Nuggets beat Nets to win 18th straight at home
DENVER — The Denver Nuggets’ success runs deep, especially on their home floor.
With playmaking guard and scoring leader Ty Lawson sidelined by foot problems, rookie Evan Fournier had a season-high 19 points to lead a strong showing by Denver’s reserves, and the Nuggets extended their home winning streak to 18 games by beating the Brooklyn Nets 109-87 Friday night.
Denver improved to 33-3 at the Pepsi Center this season, the best home record in the league, and hit the 50-win mark for the fifth time in the last five full seasons.
“I think the way we play in this building, and with the altitude, nobody can stop us. And the fans are unbelievable,” said Fournier, who provided the bulk of the 60 points scored by the Nuggets’ bench. “With that mix of things, we are very hard to play here.”
Wilson Chandler had 16 points, and Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos added 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who need one win to match their longest home winning streak, from Jan. 28-April 20, 1989, despite missing Lawson. He was ruled out for the third time in four games after an exam Thursday of his strained heel also revealed a plantar fascia tear in his right foot.
“You know that you’ve got to step up because Ty is probably our biggest player,” Fournier said. “I knew I had to bring something, so I just tried to be aggressive.”
In a statement, the Nuggets said Lawson doesn’t need surgery and that his playing status is day to day.
Andre Miller started in place of Lawson and finished with 12 points, but the Nuggets also anticipated that Fournier would get additional playing time and produce given the opportunity.
“It’s tough but I think Evan has all the cards to play that way,” said Danilo Gallinari, who had 11 points to go with six assists. “He has the confidence to come out and play that way and we’re all happy that he came in the way he did. We knew he would be ready to play this game.”
Deron Williams scored 19 points for the Nets, who missed a chance for their team-record 21st road win of the season. Especially hurt by an off night at the free throw line — Brooklyn converted only 18 of 36 — the Nets lost to the Nuggets for the sixth straight time in Denver.
“In the second quarter their bench came in and gave them a lift,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “Fournier had a great game. They took us out of our offense and then they started creating turnovers. We didn’t match their physicality on the defensive end. Free throws just killed us. When you’re trying to claw back in and you miss half your free throws or more, it’s very difficult.”
Andray Blatche had 16 points and Reggie Evans added 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets, who are trying to finish a season with a winning road record for the first time in team history.
“We got down 20, against a team like this, the way they’re playing, it’s hard to come back,” Williams said. “They took us out of our stuff.”
Trailing by as many as 22 points in the third, the Nets went into the final period down 80-66 after C.J. Watson hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded ending the quarter.
A follow by Blatche narrowed the Nets’ deficit to 86-74 with 8:21, left but the Nuggets scored the next six points, capped by a driving layup by Fournier. The Nets did not threaten again as Denver closed the game with its reserves on the floor.
A jumper by Kris Humphries pulled the Nets within 33-28 in the second quarter. Gallinari made a driving layup and Chandler hit a 3-pointer to spark the Nuggets on a 12-0 run that put them in front 45-28 with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter.
The Nets fell behind 55-38 at the half after being outscored 29-15 overall in the second.
NOTES: The Nets’ Joe Johnson missed a third consecutive game with a right quad injury. … Fournier’s previous high was 10 points. … The Nuggets haven’t lost at home since Jan. 18, a 112-108 defeat to Washington. … Denver won 38 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. … The Nuggets’ reserves scored 60 or more points for the fifth time this season and Denver is 4-1 in those games. … Evans is averaging 10.3 points and 17.6 rebounds in his last seven games.
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