Despite trailing with only 14 seconds left on the clock; despite Ty Lawson not playing and in general being outplayed for almost the entire game, the Denver Nuggets pulled off another win and kept their secretive winning streak alive (now at 14 games), mostly thanks to a clutch performance from Corey Brewer, rescuing his team with some impressive off-the-bench scoring.
The story? Brewer began his finishing act with 14.3 seconds left on the clock. He scored six points on a 3-pointer and a trio of free throws to give Denver a 101-100 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. He finished the game with 29 points, 5 steals and five three pointers to make up for the sluggish offensive and defensive game the Nuggets produced, not managing to get into the usual tempo we’ve seen from them, especially in their home games.
Credit has to go, once again, to the Philadelphia 76ers, who can’t seem to close out games against teams on winning streaks, like the Miami Heat not too long ago. The Sixers aren’t tanking – they’re losing while fighting, which might be even worse for morale. All five starters finished in double figures, led by Damien Wilkins who scored 24 points, Jrue Holiday with 18 points and 15 assists and another impressive performance from Spencer Hawes at center, with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
It’s crazy. To be honest, I didn’t think we had any chance of winning. Then he missed those free throws and I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got a little chance.’ He gave us life.
If you narrow it down to the final play – the foul and the free throws, it was kind of a fluke. It was a foul by Damien Wilkins, with the Sixers leading 100-98, but it was a lucky foul. Even Brewer said so, after sinking all three shots he got from it. A few seconds earlier, Evan Turned missed two free throws while having the two point lead. He’s usually a 75% shooter from the line.
You have to take these wins with the better ones. The Nuggets clawed their way into an improbable victory, but it’s about making the plays that count in the end. As we see all season long, 20 point leads don’t mean anything, not even 27 point leads. Even 7 points with a few seconds to go can be erased with the right hot hand pulling off the shots. The Denver Nuggets are the best non-superstar team in the NBA, led by Ty Lawson, who didn’t even play, scoring 16.9 points a game.
That’s where Andre Miller becomes such a handy asset. The veteran point guard once again had a big night, this time playing a little bit more than he’s used to, scoring 21 points on 9-14 from the field, adding 8 assists, while having 40 minutes of game-time, not usually recommended for guys his age. Sometimes, while the rest of the young guns have trouble bringing the right kind of effort and physicality into the game (the Nuggets didn’t win the rebounding battle, quite surprising), a little bit of experience, class and a shard of luck is what you need to get the W.