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Nuggets Can't Hold on to Late Lead, Fall to Pacers in OT
INDIANAPOLIS – The stinging nature of the Nuggets’ 126-116 overtime loss to Indiana on Sunday could have reverberated for at least the night. But Nuggets coach Michael Malone had a different view of the game in the aftermath.
“That was a great game for us, let’s not forget who we are missing,” Malone said. “We played against a very good Indiana Pacers team on the road, tough place to play, and we had our chances to win the game in regulation.”
But they couldn’t. The Nuggets looked to have control of the game when Gary Harris nailed a 3-point shot with 2:54 in the fourth to give his team a 114-106 lead. But the Nuggets would not score again until Kenneth Faried’s layup with 13.2 seconds left in overtime.
In between, the Pacers finished the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to tie it. A Will Barton jumper at the buzzer, which would have given the Nuggets a win in regulation, rimmed off. And then in overtime, Indiana scored 12 consecutive points before Faried’s bucket. So, in a total span of 7:54, the Nuggets had been outscored 20-2. And overall, the Pacers lead player, the vastly-improved Victor Oladipo, scored a career-high 47 points.
“They are a very good basketball team,” Malone said. “Oladipo is a great player, but I am very proud of how our guys played tonight. I am very proud how we competed and gave ourselves a chance to win on the road. And I think you see is down the stretch, not having a Paul Millsap or a Nikola Jokic – a go-to player that you can go to in order to close the game is really important.”
Malone lamented the fact he ran some players “into the ground,” playing them big minutes. Barton and Harris played 44 minutes each. Wilson Chandler logged 37 minutes, and Faried put in 32 minutes of work.
Lyles turned in the best scoring game of his career. He had a career-high 25 points, back in the state in which he grew up. Lyles scored 15 of those points in the fourth quarter. He made 9-of-15 shots, including five 3-pointers, part of a Nuggets team that made 17 shots from behind the arc.
Asked what was working for him, Lyles said, “just staying confident, continuing to shoot, not passing up shots when I had the opportunity. I was taking them as they came to me.”
Chandler got the Nuggets off on the right foot, scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points and finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. Harris and Barton scored 21 points apiece. They led by as many as 19 points in the game, but could not hold on, falling to 1-3 on the current six-game road trip.
“It was just one of those games,” Harris said. “They went on a run that gave them momentum in the fourth quarter, and they were able to win.”
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter