The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 106-104 behind Ty Lawson's thrilling buzzer beating layup.
As we saw a few times last season, the Nuggets had a lead late (103-99), but didn't make things easy on themselves (Matt Barnes buried a three and Danilo Gallinari went just 1-2 at the foul line late) as the Clippers were able to tie the game at 104-104 on an Eric Bledsoe layup with just seconds remaining. After a timeout (and advancing the ball to midcourt) George Karl turned to old friend Anthony Carter to inbound the ball. Carter found Ty Lawson and Lawson did the rest as he raced to the rim and beat Bledsoe for the layup and game winner.
The Nuggets were able to practice a crucial end of game situation and they did so with success. The game reminded me of the Cleveland Cavaliers game in Denver last season. It was Kyrie Irving making a layup and late and then Lawson was unable to sink the game winner as the Nuggets lost that contest. Not this time. Lawson's confidence was on display and the Nuggets are now 1-0 in Las Vegas.
-Karl fooled us all by starting Kosta Koufos at center. Koufos played just 15 minutes (6 points and 8 rebounds), JaVale McGee 16 minutes (4 points and 2 rebounds), and Timofey Mozgov played 18 minutes (2 points and 3 rebounds). Center by committee for a total of 12 points and 13 rebounds for the boys in the middle. Karl had Kenneth Faried and McGee on the floor at the end of the game ... worked just fine!
-Anthony Randolph played 18 minutes and put up 8 points and 7 rebounds. He could really thrive in Denver's system, it'll be interesting to see how he meshes with this team. With his size and athleticism, he could be the steal of the off-season.
-Jordan Hamilton showed that he could fill the scoring role off Denver's bench. The second year man lit up the Clippers for 17 points and was 3-6 from downtown.
-Kenneth Faried put up a team-high 18 points, but somehow only grabbed 1 rebound in 23 minutes of play. Is that some kind of error? Just doesn't seem right for Faried, haha.
-Gallo and Andre Iguodala each started and had efficient nights from the floor. Gallo played 24 minutes and displayed the kind of three-point shooting the Nuggets will need from him all season going 3-6 from deep. Iguodala played about 25 minutes and scored 8 points, had 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. I'm excited to see what Iguodala can do with this team.
-Lawson and Anthony Carter combined for 10 turnovers. An uncharacteristically high 6 turnovers from Lawson. Let's hope that's just a little pre-season rust. Lawson recorded 6 assists in 27 minutes of play and scored just 8 points.
-Corey Brewer played 22 minutes and was 7-8 from the field for 16 points. He even buried both of his three-point attempts!
-Evan Fournier was the only rookie to see action for the Nuggets, playing just under 7 minutes and putting up 2 assists.