Everyone for the Nuggets did exactly what they needed to do for success to be fruited. Marcus Camby was his dominate self by owning the boards and nabbing 22 rebounds and also giving the Nuggets 12 points, many coming off his favorite shot from the top of the key. He also put fear in the Rockets slashers by swatting five shots. I don’t even care if Marcus makes the All-Star team or not, he should but that is beside the point, because he is an All-Star in my book.
The scoring load was handled by, who else, Allen Iverson. AI scored 36 points, but none were bigger than the three he hit to tie the game at 108, and the bank shot three-pointer with the shot clock running down to get the Nuggets jumpstarted in OT. The Answer also hit the double digit mark in assists with ten and had four steals and three rebounds. He was fouled repeatedly on his way to cup with no calls, once blatantly by Father Time (AKA Mutombo who should act like a professional and not a little baby about his age) and was worth his weight in gold. “I’m going to tell my uncle David Stern that you guys were making fun of how old I look…” For a player that likes to waive his finger after blocking a shot, he sure does have some thin skin in my opinion!
Returning back to what matters, the Nuggets, J.R. Smith is officially back! Smith was the X-factor tonight. He finished the game with 24 points off 6-9 from downtown and provided the Houston fans with some highlight material. The highlight was a slashing, double-clutch-two-handed-yoke on the rack with defenders getting dropped off at the fifth floor while J.R. proceeded to go upstairs to the penthouse. My girlfriend hates it when something like that happens because I have a tendency to scream obscenities. Needless to say, I was juiced!
I don’t want to leave anyone out, but for the sake of the length of this post, I am just going to touch on the rest of the stellar performances that were rendered by the rest of the supporting cast. Yakhouba Diawara did a great job on Tracy McGrady and added ten points of his own, Nene played the best game I have seen since before his injury, Steve Blake continues to be that safe answer at point guard that hits open looks (not to mention his four point play in OT and his assist to Marcus Camby off a drive that had me on the edge of my seat), and Linas Kleiza is shaping up into form too! I can only imagine what is going to happen to the Memphis Grizzlies when they come into a jam packed Pepsi Center for the return of Carmelo Anthony. Let’s just say that the Nuggets are going to be favored, HEAVILY!
Tonight was hopefully a catalyst for things to come. Face it, Denver is legit even without the most dominant scorer in the league today and if things get any creamier in the Mile High City do not be surprised if the Nuggets start to get mentioned with the big boys of the NBA.
One step at a time though, and now that the Nuggets have shocked the world by acquiring AI, trading a fan favorite in Earl Boykins, and finished a critical stretch without ‘Melo 7-8. I think that the sky is the limit! And don’t forget about the favorable stretch that I outlined in my ESPN Power Rankings update or that the Nuggets have won three straight because if you get caught slippin’. The Nuggets WILL embarrass you!