Saturday, November 8, 2008
Chauncey's First Game a Good One
(Boulder-CO) Mr. Big Shot's first game back in front of his hometown fans may have not been his best personally, but it did show exactly what Denver can expect out of Billups when the game is in the balance. Despite only connecting on 5 of his 17 shot attempts and dishing just three assists, Chauncey lived up to his clutch-tag and came up with two game-changing steals down the stretch to help salt away the victory for the Nuggets, 108-105.
The first half was great battle with both teams taking turns with the lead. For the Nuggets, the top performer was Nene. Big Brazil was giving Desagana Diop a clinic on post play while finishing the half with 13 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. Linas Kleiza also found some much needed rhythm by attacking the goal for ten of his 14 points in the first half as well. And had it not been for the Nuggets being badly out rebounded 14-7 on the offensive glass they might have been able to hold on to one of their many leads.
However, for the Nuggets overall it would be the story of two halves when it came down to how this one finished.
After some Nuggets started out hot and then cooled others began to heat up. Carmelo Anthony started slowly with just eight points in the first half, but turned his game up a notch to score 20 more points in the second half, including a perfect 14-14 from the free-throw line, while also doing the majority of his work on the boards in the final two periods. 'Melo finished with eight boards and six assists in a well-balanced effort, and received a lot of help from his supporting cast. J.R. Smith added nine of his 15 points in the second half, Billups scored ten of his 15 in similar fashion, and the Nuggets managed to combat a three-point Dallas barrage to outlast the Mavericks, 108-105.
With the fourth quarter just getting started, the Nuggets opened up their biggest lead of game, 82-72, before the aforementioned long-range onslaught began. Dallas would hit five three-pointers in the final quarter alone as they hoisted 35 three's total; the most attempts against the Nuggets in regulation since the Mavericks shot 37 on Feb. 29, 1996. In fact, Dallas scored 30 of their 56 second half points by way of the three led Jason Kidd connecting on four of his team-high six treys.
But down the stretch, it was 'Melo time. After assorted Nuggets scored the first twelve Denver points in the fourth quarter, Carmelo held the Mavericks at bay with 13 of the final 16 Nugget points on eight made free-throws.
Billups was just as clutch with two steals at critical points in the game. The first came with the Nuggets leading by one, 99-98, and only two minutes to play. Carmelo took a short jumper that was blocked by Jason Kidd and rebounded by Brandon Bass before Chauncey stalked Bass' outlet pass and regained possession for the Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony would then draw a foul on Kidd and make both free-throws to give the Nuggets a much needed three-point advantage. The second came with Billups robbing Kidd on the following halfcourt set that allowed the Nuggets to run another full shotclock off the ticker. Denver wasn't able to score in that possession, but the time expired off of that steal was invaluable down the stretch as yet another great steal, this one by Nene from Brandon Bass, gave the Nuggets enough to finish the Mavericks off.
With Chauncey at the helm, the Nuggets only turned the ball over just eleven times while forcing the Mavericks into a season-high 17 turnovers of which resulted in 22 Denver points.
Former Nugget Allen Iverson also made his debut last night for the Detroit Pistons. The Answer scored a team-high 24 points and dished six assists, but the Pistons lost, 103-96, to the New Jersey Nets.