"I think we wore them out," said George Karl. "We created some turnovers with our active hands."
The Nuggets scored 32 points off turnovers, much to the chagrin of Rockets head coach Kevin McHale.
"[Evan] Fournier and [Corey] Brewer came in and changed the whole dynamic," said McHale. "They've beaten us the same way every all the time. We throw them the ball; they score it - 32 points for them off turnovers is ridiculous and that's what we did."
Playing in Portland last night, it was imperative that the Rockets get off to a good start. Their aggressive drives and shooting allowed them to do exactly that. Houston claimed a 35-25 lead in the first quarter off 6-9 shooting from deep and an 11-14 mark at the foul line. Meanwhile, the Nuggets were whistled for 9 personal fouls and shot 11-24 in the quarter (45.8%). James Harden was 0-2 from the field, but got all 8 first quarter points at the charity stripe.
Things began to change in the second quarter. The Rockets went 1-7 from deep, while Denver used the go-go energy of Corey Brewer and defensive intensity to flip the game. The Nuggets shot 14-21 (66.7%), including 4-6 from deep (2-3 for Wilson Chandler) and ran the Rockets into the locker room with a 39-21 performance.
Wilson had a bit of a slow start replacing Danilo Gallinari in the lineup. He was 0-1 in the first quarter and committed two quick fouls and had to sit. He spoke after the game about wanting to get Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala off to quick starts.
"You want to let the two vets get started, you don't want to take away from them," said Chandler. "Especially with Gallo and Ty being out; we need them [Miller and Iguodala] to be aggressive. We can get our buckets in the flow of the game."
Denver took a 64-56 lead into the half with Brewer's 13 points (4-9 shooting) leading the way. Andre Iguodala played the role of assist man by handing out 8 dimes and he wasn't even close to being done. Iguodala would finish just three rebounds shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds. Asked if he knew he was three rebounds short of being the first Nuggets player to get a triple double since Marcus Camby he had the following to say.
"I know," said Iguodala. "Wilson took two of them and if coach would have left me in. I'll get one, if not the couple last games I'll get one in the playoffs."
Getting comfortable before the playoffs, the Nuggets are working three different faces into the rotation. Chandler into the starting lineup and Fournier and Anthony Randolph as main reserves off the bench.
"We have a lot of guys who want to prove themselves in this league," said Iguodala. "That's why I feel like we shouldn't miss a beat. Wilson has been playing really well for us and he's hungry to get more minutes; same with [Fournier and Randolph]. We know what we're getting when they're in the game and we're not surprised at all."
Fournier finished with 17 points on 7-14 shooting (3-6 from deep) and Randolph finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals in 21 minutes of action. Randolph proved to be a pest on defense that can cover guards out near half-court and was finding easy buckets in the flow of the offense.
"I know that my role on this team is not to be a scorer," said Randolph. "[I look] to rebound, run the floor, and be solid on the pick-and-roll coverage."
Denver came out of the locker room with focus and more aggression and won the third 38-27 with Chandler (4-6 shooting) leading the way with 9 points and Kenneth Faried was getting the crowd going with some nasty dunks (4-4 shooting) and 8 points of his own. Denver shot 16-25 (64%) in the quarter to Houston's 9-20 (45%) and built a 102-83 lead and the game was essentially over as Denver's 77-48 run in the second and third blew the game open.
The fourth quarter was a formality as the Nuggets were outscored 31-30, but won the game going away.
Views you can use:
-The Nuggets were 11-25 from three-point land on the night with Fournier and Chandler both going 3-6 from deep to lead the team in that department.
-The Nuggets grabbed 13 offensive rebounds of the possible 43 available boards (30%), came up with 12 steals, and the Rockets committed 18 turnovers to Denver's 9 turnovers.
-Brewer led the Nuggets with 22 points.
-JaVale McGee played just 8 minutes tonight and scored 6 points off 3-4 shooting and grabbed 3 rebounds. Kosta Koufos only logged 19 minutes and put up the same numbers as McGee. Karl spoke before the game about having difficulty figuring out how to play small without Gallo ... looks like that isn't an issue if Randolph can perform on this level.
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