As I was watching this game unfold last night I kept looking into the crowd and expecting Ashton Kutcher to come running on to the floor as the Nuggets had to be getting Punk'd by the Pacers.
The Pacers are established Giant Killers. Indiana is now 26-36 and has wins over: Boston, Atlanta, @ Houston, L.A. Lakers, @ Phoenix, Houston (swept), Miami, Orlando, Cleveland, and Denver. How in the heck do they only have 26 wins?!
Both teams came out shooting the ball well and it looked like a repeat of the 135-115 win Denver (39-21) earned over Indiana earlier in the season. At the 8:11 mark Dahntay Jones had a beautiful posterization of 7'2'' Roy Hibbert on the baseline. Two possessions later Indiana had the ball and Jones coming down court stopped and drove his shoulder into T.J. Ford's chest ... Ford retaliated by shoving Jones and a fight nearly broke out as Jarrett Jack rushed to his teammates defense. Pretty scary moment as the Nuggets don't need any useless suspensions. On the replay Melo walked over to the Pacer's bench and joked around with the guys there ... obviously making remarks about what happened to him in New York in that ugly incident. Ford was assessed a technical foul and both teams put the play quickly behind them.
Denver took a 29-28 lead into the 2nd Quarter and that's when things started to go south.
In the second period the Pacers outscored the Nuggets 17-12. There were 29 total points scored in the quarter! Scott Hastings mentioned how the building was pretty packed, but just dead silent. Pretty obvious that there sure wasn't a lot to cheer about.
A big reason Denver lost this game: Melo, KMart, JR, and Billups combined to go 21-63 from the field (33.3%) good for 58 points. Ouch. Opposed to Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels, and Jarrett Jack combining to go 23-47 (48.9%) good for 69 points.
It would have been nice to see Melo and Billups who went 8-24 and 9-21 respectively, dish the ball inside to Nene a bit more as Big Brazil was 4-9 and really much to quick for his defender Roy Hibbert.
Chris Anderson after such an uplifting performance against the Lakers grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded 3 blocks, but it seemed like he was going strictly for blocks and put himself out of position a few times, leading to easy put backs for the Pacers. Blocks are exciting and can change momentum, but there are times when playing straight up defense is best and Anderson must judge accordingly. Anderson led the team with a -12 off the bench.
Denver held a nice lead going into the 4th Quarter (75-68) and I believe Denver had only lost one game on the season when they lead through three quarters. However, the Nuggets second unit was unable to hold the lead and Indiana came all the way back to take a 79-78 lead with 8:14 left in the game. From there Denver was outscored 21-16 and found themselves down as much as nine points (97-88).
Melo almost gave the Nuggets one heck of a chance to makes things interesting. Down 97-92 Melo launched a 27 foot three-point shot from the elbow with :25 seconds on the clock ... the ball rattled in-and-out and somehow popped out of the hoop. Had Melo made that shot Denver would have been down 97-95 perhaps with a chance to send the game to overtime or maybe to win it outright. It wasn't to be.
Indiana Punk'd the Nuggets and deflated the momentum Denver built with that Lakers win last Friday.
The Nuggets return to action tomorrow night in Detroit and Billups should be very fired up for that one. Altitude TV will be airing a special interview with Billups on Nuggets Courtside starting at 5 p.m. MTN in which he discusses going back to Auburn Hills for the first time.
Views you can use:
- Nene recorded his 4th game of 4+ blocks ... the Nuggets are now 3-1 in those games
- Nene recorded his 16th double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, the Nuggets are now 11-5 when Nene records a double-double
- JR Smith scored 3 points on 1-8 shooting against the Pacers after scoring 22 points off 6-14 shooting against the Lakers
- JR is now 2-11 from 3-point land in his last two games and 6-28 (21.4%) in his last five games