The Denver Nuggets blew a fourteen point lead Monday night but, still found a way to defeat the Indiana Pacers for the second time this season. Denver won 102-101 in the end, nabbing their 28th win of the season and fourth straight victory. The Nuggets are now 18-3 at home, and won without both Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee who missed the game due to injuries. Denver came out sluggish, playing with no energy on the defensive end or rebounding but did a good job to control the tempo of the game behind Ty Lawson in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
Lawson did a great job starting in the 2nd quarter, of being aggressive on both ends of the floor. He finished with 18 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals(3 of which came in the 2nd quarter). When Indiana tried slowing the game down with fouls and playing in the halfcourt, Lawson was the one who took over for Denver speeding up the pace of the game. Lawson hit multiple mid-range jump shots in this game, pressured the ball, forced steals and created for others with his dribble penetration into the lane. Danilo Gallinari was also fantastic for the mile high crew, recording 27 points and hitting 2 crucial free throws in this game, with the scored tied at 99. Gallinari was good all game, shooting 3/6 from beyond the arc, scoring in transition and finishing multiple and one opportunities. He also scored six straight points in the third quarter, starting a 10-3 run for Denver, while also scoring eleven of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. Gallinari now has six games this season where he’s scored at least 25 points or more.
The real hero of the game for Denver though was Andre Iguodala, who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Iguodala had a great 1st quarter, scoring eight of his 13 points during the period and doing a very good job defensively of making Paul George work for every shot. However the game didn’t end so well for Iguodala, he gave up a four point play to Paul George and missed four straight free throws down the stretch for Denver. Iguodala did get his redemption though, stripping the ball from guard Orlando Johnson to get Denver one last possession. Then he was fouled by George while going up for a inbounds pass from Andre Miller and was sent to the free throw line with 0.5 seconds remaining. There, Iguodala would sink the first and eventual game winning free throw to give Denver the 102-101 victory at home. Kosta Koufos also was pivotal for the Nuggets, especially with his 3rd quarter performance. Koufos finished with a near double-double(9 points, 11 rebounds), while also making a significant impact on the defensive end with three blocks. He held Pacers center Roy Hibbert to 3/12 shooting from the field and helped give Denver a spark during the 3rd quarter.
The Nuggets did a great job of controlling the paint, outscoring Indiana 50-36 inside. Denver also controlled the tempo for the most part, finishing with 21 fast break points and 18 points off of 18 Pacers turnovers. Both teams shot well, hitting nearly half of there shots from beyond the arc(Denver shot 50% from the three point line) but, the Nuggets did struggle with their rotations on the defensive end, giving up multiple open looks from downtown(Indiana hit 11 3’s). Denver also did a poor job of rebounding the ball defensively and closing out the game, allowing the Pacers to grab 16 offensive rebounds(Kenneth Faried getting into foul trouble early, had a lot to do with this) and go on a 17-3 run in the fourth quarter to end the game. The Nuggets now move on to play the Houston Rockets next at the Pepsi Center, a team they’ve already beat twice in Houston. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm mountain time tomorrow night, as Denver will look to win their fifth game in a row.