The good people of Seattle do not deserve this, but the Raptors can feel better abut themselves. It may have been embarrassing giving up 79 first half points and 137 for the game to the Nuggets on Friday, but they did a heck of a lot better than Seattle did.
The three game confidence building home stand can not be looked at as anything but a resounding success. They hung record offensive numbers on two teams and beat the other by 22. I mentioned that it would be difficult to do better than they did against Toronto and finish the three game stretch on a high note. That proved to be an unfounded concern as Denver played a nearly flawless offensive game and hung 168 on the clueless Seattle Supersonics.
It would be nearly impossible to recount all the tremendous performances the Nuggets enjoyed tonight because nearly even Nugget player had a good statistical game.
I also mentioned that the number one thing the Nuggets could get out of this would be more rest for the starters and the big four of AI, Melo, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin all had plenty of rest. Iverson (27 minutes) had his shortest outing of the season. Melo (26 minutes) also played the fewest minutes of any game this season other than the Laker game where he sprained his ankle in the second quarter. Marcus (27 minutes) played the fewest minutes he had all season, yet still managed a career high ten assists resulting in triple double. And for Kenyon, other than the Utah game where he ended up concussed in the first quarter, this was the fewest minutes he had played since January seventh.
The Nuggets were a little shaky on defense tonight from time to time, but offensively, they have put it all together. Over the past two games they have ran at every opportunity, including after makes. They had plenty of cutters and shared the ball on offense. Melo and AI have worked for good shots. The starters combined to shoot an amazing 66% for the time they were on the court. Everyone other than Najera and J.R. Smith shot at least 50% and J.R. shot 47% even though he took ten threes.
Seattle deserves as much credit for the blowout as the Nuggets as they played defense as if stepping into the blue paint in the lane would cause a horrific disease. Their ability to avoid challenging shots and giving up alley oop after alley oop was really pretty impressive. Street ball players watching that game thought Seattle played no D.
If there was any downside to tonight’s game it was J.R. regressing a little on offense in the first half. He took two or three bad threes as soon as he got on the floor, but after starting off 1-5 on long bombs. However, he began taking the ball to the hoop and made a few more nice passes to recover.
It is clear that Seattle is atrocious, but as bad as they are no other team has dropped an 84 point half, let alone two, on them. Denver is clicking right now, and they better be as they face a crucial week of games starting Tuesday in Detroit.
Early in the season during the Nuggets six game mid November winning streak I wrote that I was really impressed with the Nuggets killer instinct that they seemed to have developed. Well, that killer instinct disappeared until Friday, but for now it is back. I hope it stays around. They are going to need it.
Other Observations From Game 66:
- Chucky Atkins has proven that he can splash threes in the second half of blowouts, but the Nuggets will need him to do it when the pressure is on too. He clearly is getting his game back and it is clear he was in no shape to play earlier in the season when he attempted his first return from injury. I am still convinced he is not going to make a huge difference, but he will certainly be a nice addition and will provide a boost.
- We have already seen the impact Chucky has had on Anthony Carter. Carter is playing only 21.5 minutes a game since Chucky returned, down from 30 up until that point in the season. The lighter load seems to have helped Carter as he is shooting 15-32 and 7-14 on threes during that six game span. It is clear he was being overworked.
- How hot were the Nuggets? Kuba Diawara went 3-5 on threes and Kenyon Martin was 1-1. Kenyon also shot 11-13 in total from the field thanks to pretty much having free reign in that toxic blue area Seattle was so afraid to tread in.
- That 29.5 average margin of victory I mentioned in the game preview is now up to 37!