Ty Lawson was named the NBA‘s Western Conference Player of the Week for helping the Denver Nuggets go 3-0 in the last seven days by contributing an average of 21.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals. He only netted 11 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but shot the game-winning basket with only 0.2 seconds left on the clock. What seems to be the most important part of this all is the fact that Lawson has stepped it up when he knows it’s needed. He wants to be the player to take the last shot and more importantly, he actually has the ability to make the shot no matter who is defending him or where the ball is on the court.
Lawson won this award almost one year ago exactly, having won it on March 5 last year. In this last stretch of the regular season it’s important to have at least one player you know who can handle the ball for that last shot. Since Jan. 13, he is averaging 20.8 points, 7.5 assists and 1.6 steals in the 22 games over that stretch and proved he can finish off even the best of the best. The games don’t get any easier or less important as the Nuggets hope to stay hot and clinch a home-court spot in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Nuggets had a tough week last week, but muscled through by outstanding performances not only by Lawson, but by the team as a whole. Denver’s bench has been money recently with Wilson Chandler coming through big time for the injured and scoring leader Danilo Gallinari. And don’t forget how Chandler and Andre Igoudala‘s defensive presences have helped the Nuggets actually win close games.
They might have a close one lined up tonight when they square off against Josh Smith, Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are wrapping up a six-game road trip with a try against a Nuggets team that has won 10 home games in a row. Atlanta is also coming off a close loss at sea level against the Los Angeles Lakers last night, so they’ll probably show a little fatigue. Horford is averaging 25.1 points and 11.1 rebounds over the last eight games and it’ll be important for the Nuggets D to close him down. The Nuggets are rested and the bench is playing well, so I think they should have this game in the bag by the end of the third quarter. Unless, that is, they let the Hawks back into the game late like they have been known to do.
Tonight’s game is the first of a back-to-back for Denver as they travel to play the Sacramento Kings tomorrow night. The Kings sit in last place in the Wester Conference and the only substantial news I’ve heard about them this year is the fact that they might pack it up and move elsewhere. After the Kings, Denver heads back home for a matchup against another fast-paced team that loves the alley-oop. The Los Angeles Clippers come into the Pepsi Center on Thursday after losing a tough game against the Thunder in which they battled back and nearly won. The Nuggets home court advantage this year is second only to the Miami Heat and it won’t be a game to miss as Lawson looks to steal the spotlight away from Chris Paul and Lob City.
The Nuggets wrap up the week with a home game Saturaday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves handed Denver one of their only three losses at the Pepsi Center this season last time they came to town, so the Nuggets will certainly be looking to avenge that loss against a team outside of playoff contention. With no Kevin Love and no Andrei Kirilenko it’ll be tough for Ricky Rubio and the Wolves to come in and steal another one.
Can Lawson win Western Conference Player of the Week again? Maybe. This week will be another great test for him though so we’ll see what he can do.