Nuggets 99, Bobcats 88
Denver's 99-88 win over the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats was far from his team's best effort of the season, but Nuggets coach George Karl isn't complaining.
Not one bit.
''This was a beautiful game,'' Karl said. ''I'm happy. We had turnovers and missed open 3-pointers and still played hard enough defensively to get a win. It wasn't pretty, but it sure was special.''
The Nuggets were 2 of 17 on 3-pointers and turned the ball over 25 times, but still got the win to remain in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference. The Nuggets entered in a three-way tie for seventh place in the standings with Houston and Utah. The Rockets beat Memphis, while the Jazz played late Friday night.
Arron Afflalo scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
''He helped us out a lot, especially in the third quarter,'' Ty Lawson said of Afflalo. ''They came out strong, everybody was missing shots and he was carrying us then, getting fouled, getting to the bucket and that's what we needed. I think he's one of the best two guards playing. I think he just has to keep going.''
Lawson added 14 points and 10 assists, while Corey Brewer added 17 points off the bench on 7-for-11 shooting, and Kenneth Faried had 12 points.
The importance of the win was not lost on the Nuggets (28-25).
''We needed this win,'' Brewer said. ''We gave one away the other night in Toronto. We had to get this one and now we need to go to Orlando and get another and keep moving up in the standings.''
Gerald Henderson had 21 points to lead the Bobcats, who've lost six straight games and remain the only team in the league with fewer than 10 victories.
The Bobcats may have a tough time reaching that 10-win plateau after losing their leading scorer Corey Maggette in the second half to a strained right Achilles. Bobcats coach Paul Silas said Maggette is out at least a week and will not travel with the team to Detroit for Saturday night's game.
Results of an MRI exam were not yet known.
Maggette had 19 points and six rebounds before the injury and came into the game and is averaging 15.4 points per game.
''I just hope he's OK,'' Henderson said. ''I didn't see where he hurt it. Obviously, he's a huge part of what we're doing. Hopefully, it turns out all right for him.''
Silas said he expects Reggie Williams to replace Maggette in the starting lineup.
Williams had 15 points off the bench.
The Bobcats came in worst in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at less than 30 percent, but opened the game by hitting four of their first five shots from behind the arc to build a 28-23 lead after the first quarter.
Maggette hit three of those long-range shots.
D.J. Augustin, who was encouraged by Silas to shoot more, attempted just five shots and made two, finishing with four points. Augustin, who Silas refers to as his team's ''best shooter,'' has just 21 points in the past six games and can't seem to break out of his slump.
The Nuggets regained the lead in the second quarter and led by as many as nine before the Bobcats closed the first half with an 8-0 run to trim the deficit to 52-51 entering the locker room.
But the third quarter, which has been the Achilles heel for the Bobcats all season, did them in once again. Denver outscored them 22-15 to take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter which they never relinquished.
''We just can't seem to pick it up in that third quarter,'' Silas said.
The Nuggets outscored the Bobcats 58-38 in the paint and outrebounded them by 15 to make up for their poor long-distance shooting. The got 17 second-chance points compared to just four for Charlotte.
Despite the loss, Silas was happy with the way his outmanned team played.
''I like the way we hustled,'' Silas said. ''We played hard and we're not giving up and that's what this thing is all about. If we were going out there and just showing up then I'd have a real problem. But I don't have a problem with these guys at all.''
Notes: Former N.C. State and NBA legend David Thompson was at Friday night's game. ... Maggette and Augustin were both assessed technical fouls for disputing calls. ... The Bobcats reserves scored 42 points, marking the fifth time in six games they've scored at least 38 points. ... JaVale McGee scored in double digits for the fifth time since joining the Nuggets on March 15.