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Last-second foul shot gives Nuggets a win over Pacers

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Andre Iguodala doesn't embrace birthdays, but even he had to be happy with the gift he got on his 29th.

Redemption.

After missing four consecutive free throws that could have clinched the game for the Denver Nuggets, he found himself back at the line with the game tied and 0.4 seconds left. The birthday boy calmly sank the first one before intentionally missing the second, giving the Nuggets a 102-101 win over the Indiana Pacers.

"I'll admit I was a little nervous by missing those other free throws," Iguodala said. "I wasn't thinking about it. Get comfortable, hit the first one and game over."

And lights out for the Pacers, who battled back from 14 down to have a chance to close their road trip 2-2. However, an unfriendly whistle on Paul George and they head home on a three-game losing streak.

"We did a good job of fighting back under the circumstances," said Indiana's David West, who scored 17 points. "We were right there. We had opportunities. We just didn't get a chance to decide it."

Iguodala did when he stripped George on the defensive end with a half-second left and the game tied at 101. Denver (28-18) called a timeout and set up the final play -- a lob from Andre Miller to Iguodala.

Iguodala went up for the ball, and George was called for a foul.

"I thought he got fouled. I don't think it was a bad call," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Perfect scenario, he would have come wide open. He was partially open, and Andre makes good decisions and put the ball in a place where I thought he got fouled. Five-tenths of a second, you need to get something around the rim."

The Pacers thought it was a birthday gift for Iguodala.

"You just don't expect a whistle to be blown in that situation," West said. "They basically had one option, and that was the option. You don't expect it, but stranger things have happened."

Danilo Gallinari scored 27 points to lead Denver, which earned its fourth consecutive win. Ty Lawson had 18 points for the Nuggets, and Corey Brewer scored 16. Iguodala finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

"I'm not a big birthday person at all, so it was a normal day, didn't do anything special," he said. "Normal game day."

George topped Indiana with 23 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds. Lance Stephenson had 20 points for the Pacers (26-19).

"We played good basketball on three of the four games on this trip," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "I'm happy with where we're at."

The Pacers opened their road trip with a win over Memphis before losing at Portland, Utah and Denver.

The Nuggets tried to pull away in the third quarter. Gallinari scored eight points and Lawson had six in the period to stake Denver to an 82-74 lead heading into the final period.

Denver increased the lead to 14 midway through the fourth before the Pacers mounted a comeback sparked by Stephenson. His 3-pointer got the lead under 10, and his two free throws made it 99-93.

After Denver's Kosta Koufos missed a short hook, George was fouled on a 3-pointer. The four-point play made it 99-97.

Iguodala had a chance to give the Nuggets separation, but he missed four free throws. Indiana's George Hill was fouled while hitting a floater in the lane to tie it, but he couldn't convert the free throw with 1:52 left.

Two free throws by Gallinari and a put-back by West with 38.6 seconds left tied it at 101.

"We went on a seven-minute drought," Lawson said. "We scored like six points in the last seven, eight minutes. I feel like if we would have lost this game, we would have taken it hard."

NOTES: Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler sat out with a left groin strain. Chandler has played in six games since returning to the lineup Jan. 13. ... Denver center JaVale McGee didn't play due to a sore left shin. Nuggets coach George Karl said McGee has played well this season despite getting fewer minutes than he got in Washington. "I think he's having a good year for us," Karl said. "We've got him at a number (of minutes) where we are getting what we want out of him and he's building towards becoming bigger and better." ... The Pacers re-signed guard Sam Young. He made the team out of training camp and appeared in 28 games before being waived on Jan. 6. Young was averaging 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He is expected to join the team in Indianapolis in time for upcoming four-game homestand. ... The Pacers allowed 100-plus points for the third consecutive games. Before the current stretch, Indiana's opponents had reached triple figures just five times this season.
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