Nuggets aim to avenge close losses to Nets
The last two times the Denver Nuggets faced the Brooklyn Nets, they wound up with frustrating one-point losses.
If the Nuggets defend like they did in the second half Monday in Philadelphia, a last-second shot might not be a concern.
Defending consistently is a question mark for a team that has allowed less than 100 points three times and is in the bottom 10th in points allowed and defensive rating.
The Nuggets continue their East Coast road trip Wednesday night and look to snap a five-game losing streak to the Nets.
Brooklyn is 6-2 in the last eight games in the series and the five straight wins equal its longest winning streak in the series (also Feb. 17, 2002 to March 10, 2004).
On March 5, Brook Lopez hit the game-winning tip-in with four-tenths of a second left in overtime to give Brooklyn a 121-120 win in Denver. On Feb. 8 in Brooklyn, Joe Johnson hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Nets a 105-104 win.
Denver assured there would not be any dramatics during Monday's 106-98 win the 76ers. The Nuggets stopped a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in seven games by forcing 14 turnovers in the second half.
Besides the active hands, the Nuggets had multiple contributors offensively. Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 24 points, rookie Jamal Murray added 22 and Will Barton contributed 16 of his 22 in the fourth.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Gallinari said after going to the foul line 11 times. “So I thought I did a good job with that. I'm just glad we got this 'W' because we needed it more than anything.”
Gallinari is averaging 17.3 points in his last four games after missing three contests with a bruised thigh. Barton has posted consecutive 20-point games for the first time this season while Murray came alive after shooting 28 percent (7-of-25) in his previous four games.
“You have to take a deep breath, enjoy the win and understand why you win,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “When we win is when we defend at a high level for four quarters. We have lot of different guys that can step up and help you win. It's nice to get on that bus to New York City off a win.”
Since Lopez's overtime game winner in Denver, the Nets are 8-32 in their last 40 regular-season games. Brooklyn won three of its last 20 games last season and is 5-15 this season.
The Nets were 4-5 on Nov. 12 but have lost 10 of their last 11 games. Brooklyn snapped a seven-game losing streak with last Tuesday's double-overtime thriller against the Los Angeles Clippers but has collapsed at various points in the second half in its last three losses.
The latest instance might have been the worst. The Nets were handed a 118-113 loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday as they squandered a 15-point halftime lead, allowed 35 points off 22 turnovers and scored 15 times in the third quarter.
“The third quarters are kind of crazy,” Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick said. “It has to be a situation where everyone wants to take the third quarter seriously. We (get) lax in the third quarter and that's when teams come back and bite us.”
It was the 10th time this season the Nets have been outscored by double digits in a third quarter and the 16th instance they committed at least 15 giveaways.
“We show them a lot of film,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We have a phrase, play with the pass. It's real important when they do something, you've got to make that next pass and you're got to make that next read and it's decision making.”
Eleven of those games with at least 15 turnovers have occurred since Jeremy Lin injured his left hamstring in the first half Nov. 2 against Detroit. Since Lin was hurt, the Nets are 3-12 and the team is being cautious with his return.
Lin has yet to participate in a full practice and has only done shooting drills so far.