By Ben Golliver
This game of "Anything you can do, I can do better" between Miami and Denver just won't end.
The Nuggets pulled off a miracle 101-100 victory over the Sixers on Thursday thanks to six unanswered points from Corey Brewer in the final 10 seconds. The late-game heroics gave Denver its 14th consecutive victory and its second dramatic victory of the week; on Monday, the Nuggets escaped Chicago with a road win in overtime thanks to a controversial offensive basket interference call on Joakim Noah. The Heat, meanwhile, extended their winning streak to 24 games by eking out a major comeback win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Brewer didn't quite match Reggie Miller's famous eight points in nine seconds performance for the Pacers against the Knicks in the 1995 postseason, but things couldn't have broken more perfectly for him with the game on the line.
With the Sixers leading 100-95 and less than 15 seconds remaining, the Nuggets got bottled up a bit on the perimeter as they sought out a three-point attempt. Danilo Gallinari finally fed Brewer on the left angle. Brewer executed his cut so hard that he nearly sent himself to the ground, which would have resulted in Gallinari's pass going out of bounds. Instead, Brewer righted himself just in time, collecting himself to sink a three-pointer over a rotating Jrue Holiday with 9.2 seconds left.
After Evan "The Villain" Turner played the goat by missing two free throws, Denver took a timeout to advance the ball and set up the game-deciding inbounds play, trailing 100-98. Gallinari initiated the final sequence by handing off the ball to Brewer, who curled around him toward the center of the court well outside the three-point line.
As the clock reached three seconds, Brewer elected to pull up and launch a deep three from the top of the key, but a stumbling Damien Wilkins, who had lost contact during the dribble hand-off, came across Brewer's arms, sending him to the ground. The shot clanked hard off the glass but it didn't matter, as the referees awarded Brewer three free throws. The 27-year-old string bean went 3-for-3, putting Denver up 101-100, the first time the Nuggets had led in more than nine minutes. Brewer finished with a game-high 29 points (on 10-for-18 shooting) and five steals in 33 minutes.
A Wilkins three at the buzzer was blocked, giving Denver, which had mounted an 11-2 comeback in the final two minutes, the unlikely victory.
The Denver Post reported that even the man of the hour couldn't quite believe what had happened.
"It was crazy. To be honest, I didn't think we had any chance of winning," Brewer said. "Even when [Evan Turner] missed those two free throws, it gave us life."
"It's a pretty big highlight," Brewer said of the frantic finish, "Probably my best highlight since I was in the NBA."
The Nuggets improved to 48-22; the Sixers dropped to 26-42. Wilkins finished with a team-high 24 points (on 10-for-15 shooting) and four steals for Philadelphia. Denver, the West's No. 5 seed, will go for its 15th straight win when it plays host to Sacramento on Saturday.