The Nuggets' 18th road game (an NBA league-high so far) was never in doubt. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time, with the Nuggets leading 97-67 going into the final frame, ending with a season-high 122 points.
As mentioned in the preview, the Kings were simply outclassed by the Nuggets tonight. In the first half, after a pitiful Aaron Brooks gave a hard foul to Andre Miller, the Nuggets decided to get mean. They then went on to score 64 first half points, and lead by as many as 34 points the rest of the way. The Nuggets scored 30+ points in three of four quarters, running the Kings off their home court.
Despite yet another road game, you could tell that the Nuggets knew this was a game they needed to capitalize on and it showed from the tip. Kosta Koufos was particularly active against the relatively diminutive lineup of the Kings, putting up 12 points on 6-10 shooting with 7 rebounds. His shoes are still made out of cement, but Koufos has played solid defense the last few games. I love having him start off the game as a defensive stalwart, only for teams to then have to contend with the length of JaVale McGee on the offensive end.
Speaking of McGee, he had another special effort tonight with 19 points of 7-9 shooting (5-8 from the line!), 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. McGee's defensive instincts are s-l-o-w-l-y improving, but I'd still like to see him make a more concerted effort on the glass. At his size, there's no reason he shouldn't be averaging closer to ten boards or more per game.
Still, McGee's hyper-efficiency on offense (now second in the NBA at 60% from the field) continues to give the Nuggets a very powerful tool that few teams are able to effectively deal with. His height and length is simply too much for the frontcourt of most teams, and if they don't constantly "spy" him for the alley-oop he will throw it down all night. The Nuggets had 10 dunks tonight, with four by McGee alone. Even the Nuggets' very own unicorn Anthony Randolph got into the mix with a few nifty baseline dunks towards the end of the fourth.
It was great to see both rookies Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller get extended burn tonight with the enormous amount of garbage time. Fournier's got something, folks, and I don't think people comparing him to Manu Ginobili are all that far off. His body control is excellent, and he has a rangyness that allows him to play passing lanes like Corey Brewer. He just seems to have a confidence and smoothness to his game not seen in many veterans, much less a rookie out of France. He's a good distributor, and put up 7 points on 3-5 shooting to go along with an assist and a steal. We also got to see Miller's first point as an NBA player and Denver Nugget (a free throw)! Congratulations to Miller.
Tonight was very much a collective team effort, with six Nuggets (Gallinari, Koufos, McGee, Lawson, Iguodala and Hamilton) scoring in double figures. Danilo Gallinari had a very quietly efficient 18 points on 6-9 shooting with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. It's great to see Gallo's shooting touch returning. The ball movement was stellar, the defense was stifling, and I'm running out of adjectives to describe the beat down that was this game.
I lost count of how many air-balls the Kings shot tonight en route to a putrid 34.1% from the floor. Meanwhile, the Nuggets had 54 points in the paint, 26 assists, 5 blocks and 5 steals with only 10 turnovers and a nice 54.1% shooting effort from the floor.
While the Nuggets should certainly savor a decisive victory and feel encouraged by such a dominating win, there's little time for the team to rest on its collective laurels. On Tuesday night the Nuggets face their longtime nemesis San Antonio Spurs back in the Pepsi Center (7 PM MST).
The Nuggets will be looking to take revenge for a 26-point whipping the Spurs administered in the (muddy) River City. With Manu Ginobili suffering from a left thigh contusion and questionable to play, the Nuggets can look to go 7-1 at home - still the best home record in the conference, by the way - and take down another top team.
Don't forget: as the Nuggets scored 122, you can hit your local Denver Taco Bell for four tacos for a dollar (with purchase of a large drink - there's always a catch).
For the opposition's take please visit: Sactown Royalty