I’m going to start off by stating the obvious…there is NO reason this game should have been this close. NONE, whatsoever. As this game progressed, the Nuggets slowly began to pull away, taking advantage of bad shot selection and the small-ball lineup both teams were throwing out there to out-Knicks the Knicks (anytime these two teams have face each other since D’Antoni moved to New York, I don’t think either team has scored less than 110 points…seriously). With 9:44 to go in the game, Denver went up 102-88 after two Al Harrington free throws. Six minutes and thirty-eight seconds later (3:06 to go), it was a tie ballgame at 109. Do the math folks and that’s a 21-7 run by the Knickerbockers (love calling them that) down the stretch. More often than not, that equates to a total collapse and a notch in the loss column. The Nuggets went into cruise mode, looked uninspired on both ends of the floor (especially on offense) putting up contested jumpers and giving up layups and free throws on defense.
Then something clicked, at least in Carmelo Anthony. After a loose ball foul was called on him on a jump ball (which led to the two game-tying free throws), his intensity went through the roof and looked like he was a man possessed. He played good D, got good position in the post which led to kick-outs and swing-arounds (did I just make up a word…I think I just did) to open guys. The Nuggets started making that extra pass, found the open man and made the Knicks go back to their usual chuck-up-the-threeball style.
The Knicks did make it interesting one last time in the final minute, but Melo made enough free throws do get Denver the win. Some other thoughts about Wedneday’s game I wanted to touch on-
Denver’s next game is tomorrow night at the Rose Garden in Portland. The good news for Denver is that the Blazers’ star shooting guard Brandon Roy will most likely miss the game due to his troublesome knee injury was continues to plague him. While Roy suiting up is a good thing for the league, his absence will definitely benefit the Nuggets on Thursday. Wesley Matthews exploded for 30 points against the Grizzlies yester day and will fill in for Roy to some extent; also Nicholas Batum has started to expand his offensive repertoire, and coupled with Andre Miller (who is one of my favorite former Nuggets of all-time), Marcus Camby (ditto), LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland crowd (probably the best in the NBA) the Nuggets will have their hands full. But Roy’s absence provides Denver a big opportunity to pick up a divisional game going into the Nets’ game on Saturday. A killer matchup at point between Miller and Billups is intriguing, but look for Lawson to have a big game and if both teams go small-ball, I say advantage Nuggets. Should be a good one, tip-off is 8:30 MST tomorrow night on TNT.
Advanced Game Stats
Pace Factor: 109.1 – By far the highest paced game of the season topping the contest from the previous night at Phoenix which had a pace of 103.0
Defensive Efficiency: 108.2 – If the Knicks could have made any of their open threes, it would have been much worse
Offensive Efficiency: 110.0 – Fourth best rating of the season, despite the mostly poor shot selection in the second half