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Nuggets record season-high 36 assists in rout of Bobcats

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Dec. 22 2012 23:42

Ahhh, the spirit of giving.

The Denver Nuggets certainly embraced it Saturday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Running the floor and sharing the ball, the Nuggets recorded a season-high 36 assists on 47 field goals while rolling to a 110-88 win over the Bobcats at Pepsi Center.

Andre Iguodala had 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Nuggets, who handed the Bobcats their 15th straight loss. Kosta Koufos added a season-high 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting for Denver.

“We were unselfish from the very beginning,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “The defense got us in the open court to help us convert a lot of easy baskets.”

After setting an NBA season-high with 74 points in the paint Thursday at Portland, the Nuggets outdid themselves with 78 points around the rim against Charlotte. At one point, Denver had 68 points in the paint and the Bobcats had 67 total points.

“We executed our plays,” Koufos said. “We rotated the ball. That was the biggest thing. The bigs are running the floor and the guards are looking for us and finding us.”

The Nuggets also mixed in a few 3-pointers, going 6-of-20 from long range. They hit three 3s during a 20-7 run that gave them a 64-46 lead at the half.

Denver (15-13) pushed the lead to 25 in the first five minutes of the third quarter and were never threatened while improving to 8-1 at Pepsi Center.

“We came out and established ourselves in the first two minutes,” Iguodala said. “I think the last couple minutes of the first half really gave us a boost going into halftime. We kept the lead, and it was a good win for us.”

The Nuggets played the second half without starting point guard Ty Lawson, who was held out for precautionary reasons after straining his left Achilles’ tendon.

Lawson said the injury has been bothering him for a couple games, but he was optimistic about playing against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day.

“We already had (Saturday’s) game under control at halftime,” he said. “There was no point making it worse.”

Lawson had five assists in 17 minutes, and the Nuggets assisted on each of their first 11 baskets. They had 24 assists by halftime and fell two short of the NBA season-high of 38 by San Antonio on Dec. 8.

“We are trying to get that to be contagious amongst everybody,” Iguodala said. “When we are doing that and playing at high speed, we are a really good team. It is really something we are trying to do and keep the turnovers low.”

Iguodala is averaging 6.7 assists over his past six games.

“Andre Iguodala is more confident in finding that play without the turnover,” Karl said. “It seems like he’s getting more confident being aggressive without worrying about making a mistake.”

The game marked the return of first-year Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap, who spent two years as a Nuggets assistant under Karl (2006-08) and won two NCAA Division II titles at Metro State in 2000 and 2002.

Dunlap and Karl exchanged handshakes before the game, and Karl expressed empathy for his friend afterwards.

“He’s a great friend and I hope he gets a win very soon,” he said. “I hope that’s his Christmas present. The monkey gets awful heavy when you lose that many in a row.”

The Nuggets, meanwhile, have won four of their past five games and will get two days off before heading back on the road to face the Clippers, winners of 12 straight.

“It’ll be a tough game,” point guard Andre Miller said. “They’ve got a good win streak going. We have four games in five nights. Hopefully we can start off on a good note.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Kosta Koufos

Points 16, 8-10 FGs
Rebounds 4, 1 OFF 3 DEF
Assists 0
Steals 0
Blocks 5
GAME LEADERS
Points Ramon Sessions 23
Rebounds Byron Mullens 14
Assists Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller 8
Steals Jeffrey Taylor 3
Blocks Koufos 5
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets coach George Karl on the holiday season:

"I don’t feel old. I look old. My voice sounds old. I know I’m going to be very childish the next couple days for Christmas."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets close first half strong

Ahead by five points midway through the second quarter, the Nuggets outscored Charlotte 20-7 over the final six minutes to take an 18-point lead into the break. The Bobcats never got any closer after halftime.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On why the Nuggets were so affective with the pass tonight:
“We attacked the paint as much as we do normally. I think [Andre Iguodala] probably played on of his better play making games and Corey Brewer usually doesn’t get six assists, so I think a lot of guys who usually are not playmakers contributed a lot. Andre [Miller] is always Andre. We just moved the ball very well. We were unselfish in the very beginning. The defense got us in the open court, which we converted a lot of easy baskets because of that too.”

On only having two turnovers at half-time:
“It’s been about five, maybe four or five or six games where we have been really good at turnovers. We’ve focused in on it, and it’s showed up in some stats. We give up a lot of points off of our turnovers; in combination with offensive rebounds and turnovers, the games that we want to win, we want to be somewhat dominating in, and we are not tough enough maybe. We are not focused in on enough. We do a good job of getting them [opponent] offensively, but I’d like to see us get, like I said the last game, lower turnover rate with a higher turnover points. Right now we are one-to-two separation. At the end of the season if we were even, or even under, that would be great.”

On having an NBA season high 78 points in the paint:
“I think the pace has been getting better for us. There seems to be a little more wear and tear on the other team as the game goes on. There’s a little more fatigue, there a little step slow in there spacing, and the defensive clogging has breakdowns in it. I think our constantly attacking is becoming more persistent. The pace of the game is becoming top 5 or 6 [in the league]. We want to keep it going. Most teams don’t understand how hard it is to keep going. We with our depth can keep it going with two point guards.”

On Ty Lawson:
“His Achilles has been bothering him. I didn’t talk to him, so I don’t know if he could have [played] but I think it was more precautionary than serious.”

Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala

On the win:
“We came out and established ourselves in the first two minutes. Their coach [Mike Dunlap] did a really good job of calling timely time-outs for them. They kept fighting and Ramon Sessions came in and played well for them in the first half. I think the last couple minutes of the first half really gave us a boost going into halftime. We kept the lead and it was a good win for us.”

On the team's assists:
“We are trying to get that to be contagious amongst everybody. [Danilo] Gallinari was a great passer. We all know [Andre Miller] is one of the best passers in the league and it is becoming contagious among the other guys. When we are doing that and playing at high speed, we are a really good team. It is really something we are trying to do and keep the turnovers low.”

On the 3-pointers:
“[Danilo] Gallinari is one of the best shooters I have ever seen. He is young, but when he is playing with confidence, he is one of the best scorers that I have seen. Really how he shoots the ball and gets to the basket and he had some big three’s for us in the first half. You just kind of have to keep shooting and gaining confidence.”

On the Clippers:
“They are playing really well. They have won 12 straight. We know what they have in Chris Paul and how he makes all of the other players around him better, especially their bigs. It will be a good challenge for us and we’ll be ready for them.”

Nuggets guard Evan Fournier

On his play tonight:
“This team did a great job. The young guys played well for us tonight and it was a good change for us but we have to keep working.”

On the 3-point shooting tonight:
“We missed the first six or seven shots. I think that’s in our head. We have great shooters and we just have to keep working and keep shooting the ball. I think the confidence is the key.”

On the back-to-back of the Clippers and the Lakers:
“It’s going to be hard because it is my first game on Christmas so I don’t know how it’s going to be. It’s going to be two hard games.”

Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap

On the four game road trip:
“Well when we didn’t turn the ball over and went through the execution of our offense, obviously it became easier for us. In terms of, probably rebounding and whether it was Lakers or whatever, we found that we could really concentrate on that, that we could really do that with the better teams, I know that. But again, what we really have to find is that we can’t consistently give up the easy baskets off our turnovers. They had 18 points off of eight turnovers in the first half. Whereas, the night before, we have a low turnover count, so sometimes it is chasing shadows.

On Byron Mullens’ injury:
“No I haven’t spoken to anyone, I can tell you from my eye that it’s not good.”

On the four game stretch, continued:
“They could have let go of this game. This game could have been forty. They could have let go on this road trip. We didn’t. We came out and had a great go with the Lakers and everybody that watched us play all four games would notice there was one separation in the game that hurt us but in terms of some of the things we got accomplished, there is plenty to say.

On Denver:
“I think they are still finding who they are. I remember, not so long ago, that the Knicks were kind of in a formative stage and all of the sudden, it crystallized. They [Nuggets] have been on the road more than anyone in the NBA. They are going to have almost a month at home and they have a lot of promise. That’s all I know. Like you said, they have a lot of diversity and weapons and different ways the coach can go. The third part of that, the coach is really good at that. If you look at what he has done in games, they always make a move after January. When I was with them for two years, we might have looked like we were going to win 30 games and we were knocking on 50 games. He is notorious for that with the teams that he’s had.”

On what it is about George [Karl] that makes him so good at getting through the dog days, over an 82 game schedule:
“He’s older than time. You can tell him I said that.”

Bobcats guard Kemba Walker

On the loss:
“It was a tough one for us tonight. We had four games in five nights. We struggled with energy which is how we play. We just needed a little bit of energy. We really couldn’t find a rhythm tonight. They played tough and they played well.”

On team turnovers:
“We turned the ball over tonight and they just pushed it right at us. They stole it a lot. I had five turnovers. We just need to take care of the basketball.”

On playing Denver:
“They pushed the tempo and that’s how we are. That’s how we should have been tonight but we really couldn’t find it.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Kosta Koufos led the team with 16 points tonight, marking the first time in his Nuggets’ career that he has led the team in scoring. Additionally, Koufos has scored in double-digits on six occasions this year, with Denver going 6-0 in those games.

• Koufos also blocked five shots tonight, the third time he has done so this season (Nuggets 3-0). Koufos has recorded a block in eight straight games and is averaging 2.88 blocks per game at the Pepsi Center this season.

• Andre Iguodala registered 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the victory. It is the 24th time in his career that he has recorded 15+ points, eight-plus rebounds and eight-plus assists in the same game (Last time – 11/10/12 @ GSW).

• Kenneth Faried finished the game with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks. His four assists are a new career high for the forward and it was his fifth career game with three-plus blocked shots (Last time – 11/29/12 @ GSW).

• JaVale McGee scored 14 points and blocked one shot tonight off the bench. McGee now has scored in double-digits in three of the last four games for the Nuggets. Additionally, he has now blocked at least one shot in 12-straight games.

• Corey Brewer set a new season high and tied his career high with six assists. It is the sixth time in his career that he has handed out six-or-more dimes.

• Byron Mullens scored 16 points and grabbed 14 boards tonight for Charlotte. It is only the third time in his career that he has registered 16+ points and 14+ boards in the same game.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat Charlotte 110-88 tonight, earning their sixth straight home win and their fifth straight at home vs. Charlotte. Denver is now 7-1 all-time at home vs. Charlotte.

• Denver registered an NBA season-high 78 points in the paint after setting the NBA season-high with 74 in their last game (12/20 at POR). The Nuggets lead the NBA in points in the paint (55.6 per game) and have posted the top-three efforts in the NBA this season (78 tonight, 74 at POR on 12/20 and 72 at MIA on 11/3).

• The Nuggets held their opponent under 90 points for the sixth time this year and are 5-1 in those games. They are now 12-2 when allowing 100-or-fewer points.

• Denver handed out a season-high 36 assists and are now 5-2 when recording 25-or-more assists.

• The Nuggets had seven players score 10+ points, their second time doing so this season (1-1). It was the 12th time with six-or-more players in double-figures (6-6).

• Denver shot .511 (47-92 FG) from the field tonight, moving to 3-0 at home and 4-6 overall when shooting over 50%.

• Addtionally, the Bobcats shot just .379 (33-87 FG), their 50th consecutive game shooting under 50% from the field. Denver is now 7-2 when holding their opponent under 40%.

• Denver registered a season-high tying 12 blocks in tonight’s win. They are now 7-1 when registering 10+ blocks this season.

• The Nuggets recorded 22 points off turnovers compared to the Bobcats nine. Denver is now 9-2 on the year when posting more points off turnovers than their opponent.

• Denver posted 22 fast break points tonight, their 10th game with 20-or-more on the break. They are averaging 20.8 fast break points in their past 16 games after averaging 15.3 in their first 12.