The Nuggets spun their wheels on the defensive end in the first quarter allowing the Hornets to score 35 points. Their rotations were slow and as a result they surrendered far too many lay-ups and uncontested shots.
In the second, the Nuggets did get their offense clicking thanks in part to six points from J.R. Smith in his first six minutes, and improved on their first quarter 22 points by scoring 31. However, the Hornets were still shooting a respectable percentage from the field and held onto a, 56-53, lead going into half. The Hornets were having balls go in the basket after bouncing off the top of the backboard, getting almost every call, and the ball seemed to just want to bounce in their favor nine time out of ten. I was starting to get worried that the Hornets were just destined to win their last game for the warm and welcoming people of Oklahoma.
The Nuggets, still hanging around, could still not find a way to take over the lead in the third quarter. Little runs here and there would run out of steam and somehow the Hornets were able to keep a comfortable lead of eight or ten points. The fourth started with the Hornets in the lead, 85-77, but the Nuggets were not quite yet ready to just allow the confetti to fly in what was probably the last NBA game the Oklahomans will see.
With just over six minutes to play in regulation the Nuggets tightened their collective waistbands and got down to serious business. They were down by eleven, 101-90, before going on a 10-0 tear in the next three and a half minutes putting the Hornets’ backs against the wall. The entire sold-out arena rose to its feet to help will the Hornets past the Nuggets’ surge, but in the end the Nuggets’ defense was too stifling and offense too clutch.
In the final minute the Nuggets began down by one after an Allen Iverson jumper made the game, 103-101. Enter Marcus Camby. Marcus swatted a David West jump shot and recorded his eighth block of the evening. Carmelo Anthony rebounded and was fouled by West down on the other end of the floor. ‘Melo drained both free-throws and gave the Nuggets their first lead since 6-5 and just under nine minutes to play in the first quarter. The Hornets came down and hoisted a quick three which was missed and tapped out by Carmelo Anthony. The loose ball was quickly grabbed by Nene and Big Brazil got the ball to a streaking Steve Blake as he ran out to a left handed lay-up putting the Nuggets up by three.
The Hornets called timeout and tried to get a quick lay-up, but Chris Paul’s driving attempt was once again destroyed by Marcus Camby for the Camby-man’s ninth block of the evening. The loose ball was wrangled by Bobby Jackson for a lay-up, but the Nuggets were still in command by one and inbounded the ball to Carmelo Anthony who iced the Nuggets victory, and the Hornets season, hitting the tail end of a two shot trip to the charity stripe after Chris Paul had no choice but to foul.
Snatched. Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Nuggets play the spoiler!
The Nuggets were led tonight by the near triple double effort by Marcus Camby. With 15 points, eleven rebounds, and nine swats he was the Nuggets’ backbone. He blocked two critical shots and snagged the most crucial rebound of the game and without him who knows what would have happened. With the performance, Marcus gave the Nuggets his 31st double-double of the season.
Carmelo led all Nugget scorers with 31 points and Steve Blake double-doubled with ten points and ten assists. All Denver’s starters scored in double figures with Nene and Iverson chipping in ten and 23 respectively. As a team the Nuggets were careful with the ball only turning it over nine times total in the game.
The God-awful Grizzlies are next and I’m now 4-3 predicting these last ten games. I have it down for a win, but hope I’m not guilty of counting my chickens before they hatch. Denver has now won eight straight games and seemingly has put the NBA on notice. The Nuggets are for real, baby. Be sure to pass along the message!