David Zalubowski/Associated Press
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
DENVER – Reserve Milwaukee center Samuel Dalembert got on a roll for the best game of his 10-year career. The Denver Nuggets finally found an answer.
Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson each scored 22 points, and the Nuggets overcame a career-high 35-point performance by Dalembert, rallying past the Bucks 112-104 on Tuesday night for their seventh consecutive victory.
“Of course, we were shocked,” Lawson said. “You don’t see many players in the NBA get 35 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. I thought his first half was crazy. But that’s OK. We weathered the storm, but the second half, he just kept going.”
Dalembert finished 17-for-21 from the floor in surpassing his previous career high of 27 points March 14, 2011, against Golden State while with Sacramento. Luc Mbah a Moute, Larry Sanders, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings added 12 points apiece for the Bucks, who led most of the way before being overtaken in the final period, when they were outscored 33-18.
“It was one of those nights when you make the most of your time out there,” Dalembert said. “I was able to get into the flow and get some minutes. It was one of those games where I seemed to make baskets every time.”
Said Nuggets coach George Karl: “He’s been shooting better, but I’ve never seen him shoot the ball that well.”
The Nuggets never really stopped Dalembert all night, but they did manage to turn up their offense and defense in the late going to pull out their seventh win in a row, their longest winning streak in more than two years.
“I’ve had one of those nights before, where I hit like 10 3-pointers in a row,” Lawson said. “You’re just feeling it, and he was knocking down shots nobody thought he would make. He almost won the game for them. But we just stuck with it. We knew we had a chance to get back in the game.”
Corey Brewer added 20 points and Kenneth Faried 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who didn’t lead in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
“They were able to get a lot of fastbreak points,” Dalembert said. “And then, there were so many shots that we weren’t making. They got momentum going for them, and we couldn’t stop them.”
Trailing by 15 at halftime, Denver opened the third quarter with a 9-0 burst to pull to 66-60 when Gallinari dunked off a lob from Andre Iguodala.
A running jumper by Wilson Chandler near the end of the third narrowed Milwaukee’s lead to 82-78, but Dalembert and Beno Udrih connected on jumpers around a free throw by Chandler, and the Bucks took an 86-79 lead into the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee stretched its lead to 10 points early in the fourth when Udrih made a 3-pointer, but the Nuggets gradually cut into the lead, pulling to 100-97 after Gallinari’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 8 seconds left to play.
Faried made a free throw, and Brewer got loose for a breakaway dunk off a Milwaukee turnover to even the score at 100-all with 3:36 remaining.
Denver got six consecutive points from Lawson, including a pair of free throws with 3:06 left that gave the Nuggets their first lead. A turnover by Jennings led to another fastbreak that Iguodala finished with a dunk to put the Nuggets up 108-103 with 1:27 remaining. The Bucks managed only a free throw by Jennings the rest of the way.
“It was definitely the defense,” Gallinari said. “We picked up our defense, and that made us play better.”
Scoring a season-high for a half, the Bucks took a 66-51 lead at the break, boosted by Dalembert’s blistering performance. He hit his first nine shots before finally misfiring on a layup, only to get the rebound and put it back in to finish the first half with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Iguodala hit a jumper to pull Denver within 46-43 with 4:22 left in the second quarter. Milwaukee responded by closing the period with a 20-8 run, starting with a 3-pointer by Mbah a Moute followed by five consecutive fastbreaks, including four ending in layups by Jennings.