Tonight the Nuggets notched their first win in Phoenix since 2004, and for George Karl it was his first win in the desert since 1997. Whatever has kept the Nuggets from winning in the US Airway Center in years past certainly was not preset this evening as the Nuggets took it to the Suns from the get-go, and did not let up all game.
I can’t exactly recall off top of my head the last time the Nuggets had such a large break in-between games, but I remember we played disappointingly bad coming out of the hiatus, and as a fan there’s nothing more frustrating to watch. Thank goodness that was not the case tonight. What the Nuggets showed us in this blowout is that they’re not just playing HORSE in their spare time, but in fact actually learning things. Maybe George Karl was finally able to relax his mind and get everyone on the same page. Maybe the guys just needed a rest. Whatever it was, it worked because the Nuggets totally extinguished the blistering hot Suns tonight from beginning to end.
Things that were evident in tonight’s win: great ball movement, sticky hands in the passing lanes, excellent protection of the rim, great shot selection for the most part, perfect execution of the run-and-gun offense and most importantly static energy. No matter how you slice it the Nuggets simply came prepared to play tonight and no matter who that was, they were likely in for trouble.
Perhaps the highlight of such a “feel good” win was the play of Ty Lawson, especially when combined with Nene. The Ty-to-Nene combo should be one that Nuggets fans will see much of throughout the future, and tonight we really got our first does of just how potent that combination can be. When you combine Ty’s blazing-fast speed, superior court vision and lighting-quick hands to go with Nene’s bulky, athletic finishing ability, the end result is almost always going to be an emphatic jam. Just like any great PG, Ty seems to be starting to understand the concept of making others around him better, and what better person to first feel this affect than Nene. It’s interesting because Nene’s potential for a long time has been promising, yet never fully fulfilled. Maybe all along a great PG is what Nene needs to take his own game to the next level. We see this so often with bigs, where guys like Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Amare Stoudemire are prime examples. Keep an eye out for this connection the rest of the season, as it may continue to blossom just in time for the playoffs.
Now though the Ty-to-Nene combo was indeed in full-effect tonight, lets not overlook the “Ty-to-everyone else on the team” connection either. Ty simply had a superb outing tonight, and the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced this was his best game as a pro. I’ve been a huge supporter of Ty’s ever since the day we drafted him (I can still remember jumping up and down in my living room like I had just won the lottery.) and continue to believe that one day he’ll be an elite PG in the NBA. Tonight was affirmation on the highest level. Although he’s still got a lot of work to do, his biggest flaw (lack of assertion) seems to be fading with each passing game as a starter. Tonight we saw what Ty Lawson is like when he takes control, picks up his baton and orchestrates a masterpiece. The result: a nearly 20-point win a place we haven’t won in seven years, not to mention free tacos from Taco Bell. Ty finished the night going 8-13 from the field and 2-5 from downtown, all while netting 20 points, a career-high 11 assists and four steals.
The Nuggets are now 6-2 post-Carmelo, and continue to play solid, team basketball on a nightly basis. Next up is Detroit on Saturday and after that only 16 games remain for the Nuggets in the NBA’s regular season. Oklahoma City continues to appear elusive but if the Nuggets stay at the pace they’re going anything is possible.
Pace Factor: 106.7 – This team has been trying to play faster and really got it together tonight. Fastest game of the whole season
Offensive Efficiency: 108.7 – It was against Phoenix, but still exceptional considering there were 19 turnovers
Defensive Efficiency: 90.9 – Another great rating nearly unthinkable before the trade. Denver’s average now at 106.0
Additional Game 65 Nuggets (by Charlie)