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Barton's Big Overtime Closes Out Nuggets 11th Home Victory
Will Barton doesn’t dwell on tough times, but he doesn’t forget them, either. The Nuggets guard felt he missed an opportunity to close out a win for his team in Indiana on Sunday. He was not about to let that happen again on Friday night.
So, when the ball was back in his hands, in overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans, with plays needing to be made to seal a victory, he knew this time would be different. And different was better in what became a Nuggets 117-111 win at the Pepsi Center.
“I didn’t close that game (at Indiana),” Barton said. “I had the ball in my hands to win the game, even before that, to kind of close it and I didn’t come through. So, I take that personally and tonight I came up big in overtime for us.”
Did he ever.
Barton scored 11 of the Nuggets 13 points in overtime, and he did it in a variety of ways – two 3-pointers. A fast-break dunk. A free throw. Barton flipped the switch right when the Nuggets needed it most, and these are times he relishes. He was 4-for-4 from the field in overtime, including knocking down both of his 3-point attempts.
“I love it,” said Barton, who finished with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds. “It does the most for me. I can’t lie to you, I take a lot of pride in being a closer for this team. My teammates trusted me in that role, the coaching staff does. … To be able to do that and have that trust in me, it means the world to me.”
Getting the team to that point was a group effort, punctuated by the most important play of the game – Torrey Craig blocking a last-second jump-shot attempt by Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. When the ball was inbounded, the Pelicans immediately isolated Craig -- who had just been called up from the G League -- on Holiday, who had scored on the Nuggets all night long.
“My first thought was he was going to try to take me to the basket,” Craig said. “But then he pulled up for the jumper and I was able to get a piece of it. Either way, I thought I was going to get a block. It was just too crucial. I knew we needed a stop.”
Trey Lyles scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the Nuggets rally from 10 down in the period to take a lead, then hold on to get the game to overtime. The Nuggets as a whole rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second quarter to make a game of it.
Nikola Jokić returned to the lineup as a reserve after missing seven games with a sprained ankle, and in 22 minutes he had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Gary Harris turned in another high-scoring game, leading the team with 21 points. Lyles had 19 points along with Barton.
Overall, the Nuggets won their eighth-straight home game and are 11-2 this season at the Pepsi Center. Coach Michael Malone pointed to one other important aspect of the victory.
“The most important thing is we win the season series,” Malone said. “We’re down 18, we look like we’ve been on a long road trip; we have no legs. But our guys never quit.”
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter