Lawson’s Jumper Lifts Nuggets Over Thunder 105-103
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can score,” Chandler said after Lawson’s shot with 0.2 seconds left lifted the Denver Nuggets to a 105-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
After shooting 13 for 19, Chandler said he was thrilled just to be such a big part of a big week for the Nuggets, who ran all over the Lakers, snapped a long losing streak in Portland and then capped it off with a thunderous win over the star-studded Thunder.
Guarded tightly by Thabo Sefolosha, Lawson swished his jumper from just inside the 3-point arc on the right wing. With no time to catch and shoot, the Thunder failed to get off a final tip attempt after their timeout.
“At the end they made a tough shot to beat us,” said Kevin Durant, who tied it with a driving bank shot with 17.6 seconds remaining.
Miller inbounded to Lawson, who never gave up the ball. He said his shot was the only option: “I was going to take the last shot, make sure it was the last shot, either make it or we go to overtime.”
Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 38 points and Durant had 25 for the Thunder.
“You give Oklahoma City any time to shoot, K.D. and Russell are big shot-makers and we didn’t want to give them a chance,” Lawson said. “We were going to go to overtime or win in regulation.”
The combined 63 points from Russell and Durant were almost double the 34 points Denver’s starters scored.
“They’re tough guards,” Chandler said, “so you want to make them take tough shots. It’s like trying to stop the sun from shining – just hope for a cloudy day.”
With Gallinari back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a bruised thigh, Chandler went back to being the Nuggets’ sixth man and he led a bench that outscored the Thunder’s reserves 71-11
“Say what?” Durant replied. “Jeesh. We’ve got to do a better job of helping them out, give them a better cushion.”
Of course, Chandler was responsible for more than half of the Nuggets’ points off the bench.
“That’s a great asset to have,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s one of the strengths of their team. They’re deep, they have a lot of good players that play, a lot of skill players. Thirty-five points, you don’t expect that. He stepped up when the moment was needed and he made big shots.”
Not even Chandler could have expected to score 35 points, though.
“Honestly, I thought I’d have a pretty good night but 35? No,” Chandler said. “I was playing in my rhythm and taking open shots.”
Nuggets coach George Karl said: “Well, we owe this one to Wilson Chandler. He was great. We wanted to play small against their big lineup because Scottie always gets small against me. So, the substitution was earlier and quicker and then he has a great game.”
Chandler logged 35 minutes to Gallinari’s 22.
The Nuggets improved to 25-3 at the Pepsi Center, including 2-0 against Oklahoma City, which has lost five of its last six road games. Only the Miami Heat, at 26-3, are better at home.
Oklahoma City trailed 85-75 heading into the fourth quarter but tied it at 91 on Westbrook’s fast-break basket with just under 6 minutes left.
Westbrook’s free throw with 3:17 left gave the Thunder their first lead of the second half, 97-96.
The Nuggets came back to take a 101-99 lead on Miller’s finger roll, but Durant’s two free throws tied it again.
Lawson missed a jumper just inside a minute and Durant missed at the other end.
Chandler’s layup with 22.4 seconds left gave the Nuggets a 103-101 lead and gave him 35 points, tying his career high set in 2010 for the New York Knicks against Sacramento.
After a timeout, Durant’s bank shot tied it at 103 and Denver called a timeout with 17.6 seconds remaining, then put the ball in Lawson’s hands.
NOTES: The Thunder had hit 94 percent of their free throws (130 of 138) over their previous five games. They missed 10 of 34 attempts Friday night. Westbrook was 12 of 17 from the line – same as the Nuggets. … Denver C Timofey Mozgov played the final 0.2 seconds as Karl put his 7-footer on the inbounder. … Durant played all but 21 seconds in the game and was never whistled for a foul, much to Karl’s chagrin.
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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