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Balanced attack leads Nuggets past Bucks

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Feb. 6, 2014 00:18

During a timeout late in the first half, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw abandoned his clipboard and gave his players a choose-your-own-adventure speech.

“Right now, I can’t tell which team has the worse record – us or them,” Shaw said. “Decide what team you want to be.”

Trailing at halftime, the Nuggets brought more energy to the table in the second half, building an 18-point lead and then holding on for a 110-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.

Ty Lawson had 18 points and 13 assists and Wilson Chandler scored seven of his 24 points in the final two minutes for the Nuggets, who avoided becoming the second Western Conference team to lose to Milwaukee (9-40) this season.

J.J. Hickson added 19 points and 10 rebounds as Denver (24-23) salvaged a 2-2 home stand before heading on the road for four games leading into the All-Star break.

“It was an extremely important win,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “We had to finish off tonight or else everything we worked for and everything we’ve been trying to go after would’ve been for nothing.”

Coming off a dramatic victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nuggets were determined to avoid a letdown against Milwaukee, but that proved to be more difficult than planned. The Bucks scored the first seven points of the game and were the more aggressive team on defense and on the glass in the first half.

“The exact thing we were afraid of coming into the game . . . just not having the same energy that we had in the Clipper game the other night for whatever reason, especially in the first half,” Shaw said. “(We were) just really flat defensively, turning the ball over and doing all the things that enabled a Milwaukee team to get more confidence.”

The Nuggets turned up the defensive pressure in the third quarter, forcing six turnovers and limiting Milwaukee to 7-of-20 shooting. Faried and Hickson combined for 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the period as Denver outscored the Bucks 33-20.

“We just switched up our defensive scheme,” Lawson said. “Instead of going under the pick on the point guard, we started trapping them. That helped us get energized and get some easy buckets.”

Denver scored the first six points of the fourth quarter – including a banked 3-pointer by Quincy Miller – but the Bucks gradually worked their way back and trailed by only three after a jumper by Giannis Antetokounmpo capped a 17-5 run with 2:13 remaining.

Chandler restored order with a driving layup followed by a 3-pointer that dropped after hitting the top of the backboard. He converted another layup with 57.6 seconds left as part of an 11-4 run to close the game.

“You figure a team like that will give up, but they kept fighting and made it a game,” Chandler said. “They’re still professionals and everybody is good in this league, so you can’t take anybody lightly. We didn’t play to the best of our ability, but we won the game.”

Denver now takes its two-game winning streak onto the road, starting Friday night against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.


STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 18 6-14 FG, 5-6 FT
Rebounds 7, 1 OFF 6 DEF
Assists 13
Steals 0
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Khris Middleton, Larry Sanders 25
Rebounds Larry Sanders 15
Assists Ty Lawson 13
Steals Five with 2
Blocks Randy Foye 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson on the importance of beating Milwaukee

“Yeah, it would have been a sad day if we had lost to this team, especially after letting them walk us down from 20 and being in this playoff chase."

KEY MOMENT

Chandler comes up big in final minutes

The Nuggets watched an 18-point lead dwindle to three with 2:13 remaining before Wilson Chandler scored seven straight points as a part of an 11-4 run to close the game.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On the Nuggets play tonight:
“The exact thing we were afraid of coming into the game . . . just not having the same energy that we had in the Clipper game the other night for whatever reason, especially in the first half. [We were] just really flat defensively, fouling too much, sending them to the line, second chance shots, turning the ball over and all the things that enabled a Milwaukee team who only scores 92 points a game to get more confidence, get easy baskets, see the ball go in at the free throw line and make a game out of it. We just continue to not learn from the mistakes that we make over and over again but in this case we are still happy to come away with the win.”

On shutting the Bucks down in the third quarter:
“In the third quarter we did a better job of limiting them to one shot. So we limit them to one shot, we were able to get the rebound and get out in transition, which opened up the floor for Ty [Lawson].”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On the second-half adjustments:
“We just switched up our defensive scheme. Instead of going under the pick on the point guard, we started trapping them. That helped us get energized and get some easy buckets.”

On getting the win tonight before a four-game road trip:
“Yeah, it would have been a sad day if we had lost this game—especially after Milwaukee was down by 20 and we are going on the road now and are in this playoff chase. I think we can win all four; we beat the Knicks, we beat Indiana, we haven’t seen Detroit and we also beat Minnesota, so I feel like it’s all on us playing hard and if we do I think we’ll win. If not, it will be a sad road trip.”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

On his offensive aggressiveness in the fourth quarter and the double-bounce three pointer:
“It kind of just opened up like that—a lot of broken plays at the end. I just shot it short actually, when I released it I thought it looked good, but it was short. We didn’t play to the best of our ability, but we won the game. We can take a lot of positives and negatives from this game, move on and get ready for New York.”

On the Bucks making a run in the fourth quarter after trailing by 18 in the second half:
“Definitely. You figure a team like that will give up, but they kept fighting and made it a game. At the end of the day they’re still professionals and everybody is good in this league so you can’t take anybody lightly.”

On going back to New York and playing in Madison Square Garden for the first time since being traded:
“It’s my first time because of injuries. It’ll be good—it’s been so long that it’s not a big deal anymore. If it was the first couple years, but it’s the third or fourth season now so it’s kind of died down. It’s the Mecca—it might be the oldest arena we have in the league, right? A lot of people have been through there, from every business—from singers, boxers, actors so it’s a real bright stage. You always want to play good there whether you’re a former Knick or not. We’re trying to make the playoffs, so you definitely want to go in and start it off early.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On hanging on after having an 18-point fourth-quarter lead
"We got the W. It’s not really that much of a big deal, but we don’t want to have to go through that and struggle to win that game. They’re still an NBA team. We have to come out with enthusiasm and put them away early.

On playing well against good teams and struggling against sub-.500 teams
We’ve been having that kind of effect recently. We’ll win a big game and come back and lose to a team we knew we should’ve beaten.

On key to building a lead in the third quarter:
I think it was just Ty’s aggressiveness. He came out with purpose, getting to the rim and we all followed suit. We got after it, rebounded more and blocked shots. We were doing the little things in order for us to stretch the lead out.

Bucks coach Larry Drew

On tonight's performance:
“We just came up short. First quarter Luke [Ridnour] was complaining about his back and right after the first he said he couldn’t go anymore. Then Ersan [Ilyasova], in the first six minutes of the third quarter, started experiencing some issues with his back. Once [Ilyasova] went out in the third, he couldn’t go back in. So, we kind of ran out of bodies. We played Larry [Sanders] and Zaza [Pachulia] together for a little while and I thought both those guys did a great job as far as playing together and playing off one another. But, we just really ran out of bodies.”

On the Nuggets backcourt:
“[The Nuggets] have a good backcourt. [Ty] Lawson is one of those guys you really have to be prepared to defend because he is so fast and quick. You are going to have to exert a lot of energy playing against a guy like that. You have to give us credit, defensively. We did a good job against the pick-and-rolls and we slowed Randy [Foye] down a little bit.”

On Larry Sanders:
“He played a phenomenal game. I’m not just talking about what he did from a point standpoint. He really attacked the glass, rebounded the ball well and played through some situations where normally he would have lost his composure. But, he maintained his composure and played through it. I thought he played a phenomenal game. It was good to have him out there in the four spot with Zaza [Pachulia]. I thought [Sanders] and Zaza did a good job playing together and playing off one another.”

Bucks guard Brandon Knight:

On tonight’s game:
“We had some positive moments in the first half and even in the second half. There were a lot of games where we didn’t have a fight and intensity and tonight we had it.”

On the second half:
“We had some trouble finishing the second half but we keep fighting and we cut the lead to three points so that’s positive for our team. We just have to find a way to get over that hump and win games.”

Bucks center Larry Sanders

On tonight’s game:
“It was a little different, we had to adjust to the altitude but that is not an excuse but we played hard. We battled, but they just made a lot of good plays down the stretch to take the momentum. Wilson Chandler was really aggressive attacking the basket and it worked it their favor.”

On missed opportunities:
“The ball was almost in the basket, it was just hanging on the rim it felt like but we just have to stay with it and stay positive.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with 24 points (11-19 FG), three rebounds and one block. It was his 30th career game with 24+ points, and he has shot at least 50 percent from the field in 27 of those games.

• Ty Lawson had 18 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists. It was just the second time in his career he has posted those numbers in the same game. It was his 23rd career double-double at home, improving the Nuggets’ record to 18-5 in those games.

• J.J. Hickson totaled 19 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. It was his 19th double-double of the season and the eighth time in his career registering 19+ points, 10+ rebounds and 2+ steals in the same game (second time doing so with two blocks as well).

• Randy Foye scored 20 points (5-10 3FG) to go with six assists and a career-high four blocks. It was the 19th time in his career he has scored 20+ points while making 5+ threes in the same game. Additionally, Foye is averaging three blocks in his last three games.

• Larry Sanders posted career-highs with 25 points and 15 rebounds. It was just the third 20-point/10-rebound game of his career.

TEAM

• The Nuggets have now won seven straight games over Milwaukee and nine of their last 11 home games over the Bucks.

• Denver has now won 55 of their last 58 home games when scoring 100+ points and it was their 52nd straight home win when scoring 110+ points.

• All five Denver starters scored in double-figures for the third straight game (fourth in last five games) and ninth time this year, going 6-3 in those games.

• The Nuggets’ starters scored a combined 91 points, tied for the second-most total by the starting unit this season (most was 100 last game vs. LAC on 2/3).

• It is the first time the Nuggets have had all five starters score 10+ points in three straight games since they did so in three straight from 2/7/07 to 2/10/07.

• The Nuggets shot 10-of-23 (.435) from three-point range tonight, moving to 10-3 on the year when making 10+ threes.

• Milwaukee shot .379 from the field tonight, the first time Denver has held an opponent to under 40 percent shooting since OKC (.353) on 1/9/14. Denver is 6-1 this year when their opponent shoots under 40 percent.

• The Nuggets registered a season-high 12 blocks, their most in a game since they had 12 vs. MIL on 2/5/13. Denver has now gone 69-6 dating back to March 2003 when blocking 10-or-more shots.