Nuggets look to end four-game road losing streak in Indiana
Rebounding, taking care of the ball will be points of emphasis against Pacers
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson enjoyed one of his best games of the season Wednesday night at Atlanta.
He would gladly trade his individual success for a victory when Denver continues its five-game road trip Friday against the Indiana Pacers.
Lawson scored a season-high 32 points (5-for-5 3FG) and added seven assists and five steals in a 108-104 loss to the Hawks. He joined Leandro Barbosa and Glen Rice as the only players since 1985 to record at least 32 points, five steals and five 3-pointers while shooting 75 percent from the field.
“Ty was the best player on the court for most of the night,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He had a big-time game, and it seems like he’s getting his confidence back in his jumper, which is great. But we need somebody else to jump in and play well too.”
The Nuggets (9-10) hope to have starting center Kosta Koufos back in the lineup against Indiana (10-9). Koufos did not play Wednesday because of the stomach flu.
Timofey Mozgov scored six points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Koufos’ absence, but the Nuggets struggled on the boards overall.
Denver entered the game second the NBA in rebounding but allowed the Hawks to grab 19 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second-chance points. The Nuggets also committed 20 turnovers, leading to 20 Atlanta points.
“We felt that turnovers and rebounds were going to be the key to the game, and we just didn’t do a good enough job there,” Karl said. “I thought we made them miss a lot of shots on their initial shot, but we gave them way too many extra possessions. In the end it cost us a close loss.”
Three of Denver’s past four road losses have been by four points or less. The Nuggets held a fourth-quarter lead in each of those three games.
“It’s tough to lose close games, especially the ones on the road where we’ve been ahead by a lot of points,” Lawson said. “We just have to get better in late-game situations, including me. I had two turnovers in the last couple of minutes (against Atlanta). We have to get better at taking care of the ball and do a better job preventing offensive rebounds.”
It won’t get any easier against the Pacers, who lead the league in rebounding and field-goal defense (.408). Indiana also boasts the NBA’s second-leading scoring defense (91.1 points per game).
Denver, meanwhile, has scored at least 100 points in each of the past eight games.
“That’s a really good Denver Nuggets basketball team,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “This team is supercharged. They play with a lot of energy. They really get up and down the floor. I was really shocked how fast they got the ball out and got it up the floor even on made baskets.”
After playing Indiana, the Nuggets travel to New York for a game Sunday against the Knicks.
NUGGETS AT PACERS
WHEN: 5 p.m. MT
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950
F Paul George
F David West
C Roy Hibbert
G Lance Stephenson
G George Hill
DENVER: Wilson Chandler (hip) and Julyan Stone (hip) are out.
INDIANA: Danny Granger (knee) is out.
Denver has gone 12-3 overall in the regular season against Indiana since 2004-05 … The Nuggets have won six of the last eight meetings with the Pacers in Indianapolis, claiming four-straight at Indiana from 2004-08 … Before this recent six-year stretch of going 6-2 in Indiana, Denver had lost 15 of 16 on the road against the Pacers from 1988-2004 …The Nuggets swept the season series with the Pacers in 2011-12 and have done so in five of the last eight years … The Pacers had one of the all-time great quarters the last time Denver played in Indiana on 11/9/10: The Pacers scored 54 points in the third quarter, going 20-21 (.952 FG) from the field, 8-9 (.889 3FG) from three and connecting on each of their first 20 shots in the quarter (only miss was a three-point attempt that rimmed out at the buzzer) … Indiana is one of two current NBA franchises to have never had a player score 40+ points against Denver (New Orleans the other) … The Pacers and Nuggets are two of four original ABA franchises still in existence today (New Jersey and San Antonio the others).