Den­ver picks up pace to win


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

Their home­s­tand goals still firmly at­tain­able, the Nuggets went about the work of putting Fri­day’s dis­ap­point­ment be­hind them and fo­cus­ing on the In­di­ana Pac­ers. And they got back on track. Their de­fense took the night off, but their of­fense didn’t.

And, for that mat­ter, nei­ther did grit.

The Nuggets scored a sea­son­high 45 points in the fourth quar­ter and won a shootout Sun­day night at the Pepsi Cen­ter, 129-126 over the Pac­ers.

“Ev­ery­body con­trib­uted, and ob­vi­ously I wasn’t happy with the de­fense. But that was a heck of a win for us,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “At the end of the day, not the pret­ti­est win but we’ll take it.”

The vic­tory im­proved the Nuggets to 3-1 on this home­s­tand, the only loss to Mi­ami on Fri­day. They’ve won four of their last six.

Beat­ing the Pac­ers meant overcoming turnovers and a hotshooting In­di­ana team.

And though the Nuggets were shaky on de­fense all game long, they got the one stop that mat­tered most — an Em­manuel Mu­diay block on Paul Ge­orge’s last­sec­ond 3-point at­tempt.

“I was not wor­ried at all,” Mu­diay said. “I knew we were go­ing to come back in the se­cond half.” It was a back-and-forth af­fair. In­di­ana rained down jumpers from all an­gles in the first half.

Forty-six of In­di­ana’s 66 points came on jumpers as the Nuggets weren’t able to con­test shots well. Monta El­lis was one of Den­ver’s big­gest prob­lems.

He hit five of his seven jump shots, two from 3-point range, and scored 15 first-half points.

Turnovers put the Nuggets in bad sit­u­a­tions.

The Pac­ers are the NBA’s best team at con­vert­ing turnovers into points, and they held true to that form, forc­ing 10 Nuggets turnovers and cash­ing in those for 18 points in the first half.

Wild swings de­fined the third quar­ter. The Nuggets started on a 26-12 tear to take a two-point lead.

The Pac­ers an­swered with an 11-2 run to snatch the lead back and push it to seven points. That be­came a 13-4 run to end the quar­ter.

De­fend­ing was an is­sue through­out for the Nuggets.

The Pac­ers’ shoot­ing suc­cess never dipped below 60 per­cent at any point in the first three quar­ters.

But the Nuggets fig­ured things out in the fourth.

“We were just mak­ing shots,” guard Randy Foye said. “We usu­ally get those shots, we just don’t make them. But I think to­day we knocked those shots down. It was a tale of two halves; the first half was theirs and the se­cond half was ours.”

Danilo Gal­li­nari scored 23 points be­fore foul­ing out late in the fourth. With Gal­li­nari on the bench, other play­ers came through. Will Bar­ton hit a 3-poin­ter. Mu­diay’s mon­ster dunk with 1:21 tied the game at 121. But Ge­orge an­swered to give the Pac­ers the lead. A goaltending call on a Bar­ton floater tied the game at 123.

The Nuggets got a stop and then Foye knocked down a 3point shot with 20.9 sec­onds re­main­ing, giv­ing the Nuggets a 126-123 lead.

Bar­ton scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth and the Nuggets siz­zled, mak­ing 15-of-22 in the fi­nal frame.

“I felt like I let the team down in the first half,” Bar­ton said. “Ken­neth (Faried) and Gary (Har­ris) and (Dar­rell Arthur) were telling me let’s go, take over the game and be your­self. So with sup­port like that from my team­mates I felt like I owed them.”

David Zalubowski, The As­so­ci­ated Press

In­di­ana Pac­ers for­ward Paul Ge­orge fouls Nuggets for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari dur­ing the first half of Sun­day’s game at the Pepsi Cen­ter.

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