St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012. The Boston Celtics at the Pepsi Center in Denver (with all too many traitorous green jerseys in attendance). The only matchup between the Nuggets and C’s in the lockout shortened season. And Denver jockeying for playoff positioning as the season drew closer to an end.
It was a huge game for the Nuggets. And despite the hype surrounding the St. Patty’s-Boston imagery, the most important symbolism of the game was when George Karl uncharacteristically entrusted a rookie, Kenneth Faried, to close out the final minutes of a closely contested contest.
And the Manimal delivered. Scoring 18 points on perfect shooting, including five of five from the field and eight of eight from the line, Faried also grabbed 16 rebounds — 6 offensive — with a steal and a block on top. Beyond the stat line, he was the engine that fueled the team’s energy and drive with infectious, relentless effort. And he played a crucial role in earning the Nuggets victory.