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Versatile Plumlee helps Nets beat Nuggets

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NEW YORK — When things were not going well for Mason Plumlee, the second-year center could have grown frustrated every time Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins criticized him.

Instead Plumlee made a conscious decision to just go with the flow through praise and criticism.

Hollins and the rest of the Nets had much to praise about Plumlee on Tuesday night after watching him score 19 points and tie a career high with 13 rebounds in a 102-96 win over the Denver Nuggets.

“Mason’s been great man, energy effort, taking the challenge and playing some of the threes, fours and fives,” Brooklyn forward Joe Johnson said.

Nets guard Jarrett Jack added, “He’s so athletic that you can put him in various spots where he can score. You can put him by the rim or you can put it where he would only need to take one bounce to put it up.”

The Nets improved to 12-15 by closing the game out better than Sunday, when they held off the Detroit Pistons.

On Tuesday, they were down 85-78 three minutes into the fourth quarter and finished the game on a 24-11 run.

Plumlee helped with that run by scoring six points, including the go-ahead put-back layup off a missed 3-pointer by guard Sergey Karasev with 4:53 remaining that made it 91-89. He also scored Brooklyn’s first two baskets of that decisive run and had blocked shots of center Jusuf Nurkic and forward Alonzo Gee.

“Mason made a conscious decision to just play and not worry about what I say if I yell at him or take him out of the game. Just go play. And his confidence is rising,” Hollins said. “His confidence is rising. He’s doing some stuff that I haven’t seen Mason do since I’ve been here.”

Plumlee posted his fifth double-double of the season and is averaging 18.1 points and 10.6 rebounds while playing 35 minutes in his last seven games. Six of those games came with Brook Lopez sidelined with a back injury, and Lopez came off the bench Tuesday.

“I’m listening to what he says,” Plumlee said of Hollins. “It’s just strategic points, the helping points. When you’re kind of in your groove, whatever is said to you can be turned into a positive.

“When you get it rolling, you just turn everything positive. You take the criticism and the encouragement all the same and you use it to your advantage.”

Plumlee and forward Joe Johnson combined for 14 of their 46 points in the fourth.

Johnson finished with 27 points and hit three clutch shots in the fourth, highlighting his 11-of-19 night with a turnaround 11-footer in the lane late in the shot clock for a 97-89 advantage with 2:41 remaining.

Guard Jarrett Jack had three baskets in that run and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in place of Deron Williams (right calf).

Point guard Ty Lawson had 29 points and nine assists for Denver, which dropped its sixth straight road game. The Nuggets made 7 of 25 shots over the final 15:21, allowed 24 points off 18 turnovers and were outscored 60-46 in the paint.

“You can’t turn the ball over 18 times to a team that sometimes struggles to score,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “They scored 24 points off our turnovers. Until we can do those things on a consistent basis, then we will end up having the results that we had tonight.”

Forward Kenneth Faried collected 20 points and 14 rebounds but forward Wilson Chandler was held to 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting, including 1 of 9 from behind the arc.

Denver scored the first eight points before the Nets attempted a shot and Brooklyn took a 30-27 lead on Karasev’s putback at the buzzer. Denver used a 10-2 run to get within 49-47 on a layup by Chandler, but the Nets took a 58-54 lead at halftime.

Lawson scored nine in the third quarter as Denver took a 77-76 lead. Lawson was on the bench when the Nuggets opened an 85-78 lead on consecutive baskets by Faried early in the fourth.

NOTES: C Brook Lopez played 8:15 in his first game since Dec. 5. Lopez wound with six points and five rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting. Lopez said he felt good and is willing to come off the bench. … Two of Denver’s late buses from its downtown Manhattan hotel hit heavy traffic, causing most of the players and coach Brian Shaw to reach the locker room at about 6:20 p.m. EST. … F Darrell Arthur missed his fourth straight game with a strained left foot and G Randy Foye (right quadriceps strain) and C JaVale McGee (strained left lower leg) remained out. Denver G Ty Lawson was listed as questionable with lower back tightness but played and had his seventh game with at least 20 points.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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