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Lawson makes first 10 three-pointers as Nuggets rout Wolves
By Chris Bernucca Apr 10, 2011, 5:51 GMT
Los Angeles - Two years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Ty Lawson and traded him to the Denver Nuggets. If they didn't know what they were missing, they found out Saturday night.
Lawson nearly set an NBA record by making 10-of-11 three-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points in just three quarters as the host Nuggets rolled to a 130-106 rout of the Timberwolves, who have lost 13 straight games.
JR Smith made six three-pointers and scored 18 points for the Nuggets (49-31), who sank a franchise-record 19 shots from the arc and improved to 17-6 since trading superstar Carmelo Anthony.
'Our confidence is up,' said Lawson, who also had seven rebounds and six assists. 'We've been playing well since the trade.'
The 18th pick in the 2009 draft, the 5-11 Lawson was traded to the Nuggets for a 2010 first-round pick. He actually was the third point guard taken by Minnesota.
The Wolves used the fifth pick on Ricky Rubio, who has remained in Spain, raising doubts whether he will play for the Timberwolves. They spent the sixth pick on Jonny Flynn, who averaged 13.5 points as a rookie but took a huge step backward this season, losing his starting job.
Meanwhile, Lawson has thrived. As a rookie, he averaged 8.3 points playing behind and alongside All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups. After Billups was traded to New York, Lawson became the starter and has averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 assists.
Lawson entered the contest shooting 37 percent from the arc, averaging less than one three-pointer per game and never making more than three. He made his first 10, all in an 18-minute span.
'I've seen him take over a game before but I've never seen him do it like that from the three-point line,' said Minnesota guard Wayne Ellington, who played with Lawson at North Carolina.
The NBA record for three-pointers without a miss is nine, set by New York's Latrell Sprewell in 2003. Lawson would have broken the record had he not launched a runner at the end of the third period.
Lawson was scoreless until sinking two free throws midway through the second quarter. He finally got going with a driving layup and three three-pointers in the final four minutes of the first half as Denver opened a 65-51 lead.
'I didn't think I was gonna come out like that,' Lawson said. 'Then the next two went in and I got on a roll.'
In the third quarter, Lawson scored 24 points. He made seven three-pointers, bringing gasps from the Pepsi Center crowd and even the public address announcer.
'I felt in a rhythm and I started knocking down shots,' he said. 'I don't know how to explain it.'
'It was a show,' Nuggets coach George Karl said. 'It was fun being a part of. I'm sure the fans enjoyed it.'
The last one came from well beyond the stripe and gave Denver a 100-66 lead. Just seconds later, he finally missed, costing himself the record.
'I was just caught in the moment heading downcourt,' he said. 'I just threw it up.'
'He kind of ruined it by missing that last heave,' Karl said.
Lawson made 11-of-16 shots as he shattered his previous career high of 28 established Tuesday vs. Oklahoma City.
Raymond Felton had 14 assists for the playoff-bound Nuggets, who had eight scorers in double figures despite playing without four injured regulars - Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, Chris Andersen and Russia's Timofey Mozgov.
In addition, forward Danilo Gallinari of Italy sprained his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return.
'We're just have to worry about getting healthy,' Karl said.
Martell Webster and Lazar Hayward scored 15 points apiece for the Timberwolves, who played without All-Star forward Kevin Love. Minnesota (17-63) has not won since March 11 and is tied with Cleveland for the worst record in the NBA.
San Antonio 111, Utah 102=
Richard Jefferson scored 20 points for the first time since Nov. 10 and led seven scorers in double figures as the host Spurs (61-19) moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in the race for the NBA's best record. The Jazz have lost 10 of 11.
Washington 115, Atlanta 83=
Andray Blatche scored 23 points to lead seven players in double figures for the host Wizards, who ended a 12-game losing streak vs. the Hawks. Playoff-bound Atlanta has dropped four in a row.
Milwaukee 108, Cleveland 101=
John Salmons scored 32 points and Drew Gooden had his first career triple-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists for the host Bucks. The Cavaliers (17-63) remained tied with Minnesota for the league's worst record.
Houston 99, LA Clippers 78=
Slovenia's Goran Dragic, starting for the injured Kyle Lowry, had 14 points, a career-high 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets. The Clippers (31-50) have dropped three in a row.
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