Chandler's clutch shot lifts Nuggets past Blazers in OT

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER -- A month ago, the Denver Nuggets couldn't buy a 3-pointer.
On Tuesday, they got an unexpected one to win a game.
Wilson Chandler hit a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left in overtime, and the Nuggets rallied from blowing a late fourth-quarter lead to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 115-111 at Pepsi Center.
Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points, Ty Lawson had 24 points and 12 assists, and Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won five straight. Denver, which is 2-0 in overtime, improved to 15-2 at home.
The Nuggets got the win with a weapon that abandoned them in Portland on Dec. 20. They were 0-for-22 from 3-point range in that loss but were scorching in comparison Tuesday, finishing 9-for-25.
The last one was the biggest.
Chandler, who was playing just his second game after missing two months due to a hip injury, set up on the wing with the game tied. Andre Iguodala, who earlier in overtime hit a big 3-pointer, drove to the basket and kicked the ball out. Chandler didn't hesitate in launching the 3.
"Iggy beat his guy off the dribble, so it was a shot I had to take," said Chandler, who scored 13 points. "It felt good. The way the game was going for me, I was a little fatigued, I had a little muscle fatigue, so I was kind of struggling throughout the game. So to come in and hit a shot like that is big."
Portland rookie Damian Lillard missed a desperation 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left, and Chandler grabbed the rebound. Lawson hit a free throw with 2.2 seconds remaining to seal the win.
"We let one get away. We definitely were in position to win the game," said Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with a game-high 28 points. "We had opportunities. We had some breakdowns out there that we shouldn't have had."
J.J. Hickson had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Nicolas Batum scored 22 points for Portland, which fell to 5-1 in overtime.
It didn't look as if overtime would be necessary for Denver. The Nuggets led 95-86 with 3:48 left in regulation but let the lead slip away. Wesley Matthews hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to tie it at 99 and send the game into overtime.
It was Portland's only 3-pointer of the second half.
"I thought we played a little tight at the end. They made some shots," Nuggets coach George Karl said.
Hickson gave the Blazers a one-point lead with two free throws, but Gallinari hit a fadeaway 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a 109-107 lead with 1:08 left in overtime.
Aldridge scored the next four points for Portland to tie the game, but Chandler responded with a corner 3-pointer to give Denver the lead for good.
"Wilson in the corner in our pick-and-roll stuff is tough to cover," Karl said. "We were a little bit lucky, but we've been piecing our wins together in a very solid way."
The Trail Blazers led by as many as seven points in the second quarter on the strength of Aldridge's 14 points in the first half. Lillard and Batum had 10 each before the break.
Lawson, who missed the shootaround because he wasn't feeling well, scored nine points in the first four minutes of the game. Faried kept Denver close with 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half, but the Nuggets trailed 57-54 at intermission.
The Blazers couldn't hold the lead, and they lost their third straight close game.
"It's frustrating because you play so hard and give yourself a chance to win and then you come out on the losing end," Lillard said. "But it's not like we're going out there and losing by 30. It is growth for us."
NOTES: Portland hit its first five 3-pointers and finished the first quarter 5-for-6 from long range. The Blazers went 3-for-21 on 3-pointers the rest of the game. ...The home team has won the past 14 games between the teams. Portland has lost eight straight in Denver. The Blazers haven't won in Pepsi Center since Dec. 16, 2007. ... Karl is happy with the progress of 7-footer JaVale McGee, who scored four points in 20 minutes. "He's basically where I thought he'd be," Karl said. "He played about 20 minutes a game last year for us. Right now we'd like to get him to be a 25-minute player, and I think that's feasible. He's just got to understand that lazy and crazy isn't going to make it work. We want solid, we want fundamental. We want spectacular, but only when it happens, not force the action where sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't." ... Aldridge came into the game averaging 20.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in his previous three games against Denver.

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