The Nuggets didn't have to expend a lot of energy against the Nets and that's a good thing as they'll be back to work tomorrow night in Minnesota. Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony and Nene lead the way in a business style contest.
The Nuggets wasted little time in owning the energy of this game and dominated the scoring inside. Denver outscored the Nets 60-32 in the paint, but it felt like every Nuggets possession was resulting in a layup or dunk for a good stretch of time.
The Nets big man, Brook Lopez, found himself in very early foul trouble and that paved the way for Denver to exploit the undersized Nets time and again. No one player for the Nuggets totally jumped out at me in this one, but Afflalo and Nene were each impressive in certain aspects of the game. Double-A on the boards (8) and Nene getting easy buckets by being aggressive going to the rim.
This was just the type of game Denver needed. The players on both sides turned the second half into a up-and-down rec-league game. It was as if the teams were bored with the game at hand and just wanted to get things over with. Sort of like when you get in a pickup game and one of the teams is getting blown out, each side starts to take it easy a bit and before long somebody suggets, "let's switch up teams." But in the NBA you have to play with the squad you brought and that was unfortunate for Jersey.
Denver took care of the little things by out-rebounding the Nets 40-37, out-stealing the Nets 16-14 and out-assisting the Nets 27-18. It's no secret that I think Denver plays at its best when they are sharing the ball and working for the highest percentage shot ... they did that tonight. Nene and K-Mart combined for 9 steals and Denver was out and running for much of the game.
Joey Graham saw a little more time than usual by logging 12 minutes (mainly garbage time). I have been fairly surprised that Graham hasn't been used more. After hearing George Karl gush over Graham's abilities a little bit during the preseason I figured he'd get the bulk of Melo's backup minutes. The only problem is that Melo has been playing so well that he is not on the bench for any long period of time and when he is, Karl has found a rotation of going smaller with combinations of Billups, Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith/Arron Afflalo or Lawson, Smith and Afflalo.
Well, like the Nuggets I'm not going to waste a lot of energy on this recap. Denver earned a solid win against a team they were supposed to beat and the Nets were never allowed to gain any confidence that they could somehow win one on the road (or win at all).
Denver will move on to Minnesota tomorrow night, where they will again look to make a reality of a paper win.
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Photo courtesy of Getty Images: Garrett Ellwood