I think that you can point to one distinguishing moment in the game where the Nuggets sent home a statement to the Pistons. That statement was you guys aren’t coming into our house and embarrassing us in front of our hometown supporters. Reuben Patterson stepped right up in Richard Hamilton’s face in playground fashion and set the tone for intensity that the Nuggets fed on all night. Maybe it was the booing that they heard after Monday’s loss. Maybe it was George Karl putting the Nuggets through an intense practice on Tuesday. Maybe it was the Nuggets looking each other in the eyes and deciding that the kind of effort that was given on Monday night would never happen again. Whatever it was, it worked to perfection.
All Nugget starters scored in double figures. Three Nuggets recorded double-doubles. The Nuggets were anchored on defense by the Herculean effort of Marcus Camby grabbing 20 rebounds, rejecting five shots, and scoring 12 points. Kenyon Martin had the best game I have ever seen him play in a Nuggets uniform. Martin scored 28 points, snared twelve rebounds, and propelled the Nuggets down the stretch with his two blue-light-special three point shots. Carmelo Anthony was also spectacular by contributing six assists, seven rebounds, and 25 points.
Andre Miller and Rueben Patterson rounded out the other two starting positions and both were the keys to this victory. Miller gets my game MVP because of his eleven assists. Miller was effectively distributing the ball on the Nugget’s fast break and this subsequently got all the Denver Nuggets involved in the win. He only notched two turnovers all night and these two things in combination with the defensive intensity of the rest of the team were paramount in the Nuggets chemistry and victory. Rueben Patterson did everything that needed to be done. Simply stated in the aforementioned paragraphs, Rueben ignited the Nuggets swagger by stepping up in Rip Hamilton’s grill and sending home the early message that the Nuggets weren’t impressed by anything the Pistons brought to town. He gave the Nuggets 13 points while squeezing seven rebounds and broke the curse of the three-point line by hitting his only attempt. If he only could of converted early in the game on all the lay-ups that eluded him. He would of played the perfect game.
So what is next for the Nuggets? Hopefully the answer to that is a long winning streak at the cost of Houston on their home court on Friday. The Nuggets should be able to take this momentum and parlay that into two back-to-back victories against the previously mentioned and Orlando at home on Saturday night. Monday's forgettable loss to Milwaukee needs to be just that, FORGOTTEN. The Nuggets now have a sense of what they are truly capable of when they play together as a team on both ends of the floor. It’s time to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack and get people buzzing about what this team could do down the stretch as a legitimate contender in the grand scheme of things. The Nuggets have now beaten the likes of Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, and the Pistons. I sense a team that could be under the radar in the NBA playoffs. Winning the division and taking the third seed in the western conference will give the Nuggets a perfect vantage point to strike. Bravo Nuggets, and encore!