Gal­li­nari scores sea­son-high 24 as Nuggets end streak


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

philadel­phia» Two days ear­lier, the Nuggets left Salt Lake City, beaten by the Utah Jazz but en­cour­aged by the process. They felt they had re­gained a bit of them­selves that they lost in a flurry of losses. Turns out they were right. There were no moral vic­to­ries Mon­day night in Philadel­phia, only a real one. The Nuggets’ 10698 win over the 76ers snapped a three-game los­ing streak but, most im­por­tant, gave them a chance to ex­hale and re­group af­ter los­ing five of six com­ing into the game.

“We talked about it. We knew we had to get the win,” Nuggets for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari said. “We were able to ex­e­cute the game, es­pe­cially on the de­fen­sive end through­out the whole game, and I thought we did a good job with that.”

It was a grind. An­other bad first quar­ter (with Den­ver down 27-18) fea­tured nine turnovers to kick things off. But the Nuggets got steadily bet­ter from there. They outscored Philadel­phia in each of the fi­nal three quar­ters.

It wasn’t un­til late in the third, how­ever, that the Nuggets took their first lead of the game. Gal­li­nari’s free throws gave them a brief 64-63 lead — the Six­ers came right back with a 3-pointer — but

the mo­men­tum had shifted to the men in pow­der blue.

The Nuggets took a four­point lead into the fourth quar­ter and built that ad­van­tage to 11. Philadel­phia ral­lied to make a game of it down the stretch, but the Nuggets were able to fin­ish things off and get the much-needed win.

“You have to take a deep breath, en­joy the win and un­der­stand why you win,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “When we win is when we de­fend at a high level for four quar­ters. We have lot of dif­fer­ent guys that can step up and help you win. It’s nice to get on that bus to New York City (for Wed­nes­day’s game at Brook­lyn against the Nets) off a win.”

The win was pow­ered by a num­ber of fac­tors. First, de­fen­sively the Nuggets had to take care of Philadel­phia’s lead­ing scorer, rookie cen­ter Joel Em­biid. No player in the league scores a higher per­cent­age of his team’s points than Em­biid, so any chance at win­ning had to start with slow­ing him down. The Nuggets did just that. He made a cou­ple of shots late to fin­ish with 16 points on 5-of-15 shoot­ing, but he was not the fac­tor he had been early this sea­son. With Em­biid strug­gling, Philadel­phia was forced to find of­fense else­where, and that isn’t a for­mula the Six­ers are used to.

Next was get­ting a sea­son­high 24 points from Gal­li­nari. And he got them the Gallo way — by re­peat­edly get­ting to the free-throw line. He scored 11 of his to­tal at the char­ity stripe, which helped the Nuggets stay on sched­ule of­fen­sively.

“I was just try­ing to be ag­gres­sive,” Gal­li­nari said. “So I thought I did a good job with that. I’m just glad we got this ‘W,’ be­cause we needed it more than any­thing.”

Then, the Nuggets caught a big game from Ja­mal Mur­ray, the Novem­ber NBA West­ern Con­fer­ence rookie of the month, who had cooled off a bit of late. He heated up Mon­day, scor­ing 17 of his 22 points in the first half. He made three 3-point­ers. With­out his first-half shoot­ing, Den­ver half­time deficit would most cer­tainly have been larger than the two points it turned out to be.

“(The win) was big,” Mur­ray said. “Los­ing three straight, we just needed to get a win.”

The Nuggets’ Will Bar­ton splits the de­fense of the 76ers’ Joel Em­biid, left, and Dario Saric to put up a shot Mon­day night in Philadel­phia. Matt Slocum, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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