Monday, January 22, 2007

A New Beginning

(Boulder-CO) Tonight was the dawn of a new era for Nuggets fans worldwide. Carmelo Anthony made his return to basketball and for the first time got to play with his new teammates Allen Iverson and Steve Blake. Before the game he addressed the Pepsi Center and thanked the fans for their continued support and promised of great things to come. As for the results, well let’s just say that it was all Nuggets all the time! Denver roughed up the Grizzlies 115-98 and held Memphis at bay with large leads all night long.

It was only fitting that the first two points were scored by Anthony on an alley-oop lob from Marcus Camby. Pepsi Center went bananas and it was just first chance of many for the Nuggets Nation to do so. Denver jumped out to a twenty point lead in the first quarter with the score 38-18. The second period was not that sweet, but nevertheless the Nuggets were still in the lead 59-47 at the break.

Carmelo showed us a couple of glimpses of his pre-suspension self in the first half. Once especially when he took the ball off the right wing, broke Pau Gasol with the cross over, hop-stepped and proceeded to throw it down with two hands. He would finish the half with 15 points, many of which came from the free-throw line. The man was back and it all seemed so familiar. I was cooing with pleasure!

It was also the same old same old from Marcus Camby from opening tip through final substitution. The Nuggets big man finishes the night with a double-dip of 17 big ones in scoring and rebounding. He added in three assists and just as many blocks while also stealing two balls. The “Chairman of the Boards” played at an All-Star level tonight and made defending the basket a lot easier for everyone else.

Four other Nuggets had big games too in fanning the jet fuel fire that is the Denver Nuggets offense. Allen Iverson scored 23 while dishing seven assists, J.R. Smith grabbed five boards to fit nicely with his 19 points, Steve Blake handed out a season-high 12 dimes to accompany his five points, and Nene continues to improve, so ever slowly but so ever surely, and chipped in another eleven points and five boards.

But tonight was all about Carmelo Anthony. His return. His rise to fan favorite in Denver. His seemingly easy ‘Melo-ness. It was almost as if he never left. Certainly the chemistry was there between Iverson and Anthony and no play leaves me anticipating more AI to ‘Melo magic than the super-sized alley-oop that the two hooked up on to give the fans one last treat. Iverson was streaking down the left side of the court and threw an underhand lob that was seemingly too hot and too high for anyone to catch, but as if it was scripted, ‘Melo came unpeeled to grab the pass and dunked it home! Carmelo finished tonight’s game with 28 points, six assists, and five rebounds. His jumper was a little bit out of rhythm, which was to be expected, but he is too versatile a scorer to let that ruin his night. He built his confidence by finishing 8-8 from the free-throw line and one last backdoor oop from Iverson before leaving the game with four minutes and change to a standing ovation.

And so did the rest of the starters, one-by-one, as the Grizzlies were beaten handedly. The Nuggets are the winners of four straight and will be playing a road game against the Seattle Supersonics tomorrow night. Sleep tight, Nuggets fans. It should be nothing but sweet dreams tonight! Seattle gets a taste tomorrow…


Jason said...

That was a fun game to watch. You never really thought Memphis had a chance in this one, even when they trimmed the Nuggets lead to five. Denver has too much firepower.

They will have to get better on defense, but I think they will start realizing this and start putting in the effort on that end.

This team has a chance now, and that is what makes it excited. As AI said after the game, it will be hard for any team in the playoffs to beat this Nuggets team four times in a seven game series. That is so true, and it has me excited beyond belief.

Go Nuggets and thanks again Nugg Doctor for your insights and good writing!

Stumbleweed said...

Man, that place was loud last night. Even without his jumper falling, he still managed 28? Watch the hell out NBA, because that thing is gonna start falling soon. I'm so excited for the rest of this season -- I'm not sure we'll get a high seed or anything like that, but I know that nobody wants to play us in a 7-game series.

As I was watching the game, I kept looking up at the stat board and seeing all these guys in double figures. That's the way we need to play to compete with the big boys -- we have to spread the ball around and make the extra pass so they have to make on-the-fly decisions about who to guard, leading to easy buckets. If JR can really get going, the dilemma gets even worse for the defense, especially if he starts going to the basket a bit more.

The sky's the limit with this squad. I'm trying to be realistic with my expectations, but I see us finally getting out of the first round this year. I don't think we'll go all the way unless we get some incredible breaks, but the time for that might be next season (especially if we can get K-Mart playing some games and Nene makes more progress). The glut of good players we have here is pretty impressive -- when the pieces can finally come together, it's gonna be amazing to watch.

Nugg Doctor said...

Hi Jason,

All thanks goes back to readers like you who continue to read this site everyday! The Nugg Doctor readership continues to explode and as the Nuggets continue to leave knee-jerk journalists removing footwear quality leather from their pie holes it should be really fun to keep doing this. The pleasure is all my mine.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

btalk said...

Hey Nugg Doc...nice game summary. What did you think of Karl's substitution pattern and how do you think it will shake out in the future? He had many different lineups in there, which three did you like the best?

Nugg Doctor said...

Hi Btalk,

Great question, and I think I have a decent answer after just one game. I liked what Karl did as far as switching it up so frequently, but felt that when the defensive side of the floor was struggling we could have used a little bit more Diawara. Yak didn't have a great night, but his defense is something that you never have to question.

I also really liked the three guard line up with AI, Blake, and Smith. It gave the Grizz headaches and with a guy like Marcus Camby in the middle we are still fairly tough on D.

I also liked the way way we look when Karl decides to go big with Nene or Reggie in their with Camby and 'Melo. That also seemed to have its advantages on the defensive end of the floor, but did slow us down a touch on the fast break.

But, my favorite line-up is by far and away AI at the point, Smith, Anthony, Evans, and Camby. With AI, Smith, and 'Melo you just know that a highlight is about to happen, but you can rely on the other two bigs to lock down the glass and defend the post. From there you can bring in Blake if things start to get a little bit too loose or Yakhouba if the opposititon has a guy who needs to be harrassed. I also want to mention that Steve Blake did a great job in the first half of bothering Mike Miller.

Overall I would tell George Karl to keep it fresh. He has a lot of capable guys that love to play hard in their roles like Nene, Eduardo, and hell even Linas so I think that the best idea is to shuffle em in and out keeping everybody spry and just see what works. GK is no dummy, he knows what I'm talking about.

Thanks for reading.

The Nugg Doctor

btalk said...

I agree, given that Melo and AI will each be out 2 times during the game, usually, that leaves 4 combinations with just one of them in and numerous combos with both of them in. Thanks for answering.

king_couttsy said...

Hey Doc,

Love your work - keep it up! Given I'm all the way over here in Australia, I love reading the comments of someone who's biased, as it means I've got an idea of what the fans are thinking!

Anyways, just wanted to know what the synergy has been like in the last couple of games since Melo has been back? Saw a few highlights on Sportscenter, but given we almost threw the game away today, I was just wondering whether they still look like they're learning to work together...



Nugg Doctor said...

Hi Couttsy,

Thanks for the praise. As I have told the others, if you keep coming back to read, I'll keep writing! I think you will be able to get what you are looking for in my game recap, so until then...

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor