INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Pacers guard Monta Ellis had several chances to close out the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. After missing at the end of regulation, he found a way to put the Pacers over the top in overtime.
Ellis scored a season-high 32 points and had nine rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 109-105 win over the Nuggets.
With the game tied 99-99, Ellis missed a shot at the end of the fourth quarter. But he converted a three-point play with 20.4 seconds left in overtime by making a layup while being fouled by Kenneth Faried, and that conversion sent the Pacers to their second straight win.
"The lane opened up, I saw the basket and I was just aggressive," Ellis said. "I just focused on finishing the play and I was able to do that."
Since having his right knee drained on Jan. 11, Ellis has been one of Indiana’s most reliable and consistent players. He led the team with 25 points in a 111-92 win over Atlanta on Thursday night.
Gary Harris had a chance to put Denver ahead with 25 seconds left in regulation, but his 3-pointer missed while he fell out of bounds in front of the Pacers bench. In overtime, Indiana’s defence clamped down and the Nuggets went cold.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Denver shot 9 of 24 from the field and committed nine turnovers. Emmanuel Mudiay’s layup with 1:04 left in the extra period got Denver within 106-105, but that was as close as the Nuggets got.
"They made far more plays down the stretch than we did," said Harris, who finished with 18 points. "I feel like we could have won the game. It was a very winnable game on the road."
Indiana controlled the first half before Danilo Gallinari got hot for Denver. He scored eight of his 23 points in the third quarter — a period in which the Nuggets outscored Indiana 32-21. Denver went 13 of 22 from the floor in the quarter and forced six Indiana turnovers. The Pacers had five turnovers total entering the period.
Denver then went through a 4-minute scoring drought in the middle of the fourth quarter that lingered into overtime. The Nuggets dodged a couple late Pacers chances but never appeared to be in control of their own offence to overtake Indiana in overtime.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel gave the credit to Ellis, who carried the Pacers on an off night from All-Star forward Paul George, who finished with 19 points.
"He’s a heck of a basketball player and he impacts the game in a number of ways," Vogel said of Ellis.
"He can do stuff that you can’t teach a lot of guys how to do."
Faried had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and rookie Nikola Jokic had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Denver.
Pacers: Indiana is 6-1 this season when Ellis leads the team in scoring. … This was Indiana’s first overtime win of the season in five tries. … Pacers starting centre Ian Mahinmi sat out with sore lower back. … Jordan Hill tied a season high with 20 points.
Nuggets: Denver has scored at least 100 points in eight straight games. … All five Denver starters scored in double figures, and they combined to shoot 50.8 per cent (32 of 63). … Faried had his 11th double-double of the season.
Indiana has struggled to close out games this season. The Pacers have played 16 games decided by four points or fewer, and they’re 6-10 in those games. All five of Indiana’s overtime games were decided by four points or fewer.
Pacers: Host Cleveland on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host Toronto on Monday night.