OT jumper wins it for Nuggets
Then he relaxed and took the shot. He sank a 21-foot fallaway jumper from the baseline with 18.4 seconds left in overtime, and the Denver Nuggets, down by 17 points in the third quarter, rallied to beat the Sacramento Kings 112-109 Monday night.
Said Afflalo, who had six of his 12 points in the extra period, “I’m just glad it went in.”
Kenyon Martin(notes) had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Chauncey Billups(notes) had 23 points for the Nuggets, who improved to 3-0 in overtime this season and averted being swept in their three-game season series with the Kings.
The Nuggets, playing a fifth straight game without All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony(notes) (ankle), also got 15 points from Lawson, and 14 points from Nene. Denver won for the 10th time in 11 games and took its ninth in a row at home, though it needed its biggest rally of the season to pull it off.
“This team has given us two miserable nights and we came out like we were playing an exhibition game,” said Nuggets coach George Karl, who was as disappointed in his team’s sluggish start as he was pleased by its resurgence in the second half.
“We didn’t have a hot player offensively and we had to win it with defense,” Karl said. “In the third quarter and fourth quarter, we made enough defensive plays to create some offense.”
They were unable to hang on to leads of 64-50 at halftime and 72-55 with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter, done in largely by an inability to take care of the ball in the second half, when Sacramento had 15 of its 19 turnovers.
“I can’t give them credit for forcing turnovers. I give us blame for not being strong with the basketball,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “I think the Nuggets were ready for us to take the game, but we let them start feeling it, did not execute offensively. I honestly don’t think the Nuggets woke up until late in the fourth quarter. And then in overtime they were really good with their intensity. They were feeling like they might as well win and they did.”
Hawes hit a 3-pointer to give the Kings a 109-107 lead with 1:36 left in overtime but Nene tied it eight seconds later with a layup. A key Sacramento turnover—Kevin Martin lost the ball at the Kings’ end—opened the door to Denver’s decisive final possession. Afflalo hit the shot after Kenyon Martin won a jump ball and tapped the ball to him.
After a Denver turnover on a bad pass by Nene, Sacramento evened the score at 99-99 on Hawes’ tip-in with 27.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Both teams had a chance to win in regulation. Billups’ missed a 3-point shot with just under 3 seconds remaining and Hawes missed a jumper at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Down by 17 late in the third quarter, the Nuggets got back into it with an 18-6 run that sliced the deficit to 78-73 heading into the fourth quarter. Kenyon Martin’s left-handed driving layup with two minutes gone in the fourth put Denver up 80-78, its first lead since the first quarter.
“We knew a run was coming and we let it last too long,” Hawes said. “That has been our Achilles’ heel all year. We play hard most of the time, but we don’t always play the right way. When we started giving them those turnovers, they ended up being momentum-changing dunks. We victimized ourselves that way and let them get back into it.”
Notes: Sacramento’s 38 second-quarter points were the second most in a quarter by a Denver opponent. Memphis had 40 points in the first quarter against the Nuggets on Nov. 1. … Sacramento rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) was a late scratch because of a sore ankle. … The Kings scored more than 100 points for the first time in seven games. Billups had an off-night shooting, making just 6 of 25 from the field. … Denver made only 68.4 percent of its free throws (26 of 38).