DENVER (AP) Kenneth Faried joined the 20/20 club just 48 hours after sinking his first winning basket.
Faried scored 24 points and pulled down 21 rebounds Saturday night in the short-handed Denver Nuggets’ 101-94 come-from-behind win over the Utah Jazz.
Faried was coming off an 18-point, 17-rebound performance at Golden State on Thursday night that would have been overshadowed by Timofey Mozgov’s 23-point, 29-board performance were it not for coach Brian Shaw diagramming the last-second shot for him – another first.
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So, what’s next for Faried?
”Maybe stepping out behind the 3-point line and shooting a 3,” Shaw suggested.
Faried likes to share the spotlight, so he’s thinking more along the line of what he and Mozgov can do for an encore.
Suddenly, anything seems possible for these Nuggets, who are headed for the NBA lottery instead of the playoffs for the first time in a decade but are somehow playing well despite a depleted roster.
On this night, they lost Anthony Randolph to the paternity ward before tip-off and fellow forward Darrell Arthur to a strained left knee in the first quarter. He was unable to jump and took a seat after logging just two minutes.
Luckily, forward Wilson Chandler returned to action for Denver after missing 10 games with a strained left groin. He scored nine points in 21 minutes.
After a slow start – the Nuggets scored a season-low 34 points in the first half – Faried took over, Randy Foye scored 26 points and Evan Fournier added 23 as Denver sent Utah to its fourth straight loss and evened the season series with their rivals at two games each.
”We told the team at halftime just to flush that half down the drain,” Shaw said.
Foye’s 3-pointer with 6:54 left gave Denver its first lead of the night at 77-76, and the Nuggets wouldn’t trail again.
Seconds later, Fournier made the most unlikely of baskets. He was driving in to the lane when he got tripped and let go of the ball as he fell backward into the paint. The ball fluttered through the net just as he hit the floor, and his subsequent free throw put Denver on top 80-76.
Foye and Fournier teamed up for back-to-back 3s that gave the Nuggets a 90-82 lead with three minutes left.
”We’ve just got to stay with it,” Utah guard Trey Burke said. ”I feel we really had an opportunity to win this game. Foye got hot tonight, so did Faried. He did a great job of rebounding and giving them second opportunities. You can’t give a good team like that to get as many second opportunities as they did in the second half.”
Gordon Hayward led Utah with 23 points, and Enes Kanter added 22 points and 14 rebounds.
The teams combined to go 0-for-15 from 3-point range in the first half in a display befitting two teams headed for the NBA draft lottery this summer instead of their usual playoff perch. Denver, however, hit seven 3s after halftime, including three by Foye.
Mozgov had another double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Nuggets won their third straight.
”I’m proud of them and the way they’re finishing up this season,” Shaw said. ”I think this is exactly what we wanted to see ending up the season to carry over into next season, win or lose, the kind of effort it’s going to take and the togetherness we’re going to need to be successful.”
NOTES: Utah F Marvin Williams missed his second straight game with a bruised left knee. … The Nuggets said Arthur was day to day. … Nuggets PG Ty Lawson missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Follow AP Sports Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton