At midway through the second quarter of the Nuggets 93-80 victory over the Hornets, many Nuggets fans probably felt some feelings of nostalgia from the 58 point victory over this same team during the first round of the 2009 playoffs.
It was looking like once again the Nuggets would be the ones doing the stinging after two back-to-back steals followed up by J.R. Smith dunks ignited the Nuggets on their run to take a 28 point lead.
Key plays led to a strong swing of momentum for the Nuggets in the late first, and early second quarters. The Nuggets forced the Hornets into a 24 second shot clock violation to end the first quarter which was the first lead the Nuggets had after the first quarter in six games. Then, Mr.Wild-card himself, J.R. Smith, ended his 1-15 shooting drought over the last two games by hitting numerous shots in a row to spark a 12-0 rally that ended the first quarter.
The Nuggets then continued their hot play into the second quarter and expanded their lead to 28 points by making precise cuts to the hole, knocking down outside shots and playing a turnover style of defense. At the two minute mark of the second quarter Birdman epitomized great movement off the ball as Nene found him cutting to the basket to complete a no-look bounce-pass that was concluded by a thunderous dunk. Shortly afterwords Carmelo Anthony notched a double-double on the last play of the half.
Things looked good to start the third quarter, as Nene erupted for one of his patented steals around mid-court followed by giant strides to the hole where he finished with a one handed jam. After this the Nuggets appeared to become somewhat complacent as the Hornets easily erased a 28 point deficit to close the gap to 13 points. This run was directly due to lackadaisical defense and settling for jump shots on offense. But, like for most of the night, the Nuggets were able to finish the quarter with a strong play by Melo in which he drove the lane for two.
The Hornets strong momentum carried over into the fourth quarter where they continued to slash the Nuggets commanding lead, and eventually brought it down to nine. But, there is a reason Carmelo is currently in the discussion for MVP of the league, as he finshed off the quarter, and the Hornets as well with a superstar performance that stretched the lead back up to 20 at one point. The final score of the game was 93 to 80 in favor of the Nuggets.
GoldenNuggets: Carmelo Anthony finished with a career high 18 rebounds to go along with 26 points, 4 assists, 1 steal and was an efficient 12-25 from the field as well as 2-2 from the line. The Nuggets currently sit three and a half games behind the Lakers for the top spot in the conference and half a game ahead of the Mavericks for second place. Adrian Dantley is now 5-1 this season as the Nuggets head coach.