Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Even Cheikh Hit the Boxscore

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) You know when Cheikh Samb ties a career-high in points the Nuggets were cooking with gas! The Toronto Raptors were served their fifth worst loss in franchise history last night as the Nuggets destroyed them, 132-93, with their best overall performance of the season.

A complete blowout wasn't evident until about the 3:46 mark in the first quarter after Denver had opened things up, 20-12, after spotting the Raptors a 6-0 run to start the game. The Nuggets, after allowing their opponent their usual six to ten points out of the gate, hit Toronto with a 15-2 run that spanned over five minutes in the first quarter before ending the period with, 33-19, lead. Nene was nimble like a jungle cat as he paced the Nuggets with eight points, six rebounds, and a charge taken in the quarter highlighted by a nasty spin move finished off with a one-handed cram that cued the Pepsi to get on their feet!

In the second quarter, perhaps still dazed from the Denver explosion, the Raptors evidently forgot that Chauncey Billups is one of the most deadly pull-up three-point shooters in the NBA. Mr. Big Shot sparked the Nuggets' right out of the gate with two pull-up treys within the first three minutes of action. In fact, Billups was the catalyst that facilitated the Nuggets continued offensive success in the second as he was accountable for eight of the Nuggets' first 12 points and assisted on both Linas Kleiza and Chris Andersens' lay-ups as the Nuggets extended their lead to 19 points, 45-26, with eight and a half minutes still to play in the half.

Now, before things get completely gruesome for the Raptors, I will say that they cut the Denver lead down to ten points, 49-39, after a 13-4 run with just over four and a half minutes to play. But, the blood bath that ensued was something fit for the director's cut of one of those dreadful Saw movies.

In the final 3:26 of the second quarter, the Raptors could only score two points on a Chris Bosh dunk as the Nuggets once again streaked on a 9-2 run to finish the half with a, 64-45, advantage.

The Nuggets were paced by Chauncey Billups 21 points and six assists, and Nene's 13 points, eight rebounds, and a block at the half while shooting 52% as a team.

Then things got really ugly.

The Nuggets' first 20+ point lead came just minutes into the second half on a gritsy Kenyon Martin and-1 call that put the Nuggets up by 22, 71-49. Nene added a seasoned up-and-under move that left Chris Humphries floating by like a balloon as he slammed the ball through the rim and when Chauncey Billups hit the soaring Dahntay Jones for an alley-oops upside the head the Nuggets were on fire and there was nothing, I repeat nothing, the Raptors could do about it.
It was like an And-1 game broke out with Chauncey Billups throwing his tenth assist of the game on a no-look, behind the back, bounce passes to Kenyon Martin on the baseline for yet another rim rattling flush followed promptly by a no-look slap pass from Carmelo to a cutting Nene for a backboard shaking slam! And after the Birdman connected on Denver's tenth straight made field goal to give the Nuggets a, 95-61, advantage the rest of the game was nothing more than gratuitous Denver highlight film.

With the game salted away, 100-68, at the start of the fourth quarter the scoring free for all continued with Linas Kleiza hitting a trey followed by back-to-back long range bombs by J.R. Smith. More playground basketball ensued followed by a scary moment for Chris Anderson. The Birdman, coming off a two week lay-off for a busted rib, tried to corral a J.R. Smith alley-oop on which he was awkwardly fouled stretching his arms high above his head and perhaps aggravating the rib. Andersen would leave the game and not return, but that just opened the door for the feel good story of the night. Sure, the boxscore is going to read like a varsity vs. J.V. scrimmage, but you have got to feel good about Cheikh Samb tying his career-high point total with two medium range jumpers and six rebounds! The four points were first of Samb's Denver Nugget career and were part of the Nuggets first game this season scoring 30+ points in all four quarters. Needless to say, the Nuggets embarrassed the Raptors, 132-93, on a season league-high 37 assists.

Furthermore, the Nuggets are now 8-1 when holding their opponent under 100 points, 6-1 when Nene grabs at least six rebounds, 12-3 since trading Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups, 13-6 overall which ties a franchise best start through 19 games, shot a season-high 59% from the field, and this win is the fifth-highest margin of victory in Nuggets franchise history!

Need more?

Since Detroit took Allen Iverson off Denver's hands they are just a game above .500 (7-6), average scoring has dipped 9.8 points, overall shooting percentage has declined 4%, and Rip Hamilton average is down a full five points. Meaning, obviously, Allen Iverson was not "The Answer" Joe Dumars was looking for.

The boxscore for the Nuggets is just gorgeous highlighted by Chauncey Billups' 24 points and season-high 14 assists with just one turnover and Carmelo Anthony's 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal despite the sore right elbow. The only Nugget starter to not reach double-figure scoring was Dahntay Jones (9) while Nene finished with a double-double of 19 points and eleven rebounds and Kenyon with eleven points and four boards on an economical 5-8 shooting. And speaking of economical, as long as Nene keeps shooting performances of 8-9 up he will continue to lead the league in FG% with a clip of over 60% from the field.

J.R. Smith paced all Nugget reserves with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals with his Lithuanian counterpart adding a dozen points, four rebounds, and an assist much to the delight of the Kleiza Krazies.

Up next for the Nuggets is San Antonio on Thursday when the Spurs come into Pepsi Center to try and sober the Rocky Mountain High Denver is riding.

Go Nuggets!


Jon-Michael said...

Here's an interesting thought after last night's win. Remove the 1-3 start prior to Chauncey's return to Denver, and this team is 13-3 and only half a game back on the Lakers for the Western Conference lead. Even as it is they're second and only 2.5 games back. I know it's early in the season still, but this team is playing exactly the way I always wanted them to play. They have a full 48 minute commitment to defense which I have never seen in my 15 years of watching the Nuggets. They win the games they're supposed to, they play the teams they shouldn't beat tough and in some cases surprise them (ie the Boston game).

Chauncey is the point guard that will not only get them past the first round of the playoffs, but also a top 4 seed and a spot in the Western Conference Finals. You heard it hear first.

Commish CH said...

such a refreshing win. This is the classic game that the team wouldve have lost in years past. Only downside is that the crowd was mighty thin.