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PBT Awards: Sixth Man of the Year

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Kurt Helin

1. Lou Williams, Clippers

2. Eric Gordon, Rockets

3. Will Barton, Nuggets

This was one of the gimmes — Lou Williams ran away with this award, averaging 22.6 points per game and picking up a lot of offensive slack in Los Angeles with Chris Paul gone then Blake Griffin getting traded. Gordon was fantastic once he got healthy. Will Barton quietly has averaged 15.5 points per game in Denver, knocking down threes and providing some offensive spark (plus closing some games). It was hard to leave out Fred VanVleet, who was fantastic for the Raptors league-best bench.

Dan Feldman

1. Lou Williams, Clippers

2. Kelly Olynyk, Heat

3. Will Barton, Nuggets

Backups, even in name only, rarely rise to the level of borderline All-Star. But Lou Williams did, so he’s the runaway winner here. Kelly Olynyk quietly had a very strong year in Miami, honing his all-around game. Will Barton – who provided Denver with much-needed perimeter playmaking – edged Fred VanVleet (leader or the Raptors’ potent bench) and Eric Gordon for the final spot.

Nuggets eliminate Clippers, move into tie for eight seed 134-115 rout

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will Barton scored 31 points and Nikola Jokic added 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and the Denver Nuggets earned their fifth consecutive victory with a 134-115 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

The Nuggets pulled into a tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves for eighth place in the Western Conference with two games to play. Both teams are 45-35.

The Nuggets finish up the regular season at home against Portland on Monday night before playing the Timberwolves in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.

Minnesota, which holds the tiebreaker over the Nuggets, hosts Memphis on Monday night.

The Clippers were eliminated from the playoff race. The Clippers suffered their fourth loss in five games, falling to 42-38, 2 1/2 games out of eighth place with two to play. The elimination ends a run of six consecutive postseason appearances for the Clippers, who previously missed the playoffs in 2010-11.

Jamal Murray added 19 points, Paul Millsap had 15 and Wilson Chander 13 for the Nuggets, who shot 62.4 percent from the field.

Lou Williams scored 24 points to lead the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 17 rebounds, with Tyrone Wallace added 18 points and Tobias Harris had 16 for Los Angeles.

Leading 81-71, Barton hit a 3-pointer after the Nuggets grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds to ignite a 12-3 run that finished with Harris making the score 93-74 with 3:09 to pay.

The victory was Denver’s first this season over the Clippers, who won the first two meetings, 109-104 at Staples Center on Jan. 17, and 122-120 in Denver on Feb. 27.

 

Wild night in Miami: Heat top Nuggets 149-141 in 2 OTs

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MIAMI (AP) — They broke the stat system. That’s how good Miami and Denver were – even modern technology couldn’t keep up with the Heat and Nuggets.

For 48 minutes, they went back and forth.

And one overtime wouldn’t decide it, either.

Finally, after three hours, the Heat said enough. James Johnson scored a career-high 31 points, Kelly Olynyk added 30 off the bench and Miami set a franchise single-game scoring record by beating the Nuggets 149-141 in double overtime on Monday night.

“There didn’t deserve to be a loser,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Guys probably really enjoyed playing in a game like this.”

His guys did, anyway. Olynyk became the second reserve in Heat history to score 30. Wayne Ellington had 23 points, and the Heat made 20 3-pointers – second-most in franchise history.

All that comes with a serious disclaimer. There was no official boxscore after the game, because the system crashed in the first overtime and crews were scrambling to determine official numbers long after the final buzzer. What mattered most was the score – one that moved Miami (38-33) into seventh in the Eastern Conference and left the Nuggets two games back of the last Western Conference spot.

“They just executed,” Nuggets forward Paul Millsap said. “They got some, I think, fluke plays and a little luck and they’re at home, you know. Momentum shifted a little bit.”

Miami’s point total was also an NBA season high. Houston and Oklahoma City each scored 148 in games earlier this season.

Nikola Jokic had 34 points and 14 rebounds for Denver (38-33), while Wilson Chandler added 26 for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray scored 23 and Will Barton finished with 22 for Denver.

“There’s no stats. The stat machine blew up I guess,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But the only stat I cared about tonight is that I’m proud of the way we competed, I’m proud of the way we executed, I’m proud of the fact that we gave ourselves a chance.”

Neither team was at full strength. For Miami, Dwyane Wade (left hamstring strain) missed his fourth consecutive game, and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) sat out his fifth straight contest. Denver was without leading scorer Gary Harris, sidelined again by a strained right knee that could keep him out several more days.

Denver led 16-5 after 3 1/2 minutes, and that was the only double-digit lead by either side for about the next three hours. It was airtight until the very final moments, almost to an absurd degree.

After one quarter, Denver led by one.

Halftime, Miami led by one.

After three, Miami still by one.

After regulation, tied.

After one overtime, still tied.

“That’s as playoffs as it comes,” Olynyk said.

Back and forth they went all night, two teams who played a one-point game at Denver back in November – that one not being decided until Dion Waiters‘ missed jumper as time expired sealed the Nuggets’ win. This one had even more fireworks, with the Heat missing shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime before finding a way in the second OT.

Olynyk and James Johnson had all 13 Miami points in the first overtime.

“We didn’t exactly want it to be like this,” said Ellington, who rattled home a 3-pointer to start the second OT and put Miami ahead for good. “But these are the types of games that show your character.”

 

Will Barton calls Lakers/Jamal Murray feud “a suburban beef”

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This is your quote of the day.

First, a little background — Lakers players are pissed at Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray (the two teams square off on Tuesday night). The second time these teams met this season, Denver lost but rather than just stand and dribble the ball out in the final seconds Murray ran up and dribbled a circle around Lonzo Ball, showing the rookie up. Last week when they played — another Nuggets win — Lakers players and coach Luke Walton were pissed at Murray for talking too much smack at the end of the game.

Denver’s Will Barton was asked about this “feud” and this was his brilliant quote (via Gina Mizell of the Denver Post):

“It ain’t real. That’s some suburban beef, man. Come on. Somebody’s mad about somebody getting hot and talking a little bit? That happens every day in the NBA.”

It’s a Laker tradition to get fired up over meaningless crap — Kobe Bryant invented straw men to fire himself up. Thing is, Kobe backed it up with a win (usually). These Lakers have yet to do that, and if Denver’s winning they get the high ground on this. Ball understands.

Gary Harris scores 32, Nuggets roll LeBron James, Cavs 126-117

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Gary Harris scored 32 points, Will Barton added 23 and the Denver Nuggets did most of their damage behind the 3-point arc in a 126-117 win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.

The Nuggets made 19 of 35 3-pointers, including three in the final 2:26, to hold off a second-half charge from the Cavs, who are struggling as they try to blend in four new players on the fly.

James finished with 25 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds – his 13th triple-double this season – but Cleveland’s lack of a dependable No. 2 scorer with Kevin Love out with a broken left hand continues to be a major problem.

More troublesome, though, is the Cavs’ defense or lack of it. Whenever Denver needed a big basket, the Nuggets got it by making the extra pass and exploiting holes in Cleveland’s defense.

J.R. Smith scored 19 points – all in the second half – in his return from a one-game suspension for throwing a bowl of soup on Cavs assistant coach Damon Jones. With Smith and James carrying the scoring load, the Cavs pulled within 115-114 with 2:40 left.

But the Nuggets came right back as Paul Millsap drilled a 3-pointer and Harris made two more from outside to put it away. Jamal Murray and Wilson Chandler added 16 points apiece for the Nuggets, who are 9-3 since Feb. 1.

Larry Nance Jr. gave the Cavs a needed lift in the second quarter with a vicious dunk.

Catching a pass on the baseline, Nance, who recently participated in the dunk contest during All-Star weekend, took one dribble, cocked his arm and posterized Mason Plumlee. The slam brought James and several other amazed Cavs onto the floor to celebrate.

The Nuggets, though, weren’t fazed.

Harris and Barton knocked down 3-pointers and Denver pushed its lead to 14 and was up 73-62 at halftime.