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Nuggets match franchise record with 54th victory

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted April 11 2013 01:47

In George Karl’s recurring basketball nightmare, his team takes the floor and just can’t find a way to score.

Turnovers. Missed layups. Missed jumpers. Missed opportunities.

For the opening 5 minutes Wednesday night, the bad dream was playing out in real life.

The Nuggets missed six shots and committed four turnovers on their first 10 possessions against the San Antonio Spurs before rallying for a 96-86 victory that matched the team record for most wins in a single season.

Wilson Chandler led the way with 29 points and Andre Iguodala added a triple-double as Denver improved to 54-24, tying the mark set by the 1987-88 and 2008-09 teams. The Nuggets also set an NBA team record with their 21st consecutive home win.

The streak looked to be in serious jeopardy when San Antonio jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the game’s first 4:56, but the Nuggets chipped away and then seized control with a 23-5 run at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.

“That’s not the way you want to start the game, but to fight back and get that win shows a lot of heart; it shows a lot of togetherness,” Chandler said. “That’s a good win for us.”

Corey Brewer also was a catalyst, scoring 28 points to help the Nuggets maintain the inside track for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Denver is one game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies and two games clear of the Los Angeles Clippers.

“We’re feeling very confident,” Brewer said. “We need the 3-seed. We want home court in the first round, so we are trying to get every win we can get.”

The Nuggets improved to a league-best 36-3 at Pepsi Center, matching the team record for the most home wins since joining the NBA 37 years ago. Denver also won 36 games at McNichols Arena in 1976-77.

Even riding a wave of superlatives, the Nuggets understand the importance of staying focused over the final week of the season. That point was driven home when the Spurs led by 14 points before many fans were even in their seats.

After going 6-for-27 from the field, Denver caused problems for San Antonio defensively and eventually found a better pace and rhythm. The Nuggets went 33-for-59 the rest of the way and committed only five turnovers after halftime.

“The team has a resilient attitude towards whatever has to happen in a game to win it,” Karl said. “Tonight’s game was very strange in a lot of ways, but our guys kept fighting and kept figuring it out.”

Reserve center JaVale McGee provided energy and rim protection, blocking four shots in 16 minutes of play. He spiked a layup attempt by Gary Neal so hard off the backboard that it led to a fast-break layup by Brewer late in the first quarter.

McGee and Chandler later blocked Tim Duncan on back-to-back shot attempts during the decisive stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters.

“The team hung together with its defense,” Karl said. “I thought JaVale and the bench came in and gave us more defensive energy and got some fast breaks and got our personality going the right way.”

Chandler also found a rhythm, scoring eight points in an 80-second stretch of the third quarter.

“Just being aggressive at the right time,” he said. “The third quarter was the right time.”

Iguodala also asserted himself in the third and fourth quarters. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for his ninth career triple-double and first with the Nuggets.

It was the first triple-double by a Denver player since Marcus Camby on March 16, 2008.

"It just was playing ball,” Iguodala said. “I’m noticing when I rebound a little bit more, the game comes a little easier. I’ve got to continue to rebound. With (starters) Ty (Lawson) and Gallo (Danilo Gallinari) being out, I have few opportunities to get there. The main thing is just winning.”

Gallinari is out for the season with a torn knee ligament, while Lawson has missed eight of the past nine games with a planar fascia tear in his right heel.

Lawson returned to practice this week and Karl is hopeful he can play when the Nuggets face the Mavericks in Dallas on Friday.

STAR OF THE GAME

Wilson Chandler

Points 29 11-20 FG, 4-4 FT
Rebounds 8, 3 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 4
Steals 2
Blocks 1
GAME LEADERS
Points Wilson Chandler 29
Rebounds Andre Iguodala 13
Assists Andre Iguodala 10
Steals Andre Iguodala, Kawhi Leonard 3
Blocks JaVale McGee 4
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Corey Brewer on falling behind 14-0 before rallying to beat San Antonio

"We knew they were going to run their offense, run their stuff, play hard defense. We knew we had to be ready to go, and they came out and hit us in the mouth but we are at home. We had to do whatever it takes to get a win."

KEY MOMENT

Nuggets seize control with fourth-quarter blitz

Leading by six after three quarters, the Nuggets scored the first 13 points over a 3:52 span to start the fourth. Denver forced three turnovers and the Spurs missed six consecutive shots during that stretch.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On the Nuggets first quarter struggles:
“I thought the whole game had a lot of weirdness to it. We changed our personality and got away with just an awful quarter. We defended hard. I thought the bench came in and gave us a great effort and got our energy in the game. It was two good offensive teams struggling to score. I am sure they missed their playmakers, we missed our playmakers. We started to play better in the third quarter and Wilson [Chandler] was fantastic. [Andre] Iguodala does all of the little stuff. I thought JaVale [McGee]’s 16 minutes were really good for us, a lot of emotion in those minutes for us. It was an ugly, sloppy win but we will take it.”

On Wilson Chandler:
“He has a lot of matchups where he has a lot of opportunity, especially when he plays four to do what we want done [by] attacking the gap and getting to the rim. I thought putting him at four early in the third quarter, was kind of how the pendulum went where they got us up five or six in the third. I thought when we put Wilson at four, Corey [Brewer] came in and we got some offense going and we just kept going. We kept going and he made a three - maybe two threes - and then our defense got some turnovers in the game which is what took it from ten to twenty [points].”

On the possibility of winning more games than the 2009 Western Conference Final team:
“I hope we can win 57 or 58 [games]. The team has a resilient attitude towards whatever has to happen in a game to win it. Tonight’s game was very strange in a lot of ways but our guys kept fighting and kept figuring it out. We came away offensively and we sustained our defensive effort for most of the game.”

Nuggets forward Corey Brewer

On Wilson Chandler’s great play:
“Wilson is playing great. We needed him big tonight and he came out and made shots and got us back in the game.”

On the Spurs without Tony Parker: “We knew they were going to run their offense, run their stuff, play hard defense. We knew we had to be ready to go and they came out and hit us in the mouth but we are at home. We had to do whatever [we could] to get a win.”

On being on track to get the three-seed for the playoffs:
“We are feeling very confident. We need the three-seed. We need home court in the first round so we are trying to get every win we can get.”

On low-scoring first half:
“We were surprised. We couldn’t make a shot and you could kind of tell we were a little tired. We pushed through it and were able to push the pace in the fourth quarter to get [the Spurs] out of [the game].”

Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler

On taking control of the game at the start of fourth quarter:
“Yeah definitely. They started to wear down and once [Tim] Duncan goes out, they don’t have any shot blockers so we attacked the rim.”

On two blocks against Duncan and dunk on other end of court:
“JaVale [McGee] got the block and then I saw Tim Duncan going up and I thought about it. I don’t want to get dunked on so I went up and blocked it. Once the crowd gets into it, we are pretty much unstoppable. We start attacking right away. Corey [Brewer] goes and attacks.”

On what gets him going offensively:
“Picking the right time to go attack the rim, that is something that Coach Karl preaches.”

On winning franchise record 21-straight games at home:
“The main goal is to get the three-seed and home court advantage going into the playoffs.”

On what makes Corey Brewer so effective:
“He has no conscience. He gambles on defense and he takes bad shots (laughing), but it works.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

On what happened in the fourth quarter:
“A couple of things, you don’t make shots. It’s pretty easy to fast break off of turnovers. I don’t know what we were from the 3-point line, but it wasn’t good. When you’re that bad from the 3-point line and you turn it over in that particular period at the same time, people make runs.”

On pace and getting back on defense:
“We were fine. You can’t get back off of turnovers, and that’s what kills you.”

On if Tony Parker will play Friday:
“We’ll see how he feels.”

Spurs forward Tim Duncan

On the difference in the second half:
“Defense intensity turned up for [Denver]. They got some turnovers and turned them into points. We got back on our heels a little bit, still stayed in the game, still did a great job of sticking around; we just couldn’t make shots consistently. Their pressure got to us.”

On not playing in the fourth quarter:
“They fought back. They fought back from whatever it was to down five, and at that point I’m not asking back in the game. Those guys fought us back to that point and if they could get us to the point where we were close enough I’d love to step in and try help out, but I’m not going to complain about the work that they did and the fight they had to get back to where they were.”

On what they learned tonight to take to the playoffs:
“We learned a lot, I’ll just leave it at that. We know how they attack; we know what kind of beast they were coming in here. We understand what their game is about and what they want to do, and hopefully we can be whole when we face them again and that will help us tremendously.”

Spurs guard Cory Joseph

On if there was a chance to pull off the win with a 1:30 left:
“We always thought we could. We kept on pushing and playing our game and got within five, and then a couple mistakes hurt us down the stretch.”

On the effects of the injuries on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili:
“A couple of guys, it’s unfortunate, but the guys we have in have to stay focused and be ready to play.”

On what was the biggest factor on the Nuggets run to start the fourth quarter:
“I would say the turnovers that we had. I had a couple, turnovers that led to easy buckets.”

On the strength of the Nuggets despite not having a super star:
“[Denver] plays well together, they play as a team. All the guys, they move the ball and they get out and run. Obviously that’s one of their strengths, and they did it well today.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala registered 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in tonight’s win en route to his ninth career triple-double (first this season). He becomes the first Nugget to record a triple-double since Marcus Camby on 3/16/08 vs. SEA. It is Iguodala’s first triple-double since 1/28/12 vs. DET as a member of the 76ers.

• Additionally, Iguodala has registered at least seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists in each of his last three games. Iguodala is averaging 12.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game in his last three games.

• Wilson Chandler put up 29 points, eight boards and four assists tonight. It is the third time in his career that he has reached those numbers in a game (second time this season). It’s his third game this season with 29+ points, with all those efforts coming against playoff teams (SAS, CHI, OKC). In his last three games, Chandler is averaging 19.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

• Corey Brewer scored 28 points off the bench on 12-of-25 (.480) shooting. It is Brewer’s third-straight game with at least 20 points, tying the longest stretch of his career scoring 20+ (1/26/10 – 1/29/10). In his last three games, Brewer is averaging 24.3 points per game.

• Additionally, Corey Brewer’s 25 shot attempts set a new career high, besting his previous mark of 21 shot attempts (at LAC on 11/2/09).

• Kosta Koufos grabbed 10 rebounds in tonight’s win. It is the 14th time this year that Koufos has registered at least 10 rebounds in a game (12-2). Coming into this year, Koufos had only accomplished this feat eight times in his career.

• JaVale McGee registered 10 rebounds and four blocks off the bench tonight, marking the 22nd time in his career that he has reached these numbers. It is just the first time that he has done so in a Nuggets uniform.

TEAM

• With tonight’s win, Denver has now won a franchise NBA record 21 straight home games while also tying their franchise record for wins in a season (54; also did in 2008-09 and 1987-88) and most wins at home in single season (36; also did in 1976-77).

• Denver trailed by as many as 14 before coming back to win, their 13th comeback of 10+ points this season.

• The Nuggets are now 32-3 when holding their opponent under 100 points and 12-2 when allowing fewer than 90.

• Denver’s 11 first-quarter points was a new season-low for points in the first quarter (was 14 at POR on 12/20). However, they were able to hold the Spurs to 37 first-half points, their season-low for points in any half.

• The Nuggets outrebounded the Spurs 53 to 43, their 19th game with a +10-or-better rebound differential. Denver has outrebounded their opponent in 51 of 78 games and are 17-3 when grabbing 50-or-more boards.

• Corey Brewer scored 28 points off the bench, moving Denver to 17-2 when a reserve scores 20+ points.

• Additionally, both Brewer and Wilson Chandler (29 points) scored 20+ points tonight. The Nuggets are now 21-6 when two-or-more players score 20+. They have now won 17 straight when accomplishing this.

• The Nuggets are now 37-7 on the year when recording more points off turnovers than their opponents.