Could you imagine if this Denver Nuggets team, intact, made the playoffs? Who would want to play these guys in Round One? All good things must come to an end and with this game being one of the first of the entire lineup healthy, this good thing could come to an end before it ever really begins. A 132-98 beatdown of the Phoenix Suns tonight didn't start pretty or end quickly, but the middle was tasty.
I needed to grab a quick lunch today at work, so I decided what better way to eat fresh then to hit Subway? The answer my friends is that there is no better way ... unless you slaughter your own animals and bake up your own bread.
Well anyway, I was enjoying my tasty black forest ham sandwich when it hit me, the ends of the sandwitches at Subway always disappoint. And if they didn't cut a footlong sub in half for you then you'd start with a disappointing bready part, eat the delicious middle and finish with the disappointing bready part. Just like tonight's game ...
The beginning of tonight's contest brought out a few scattered boo-birds for one Carmelo Anthony, he of the constant trade speculation, when he missed a couple shots early and when he went to the foul line. And the Nuggets sluggish start didn't help things as the Suns utilized a 26-14 run after the score was tied 6-6 to end the first quarter up 32-20. The thoughts of, "here we go again" started dancing in my head and even Scott Hastings was Tweeting during the game about the lack of energy by the home team. The Suns had the lead, but they were not really doing anything special and it was more of the Nuggets just not playing with the right tempo and energy.
When you need tempo and when you need energy you just put Ty Lawson into the game. At the 6:43 mark of the second quarter the Nuggets erased the big lead and found themselves down 39-38 (18-7 run). Lawson came in and went 3-3 from the field (1-1 from downtown and 1-1 from the foul line), scored 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and was quickly a +13 for Denver. Just seconds later he put the Pepsi Center crowd into a frenzy with his alley-oop pass to J.R. Smith to give the Nuggets their first lead of the game 40-39 and Smith added the And-1 to make it 41-39.
Denver never looked back and outscored the Suns 44-23 in the second quarter and outscored them 38-17 in the third quarter. That 82-40 advantage in the second and third quarters was obviously too much to handle and the game was a laugher entering the fourth quarter. The Suns tried to go to the well in the second-half by switching to the zone defense, but the Nuggets for the first time in a long time were ready for it and moved the ball, hit jumpers and finally were not stumped by a simple zone defense.
Like a good sandwich, this game had some tasty bites, but wasn't very filling as after the game the postgame interviews brought us back to reality as player-after-player talked about the trade rumors ...
- Ty Lawson had the best postgame comments I've heard in awhile. On Jason Kosmicki's radio show Lawson said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry tells his guys to go after the other team and Lawson called that a "cheap move." Lawson on his budding rivalry with Goran Dragic, "I was killing Goran Dragic." Listen to the interview here.
- Lawson finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 6 fouls and +29.
- Dragic finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls and -25.
- The Nuggets set a season-high with 44 points in the second quarter.
- The Nuggets 34-point margin of victory was the largest ever versus the Suns.
- The Nuggets set a season high with 30 assists tonight.
- Arron Afflalo's 31 points set a new career high for him and he hit 10 shots in a row at one point. He finished 11-14 from the field and had 9 rebounds. Lawson mentioned after the game that AAA heard his name in a rap song and had been taking grief in the locker room for shooting poorly after hearing the lyric.
- Every time I see Vince Carter he reminds me of how the Nuggets blew a draft pick on Raef LaFrentz and passed on V.C. and Paul Pierce ... yeeeeesh.
- Melo said after the game he doesn't hold it against the "fans" that have been booing him. He was saying he doesn't think the fans know how they should feel so he's not holding it against them. Seemed fair to me. When a reporter asked him when he started hearing the boos he responded by saying it was at the UFC event he attended over the summer. (He meant MMA event)
- The Nuggets once again avoided the four-game losing streak ... the one they haven't been on since Feb. 2007.
George Karl got his 299th win as coach of the Nuggets.
- Melo, Smith and Afflalo all addressed trade comments after the game. Melo talked mainly about the boos, Smith about Lawson being the point guard of the future if the team deals Chauncey Billups and Afflalo said Melo played well despite the trade rumors. The players had been saying they are not paying attention to the rumors, but now they are unavoidable it seems.
- This game was mainly about the second unit coming in and changing the entire flow of the game. I hardly recall Billups being on the floor or even Nene for that matter. This game belonged to Lawson, Afflalo, Smith and Melo as they combined for 90 of the teams 132 points or 68.2% of them.