Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nuggets Starting to Look Better and Better

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets are now again on a winning streak! Tonight’s 109-102 victory over Milwaukee gives the Nuggets their first consecutive victories since the 14th of January and it was the Denver role players that made the difference against the Bucks. Difference makers like Najera, Nene, and Blake all had great efforts that far exceed the picture painted in the box score. And with a guy like Carmelo, that is all that it takes to find yourself in a position to win.

Carmelo Anthony was nothing short of spectacular tonight in an effort that just barely missed triple-double status. Anthony lit the Milwaukee Bucks up for 29 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals in a game-high tying 44 minutes of ball game. He was dominating from start to finish and these are the types of nights that he is capable of all the time when he puts his mind to it. It all starts with getting his teammates involved early and that is exactly what he did tonight.

Nene is also officially back! I have been reluctant to say anything that binding up to this point, but after the stretch of games that we have all seen him play as of late. I think it is due time to make the announcement. Big Brazil once again looked great on his way to scoring 17 points, clearing 11 rebounds, and swatting a shot. I think that we all kinda forgot how quick this guy was in the low post, and his finish around the basket is coming around so nicely right now. With continued play like this, Nene will make me look like a genius for telling SLAMonline’s Marcel Mutoni and Ryan McNeill at in our preseason pod cast that he would eventually be worth all that money he signed for this past off-season.

With all that said, Eddie Najera was the difference in this game. One play in particular sticks out in my mind and it is was when Eddie made the block in the fourth quarter that more or less sealed the game for the Nuggets. Najera came from the strong side of basket and found a way to make it all the way over to the weak side glass to literally reject the Bucks’ last chance. It was a play that could summarize what Eduardo’s whole game is about. Hustle, never say die, and play full speed till the whistle blows. And you know what else? Najera put up a damn fine box score too. Any game that the Nuggets can get 15 points, eight boards, four steals, and a block out of Najera is a game that they will surely be in a position to win.

Steve Blake was also flat out killer against his old team. The Nuggets heady point guard recorded a double-double tonight of 10 points and 11 assists with an economic two turnovers.

It was also good to see the NBA’s “Mightiest Micro” in action again. Earl Boykins showed Nuggets fans a glimpse of the good old days by being his team’s leading scorer with 26 points and tied Mo Williams for the team-high assist total of six. Anytime you get to watch a man of his size dominate a game in which giants usually dominate in it is a special treat. May the best days for Earl Boykins still be ahead of him regardless of him not being a Nugget anymore.

Notes on the game are pretty simple. Along with all the great individual stat lines, the Nuggets out-rebounded (44-35), out-passed (28-24), out-stole (11-5), and turned the ball over less than the Bucks. Up next are the Golden State Warriors at Pepsi Center on Monday night. No word yet on the return of Marcus Camby, but the Nuggets should be in for a warm welcome home after two successful road stops against Eastern Conference foes. Go Nuggets!

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