As quickly as the Nuggets accumulated a big lead Saturday night, the Indiana Pacers made sure everyone understood an advantage that large against the NBA's best team was too good to be true.

So the Pacers made the Nuggets sweat. And work. And grind. And bite their nails. And answer the inevitable charge that came right at the start of the third and never let up, until the Nuggets regained their footing and put them away.

The Nuggets used to make a habit of running tired teams off the Pepsi Center court. Aside from a few harried moments, they were able to do just that to the Pacers, winning 109-96. Was it a fair fight? Sure. The Pacers, who dominate most teams they face, still own the NBA's best record at 34-8 — even with this loss. The Nuggets don't dominate many teams, but will if they're rested and the opponent isn't.

And the Pacers, who played into overtime in a West Coast game on Friday night, weren't.

Those are the breaks in the NBA.

"We made an effort to really try to keep the pace and the tempo up, knowing that they played last night," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said.

This season, the second game in two days has been the Pacers' vulnerable spot. Five of their eight losses coming into the game occurred in such situations, and now that's six of their nine.

Shaw said: "We're getting better. We're getting it. Regardless of what our record is (21-21), I like the direction that we're going in. We just have to try to string together some wins in a row."

Meanwhile, the Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak and continued inspired play against the NBA's better teams. But what they couldn't finish in a near-win over Portland on Thursday, they were able to get done against the Pacers.

A big night out of Wilson Chandler was key. Pushing the pace and generally keeping their energy high was also key. Both of those gave the Nuggets the juice they needed to get the win.

Chandler has been on an extreme hot streak of late and that continued in a big way as he poured in a season-high 25 points, which included four 3-pointers. Thirteen of those came in the third quarter, when the Nuggets needed them most.

"Just being aggressive and just taking good shots," Chandler said of his strong effort. "I probably took one or two bad shots."

"When you see your first shot go through the basket, I think that helps out a lot," Shaw said of Chandler's play. "The first play of the game, he got a 3 in the corner.

"He had a tough assignment tonight in Paul George. I know that wore him down. Had he hit more of his free throws, he may have eclipsed the 30-point mark himself. It's good to see some shots go down and him be aggressive offensively like he was tonight."

Indiana got busy erasing a 19-point halftime lead with lightning-fast speed and had it down to five with 8:43 left in the third.

Chandler then hit a 3-pointer to stabilize things for the Nuggets. Then he hit a bucket and was fouled and made the free throw.

Chandler scored nine of the Nuggets' next 10 points and by the time he was done, a 10-point lead had been restored and with it a modicum of control.

"We came out strong in the first half and didn't take our foot off the brake," Chandler said. "We withstood a great run from them in the second half. They're maybe the best team in the league, so they were going to make runs. We just had to stay focused and made our run back."