Monday, April 14, 2008

Denver Now Holding Its Own Fate

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) Last’s night’s victory over the Rockets basically put all the pressure in the playoff world on the Golden State Warriors. With their, 111-94, victory, now all the Nuggets have to do is dispose of the Grizzlies on Wednesday night to ensure their spot in the postseason.

First off, the Nuggets did an exquisite job defensively. Not just in the first quarter where they allowed a mere 18 points, but throughout the game. Tracy McGrady was held to just 16 points while Luther Head was the leading scorer for Houston with 19. Meanwhile, J.R. Smith dropped 18 first half points, and 23 points total, coming off the bench while Allen Iverson led all scorers with 33. It should be noted that with his 13 game over 20+ points, J.R. Smith has more 20+ point performances than any other player in the league who has not started a game this year. Linas Kleiza has also been reliable as of late. The L Train added 18 more in bench support in his efficient 25 minutes.

Here’s video of Allen Iverson’s offensive exploits:

You’ve gotta love Bubba Chuck getting up for that swat!

Carmelo struggled, scoring only eleven points while grabbing eight boards, but not enough to warrant his other late night charades.

What I liked the most about last night’s win was how the Nuggets came out focuses like a laser and held the Rockets to the torch all night long. There wasn’t any stretches of continued bad defense, poor decisions on offense, or mismanaged situations by staff and the effort was solid from the usual eight who see significant minutes.

Especially J.R. Smith. When he has been entering the game lately I start to feel goose bumps. Sure, he’s still capable of showing some immaturity, but for the most part his game has taken that next step since the All-Star break. Here are some other assorted highlights, but J.R. Smith’s facializing dunk in the fourth quarter was truly the crème de la crème!

As I have previously outlined, this game was the one that really mattered. It puts all the pressure on Golden State tonight in Phoenix because the ‘Dubs now have to win out to have a shot at making the post season. Meanwhile, any Warrior loss automatically puts Denver in as would a thrashing of the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Go Nuggets!

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