The Nuggets struggled in the first half mainly because they were scrambling on the defensive end to hold Vince Carter. Vinsanity scored 16 of the Nets' 49 points in the half and the Nuggets went into intermission down by seven, 49-42. When the Nuggets can’t string together defensive stops it is hard for them to sway the momentum of the game with their fast break and their best efforts often time barely keep them in the game. Trading baskets, especially with the Eastern Conference’s slower style of play, is going to make it hard to pull out victories on this road trip, so here’s to hoping that the Nuggets can sustain solid defense and limit lapses while out east.
Fortunately for the Nuggets is they came out in the third quarter ready to rock and roll. Denver’s 31 points in the quarter, which included a five minute twelve nothing run, was just what the The Nugg Doctor ordered. And you know what ignited it all? Great defense! The motor on the fast break was jump started and guys made their free-throws when fouled. Eight of the twelve points during that run were earned at the charity stripe with 13 of 31 points overall coming off of New Jersey fouls.
In the fourth the Nuggets would bend, but they did not break. Outscored by the Nets 25-21 in the quarter, the Nuggets had a couple of really bad possessions down the stretch and almost fell victim to a blatantly moving pick by Mikki Moore with the Nets last ditch effort down by only three. The possession that let me down the most occurred with the Nuggets up by three with only 44 seconds remaining. The Nets went into a 3-2 zone and neither Steve Blake or Allen Iverson penetrated the zone in attempt to get at least a dribble and dish once the zone collapsed. And after the shot clock dipped below five, the Nuggets were forced to have Allen Iverson shoot a 28 foot jumper from the top of the arch. The Nets rebounded and following that poor possession is when Mikki Moore got away with offensive holding, scratch that, a moving screen that freed up a Vince Carter three point attempt that luckily didn’t tie the game. The long rebound was batted and eventually corralled by AI at half court before he was fouled and iced the game making the front end of a deuce at the free-throw line with only five seconds remaining.
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 30 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes of action. Early foul trouble plagued he and Nene, who fouled out, throughout the game. Allen Iverson finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and four steals in a veteran's 44 minutes of game time. The Answer did however struggle from the field (8-23) against the larger Jason Kidd who actually didn’t finish the Nets’ high rebounded for a change with only five rebounds.
Up next for the Nuggets is the heads side of a back-to-back with the Chicago Bulls before taking on the Toronto Raptors. It says Thursday night on the schedule so I’m sticking with that. The Nuggets are now 34-31 on the year and looking better and better. As usual there will be a preview for the Bulls game on Thursday and other Nuggets of wisdom tomorrow, right here, on The Nugg Doctor.