Chandler, Nuggets end 3-game skid, beat Pacers
DENVER (AP) When it came to shooting, Wilson Chandler struck a balance between picking his spots and taking his chances.
Chandler scored a season-high 25 points and the Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Indiana Pacers 109-96 Saturday night.
”I was just being a little aggressive, and I was taking good shots,” said Chandler, who hit eight of 15 shots from the field, including half his eight tries from 3-point range. ”I probably took one or two bad shots but I was being aggressive and taking good shots at the same time.”
Nate Robinson and Timofey Mozgov added 15 points apiece and J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 13 rebounds. First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw won in his first matchup against Indiana since leaving his job as a Pacers assistant to come to Denver.
The victory against Indiana, which still has the best record in the NBA, lifted the Nuggets back to .500 at 21-21.
”We came out strong in the first half, and we withstood a great run from them in the second half,” Chandler said. ”They’re a pretty good team, maybe the best team in the league right now. They made runs, but we just had to stay focused. If we play well we can contend with any team. We’ve played well against a lot of the top teams this year but we’ve lost to some of the bottom teams. We’ve got to play every team like they’re the best in the league.”
Lance Stephenson scored 23 for Indiana. The Pacers split a road back-to-back set after winning in overtime the night before in Sacramento.
”I’m proud of our guys after a second night of a back-to-back and change in time zones,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”An emotional win last night, obviously, in overtime. I didn’t know how much gas we were going to have in our tank. We really competed at a high level.”
Paul George added 18 points and David West 16 for the Pacers, who lost for the eighth time in nine trips to Denver.
Ty Lawson, who had 12 points and 10 assists, said the Nuggets gained command early by leaning on their transition game.
”We wanted to run with them on a back-to-back. That was a main focus,” Lawson said. ”That’s what (Kenneth) Faried did early. He was running on their bigs and getting easy buckets.”
Trailing by 19 at halftime, the Pacers got back in the game in a hurry, opening the third quarter with a 16-3 run keyed by Stephenson’s seven points.
The Nuggets responded with a 7-0 burst late in the third that helped them take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Roy Hibbert, held to five points, became the second Pacers player to foul out after drawing his sixth foul with 3:19 remaining. Still, the Pacers pulled to 101-94 when Stephenson made a pair of free throws with 3:14 left. But the Nuggets wouldn’t let the Pacers finish off the comeback, getting five straight points on free throws, including a pair from the foul line on technicals against David West and Vogel.
The Pacers managed one more basket down the stretch but that was offset by Hickson’s emphatic dunk with 1:09 remaining, the final points of the game.
”They ran the same play the whole game (pick-and-roll),” West said. ”We couldn’t get it under control and then we just fouled them. They would have beaten us by almost 40 points if they made their free throws. They shot 56 percent from the free throw line. They make 10 more and it wouldn’t have been a close game.”
NOTES: The Pacers have trailed at halftime 19 times this season, going 13-6 in those games. … Former Nuggets executive Carl Scheer was honored during pregame ceremonies. … Chandler had 20 or more points for the fourth time this season and the third time in five games. … Indiana’s Ian Mahinmi fouled out with 8 minutes remaining. … All five Denver starters scored in double figures for the sixth time this season. … The Pacers have lost five games in a row to Denver.