In a game missing its two all-star point guards, with another star sick to his stomach and a enough ebbs and flows to choke the big asteroid snake thingy living in the asteroid that swallowed the Millennium Falcon in Empire Strikes Back, Carmelo Anthony was able to summon enough strength to drain a game winning 21 foot jumper to give the Nuggets a much needed home win over the Chicago Bulls.
Denver jumped out to a 17 point lead in the first quarter and a 19 point bulge in the third only to see the Bulls fight back behind C.J. Watson to take a late lead. The two biggest keys to the game was Joakim Noah’s inability to defend Nene and the flat out disinterest from the Nuggets bigs in providing any semblance of resistance on the pick and roll.
Noah is a great rebounder, good pick and roll big man and a decent post defender, but he had no answer for Nene who used his strength advantage to gain deep post position and then his quickness to get past Noah enough to get good shots at the rim. Nene was very effective in posting on the right block, spinning to his right into the middle of the lane and converting on a short running hook shot. Nene made 8-9 shots and proved to be too big of a handful for Noah whenever he had the ball in the post. Nene had a similar fast start when the two teams played in Chicago earlier in the season and it shows how good Nene is when he can consistently perform well against a highly rated defender like Noah.
On the other end of the court Nene was a big part of the problem as the Bulls ran pick and rolls an pick and pops while the he, Shelden Williams and Al Harrington provided little resistance to Watson who gladly splashed open jumpers or drove all the way to the rim. Rose is by far the best player on the Bulls’ roster and when he struggles the team typically struggles. However, the Bulls knew going in they needed to account for Rose’s missing production and Watson did a fantastic job. I always liked Watson as a player at Golden State, but he has not played well so far in Chicago. We will see if this performance builds his confidence and pushes him to a higher level.
Additional Game 15 Nuggets
Smashing Game Stats
Pace Factor: 99.7 – Fast for the Bulls, about average for Denver at home
Defensive Efficiency: 97.3 – Denver has posted a defensive efficiency under 100.0 in eight of their first 15 games and four of their last six. Opponents are making only 41.2% of their shots against the Nuggets since the Pacers lit Denver up.
Offensive Efficiency: 98.3 – Not very good, but the Bulls are clearly getting better defensively with more and more tutoring from Thibodeau.