April 11, 2011
WARRIORS (35-45) vs.
Coverage begins at 6 p.m. on CSN BayArea Plus
DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets need just one win from their final two regular-season games to clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Ty Lawson could provide the difference again.
Lawson looks to build on a record-breaking shooting performance as the Nuggets attempt to continue their home dominance of the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
Denver (49-31) appears to be in ideal position to secure fifth place in the conference, leading sixth-place Portland by two games with contests remaining against two teams out of contention, including a season-ending visit to Utah on Wednesday.
A win Monday would send Denver into an opening-round series against either Oklahoma City, Dallas or the Los Angeles Lakers.
Another victory would also extend the Nuggets' franchise record of consecutive 50-win seasons to four.
Lawson, averaging 11.7 points, could play a part in reaching both goals Monday.
The point guard set a league record Saturday, connecting on his first 10 3-pointers en route to a career-high 37 points in a 130-106 rout of Minnesota. Lawson finished 10 of 11 from beyond the arc.
"Ty works on his shot a lot," said swingman J.R. Smith, who holds the franchise record with 11 3-pointers (in 18 attempts) in a game against Sacramento in 2009. "After practice, he's always out there shooting 3-point shots because a lot of people go under him on the pick-and-rolls, and I tell him all the time, that's disrespectful, if somebody goes under you on a pick-and-roll, you're supposed to make them pay.
"He's been working on it and it really showed."
Lawson could be in for another big effort against the Warriors (35-45), who are among the worst defensive teams in the NBA allowing 105.6 points per game. However, he had just eight points as the Nuggets came up short in the most recent meeting, falling 116-114 in Oakland as Nene missed a jumper at the buzzer. The defeat ended their seven-game winning streak in the series.
The Nuggets have won 12 of the last 13 home meetings, averaging 116.3 points.
Denver's path to the fifth seed may have been made smoother with Monta Ellis expected to be out for the Warriors.
Golden State's leader with 24.3 points per game, Ellis was fouled hard by DeMarcus Cousins on a driving layup and fell head-first on the court during Sunday's 104-103 loss to Sacramento.
"You could just see in the look in his eyes that he no idea where he was," forward-center David Lee said. "It's a scary moment, I've been there before, where guys assume you're fine because you're getting up but you have no idea where you're at. He kinda was going to the line because he had to shoot free throws, but he was going toward the fans.
"I was like, 'No, come on trainer, get out here. Get him.'"
Lee may need to pick up the scoring slack with Ellis out. He had 24 points and 14 rebounds Sunday, and is averaging 25.0 and 17.0 over the last three games. However, Lee was held to 16 points with 12 rebounds in the last meeting with Denver.