Monday, November 10, 2008
Nuggets Too Much for Memphis
(Boulder-CO) Since trading Allen Iverson, the Denver Nuggets are 2-0 and look like a different team. The stretches of play where it looks as if there is no semblance to organized basketball are a thing of the past. It's as if one player has completely changed to complexion of this entire organization. Just ask the Memphis Grizzlies, who last night were handled with little stress, 100-90, in Denver's first game holding its opposition under 100 points of the year.
In the first half, Denver handled most of its business with its starters. Coach George Karl gave his first unit the majority of the half to themselves as he would only play one bench player, Renaldo Balkman, more than ten minutes of action. And things were good for the Nuggets as Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups each finished the first 24 minutes with eleven points and three rebounds and Billups with nine assists. Nene was also well on his way to yet another double-double with eight points and eight rebounds at the break as the Nuggets were a bit short handed on big men with Kenyon Martin not being able to play.
For Coach Iavaroni's Grizzlies, O.J. Mayo was everything I advertised him to be. Mayo torched the Nuggets for 26 points in 16 minutes of burn in the first half on 9-12 shooting, including a torrid 4-5 from downtown. And it was a good thing Mayo went crazy offensively because the rest of the Grizzlies were a frigid 9-27 from the field combined as Memphis clung to a, 54-53, lead going into the half.
In the second half, the rest of the Nuggets got in on the act offensively as O.J. Mayo cooled off and the Memphis Grizzlies conceded to the Denver defense. Memphis would only attempt 32 shots in the second half, connect on nine of them, and the Nuggets would create twelve Grizzly turnovers in the half, 22 for the game, while only allowing Memphis to score 36 points in the final 24 minutes. As for Mayo, he would only score five more points in the second half to establish a new NBA career-high 31 points.
The Nuggets would have all five starters and one sub score in double figures. Carmelo would finish with 24 points and eight boards, Nene with 18 points, twelve rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block, Billups added 16 points, ten assists, three steals, and a block, Linas Kleiza, in the start for Kenyon Martin, would chip in a dozen points and nine rebounds, and Dahntay Jones would round out the starters with eleven points, two rebounds, a steal, a block, and an assist.
Then there was a super-sub, Renaldo Balkman. Despite not having the most refined game I've ever had the pleasure of watching, Balkman is a joy to watch nevertheless. He is constantly making efforts that others would save for more opportune times and in doing so creates so many extra opportunities for his mates. Chasing down loose balls, harassing the opposition in the backcourt, and relentlessly attacking the offensive glass are just few of the reasons why Renaldo is quickly making Nuggets fans everywhere forget about the recently departed Eduardo Najera. Last night, Renaldo scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, and swiped a pair of steals in 25 minutes off of George Karl's bench and left to a standing ovation from the Pepsi Center patrons. Additionally, he was to thank for keeping Rudy Gay under 20 points as the Nuggets completely disrupted anything Memphis wanted to do offensively.
Up next for the Nuggets is a three-game road trip that starts in Charlotte on Tuesday night when the Nuggets take on Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, and the rest of Larry Brown's Bobcats. Here's to hoping that the Denver honeymoon with Chauncey Billups can last an extra week as Denver is now 3-3 overall and looking far more formidable sans Allen Iverson.