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News » Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-03-29

Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-03-29

Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-03-29
Linas Kleiza's slump was starting to look like the U.S. economy.

Over his previous seven games, the Nuggets forward had shot just 11 of 44 (25 percent) while averaging 3.7 points. Over his previous 10 games, Kleiza had shot one of 15 from 3-point range, and the only one he made was a desperation, one-handed bank shot at the halftime buzzer March 23 at Phoenix.

But Kleiza didn't look for a bailout. He might be Lithuanian, but he relied on what looked like good old American elbow grease to try to get his game back.

"I always put the work in," Kleiza said. "I worked my butt off. If you do that, it's going to pay off eventually."

It finally did Saturday. Kleiza broke out of his horrendous slump by shooting nine of 14 for 22 points in Denver's 129-116 win over Golden State at the Pepsi Center.

Kleiza did shoot just one of four from 3-point range, making his slump two of 19. But he got the rest of his game going by taking the ball to the basket, especially in the second quarter, when he scored 13 points.

"I think regrouping his confidence is good," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "There's always room for L.K. He's just been in a big-time slump. I would like it if he had made some 3s, but he seemed to get his layup rhythm. He seemed to get a lot of easy baskets. I think there will be a role for L.K. in any playoff series."

The way his slump was going, perhaps there were some doubting that. At Dallas on Friday, after Kleiza shot just one of four in seven first-half minutes, he didn't even play in the second half.

Teammates have been encouraging Kleiza, who is averaging 9.7 points and shooting 44.2 percent. That's down from last season's 11.1 average and 47.2 percent shooting.

"It was good to see him going back and hitting some shots," Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said. "I'm proud and happy for him."

Nobody was more happy after the game than Kleiza.

"I feel great," he said. "Hopefully, the worst is behind me."

NUGGETS 129, WARRIORS 116: Were the Nuggets worried when they fell behind 21-7 to start the game?

Not really.

Denver knew it was the lowly Warriors, who dressed just eight players, they were facing. The Nuggets came to lead by as many as 32 points before Golden State made the margin look more respectable during garbage time Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

"Everybody kept their focus," Nuggets center Chris Andersen said. "We didn't get down on ourselves. We didn't fall apart. We didn't go at each other's throats."

Andersen, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, was one of several impressive Denver players. Forward Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, forward Linas Kleiza had 22 and guard Anthony Carter handed out a season-high 13 assists.

"I just think coming off a long road trip and a back-to-back, we just had to get some little kinks out," Anthony said of the slow start experienced by the Nuggets, who played Dallas on Friday to conclude a three-game trip.

Due to injuries, Golden State was short-handed. Fatigue set in.

Even though the Warriors had not played since Wednesday, their team plane developed mechanical problems Friday in their flight from Dallas. They didn't get into Denver until past 1 a.m. Saturday.

Guard Jamal Crawford led the Warriors with 30 points. Forward Kelenna Azubuike added 21.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 29, 2009


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