What once looked like an intriguing matchup featuring two of the
game’s most promising young point guards might not include either
one of them.
Ty Lawson and Michael Carter-Williams could both be sidelined as
the Denver Nuggets visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday
Lawson left late in the third quarter of Denver’s 106-98 loss at
Boston on Friday with a left hamstring injury. It’s not clear if
the ailment will sideline him Saturday, which would be his first
missed game this season.
Lawson’s career-best 19.3 points per game not only leads the
Nuggets (11-8), but it is one of the best marks among the league’s
point guards. He’s also averaging a personal-best 8.2 assists and
his 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is the highest he’s posted in five
Denver was 8-1 without him in 2012-13, though helping to
neutralize his absence was the currently-injured Danilo Gallinari
as well as Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer, who now play for Golden
State and Minnesota, respectively.
The 76ers (7-13) also couldn’t overcome being without
Carter-Williams on Friday, losing 105-88 in Charlotte while the
rookie from Syracuse was sidelined by a sore right knee. He had
played in the club’s last seven games after missing four in a row
in mid-November due to a bruised left foot. His status against the
Nuggets is unclear.
Philadelphia is just 1-4 without Carter-Williams, whose 7.3
assists per game lead the team while his average of 17.7 points
trails only Evan Turner.
Denver’s season-long six game trip – Saturday marks the fifth
stop – could easily end in a sour fashion without Lawson,
particularly if Brian Shaw’s club can’t improve its first-quarter
The Nuggets fell behind 14-0 against the Celtics, leading to a
39-15 deficit after 12 minutes. It marked the fourth straight game
in which they’ve been outscored in the first quarter and the third
time in that span that they’ve allowed at least 31 points in the
“Second consecutive game in a row that we basically got beat up,
got hit first,” Shaw said. “We told our team before the game
started tonight that regardless of their record, they’re going to
come out and fight to stay in first place. And they did that.”
Philadelphia would also like to shore up its defense in the
early portion of games. They’re allowing an NBA-worst 56.8
first-half points per contest.
The Bobcats scored 62 in the first 24 minutes Friday while
shooting 54.3 percent from the floor while handing the Sixers their
ninth loss in 11 games.
“We’ve got to start the game off better defensively,” said Tony
Wroten, who scored 21 points with nine assists and eight rebounds
while starting at point guard. “We played better on defense in the
second half, but we’ve just got to play defense like that for the
whole 48 minutes.”
Wroten is averaging 19.8 points and 6.2 assists over five starts
in place of Carter-Williams, though he’s just 2 of 18 from 3-point
range in those games (11.1 percent). Carter-Williams is shooting
32.4 percent from long range.
Turner was limited to 17 points while committing nine turnovers
as the teams split two meetings last season.
Spencer Hawes averaged 16.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.5
blocked shots while shooting 63.6 percent.