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Balanced attack leads Nuggets past Mavericks

By The Associated Press

Posted March 5, 2014 22:16

DENVER (AP) -- Even though the losses have piled up this season for the Denver Nuggets, they still have the Dallas Mavericks' number.

Wilson Chandler scored 21 points, Ty Lawson had 20, and the Nuggets snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Mavericks 115-110 on Wednesday night.

Denver improved to 3-0 this season against the Mavericks with the teams meeting one more time on March 21 in Dallas.

''It's been a long time. It feels good, especially here, where we've let down our crowd so many times,'' Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. ''That's a team that's in the playoffs. We're 3-0 against them, and it just goes to show when we have healthy bodies and we play the way we're capable, we can play with anybody.''

Kenneth Faried, Randy Foye and J.J. Hickson added 16 points apiece for the Nuggets. Hickson scored 12 of his points in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Mavericks.

''They ran into an angry team tonight,'' Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of his squad. ''They ran into a team that was sick of getting beat up and they played with a lot of force.

''We were too casual to start the game. We got knocked on our heels. We were close to getting things back on track after the third quarter, but then they hit a couple of timely shots in the fourth and kept us at bay.''

Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points to lead the Mavericks, who lost their third in a row. It's their first three-game losing streak of the season.

''I've been saying all along that if we don't play hard, we'll get torched by anybody,'' Nowitzki said. ''We just didn't come out the right way. We didn't set the tone and they took advantage of it.''

Brandan Wright added 18 points and Vince Carter 17 for Dallas.

A 3-pointer by Chandler gave the Nuggets a 77-60 lead midway through the third quarter. Dallas, though, scored 13 of the next 15 points, pulling to 79-73 heading into the fourth quarter. Nowitzki and Wright each had a pair of baskets in the stretch, with Dallas getting back in the game by outscoring Denver 22-11 overall in the third.

The Nuggets responded with a 16-2 burst opening the fourth quarter, pulling away to a 25-point lead with 7:40 left.

Chandler and Evan Fournier each hit 3-pointers in the flurry and Hickson had six points in the run, including a driving dunk at the end of a fast break for a 95-75 lead.

The Mavericks fought back within 112-105 on a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder with 39.5 seconds remaining, but the Nuggets made enough free throws down the stretch to fend off Dallas.

''It feels good to be back in a positive light, to get back on the winning track,'' Lawson said. ''But we can't celebrate too much. We've got the L.A. Lakers on Friday and we just can't have any letdowns.''

Lawson jammed his left heel taking a shot in the third quarter and walked off the floor gingerly to the bench. He returned to the game in the fourth quarter, though he said after the game the heel remained sore. Shaw said Lawson would be rested Thursday in hopes he'll be ready for the Lakers game on Friday.

With its second-highest scoring total in the first half this season, Denver took a 68-51 lead at the break.

Lawson helped the Nuggets get off to a strong start, scoring 17 of his points in the first quarter, when Denver opened a 41-34 lead. After Monta Ellis' jumper pulled Dallas to 46-38 early in the second, Chandler shook loose for a breakaway dunk that started a 13-2 run that put the Nuggets in front 59-40. Chandler also had a 3-pointer in the stretch while Aaron Brooks finished two fast breaks with layups.

''We brought a lot of energy early, and we kind of took it from there,'' Lawson said.

NOTES: Denver's 41 points in the first quarter were the most the Nuggets have scored in the opening period this season. ... Dallas' Devin Harris had 11 assists, a season high. ... Chandler has scored at least 20 points nine times this season.


STAR OF THE GAME

J.J. Hickson

Points 16 8-10 FG, 0-1 FT
Rebounds 5, 1 OFF 4 DEF
Assists 3
Steals 0
Blocks 5
GAME LEADERS
Points Dirk Nowitzki 27
Rebounds Timofey Mozgov 10
Assists Devin Harris 11
Steals Aaron Brooks 4
Blocks J.J. Hickson 5
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried on ending six-game losing streak

"It’s a sigh of relief. We’ve been in this big slump and couldn’t get a win. We usually get jumped on in the first quarter, but tonight we did the jumping. It felt good to hit first."

KEY MOMENT

Reserves fuel fourth-quarter push

After seeing a 17-point lead dwindle to six at the end of the third quarter, Denver went on a 16-2 run over the first 4:20 of the fourth. The Mavericks never recovered despite making the score close in the final two minutes.

VIDEO: MANIMAL TO MANIMAL

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On what he was most proud of this game:
“The thing that I told the team that I’m most proud of is the fact that we only allowed nine free throw attempts. So you go from a game [and] give up 64 free throw attempts to a game [where] you only allow nine and that’s huge for us… I’m really, really proud of our guys that they were able to accomplish that.” On what allowed the team to get off to a 41-point first quarter:
“Like I said, just limiting Dallas to one shot [and] being very, very aggressive. We talked about getting off to a good start and not digging a hole for ourselves to start the game.”

On passing well this game:
“Well the spacing was good so that allowed us to be able to swing the ball and get a little more free … But the fact that our bigs ran underneath the basket [and] the lane runners made a lot more space for Ty [Lawson] to get in those cracks and swing the ball ahead of their rotations.”

On snapping losing streak:
"It’s been a long time. It feels good, especially here where we’ve let down our crowd so many times. That’s a team that’s in the playoffs and we’re 3-0 against them. It just goes to show when we have healthy bodies and we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can play with anybody."

Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson

On getting a win in front of the home crowd:
“It felt great to get the win. It’s only one win, but I’ll take it. Hopefully we can build on it and finish the season strong.”

On blocking five shots and having a strong defensive performance:
“I just wanted to take it upon myself to make a statement defensively. I didn’t start the game, so I saw how the game was going and how the first unit was playing defense so I wanted to come in and continue to play hard and make a statement on defense.”

On the team playing well together tonight:
“Everybody was on the same page. We just played hard and kept everything in front—the main thing is we defended without fouling. We can beat anybody in this league, we have some great wins even though our record isn’t great. The games that we have won are against teams that are in the playoff race and above .500. We have to stop playing to the level of our competition and know it’s about us and nobody else and go out and play every game like it’s our last.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On tonight’s game:
“It feels good to get this win. The key to this win was rebounding and running, we shot a lot of free-throws. The second unit brought up the lead to 20 points and everyone was playing together. We were being aggressive and we were playing good, we have to continue to do that.”

On defense tonight:
“We played good defense and felt good because coach simplified our defensive scheme. Everyone was on the same page. We are going to be even better when everyone comes back from their injuries, we will be able to go 12 deep.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle

On tonight’s performance:
“We started out bad and we didn’t really show signs until the second quarter. I take full responsibility for this loss. At the beginning of the game we weren’t into it and it was my mistake. I should have subbed all the guys out of the game that were in there that gave up 12 points in three and a half minutes, or whatever it was. Not doing that was my mistake. I have been allowing guys to play through things and I believed that these guys would snap out of it and we didn’t. It is a coaching loss … it is going to take anger and resolve on every defensive play for 21 games to get to the hump and over the hump. What happened tonight is beneath what this team has stood for, for the most part. Again, it is on me as much as anybody.”

On if the team was too casual coming into tonight’s game:
“They ran into an angry team tonight. They ran into a team that was sick of getting beat up and [the Nuggets] play with a lot of force. You have to give [the Nuggets] credit. But, we were too casual to start the game and got knocked back on our heels and butts. We were close to getting things back on track after the third quarter, but they hit some untimely shots in the fourth and kept us at bay. You have to play the full 48 minutes.”

On if Dirk Nowitzki was gassed:
“Everybody was gassed. This is a very difficult environment to come into. You have to manage it the right way and you have to play well. It was neither managed the right way, nor did we play well. The result is an undesirable one.”

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki:

On the first quarter:
“I know what didn’t happen. We just didn’t run back, we didn’t get stops. They got open shots and got offensive rebounds. They got whatever they wanted; it’s as easy as that.”

On what is to blame for the loss:
“Most of this I guess is on the players. We just have to be ready to play especially after we just lost two games. We know what the standings are. This is one we wanted and needed to have. We just didn’t come out the right way and set the right tone. They took advantage of it obviously. They aren’t a good matchup for us. They’re athletic, we’re pretty non-athletic. Still, if we compete a little harder in the first quarter and don’t go down 17 in the first half I think we would’ve had a better shot.”

On if benching the starters early in the game would’ve helped:
“Everything else wasn’t working so you might as well try whatever you want. I have no idea if that would’ve worked, maybe the bench would’ve given us some energy early. I think Sarge [Bernard James] was great there in the third quarter. He used all of his fouls and played hard, got some rebounds and played active. Maybe that would’ve helped but we don’t know now it’s too late.”

Mavericks forward Brandan Wright:

On if the losses are snowballing:
“It’s not going to get easier. We just have to come out and play hard. In these home games we have two tough opponents. We just have to keep trucking and we’ll see what happens. We have to lift the level up.”

On what happened in the first quarter:
“We just got blitzed. They were making three’s, making shots. We put them on the free throw line too much. I think we outscored them the rest of the game but when you get down in a hole like that it’s tough.”

On the Nuggets 16-2 run in fourth quarter:
“That’s part of the game. You never want a 16-2 run happen but we gave it an effort. The first quarter killed us. We have to come out a little bit better and more ready than that.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson registered 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists tonight. It is the eighth time in his career that he has reached those numbers in the same game. Lawson is averaging 25.5 points (5-9 3FG, 55.6%), 5.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 3.00 steals in two games since returning after missing nine straight due to a rib injury.

• Wilson Chandler posted 21 points and five rebounds tonight. It was his second-straight 20-point game and ninth of the year.

• J.J. Hickson tallied 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and tied his career-high with five blocks. It was his first career game reaching those numbers and the third time posting 15+ points and 4+ blocks in a single game.

• Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds. It was his sixth game of the year with 27+ points and 7+ rebounds.

TEAM

• The Nuggets ended their six-game overall losing streak and five-game home losing streak with their win tonight. Additionally, tonight was the first time Denver has won three straight games over Dallas since the 2008-09 season.

• Denver has now won 53 of their last 54 home games when scoring 110-or-more points.

• The Mavericks have now lost three straight games, their longest losing streak of the season.

• The Nuggets scored 41 points in the first quarter after scoring 45 points in the fourth on Monday vs. MIN. It was their first back-to-back 40-point quarters since they did so in the third and fourth quarters vs. SEA on 3/16/08.

• Denver had six players score in double-figures tonight, moving to 17-7 on the year when six-or-more players score 10+ points.

• The Nuggets went 30-of-36 (.833) from the free throw line tonight. Denver is 3-0 this season and 50-10 dating back to Jan. 2008 when making 30-or-more free throws.

• Prior to shooting 83.3% from the free throw line tonight, Denver had shot under 70% from the stripe in an NBA season-long seven straight games. They were a combined 120-188 (.638) during this stretch.

• The Mavericks were 9-of-9 from the free throw line tonight. Dallas shot their seventh and eighth free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining in the first quarter and did not attempt their final free throw until 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

• Denver connected on 11-of-24 (.458) from three-point range and are now 8-4 on the year when making 11+ threes.

• The Nuggets registered 11 of the first 12 possible rebounds in the first quarter and the two teams finished an even 32-32 the remainder of the game.