we should’ve came in here and got a win. We have to have a short memory and come out tomorrow and get a win.”

On Andre Miller’s rebound after free-throw with 12.9 seconds left:
“That was tough. I didn’t even see it. I saw Andre in the lane before the ball left his hand so you can’t do anything about that. It was a good play by him … You’re not supposed to be there but if the refs don’t call it and you get away with it then it’s a good play.”

On playing against former team:
“I wish I could’ve played better. Its tough when you lose no matter if it’s coming back to the place you played at or just losing period. For us we need every win we can get so it’s tough for us.”

On collision with Ty Lawson:
“I went for the ball and I think I hit him in the face. I hope he’s all right.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Kenneth Faried recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight. He has posted a double-double in three consecutive games, the fourth time in his career he has had three-or-more in a row. Tonight was Faried’s 47th career double-double and his 30th at Pepsi Center (28-2).

• Timofey Mozgov posted 10 points and five rebounds tonight. Mozgov had recorded 10+ points and 5+ rebounds in the same game six times coming into this season, and he has already done so five times in his first eight games this year.

• J.J. Hickson recorded his first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Hickson ranked seventh in the NBA last season with 40 double-doubles.

• Ty Lawson had 14 points, five rebounds and 10 assists tonight. It was his second double-double of the year and the 26th of his career (Denver is 21-5 in those games).

• Wilson Chandler posted a team-high 19 points (6-9 FG, 3-4 3FG) to go with four boards and three assists. It was the eighth time in his career he has scored 19+ points while shooting at least .667 from the field and .750 from three.

• Kevin Love tallied 28 points and 10 rebounds tonight. It was his ninth double-double of the year and 40th career game with 28+ points and 10+ rebounds.

TEAM

• Kenneth Faried recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight. He has posted a double-double in three consecutive games, the fourth time in his career he has had three-or-more in a row. Tonight was Faried’s 47th career double-double and his 30th at Pepsi Center (28-2).

• Timofey Mozgov posted 10 points and five rebounds tonight. Mozgov had recorded 10+ points and 5+ rebounds in the same game six times coming into this season, and he has already done so five times in his first eight games this year.

• J.J. Hickson recorded his first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Hickson ranked seventh in the NBA last season with 40 double-doubles.

• Ty Lawson had 14 points, five rebounds and 10 assists tonight. It was his second double-double of the year and the 26th of his career (Denver is 21-5 in those games).

• Wilson Chandler posted a team-high 19 points (6-9 FG, 3-4 3FG) to go with four boards and three assists. It was the eighth time in his career he has scored 19+ points while shooting at least .667 from the field and .750 from three.

• Kevin Love tallied 28 points and 10 rebounds tonight. It was his ninth double-double of the year and 40th career game with 28+ points and 10+ rebounds.

TEAM

• The Nuggets have won three straight games and moved to .500 on the year with a 117-113 win over Minnesota. Denver has won 14 of their last 17 over Minnesota at home, and 22 of their last 26 overall.

• Denver’s 117 points sets a new season-high (was 111 vs. LAL on 11/13), and they have won 46 of their last 47 home games when scoring 100-or-more points.

• The Nuggets scored 30+ points in three quarters tonight. Coming into tonight’s game, they had just three such quarters in their first 28 quarters.

• Denver had seven players score 10-or-more points, their first time this season accomplishing this feat. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Denver has had seven-or-more players score 10+ 14 times, going 12-2 in those games.

• The Nuggets also had three players register a double-double (Faried, Lawson, Hickson), the first time three Nuggets have done this in the same game since 12/26/12 vs. LAL (Faried, Iguodala Lawson).

• Wilson Chandler led the team in scoring, becoming the third reserve this season to lead the team in points (Robinson with 24 on 11/1 vs. POR and Mozgov with 23 on 11/13 vs. LAL).

• Denver recorded 21 second chance points, one game after setting their all-time record with 36 second chance points vs. LAL on 11/13. Denver came into the game averaging 18.1 second chance points which was good for 2nd in the NBA.

• The Nuggets are 27-5 in their last 32 games when posting more second chance points than their opponent.

• Denver scored 64 points in the paint, their second consecutive game with 60+ paint points. Prior to their last two games, the Nuggets scored 50+ paint points just once in their first six games.

• The Nuggets set numerous season-highs tonight, including: points (117), points in a half (61), points in the fourth quarter (31), points in the paint (64) and tied a season-high for assists (28).

• Minnesota had three players score 20+ points. Last season Denver was 2-7 when opponents accomplished this.