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Iguodala steal, free throw in final seconds lift Nuggets

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Jan. 29 2013 00:49

Matched up on the perimeter against one of the NBA’s rising young stars, Andre Iguodala had an opportunity for redemption after missing four straight fourth-quarter free throws.

He didn’t just seize the moment. He stole it.

Iguodala swiped the ball from Paul George in the game’s final seconds and then converted a free throw after George was called for a loose ball foul on an out-of-bounds play, giving the Nuggets a 102-101 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

Denver won its fourth straight game despite squandering a 14-point lead and going without a field goal for the final 5 minutes, 45 seconds.

“That was interesting,” Iguodala said. “You take a positive out of the fact that you were able to just gut it out. Usually with games like that, a young team would give it away. But we got a big defensive stop and then got lucky and made a free throw.”

Iguodala, who celebrated his 29th birthday, finished with 13 points, 10 rebound and seven assists. Danilo Gallinari added 27 points to help the Nuggets (28-18) improve to 11-3 in January and 17-6 since Dec. 13.

“We’re having a good month,” point guard Ty Lawson said. “I feel like if we would have lost this game, we would have taken it hard. I’m glad we got the win; momentum is going to be good for us.”

Playing without injured rotation players Wilson Chandler (groin strain) and JaVale McGee (tibia irritation), the Nuggets got big contributions off the bench from forward Corey Brewer and center Timofey Mozgov.

Brewer made three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, while Mozgov added 10 points in his first extended minutes since Dec. 5.

“We have a lot of depth,” Iguodala said. "Timo came in, did a great job, was in the right place at the right time. He knocked down some free throws, got some key offensive boards and took up some space. He was really good for us.”

Even short-handed, the Nuggets had the game in control after Lawson scored on a driving layup to give Denver a 96-82 lead with 6:44 to play. The advantage was still after Gallinari’s 3-pointer with 5:45 left, but the Pacers rallied to tie the game with a 13-0 run.

Still tied with 17.8 seconds to go, Indiana put the ball in George’s hands, hoping to get the final shot. Iguodala, widely considered one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, was surprised by the strategy.

“I’m like, Really? Last-second shot and you’re trying to win and the ball’s right in front of me?” Iguodala said. “I kind of take pride in being a defender and getting stops.”

As George lowered his shoulder and dribbled right, Iguodala reached in and stole the ball. He quickly called timeout, allowing Nuggets coach George Karl to draw up a final play with 0.5 seconds remaining.

Out of the timeout, Andre Miller lobbed a pass toward the rim and Iguodala got tangled up with George, who was whistled for the foul.

Iguodala, blocking out his previous misses, calmly made the first free throw and then missed the second one on purpose to prevent the Pacers from getting a final opportunity.

“I’m glad he made the first one because the pressure of the second one would have been more intense,” Karl said. “It allowed us to miss the second one.”

Other than the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Karl was pleased with his team’s effort against a Pacers team fighting for a top-four seed in the East. Denver forced 18 turnovers and dictated the tempo throughout the night.

“We played well until about the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter, and then we kind of played conservative,” Karl said. “We weren’t making IQ plays and our intensity got lethargic because we thought we had the game under control.”

It doesn’t get much easier for the Nuggets on Wednesday as they face the Houston Rockets. Houston (25-22) beat the Utah Jazz by 45 points Monday night in Salt Lake City.

STAR OF THE GAME

Andre Iguodala

Points 13, 4-11 FG, 5-10 FT
Rebounds 10, 4 OFF 6 DEF
Assists 7
Steals 1
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Danilo Gallinari 27
Rebounds Kosta Koufos 11
Assists Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson 7
Steals Ty Lawson 5
Blocks Kosta Koufos 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson on escaping against Indiana to improve to 11-3 in January

“We're having a good month. I feel like if we would have lost this game, we would have taken it hard. I'm glad we got a huge win like this; momentum is going to be good for us.”

KEY MOMENT

Iguodala stops George to set up final play

The Pacers were in position to take the last shot in a tie game, but Andre Iguodala stole the ball from Paul George on the perimeter and called timeout with 0.5 seconds left. George then fouled Iguodala on a lob pass, leading to the game-winning free throw.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On if the final play call was what he drew up:
“I thought he got fouled. I didn’t think it was a bad call. In a perfect scenario, he would have come wide open; he came partially open. He threw the ball; Andre [Miller] makes good decisions and he put the ball in a place where I thought he got fouled. You have 0.5 of a second and you need to get something around the rim unless you just get somebody wide open. They are very good at switching those situations at the end of the game so we tried to give [Andre] Iguodala an easy one.”

On allowing the Pacers back into the game:
“We played well until about the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter and then we kind of played conservative, crazy, a little lazy, not lazy, not smart. I don’t think we were stupid but we weren’t making IQ plays and our intensity got lethargic because we thought we had the game under control. Indiana is - I like their team – I like them on film. They do a good job in a lot of areas of basketball that win games. I think they are going to be a very, very serious playoff team.”

On how he felt about Andre Iguodala shooting the final free throws to decide the game:
“I am glad he made the first one because the pressure of the second one would have been more intense but it allowed us to miss the second one. They would have had to have someone run a tip play; it would have been down to 0.1 of a second if they would have rebounded the ball.”

On the contributions of Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov:
“Kosta - in the beginning of the second quarter and second half - was really important to us. He really was good defensively and good offensively. Kenneth [Faried] had one of those foul-trouble games and [Timofey] came in and gave us good minutes against a kid that I was worried about going into the game. I was worried about our matchup on him and David West had a solid game but he didn’t beat us.”

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari

On the win:
“The fact that we were up by 10 and we let these guys come back, we can’t do that anymore. We have to learn from our mistakes and we’ve got to be focused on the next one.”

On the physical nature of the game:
“They are a very tough team and they pound the floor very well. We knew we would have to play a little bit smaller than them and crowd the paint.”

On his perimeter shooting:
“That’s what I’ve got to do. I have to do that every game.”

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

On missing four free throws:
“I think you have to [block those out]. I really wasn’t thinking about it; I just needed to get comfortable and shoot the first one. And then, game over.”

On his game-winning free throw:
“You are really happy to get a win; it made me a little nervous by missing those other free throws and being up 12, we put ourselves in a bad position.”

On the inbound pass at the end of the game:
“I was just trying to get my feet set to go get it. (Paul) George was off-balance and it was a pass-interference type play that just happened to work for us.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On the win:
“It was huge for us. It was huge for [Andre Iguodala]. This is going to give us confidence going forward. We still have things to work on; we missed a lot of free throws today. One day that is going to bite us.”

On the team’s learning curve:
“We went on a drought, I think it was a 7-minute drought, where we didn’t score. We just have to get together and work on our half-court game and just executing better.”

On momentum gained from the win:
“It can definitely carry on. We are having a good month. I feel like if we would have lost this game, we would have taken it hard. I am glad we got the win and a huge win like this, momentum is going to be good for us.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel

On the final foul call:
“I am not going to make any comments on the play.”

On being down 14 points and getting back into the game:
“We started guarding people and making shots.”

Pacers forward David West

On the loss:
“I thought we did a good job fighting back. We were right there in the game, we had opportunities, we just didn’t get a chance to decide it.”

On the last call:
“You just don’t expect the whistle to be blown in that situation. They [Nuggets] basically only have one option and that was the option. You don’t expect it but stranger things have happened.”

On the fourth quarter comeback:
“It’s just hard; like I said, we fought and we were given opportunities and had some chances. We would like to have had a shot at the end. We had a turnover though. Again, the one play they needed, they got.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Danilo Gallinari led all scorers with 27 points tonight, marking the 14th time this season he has led the team in scoring. Denver is 11-3 in those games and has won seven-straight when he accomplishes that feat. It is the 18th time in his career that he has scored 27+ and third time this season.

• Gallinari shot 9-of-16 (.563) from the field, including 3-of-6 (.500) from downtown. Gallinari has shot above 50% percent in 6 of the last 12 games. The Nuggets have now won nine-straight games when Gallinari shoots above 50%. Additionally, Gallinari has shot above 40% from beyond the arc in 14 of the last 17 games, including three-straight.

• Andre Iguodala recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. It is his 73rd career double-double and fifth this season (Nuggets 5-0). In his last 21 double-doubles, his teams are a combined 19-2. Additionally, it is the 18th time in his career he has reached those numbers in the same game (third this season).

• Ty Lawson registered 18 points, seven assists, and five steals in tonight’s victory, marking the third time in his career he has reached those numbers in the same game. In his last five contests, Lawson is averaging 21.0 points, 7.0 assists and 2.80 steals. Additionally, Lawson has recorded two-or-more steals in four of the last five games.

• Timofey Mozgov scored a season-high 10 points in the win. It is the ninth time in his career he has scored in double figures (only third time coming off the bench). It is the most points he has scored since 4/26/12 @ MIN (15 points).

• Kosta Koufos grabbed 11 rebounds, marking the seventh game this year he has had double-digit rebounds (Nuggets 6-1). Prior to this season, Koufos had only accomplished the feat eight times in his career.

• Corey Brewer shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc tonight. It is the sixth game this season that Brewer has hit three-or-more three’s (Nuggets 6-0). Additionally, it is the 22nd time he has led the bench in scoring this season.

• Paul George registered 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four steals tonight. It is the second time in his career he has reached all those numbers in the same game (previous – 1/10/13 vs. NYK; 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, six steals).

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Pacers 102-101 tonight and have now won four straight home games and eight of their last 10 at Pepsi Center over Indiana.

• The Pacers have allowed 100 points for the third consecutive game, the longest streak of the season.

• Denver has now won 27 of their last 28 home games when scoring 100 points or more.

• The Nuggets failed to make a field goal in the final 5:45 of the game, and they led 99-86 before a 13-0 run tied the game with 1:52 to play.

• Denver attempted 30 free throws tonight, moving to 9-1 on the year when attempting 30-plus free throws.

• The Nuggets registered 18 points off turnovers compared to the Pacers’ 17 and are now 17-3 when outscoring their opponent in points off turnovers.

• Denver shot 50% (7-14 3FG) from beyond the arc tonight, their second time doing so this season (2-0).

• The Nuggets were outrebounded 43 to 41 tonight, improving to 5-10 when being outrebounded by their opponent.