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Nuggets improve to 6-12 in games when opponent scores more than 60 points in the first half...

First things first - WELCOME BACK NENE!!! Seeing him come back tonight from the cancer procedure earlier this year and have Kenyon Martin, his direct competition at power forward, be the first to bear hug him when he walked onto the floor was exhilarating. One can only hope that Nene has recovered well enough to give the Nuggets a few good minutes per night during this crucial 10-game stretch. But perhaps just having him back will be the boost this team needs to take each of these final 10 games as seriously as possible.

Secondly, to all the people who disagreed with me for giving Carmelo Anthony credit earlier this week - did you notice he almost had a triple double tonight (and two steals). Not bad, eh?!

Now for the obvious not-so-good news: the Nuggets are still giving up at least 60 - and, as seen in tonight's victory over the Dirk-less Mavericks, sometimes 70 - points at halftime. 70! The (sort of) good news, however, is that the Nuggets are (sort of) figuring out how to win at least some of these games. They've surprisingly gone 3-3 in the last six contests when an opponent lit them up for north of 60 points at the halfway mark of the game.

I don't want to be a doomsayer after a great night at Pepsi Center and must repeat that no one (well, except maybe George Karl) would be more thrilled and relieved than me to see the Nuggets get into the postseason. But let's face it, the Nuggets control first half opponents' scoring like the Bush Administration controls spending.

In doing a quick recounting of the Nuggets season thus far via Yahoo Sports, I came up with approximately 18 games in which the spirit of Paul Westhead inhabited the body of George Karl during the first half of a Nuggets game. This means the Nuggets' opponent posted 60+ points by halftime in a quarter of the Nuggets games in 2007-08. And even though the Nuggets were able to put six of these games in the win column, only four were against quality teams (Boston, Phoenix, Golden State and Dallas tonight), and all but one was at home.

Therefore, before we all rush out to buy our playoff tickets - which, of course, season ticket holders will have to buy anyway - let's be sure to keep pressure on the Nuggets at Pepsi Center and in the press to give a little, just a little, more defensive effort in the first half of these last 10 regular season games. After all, beating a Dirk-less Mavericks team after giving up 70 at halftime is one thing, but try doing that against Phoenix, Utah and Houston.

Go Nuggets!