In the first half, the Nuggets shot a fiery 61.4% from the field, 37% from downtown, and 20-23 from the free-throw line. Marcus Camby nailed a long range bomb, Anthony Carter added a pair from deep, J.R. drilled one, and Chucky Atkins hit another as the Nuggets were firing on all cylinders. Denver also handed out 19 assists on their 27 made field goals led by Carmelo Anthony’s five first half dimes. And interestingly enough, Chucky Atkins grabbed five rebounds in his first twelve minutes of action. Who would have guessed?
As for Denver’s dynamic duo… Let’s just say they returned to their old tricks after sub-par showings on Wednesday night.
Allen Iverson responded after having a dreadful 2-12 showing against the Grizzles to finish the first half of the game the overall leading scorer with 18 points off a perfect 7-7 from the field and 4-4 from the charity stripe. ’Melo added 14 points, the aforementioned five assists, a block, and a rebound.
Denver, finally, continued their dominance in the second half by scoring 29 points in each remaining quarter while holding Toronto to just 47 points. The starters all exited after the third quarter and when Yakhouba Diawara entered the game Sam Mitchell might as well have waived a white flag.
But, white flag or not, Chucky Atkins and J.R. Smith didn’t get the memo to stop bombing away from long range. Atkins let fly of eight treys in all making five for a total of 17 points in 24 minutes. This kind of performance by Chucky should raise his confidence level tremendously and could do wonders for his progression. He had that extra bounce in his step that he has been missing since first aggravating that groin back in preseason. J.R. Smith was also bombing away, but didn’t have one of his best shooting nights. Smith connected on just two of his six long range attempts, but played another great game overall. J.R. continues to take the ball to the rim with ferocity and added three rebounds and three assists.
I’ll provide more of the gaudy box score, but first I want to point out two reasons why the Nuggets won their fourth game by more than 30+ points this year. First, Denver played good defense and started their break off a majority of the Raptor’s misses. The Nugget outscored Toronto 33-9 in fast break points, and at certain points in this game the Raptor’s defense resembled an And 1 exhibition. The other point of emphasis that I want to stress is how the Nuggets took care of the ball and caused Toronto to turn it over. Entering tonight’s game the Raptors had the second lowest nightly turnover average while the Nuggets came in forcing the second most turnovers. The Raptors average a mere eleven turnovers a game, but tonight were forced into 16 turnovers resulting in 23 Nugget points. The flip side of this assertion is how the Nuggets, one of the worst in the league when it comes to turning it over, limited their miscues to ten turnovers resulting in only ten Toronto points. Anytime the Nuggets can win the points off of turnover battle by double figures they are going to be tough to beat. Combine that with a supercharged fast break and you have the makings for a 32-point blowout.
Now back to that box score.
Six Nuggets scored in double figures led by Allen Iverson’s 28 points. The Answer was a perfect 10-10 from the free-throw line and is showing no ill-affects of a fractured ring finger on his shooting hand. Carmelo finished with 22 and Marcus Camby recorded a double-double of 17 points, ten rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Anthony Carter added another dozen points with Chucky Atkins (17) and J.R. Smith (12) providing 29 big points off the bench. In fact, everyone who suited up for the Nuggets scored as the bench combined for 53 points.
Tonight’s win gives the Nuggets a half game back in their chase of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are now only a game and a half ahead of the Nuggets in the eighth and final playoff spot after losing last night to the Suns. Plus, the Nuggets and Warriors still have a pair of match-ups remaining including a critical game 79 of 82 in the regular season. Up next for the Nuggets is their last home game in the this three-game stand against the Seattle Supersonics before embarking on a five-game Eastern Conference road trip that is going to be pivotal to the Nuggets playoff chances.
Great win, Denver. Bottle up whatever it was that led to tonight’s victory and hit pay dirt against the struggling Sonics.