After losing a preferred trading partner for their disgruntled star, the Nuggets won a game against the division leading Oklahoma City Thunder. Under the circumstances, it might have been one of the gutsier team wins of the season against a top notch opponent in what was largely a sloppy game. Judging by the listless and sullen crown at the Pepsi Center, the win seemed overshadowed by yet another twist in the ongoing Melo saga that most fans know is going to end unhappily… sometime.
The Nuggets played a tough and talented Thunder team close throughout the game. When things got tough for Denver, Melo did the same thing he did in the San Antonio game and his entire career. He took matters into his own hands and fired up more shots than anyone else. However as he’s done for a good part of his career, Melo delivered this time. Riding a hot streak to 18 third quarter points, he finished with 35 points on 25 shots – helping defeat OKC behind Denver’s strong fourth quarter effort on defense.
Such is the paradox many Nuggets fans face with Carmelo, not only now that he’s lost his desire to play in Denver but also throughout his entire career. Denver tried for years without success to build a championship contender around his high usage rate and volume shooting. No matter how close they got, especially with the addition of Chauncey Billups and the emergence of Nene – it was hard to take their chances seriously as a team with Carmelo Anthony as its best player. In what should be the closest they’ve ever been to their championship dreams, the Nuggets seem further away than ever in the midst of a lost and largely meaningless season.
There are no heroes and villains in the Nuggets inevitable divorce with Carmelo. I hold no ill will towards him for believing Denver will not get it done should he stay. I appreciate all he’s done for what has been a long and prosperous era the fans have waited so many years to have.
It doesn’t change the fact that this half-hearted attempt to leave the Nuggets “admirably” comes at the expense of his team’s future. Nor does it seem his desire to help Denver get “something” for him will have any such effect whatsoever. In fact, Melo’s six-month indecision marathon seems no less narcissistic than Lebron’s extravagant one hour special. Regardless of intention, both approach very similar conclusions.
Nevertheless, the Nuggets win and Carmelo Anthony proves he can still play like himself. The audition for his next team continues Friday against the Lakers on ESPN.
Additional Game 41 Nuggets
- Kenyon Martin played 23 minutes and his best game of the season. He was a force on the glass and the anchor of Denver’s tough fourth quarter defense which won the game. The Nuggets held Kevin Durant to 1-9 shooting in the second half and one his worst games of the year.
- JR Smith and Al Harrington contributed fine defensive efforts, despite neither getting the shots and touches they’re accustomed to.
- Chauncey Billups hit a big shot in the fourth and challenged Westbrook off the dribble all night. He finished shooting 7-11 including 1-3 from long range
- The Nuggets are solid on controlling turnovers again. No player had more than 2, they only totaled 7 and forced the Thunder into 10.
- George Karl deserved credit for bringing a disjointed team together enough to keep winning at home. The Nuggets being a lot of their selfish tendencies and inconsistent play into every game, but they display a resilience and the spirit of a winner at home. It’s impressive considering the circumstances.