Denver's defense clamps down, stops Nuggets

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER -- When Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon get it going, the New Orleans Hornets can be tough to beat.
The Denver Nuggets made sure the pair couldn't find traction.
The Nuggets pestered and harassed the New Orleans guards, forcing 22 turnovers and cruising to a 113-98 win Friday night.
Andre Iguodala scored a game-high 24 points and Ty Lawson had 21 points and 13 assists for the Nuggets, who have won six straight.
The difference was their defense, even though they allowed the Hornets to shoot 52 percent. Denver scored a season high 32 points off turnovers, 12 of which came from Vasquez, Gordon and rookie Austin Rivers.
"The turnovers got us playing up and down the court," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "The points off of turnovers gave us confidence to win the game."
It halted flow the Hornets tried to get going.
"It's demoralizing when you give up that many possessions because it's not only the points they get but the points you don't get," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "I thought we made a lot of emotional passes because the game was real fast for our young guys. Our guards had 12 turnovers, the guys that handle the ball, and that's hard to come back from."
On the flip side, the Nuggets had only nine turnovers and just one between Lawson and backup point guard Andre Miller.
Denver's ability to take care of the ball created opportunities on offense. Danilo Gallinari and Corey Brewer took advantage, scoring 18 and 17, respectively.
"I was trying to be aggressive and take what they give me," Lawson said. "If they gave me the shot I took it, if not I went to the basket and find Gallo in the corner or a big. When I did that my teammates were knocking down shots."
It allowed Denver keep going strong in the new year. The Nuggets have won 13 of 16 games in 2013, including an 11-2 mark at home.
Ryan Anderson scored 21 points and Anthony Davis had 13 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans.
The Hornets have lost three straight and five of their last six. Gordon was held to nine points and none in the fourth quarter.
"We came out aggressive but it wasn't good enough for us to win the game," Vasquez said.
Lawson played the entire third quarter and had a double-double before the fourth. He had nine points in the period, topped with a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave the Nuggets an 85-78 lead.
New Orleans stayed within reach despite having 19 turnovers in the first 36 minutes.
"I'm not a bright person by any stretch, I'll be the first to admit that, but that's a glaring deal," Williams said.
The Nuggets stretched the lead back to 11 early in the third and the Hornets never got closer than eight the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by Iguodala and a fast-break layup by Gallinari made it 100-86 with 4:08 left.
Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers that helped cut the lead to eight with 1:28 left but the Hornets never really threatened.
"The story of the night was when we had a 10-point lead with three minutes to go we didn't give it up," Iguodala said.
The Hornets used a 14-0 run at the end of the first quarter and start of the second to take a 34-26 lead. Denver missed four shots and had two turnovers and watched a six-point lead turn into an eight-point deficit.
The Nuggets turned it around, going on a 16-4 run of their own to retake the lead. They led 51-48 at half.
NOTES: Nuggets center JaVale McGee sat out his third straight game due to soreness in his left shin. ... The Hornets are 8-6 with Gordon in the lineup and 7-25 without him. ... Karl was named the NBA Coach of the Month for January. It was the 11th time in his career and fourth time since joining the Nuggets he has won the award. His team went 12-3 last month, the seventh time one of his teams has won at least 12 games in a month. "This is good attention after no one gets All-Star consideration," he said. "At least the league is aware we're in a good place and playing good basketball. I'm glad there's some national recognition coming to the team. I think I've won it 10 or 11 times and I'd trade those in for 10 or 11 wins in February." ... Vasquez has 21 double-doubles this season. Last year he had six.

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