The Nuggets were led to victory by Carmelo’s 13 fourth quarter points and two free-throws in overtime to ice the game. He finished with 33 points, four rebounds, and four assists including 10-14 from the charity stripe. ‘Melo played 46 minutes for the Nuggets and just would not be denied. He was aided by Steve Blake recording a career-high 14 assists, 19 points, three rebounds, and two steals. Blake finished with such an impressive stat line and was uber-safe with the basketball only turning it over twice in his game-high 50 minutes of action. It doesn’t matter what your name is or how long you have been in the league when you play 50 minutes of point guard and only turn the ball over twice. That is a big-time performance on any level of basketball and Blake's Nugget teammates were the beneficiaries.
The majority of the rest of the Nuggets scoring came from J.R. Smith and Nene. J.R. was more aggressive attacking the basket and his athletic ability catapulted him to 17 points and two steals while finishing an economic 7-11 in 28 minutes off the bench. Nene was simply amazing! I have not seen this type of bounce in “Big Brazil’s” step since before his injury. He was dunking all over the Trailblazers and finishing off drives as if he had not missed a beat yet alone the entire last season. Performances like Nene’s 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal will surely solidify the Nuggets at power forward and provide much needed stability on the front line for Marcus and Carmelo. That is, if, these kind of performances can continue to be produced by Nene...
What was most important about tonight’s victory was how the Nuggets took the Trailblazers’ best shots and still found a way to win. The defense looked a lot more cohesive and the Nuggets played with some trust in each other’s offensive capabilities for once. As a result the Nuggets also shot 53% from the field and their 32 fast break points in comparison to Portland’s zero proved to be the difference.
As of right now with a 23-21 record the Nuggets still have a lot of ground to make up if they are going to erase Utah’s 5 ½ game lead in the Northwest Division, but as the kinks get worked out I still think that anything is possible for this team. Tomorrow night Denver is on the road at Sacramento before making up the snow-out game with Phoenix on the fifth. All in all tonight was a good win for a team that needed one in the worst kind of way. With AI hopefully back tomorrow night the Nuggets will have to adjust their chemistry once again, but I can think of about 20 teams right now that would love to have that kind of problem to worry about. Good win and goodnight.