Box Score | Highlights
After predictably sleep walking through the first six minutes of the first quarter and falling behind the Golden State Warriors by 14 in the first quarter the Nuggets were able to rouse themselves and run away for an easy win.
George Karl called a timeout with the Nuggets down 19-6 after the first 6:25 of the game. From that point on the Nuggets played with more intensity, but it was not until Chris Andersen entered the game with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter and Denver behind 23-11 that the Nuggets took off. Less than seven minutes later Birdman threw down a vicious slam as he cut down the lane to put the Nuggets up 37-29. In Birdman’s seven plus first half minutes he was a plus 20.
As soon as Andersen went to the bench Golden State actually briefly recaptured the lead 42-41. It would be their final lead of the game though as Linas Kleiza hit his first three point jumper in over three weeks on the very next possession to put Denver back up 44-42.
The run that put the Nuggets in complete control of the game was split between the second and third quarters. Denver scored the final six points of the first half and the first 13 of the second half turning a 60-57 game into a 79-57 rout. The Warriors did not get a shot within 18 feet of the rim as the Nuggets did a great job of collapsing on penetration and then rotating and running at shooters. The Nuggets run actually even extended out to a 44-15 stretch ending with 28 seconds left in the third quarter with the Nuggets already having earned three tacos for a dollar on Sunday at participating Taco Bell’s even with more than a quarter to play.
The key to Denver sweeping the remaining games against sub .500 teams will be energy. I would like to add focus too, but I do not want to get too greedy. There was a point just a couple of weeks ago where I did not think we could count on the Nuggets to win any of these games and they still have to avoid falling into the trap of taking things for granted. It definitely took the Nuggets some time to wake up tonight, but the fact that they erased the early 14 point deficit by the end of the first quarter was very impressive.
A lot can happen over these final eight games, but if Denver can keep playing like they have over the previous three games I may be in for eating a lot of crow and I will not mind one bit.
Additional Game 74 Nuggets
- Carmelo continued his offensive renaissance. Once again his jumper was falling, but he played a complete offensive game. He was going to the rim, posting up and his passing was very nice. He shot 12-21 and made mostly very good decisions with the ball.
- The Nuggets captured the lead twice towards the end of the first quarter. With the Nuggets behind 25-23 Denver forced a turnover, Andersen saved the ball to Melo who threw a long cross court outlet to J.R. smith just outside the Nuggets’ three point line. Smith spotted Kenyon flying down the middle of the floor. Smith him Kenyon in stride and Martin threw down a massive jam on top of poor Rob Kurz who was not only emasculated, but was also called for a foul. Kenyon made the free throw to give Denver their first lead at 26-25. At the other end Birdman sent back a shot by Azibuike, but was called for goaltending (after watching it several times, it looked like a good block to me) putting Denver back down 27-26. The Nuggets had the ball with ten seconds left with a chance to reclaim the lead. Anthony Carter missed a three with about two seconds left and both Kenyon and Birdman rammed the ball down on the rebound. The play by play on both ESPN.com and NBA.com say Kenyon made a tip shot, but Andersen collected an offensive rebound. Not sure how that works, but it looked pretty cool.
- I abandoned the Nuggets game in favor of watching the Phoenix Suns roar back from a 21 point deficit in Utah to take a late seven point lead only to see Grant Hill make mistake after mistake as the Jazz came back and won in overtime. When I saw the final score I pictured a dismal effort in the fourth quarter by the Nuggets that would make me sick to my stomach. The Warriors scored 42 points, how badly did Denver roll over? After actually watching the play on the court I was surprised at how hard the Nuggets did play. They were still scrambling, tipping passes, forcing turnovers and going after loose balls. The Warriors did not see many open shots, and the ones that were wide open usually came off some kind of scramble or turnover not a dereliction of duty by the Nuggets defense. After all the lineup on the floor was Carter, Smith, Kleiza, Balkman and Birdman. We know Carter, Balkman and Birdman do not take plays off. Smith and Kleiza were playing hard too. My only real gripe with the Nuggets’ play in the fourth was J.R. took a couple of bad threes early in possessions that were not very wise. The warriors just caught fire.
- Part of the Warriors’ comeback was an amazing individual spurt by Jamal Crawford. With 9:26 left in the game Jamal Crawford nailed a three and Renaldo Balkman was called for a foul on the play. Carwford hit the free throw for a rare four point play. The next trip down the court Crawford hit another three with 9:14 left to play and Andersen was called for fouling him on the shot and Crawford made the free throw. Back to back four point plays by the same player 12 seconds apart. I am guessing that is an NBA first. I have submitted an email to the powers that be to see if they can have someone look into it. Scoring eight points in 12 seconds can be a good way to end up with a 40 plus point quarter.
- Poor C.J. Watson probably got a kick out of Crawford’s four point plays, but he paid a heavy price for it. Both fouls could be considered relatively weak calls, especially the one on Andersen, so a couple of minutes later when Watson was absolutely wiped out by a soaring Birdman in the left corner on a three point attempt all three refs turned a blind eye.
- In the game recap of the win in Dallas I talked about earning things on the floor. If you do a little something extra, something unselfish, you tend to get rewarded. Linas Kleiza caught the ball on the left wing and Nene began to go to the weak side when Kleiza waived him back over and he had Nene post up and Kleiza passed him the ball. Nene tried spinning into the middle of the lane and had to throw a bail out pass to Chauncey who took a three right before the shot clock expired. Kleiza crashed the boards and collected the offensive rebound. He then rose up and threw down a powerful dunk right in front of Ronny Turiaf. It was the first basket of the Nuggets 19-0 run that spanned the second and third quarters.
- Anthony Carter once again showed he is at his best in a fast paced game. He ended up with 13 assists and only one turnover. Seven of his 13 assists lead to layups or dunks.
- I can handle this Linas Kleiza. He did force four three point attempts, but can you blame him? He actually made one. However, he scored 14 of his 22 points on layups or dunks and shot 8-10 on two point attempts. Lose the four three point attempts and we can talk.
- How impressive is Anthony Randolph? He is all over the court and thanks to his athleticism and length is already a great offensive rebounder. In 30 minutes he pulled down eight offensive boards and had an amazing possession where he blocked back to back shots at the rim. He is also an emotional player who wants to win. I think he has an amazing future.
- If one of Karl’s big objections to playing Balkman is his lack of a jumper Renaldo decided to make a case for more playing time tonight. He was 4-4 from the floor, but two of those shots were from 15 feet and one was a three. What do you think of that George?
- Right now Denver and Houston are tied in the standings and although Denver lost the season series to Houston I kept seeing them in the third seed and Houston in the fourth seed. I thought that was flat out wrong and almost wrote about how messed up the standings were. Tonight Altitude taught me that if two teams are tied the first tiebreaker is whether or not one of those teams is a division winner. That means all the consternation about Denver losing the season series to Houston is really meaningless. As long as the Nuggets can hold onto the Division lead they can be the third seed and avoid the Lakers in the second round. And here I thought I knew everything. It was people like me who built the Titanic and said it was unsinkable. When will I learn?
Mindboggling Game Stats:
Pace Factor: 102.9 – Lightning fast. It was the fastest paced game since the Nuggets game 36 home win against Indiana.
Defensive Efficiency: 112.8 – Not terrible for such a fast paced game. The Warriors scored 17 fast break points and nabbed 19 offensive boards which both hurt this number. I imagine it was much better before Golden State’s offensive explosion in the fourth.
Offensive Efficiency: 125.4 – No complaints. Remember, the Nuggets had six points more than six minutes into the game and still managed to score 129.
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