David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Nuggets used a balanced attack with 8 players in double figures to start the road trip off with a victory in Cleveland. Nuggets win their ninth in a row, 111-103.
Tonight, the Nuggets continued their run of special play at the Cleveland Cavaliers, with eight players scoring in double figures. Despite the Nuggets turning the ball over 20 times and committing 21 fouls, the Nuggets held the Cavaliers to just 44% shooting from the field and 15 turnovers of their own. The Nuggets also outrebounded the Cavliers, 46-38.
Even a nuclear Alonzo Gee is not enough to stop the roll that these Nuggets are on right now. Gee finished the game 8-8 from the floor, scoring 15 points in the 1st quarter and a perfect 3-3 from behind the line. However, he only scored 5 points the rest of the way as the Nuggets started to freeze out the Cavaliers like they've done to so many teams on this winning streak. Despite Kyrie Irving's 26 points, they came on 24 shots, and simply could not compete with the incredible depth of this Nuggets squad. Danilo Gallinari (19), Kenneth Faried (17), Andre Iguodala (14), JaVale McGee (13), Ty Lawson (11), Corey Brewer, Andre Miller, Kosta Koufos (10) all had solid nights, and if the Nuggets can get that sort of contribution regularly, they will be unstoppable.
JaVale McGee had another great night, looking composed and playing very efficiently from the floor. He hit 6 of 7 shots for 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks, and just 1 turnover in only 18 minutes of play. His recent string of good games seems to indicate that he's beginning to heal from the shin injury which sidelined him recently, and its good to see him reducing the number of boneheaded mistakes. Kenneth Faried and Kosta Koufos were also quite efficient, scoring 27 points on 20 shots and hauling in 16 rebounds, though Faried's 5 turnovers were frustrating at times. Still, they were mostly because of his relentless effort getting him in to trouble. There was a scary moment where he collided with Luke Walton and landed hard, but the durable Manimal turned out to be okay.
This game was the essence of a team win. With eight players in double figures, the Cavaliers simply could not figure out who to pressure and every Nugget figured out a way to contribute in their time on the floor. The Nuggets once again used a defensive surge in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to slow down the Cavs significantly, then cranked up the dial in the fourth to pull away.
Danilo Gallinari continued his excellent play, scoring another 19 points on 6-13 shooting, and nearly recording a double double with 9 rebounds. It's great to see Gallinari finding ways to contribute in addition to his scoring touch, and he continues to be very clutch in the fourth quarter. He hit two more huge threes and two free throws to help keep the Cavaliers at a safe distance, and looks more and more to be the go-to guy for the Nuggets late in these close games.
In the postgame, Karl mentioned that Wilson Chandler "was struggling to go in the fourth quarter" as his groin was bothering him, and will be considered questionable for tomorrow afternoon's game at Boston. Unfortunate news for the Nuggets, as Wilson's been playing extremely well, and if he can't go the Nuggets will likely need to rely heavily on Corey Brewer to counter the Celtics' wings. Tonight Chandler contributed just 7 points and 4 rebounds on 2-6 shooting, so its possible his groin was affecting his play even early in the game.
The Nuggets have now won 9 straight, are 11-15 on the road and could make it ten straight with a victory in the TD Bank Garden. However, with the blizzard in the northeast impacting Boston, the Nuggets may depart late from Cleveland - if at all. They're in Boston tomorrow afternoon starting at 4:00 PM MST, and they'll need as much rest as they can get before taking on a hot Celtics team.
And don't look now, but they're just 1 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers, who have tough games at the Knicks and 76ers quickly approaching.