They call him ... "Mr. Big Shot"
If anyone had any questions as to why they call Chauncey Billups "Mr. Big Shot" he showed his hometown why last night. Billups rained in 36 points on 10-15 shooting and incredibly 8-9 of those shots coming by way of LONG DISTANCE.
It's safe to say that last night was the best Nuggets playoff game I've attended. The crowd was rocking last night before the game as everyone had in hand white towels that were being waved so hard I was concerned peoples arms were going to tear off at the shoulder.
My phone has been ringing off the hook and my text message inbox is overflowing with nothing but positive Nuggets related news. It’s only one game, but that win reminded me of the old Dr. Pepper commercials … JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!
I don’t expect George Karl to utilize the same rotation he had last night throughout the playoffs, but I think we know which players Denver will use against New Orleans.
Billups, Melo, Nene, and KMart of course are going to get major minutes. And a nice rotation of Birdman, J.R. Swish, Linas Kleiza, and Dahntay Jones will continue to be used against the Bugs as they were all highly effective last night. Anthony Carter played only 14 minutes last night as he doesn’t matchup very well against the Hornets bigger guards and I couldn’t be happier. Carter is valuable when he’s pushing the pace, but again he’s just not going to be a good play against the bigger Hornets guards.
I didn’t see anything I didn’t expect from the Hornets. Chris Paul ran the show and did what he always does scoring 21 points and getting 11 assists. I expect him to get double-doubles in every game, but I liked how Denver gave him something to think about on his drives as he was constantly hammered early while going to the rim.
Again Denver trapped Paul a bit and forced him into 4 turnovers. Paul is going to continue to turn the ball over in this series because he has to be the playmaker out there. I like how Dahntay Jones will harass Paul throughout the series.
Speaking of harassing … KMart was David West’s shadow. Even when Nene covered West I thought Denver did an excellent job of taking him out of the game. West only put up 12 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and if Denver can continue to keep him at those numbers the Nuggets will win this series easy.
On the offensive end I thought Denver looked very tight early on. With the score knotted at 15 in the first quarter I was waiting for Melo and company to get it going. The Hornets didn’t really play Melo any differently. I thought Melo should have taken the ball inside more early on as he settled for pull-up jumpers too often. Melo finished with 13 points on 4-12 shooting (5-6 from the foul line), grabbed 7 rebounds, and added just 2 assists. My hope for Carmelo is that he realizes his team can win without having him shoulder the scoring burden and perhaps that will get him to relax a bit. I’d like to see him come out in Game 2 and be more aggressive. He did a nice job pulling down rebounds as the "small" Nuggets out rebounded the Bugs 49-35 … THAT’S HUGE!
Nene showed that he can be a beast at times last night. He put up a double-double with 12 points on just 5-8 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. Nene should not worry about being a little selfish in this series. I don’t think anyone on the Hornets roster can handle him in the paint and like I mentioned in the preview … Nene can be a difference maker in this series and throughout the postseason if he’s attacking the opposition.
J.R. Smith will get it going from the outside. He was 0-7 last night from downtown, but that will change. More impressive though was that Smith was 8-11 from inside the arc. He again had a few drives that just make you wonder why he’s not attacking the rim every time he touches the ball. Smith was big off the bench, even without his outside touch, scoring 19 points (3-4 from the foul line), but he did commit 5 turnovers (but let’s just attribute that to Game 1 jitters for now.)
The Birdman got his fair share of wings flapping from the fans last night. There isn’t really anything goofier or more fun than seeing thousands of people flapping their arms and doing their most ridiculous bird caws whenever Bird enters the game, does something spectacular on the floor, or leaves the game. I love how bench players capture the hearts of their fans and Andersen has shown all season that he isn’t just a gimmick, but a valuable addition to a team on a mission. Bird’s stat line: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 4 blocks. Gotta love the Birdman.
I think everyone pretty much took their turns blasting Linas Kleiza this season and hoping he’d come through at some point. Well, last night Kleiza came through in a big way off the bench. He scored 13 points on just 4-6 shooting (2-4 from distance) and pulled down 5 rebounds. I’ll take that kind of performance from him any day.
My man crush or my bromance for this team is overflowing at the moment. Billups said in his postgame interviews that he probably wouldn’t be able to repeat his heroic performance again. That indicates to me that he’s telling his teammates to go ahead and step up … their turn is next.
Some photos of last night's game taken by me up in the nosebleeds:
This is just before tipoff and the crowd was just waiting to go crazy. We were up in Section 368 with the Melo's Yellows crew ... 190+ crazed Nuggets fans!
I'd never seen this at a Nuggets game before. Just like baseball stadiums track strikeouts ... 3 pointers were being tracked here. I took this shot after the 10th three was made ... one more was added later.
Grabbed this small sample shot of some of the Melo's Yellows group. These fans were chanting and going into fits of bedlam all night. Yes, the t-shirt features Melo holding a personalized license plate reading "Melo's Yellows" ... even the drawing of Melo featured some of his real tattoos.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets' 29 point margin of victory in the playoffs fell just one point shy of their record of 30 point margin that came in their 141-111 victory against the Spurs in Game 1 of their series back on April 18, 1985
- The Nuggets recorded out assisted the Hornets last night 25-19
- Denver held the Hornets to less than 25 points in each quarter and only 15 in the 4th Quarter
Just to let you all know ... I just got my Game 2 tickets ... Section 116