Question: How do you get revenge against the team you lost to by one point in your own building only three nights ago?
Going 13-for-21 from three-point land (judges…), yes, that is an acceptable answer!
The Nuggets three-point shooting, coupled with some timely defensive stops and steals down the stretch, propelled them to a 103-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night.
Denver enacted revenge for that one point loss at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday, which was one toilet-bowl roll from making the Nuggets 2-0 against Dallas this year. And they did it still without the services of Nene, who missed his third straight game, and with Gary Forbes starting at the four.
Yes, George Karl went small with his starting lineup again, inserting Gary Forbes (who received a DNP-Coach’s Decision against the Clippers) in the frontcourt with Sheldon Williams. Speaking about Mr. Forbes, he quietly had a solid evening, scoring 8 points on 3-of-4 shooting in only 12 minutes of play. He didn’t get torched on defense while he was in there (which is about as good as you can ask for against Dirk) and made the open shots he was set up for; kudos to Gary Forbes.
As for the other bigs…can’t really say I was impressed (or pleased) with their performances. Sheldon had 8 points to go along with his 6 boards, but his +/- was -11 (2nd worst on the team to Afflalo, who had a rough game himself) and both he and Melvin Ely blew multiple easy layups/dunks by dropping nice passes from Chauncey and Melo on their penetrations into the porous Dallas D. He also had 4 pretty sloppy fouls and played worse defense on Dirk then his typically defensively challenged replacement Al Harrington.
Speaking of Big Al, another solid outing from Harrington, who seems to bring a second wind and a burst of energy with him when he enters the game. 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists for Al, who had a couple of thunderous dunks early in the fourth to help extend the Nuggets lead and assert their/his will on the glass (first on a nice feed of an offensive board from Ely, then a tip slam on a Lawson miss, after which he let out a King Kong roar). The more I watch Al play, the more I LOVE that addition and even if K-Mart and/or Birdman aren’t their usual selves when they return, Nuggets fans should rejoice in the fact that “Big Al” will be in there in crunch time.
And how about J.R. Swish, who lived up to his namesake last night with some nice makes and a ridiculous stat line in general; 11 points, 6 boards, 5 dimes and 5 steals in 34 minutes of the bench (btw, the entire bench was at least +14 in differential, with Big Al leading the charge with a +24). J.R. showed some hustle and defensive aggressiveness with some nice steals when the Mavs were trying to get their transition game going, and was flying in on the glass to grab some rebounds in the fourth, again making a statement that Denver’s second unit was going to dominate Dallas’.
Oh, and another guy in blue and gold had pretty good game-that would be Carmelo Anthony. Whatever you may think of the guy, he is still lighting it up on the scoreboard and carried Denver offensively late in the third when they were caught up in that back and forth struggle. Melo went 9-for-17 from the field and a more impressive 4-for-4 from downtown, including those three treys in the last four minutes of the third.
Denver didn’t play great defensively, but they played good defense in key moments came up with some steals and forced some turnovers in key moments, and contained Jason Terry and Dirk enough to come away with a big road win. Next up for Denver is the 2-3 Chicago Bulls, who have lost two straight including that heartbreaker in overtime to the Celtics at the Garden on Friday. The Bulls are essentially a two-man group right now, with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah carrying them in every way/category while they wait for the return of Carlos Boozer from that hand injury. This is a team whose lost/traded away their perimeter scorers (Ben Gordon (free agency), John Salmons (trade), Kirk Hinrich (trade)) from the past 2 seasons and is relying on the likes of Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer to get it done at shooting guard (not happening). Luol Deng can’t be a team’s number two option and their bench, which looks decent on paper (CJ Watson, Kyle Korver, Kurt Thomas) has been horrible. Taj Gibson has filled in nicely for Boozer at PF, but they need another legitimate 20+ ppg scorer so Rose isn’t taking 30+ shots a game; they won’t win if that continues.
I like the Nuggets chances in this one, on a two-game winning streak and with J.R., Ty and Big Al playing like they have off the bench, look for the Nuggets to jump to an early lead and use their stronger second unit to put Chicago in the rear view mirror. If the Bulls can hang in there through the first 10 or so minutes, it could be a close game. But if you take a big lead on them, you can put them away for good (especially if Tom Thibodeau benches Rose for the fourth again). Tip-of is 6 p.m. MST from the United Center tomorrow on Altitude.