A miracle comeback for the Nuggets. The Sixers outscored Denver 29-26 in the fourth quarter and they outplayed Denver most of the night. The Nuggets stole this one (although they did make plays down the stretch to come back) and things went from awful to excellent in a manner of seconds. The Nuggets were down 98-90 with 1:52 left, down 100-95 with just 0:14 seconds left, but came out with a 101-100 win.
Corey Brewer scored a team-high 29 points on 10-18 shooting (4-5 from deep) and nailed three free throws, after a Damien Wilkins (24 points for Philly - team high) foul out above the three point line. Brewer finished the night 5-6 from the charity stripe and his three pressure free throws won the game for Denver.
Brewer's night was special and he scored the final 6 points for the Nuggets in the final :09 seconds. Even though it was incredible - it's wasn't as good as Rodney Rodger's 9 points in 9 seconds against John Stockton and the Utah Jazz ...
With the Nuggets down 100-98, Evan Turner missed two free throws to ice the game and gave the Nuggets a chance to tie or win. Karl drew up an odd play that saw Andre Miller inbound to Danilo Gallinari, Gallo fake a hand-off to Miller, give the hand-off to Brewer, who curled off the Gallo screen to fire up an awkward long-range three from the top of the key that Damien Wilkins clipped Brewer's left wing on. C-Brew would head to the line for three free throws.
A win is a win and the Nuggets need them all, but they should not have won this game. It was Philly's game to lose and they did just that.
The Nuggets lone bugaboo at home this season? Teams coming in on the second of a back-to-back. These are supposed to be "gimmie" games, guaranteed wins. Of Denver's three home losses, two have come to teams on the second of a double-dip (Heat and Timberwolves). The energy wasn't good tonight and neither was the focus of George Karl's team. Where was the leadership from the big dogs?
The Nuggets were missing Ty Lawson (heel) and Wilson Chandler (shoulder) due to injury. In their absence, Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala needed to step-up. Karl has referred to Gallo, Iguodala, and Lawson as his "studs", but Gallo and Iggy didn't step up tonight. The two combined to shoot just 8-19 on the night to go along with 11 turnovers. Gallo was just 3-10 (for 12 points) with 7 turnovers and Iguodala was 5-9 (not bad) with 13 points and 4 turnovers.
Since averaging 19.3 points in January, Gallo has seen his numbers dip to 16.3 ppg in February, and a pedestrian 12.3 ppg so far in March. Where have you gone Gallo?
To start things off, Andre Miller moved into the starting lineup and to replace Chandler, George Karl turned to Anthony Randolph in the first quarter. Even Evan Fournier saw some minutes as the backup point guard in the first.
It didn't seem to matter who Karl brought in to start the game, the Nuggets came out flatter than a crepe and trailed at the end of one 22-17. We've seen Miller replace Lawson as a starter a few times this season (due to injury) and the veteran has done a great job, but - even though he was active - Miller just wasn't the usual engine this Nuggets offense is used to. Lawson is built to run this team.
Like he did in the first game, Spencer Hawes started hot and scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in the first. There was a lack of energy from the Nuggets and a lack of boxing out from the big men. The Sixers were able to get 3 offensive boards out of the 11 available.
Kenneth Faried did have an awesome block on Thaddeus Young on a fastbreak dunk attempt and in the second quarter, Corey Brewer broke up an alley-oop attempt on a 2-on-1 fastbreak. Chris Marlowe broke out his, "steal of the century" line for the Brewer steal and Denver was able to grab a brief lead 32-30 after a Faried putback bunny.
The second quarter saw spurts of better play for the Nuggets for longer stretches of time. Denver could afford to play their way into the game as the Sixers played in Los Angeles the night before and didn't seem eager to try to run away with things. Give credit Denver's more active defense and aggressive offense in the second quarter for the 34-22 scoring outburst. Corey Brewer scored 13 points (15 points in the first half) in the period on 5-8 shooting (3-4 from downtown) as well as our two Andres (Iguodala and Miller) getting 6 points each. Denver took a 51-44 lead into the locker room and appeared ready to put this game away in the third quarter.
In the third, the Nuggets opened again a little bit slowly, but whenever they went to the rim - they got buckets. The Sixers don't have any shot blockers and were not looking to challenge Denver all the way to the rim. The Nuggets pushed their lead to 9 points, but Philly quickly got back into things with three-point shooting and creating turnovers (blocks, steals, bad shots at the end of the shot clock). Denver's lead vanished, 58-57 and a 12-2 run for Philly, with 7:00 minutes to play. From there Denver went on a little 18-13 run to take a 75-71 lead into the fourth.
Karl went away from Fournier and let Iguodala run the point for about four minutes in the third. Randolph again saw the primary backup power forward minutes and played with nice energy. He had 3 points and 2 steal in the period and played within the offense. Randolph also had a nice move from the top of the key that resulted in a nice wide-open monster jam. His potential is still jaw-dropping, but it's so hard to find him minutes with this roster to develop. JaVale McGee had a team-high 6 points in the third and was 4-5 at the foul line, impressive.
To start the fourth, the Nuggets once again came out flat - expecting the Sixers to eventually give up. Philly turned a four point deficit into a three point lead - 79-76 - in the first three minutes of the quarter. Karl had no choice but to call a timeout to try to fire up his squad. Karl's timeout didn't seem to do a lot of good as the Sixers pushed their lead to 85-79. Karl decided to go small and let Faried do all the work as the center to try to get a quicker pace - Philly was free to attack inside and they did. Some dunks, some offensive boards, and no fear of blocked shots (Faried can get to some). With 4:19 left, Koufos checked in with the score 89-86 - along with Miller, Brewer, Iguodala, and Gallo. Then the madness of the evening broke as Philly saw a 98-90 lead with two minutes left just evaporate.
Nuggets win. What a bad and yet good game.
Views you can use:
-The Nuggets were 7-11 from three-point land, but without Brewer they were just 2-5 (Gallo was 2-3).
-Andre Miller was 9-14 from the field for 21 points. In Lawson's absence, Miller put his imprint on the game and demanded his offense. I would have liked to see Gallo step it up a lot more, but for whatever reason he finished third in field goal attempts.
-The Nuggets turned the ball over 19 times ... yuck. But Philly turned it over 22 times.
-I have to say ... with three big time emotional games in the past week or so against the Knicks, Grizzlies, and Thunder - we were bound to see a bit of an emotional letdown from the Nuggets. This game was very disturbing and the win will gloss over a lot of the issues, but I have a feeling the team won't soon forget the lessons of this game.
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