- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A halftime tongue-lashing from their head coach turned the Denver Nuggets around on both ends of the floor.

Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points, including the go-ahead slam dunk with under a minute remaining, to lead Denver to a 108-105 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Robert Covington scored 18 points and Isaiah Canaan had 15 for Philadelphia, which dropped to 1-20.

Philadelphia rookie Jahil Okafor sat out the second of a two-game suspension imposed by the team on Wednesday after the release of a second video from a nightclub fight in Boston on Nov. 25.

Will Barton had 16 points for Denver, and the Nuggets ended a five-game trip by winning their second straight after snapping an eight-game skid on Thursday night.

“I can’t imagine flying back tonight with a loss,” Gallinari said.

It looked like the Nuggets were headed that way when they let Philadelphia shoot 60 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from 3-point range on the way to a 59-52 halftime lead.

“I ripped our guys at halftime,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “Hated our effort, hated our defense. Just not ready to play, for whatever reason. To our credit, in the fourth quarter we finally got our defense in the game.”

They also got their offense in gear - especially during the final minutes.

The Nuggets trailed for the entire second half before Jameer Nelson tied it at 102 with 1:26 remaining with a 19-foot step-back jumper. After Canaan missed a drive on the 76ers’ ensuing possession, Nelson went baseline and set up Gallinari for an easy dunk to make it 104-102 with 47.9 seconds remaining.

“I trust Jameer with the ball in his hands,” Malone said. “He makes the right read and finds (Gallinari) for a wide-open layup. He hits a big shot. He’s been in big games before so it’s nothing new for him, but we needed all of those plays by him and everybody else on the floor.”

Covington followed with a turnover for Philadelphia and Kenneth Faried grabbed a key offensive rebound and then made 1 of 2 free throws with 19.9 ticks left to put Denver up by three. Covington had a chance to tie it, but his 3-point attempt with 15 seconds left was long.

“This one definitely hurts, like most of them do,” said Nerlens Noel, who had 14 points. “I think we definitely did have control the whole game. It’s just the last 3, 4, 5 minutes that are the most crucial.”

TROUBLE HOLDING LEADS

Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead. The 76ers have led in the fourth quarter often this season, only to see teams overtake them down the stretch.

“We did a poor job, I thought, of guarding at the end,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “Right now it’s extremely frustrating, trying to close out a game.”

WROTEN RETURNS

Philadelphia G Tony Wroten returned for the first time since suffering a right ACL tear on Jan. 13. Wroten averaged 16.9 points and 5.2 assists in 30 games last season. He had four points in 13 minutes during this one.

PHILLY FLAVOR

The Nuggets have a Philadelphia touch with Nelson (St. Joe’s), Randy Foye (Villanova) and assistant coach Ed Pinckney (Villanova).

Nelson gave out 50 tickets for the game and was grateful that Malone allowed him to spend some time at his Philadelphia-area home, where he spent the night on Friday rather than at the team hotel.

“It’s always special to see my friends and family and get a few cheers, but you can’t get caught up because you’ll get distracted,” Nelson said.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Faried was back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday because of a left ankle sprain. Faried finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. … G Gary Harris (concussion) missed his fifth straight game. Malone said Harris was feeling better on Saturday, and the coach hoped to have him back for Tuesday’s home game vs. Orlando.

76ers: Mascots from Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte and Cleveland, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters, helped celebrate 76ers mascot Franklin’s birthday on Kids’ Day. … 76ers great Allen Iverson was in attendance.

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Orlando on Tuesday night.

76ers: Host San Antonio on Monday night.

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