With his Denver Nuggets trailing the Los Angeles Clippers by two points after a big 3-pointer by Matt Barnes gave the Clips a 115-113 lead with 6.2 seconds remaining, head coach Brian Shaw called a timeout to draw up a play that would give his Nuggets a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a game they'd trailed by as many as 13 points. What actually transpired likely didn't bear much resemblance to what was on Shaw's dry-erase board, but thanks to a timely bit of marksmanship from guard Randy Foye, the finished product still wound up looking pretty darn good to Nuggets fans.
Swingman Wilson Chandler inbounds to power forward Kenneth Faried at the 3-point line on the left wing, who turns and shovels the ball over to center J.J. Hickson atop the arc on the right side. Point guard Ty Lawson, the Nuggets' principal playmaker and one of their top scoring threats, is trying to cut from the left block up to the top of the key to meet the ball. He's jammed up by some aggressive off-ball defense by Clippers guard Darren Collison, though, so Hickson has to look elsewhere for an outlet; he finds one in Foye, who accepts a pass as he curls from the right corner to the middle of the floor.
There are just under 2.5 seconds on the clock when Foye makes his catch and runs defender Jamal Crawford into Hickson's screen, prompting a switch that makes Foye the responsibility of 6-foot-10 power forward Blake Griffin. Foye has to put the ball up as soon as possible, he's got to get it over Griffin's contest, and he's got to make it count from 30 feet away while fading to his left.
So, y'know, cash. Obviously.
Foye's triple tickled the twine just after the clock hit triple-zero, giving L.A. no time to answer and handing the Nuggets a thrilling 116-115 home win.
It was Foye's second 3-pointer of the game in seven tries, capping a night that saw him score 14 points (on 4 for 11 shooting), grab seven rebounds, dish four assists, block two shots and snag one steal in nearly 41 minutes of playing time, as a Nuggets team without injured guard Nate Robinson (lost for the season after left ACL surgery) and absent veteran Andre Miller (still "excused from the team" following his Jan. 1 run-in with Shaw and subsequent suspension) relied heavily the backcourt of Foye and Lawson (27 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals in 45 minutes).
"Yeah, it was just the way [Shaw] drew it up," Foye joked in a post-game interview with Altitude Sports. "He drew up a play that we always run from the side [out of bounds] and it kind of broke down. Ty was supposed to get the ball, so J.J. came back to me. I just came off and I knew I had to shoot it.
"I think somebody that was sitting courtside told me to go get the ball, so I just ran and got the ball," he added. "I just let it go."
It might not have been the prettiest play or most pristine bit of execution, but it snaps a two-game losing skid all the same, making Faried's excellent night (28 points on 11 for 13 shooting, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks) seem all the sweeter while simultaneously spoiling another brilliant outing by Griffin (game-high 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists without a turnover in 38 minutes). Combine that with the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies, the team directly between the Nuggets and the No. 8-seeded Dallas Mavericks, lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder to allow Denver to pick up a full game in the standings, and you've got something well worth celebrating:
Strong work, Nuggets. (I expected nothing less from the folks who brought us this.)
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