Lawson late jumper lifts Nuggets over Jazz 103-101
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) After Arron Afflalo was ejected, Ty Lawson looked around and wondered who was going to score down the stretch.
''I told the guys that somebody's got to step up,'' Lawson said.
In the end, it was Lawson who stepped into the void and continued Denver's hot streak.
Lawson had 15 points and made a double-pump jumper to beat the shot clock with 29.6 seconds left, boosting the Nuggets over the Utah Jazz 103-101 in a charged atmosphere Monday night.
''I had to rush the shot a little bit but I got Trey Burke in the air and I thought I got fouled, but I got that lucky roll,'' Lawson said.
The game heated up after Afflalo was ejected in the fourth quarter and the Jazz stormed back from a 22-point deficit to tie the game in the final minutes.
Lawson, who also had 12 assists, made the game-winner from the left wing between two Jazz defenders.
''It's nice to finally have some breaks go our way. Those are the kinds of things that we were getting hit with (early in the season),'' Denver coach Brian Shaw.
Gordon Hayward's shot was blocked and Burke missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer on the other end before Darrell Arthur clinched the game with two free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining. Alec Burks dunk at the buzzer completing the scoring.
Wilson Chandler scored 15, Afflalo had 14 and Arthur added 12 for the Nuggets, who have won eight of their last 10 games.
Hayward scored 25 points, Burks had 22 and Burke chipped in 18, but Utah's losing streak hit six games -- the longest skid since March 10-19 last season.
Trailing 90-86, Burks was driving full-speed to the basket midway through the fourth quarter when Afflalo clotheslined the Jazz guard. The hard foul sparked a shoving match with Enes Kanter at the center of it all protecting Burks, who was already nursing a sore shoulder.
After a lengthy officials' conference, Afflalo was ejected for a flagrant-two foul for hitting Burks in the side of the head. Afflalo and Burks pointed at each other and exchanged words before he left the court.
''I committed a hard foul but I didn't do it intentionally. It was just unfortunate with everything that happened afterward,'' Afflalo said.
The Nuggets were rolling along with an 80-67 lead late in the third quarter before the Jazz extended their defense and ran at every opportunity. Utah caught Denver at 83-83 on a thunderous alley-oop jam by Rudy Gobert.
Denver led 24-23 late in the first quarter before going on a 22-4 run. Darrell Arthur had two 3-pointers to fuel the run and then J.J. Hickson capped the surge with a three-point play to make it 46-27 with 6:45 before halftime.
''We were a totally different team in the second half. We showed what we are capable of doing,'' Burks said.
Without defensive anchor Derrick Favors, who missed the game with flu-like symptoms, the Jazz looked powerless to stop the Nuggets forays to the basket until Gobert asserted himself and sparked the Jazz comeback.
Denver's resurgence has been based on improved defense. The Nuggets improved to 7-0 when holding opponents to 101 points or less and appear to be an entirely different team than the one that lost six straight in early November.
''We're defending better, no doubt,'' Shaw said.
Nuggets: Guard Randy Foye was diagnosed with a right quad tear earlier Monday and may miss a few weeks. ... The Nuggets reserves outscored the Jazz bench 29-4 in the first half and 38-13 for the game. . Denver won the opening tip and Lawson immediately passed to Faried for a tone-setting dunk.
Jazz: Favors, who had played in every game this season and averages 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds, left Monday's shootaround with a cold that worsened as the day progressed. . Trainer Gary Briggs was assessed a technical foul as he ran onto the court during the fracas to attend to Burks before time was called.
NO TOUGH GUY ACT
''I was just trying to go for a block. I wasn't trying to be a tough guy,'' Afflalo said. ''I'm anticipating getting to play tomorrow. We'll see. Hopefully, they make the right call. But I do apologize for that, though, that hard foul.''
Nuggets: Host Portland on Tuesday.
Jazz: Host Toronto on Wednesday.