Things started out terrible for the Nuggets who came out sluggish and as if they were perhaps going to just mail this one in. Denver gave up 46 points and a new Pacer franchise record for points scored in a quarter in the first twelve minutes. They once again weren’t paying any attention to detail on the defensive end, and as a result were dominated in points in the paint 38-20. To make matters worse, for the third straight half of basketball Denver failed to record a single blocked shot. Talk about being soft around the goal. For a team that stressed defense all training camp, and for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year to allow themselves to look like they did was just flat-out embarrassing. The Pacers were shooting 56% from the field, their bench outscored the Nuggets bench 27-13, and at one point in the second quarter Indiana was ahead by 25 points.
Further illustrating just how miserable the first half was for Denver was how they once again had more turnovers (13) than assists (10). At this point, I was thinking here comes another thrashing reminiscent of the massacre at Boston on Wednesday night as the Nuggets hung their heads and went into the locker room.
But yet, the Nuggets were not quite ready to give up. No, they must have had enough of the embarrassment. Enough of the cowardly defense. Enough of the excuses. Enough of being pushed around.
And then… It happened.
Carmelo refused to quit on an offensive rebound and the put back to get himself started. Yakhouba drained two three-pointers from the wing and hit a 17-footer from the keyhole. Marcus Camby ended the misery without a blocked shot, and believe it or not, J.R. Smith dropped his derriere and played some hard-nose D. Denver put a 10-0 run on the Pacers to start the second half, won the quarter 26-14, and the message was sent. This game isn’t over and a pushover the Denver Nuggets are not!
By the end of the third, the Nuggets had dropped the once 18-point Pacer lead to a manageable six and the entire Conseco Field House was stunned. Something had changed in the Nuggets. A change that hopefully will resonate and become a mantra for the rest of the year.
Do you know what the change was?
The Nuggets were no longer going to allow themselves to be embarrassed.
Now the Nuggets, with their new found swagger and attitude, continued to bring the onslaught onto the Pacers in the fourth quarter. Denver held Indiana to just 18 points in the money period and found away to score twelve unanswered points down the stretch to take a 97-101 game with 3:28 to play and finish it the victor, 113-106.
Carmelo Anthony paced the Nuggets with a double-double which included the game-high 32 points, ten rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block. Linas Kleiza brought that fire off the bench with 21 points and seven rebounds. Plus, Marcus Camby and Allen Iverson double-doubled with ten points, ten rebounds, five blocks, and four steals, and 27 points, ten assists, five rebounds, and three steals, respectively.
The Mile High Crew now stands at 4-3 in the early goings of the season. They showed us a lot of things during this first excursion outside the friendly confines of the Rocky Mountains. A lot of bad and a lot of good, but hopefully for all of us… The Nuggets are no longer going to stand for embarrassment. And by no longer standing for that, I think a lot of good things are on the way.
Great win tonight, boys! I’ll be seeing you, and King James, on Monday night.