Harrington provides spark but last shot doesn't fall for Nuggets

Lakers escape Pepsi Center with 93-89 victory

With six minutes to play and the Nuggets looking for instant offense, assistant coach John Welch walked down the bench and asked Al Harrington a simple question.

“You got some buckets in you?”

Harrington gave a nod and then went to work, scoring 10 points in 2 minutes, 18 seconds to help the Nuggets rally in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

But it was the shot that didn’t fall that left Harrington shaking his head following Denver’s 93-89 loss in front of a sellout crowd at Pepsi Center.

Harrington’s potential game-winning three-pointer rimmed out with 3.7 seconds remaining, and the Nuggets fell just short in the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back set that concludes Saturday night in Portland.

“I’ve got to make one of these shots, man,” Harrington said. “It’s frustrating. Just going to stick with it. We’ve got to turn our focus to Portland. We’ve got to win this game. I told everybody after the game, it’s a must-win for us.”

The Nuggets were a battered bunch as they boarded their flight to the Pacific Northwest.

Starting center Timofey Mozgov sprained his left ankle and did not travel with the team, while starting forward Danilo Gallinari experienced blurry vision after getting poked in the left eye.

Mozgov landed wrong after making an uncontested layup. X-rays were negative but he was unsure when he would be able to play again.

“I see the ball going in and I wanted to run to defense,” he said. “I twist my ankle. It’s not bad, there’s nothing broken. But it’s not good what happened.”

Asked what was going through his mind as he lay on the court in pain, Mozgov said: "Only bad words. Russian words, not English."

Even before Mozgov left the game, the Nuggets had trouble containing Lakers center Andrew Bynum. After averaging 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in two games against Denver earlier this season, Bynum finished with 22 and 10 on Friday.

“He’s just a big horse, a big tree,” Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Bynum looked ready to put an emphatic end to the game when he found himself all alone under the basket with 12 seconds remaining, but Denver forward Nene scrambled to block the shot. The ball went out of bounds and the officials gave the Nuggets possession after a video review.

Karl drew up a play designed for speedy point guard Ty Lawson to attack the rim, but Lawson passed the ball out to Harrington when Derek Fisher cut off his path to the basket.

Guarded closely by Metta World Peace, Harrington missed a step-back three-pointer from the left wing. Matt Barnes grabbed the rebound for Los Angeles and iced the game with two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining.

“He got a fair release,” Karl said of Harrington’s game-winning attempt. “I wouldn’t call it a great shot. I’d like to have gone quicker. I would like to see Ty to get to the rim in four or five seconds. Fisher has been there a lot of times and made a good defensive play.”

Harrington, an early candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, finished with 24 points, while Andre Miller added 16 for the Nuggets, who lost consecutive home games for just the third time since the start of the 2007-08 season. Denver’s past three losses have been by a combined 11 points.

“It’s frustrating because the last three games we lost, we should’ve won all three of them,” Harrington said. “We should be sitting here on a 10-game win streak. That’s the part that’s killing me. We’ve just got to keep building.”

A win in Portland would certainly help in that regard. The Nuggets, who have lost four in a row at the Rose Garden, still have an opportunity to get two wins in their final back-to-back-to-back set of the season.

“It’s going to show how tough we really are,” Lawson said. “We need this one.”

Notes: Before the game, Karl presented Miller with a plaque honoring the veteran point guard for playing in his 1,000th career regular-season game Thursday in Los Angles … Denver dropped to 0-3 this season when scoring less than 90 points … Gallinari said his vision was still blurry after the game. He got poked in the eye by World Peace early in the second half and did not play the final 5:51 of the game ... Nuggets reserve forward Corey Brewer returned to the court after missing one game for personal reasons.

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...