Editors Note: We have a Game Correspondent Program where anyone attending a Nuggets came can file a report on what they observed. Click on the link above to read about it and email me if you are interested in being a Game Correspondent. Here is the first installment from RyanBuff from the Nuggets/Jazz game last week.
My father surprised me with tickets to this game on the day of it and drove up from Colorado Spring to get me in Boulder to take me. The tickets were in section 102, row 12, so pretty nice seats to see a basketball game, and to be able to see what is going on. I came into the game thinking there were going to be 3 keys to the game:
- Allen Iverson vs. Ronnie Brewer. I thought this would be a key match up because Iverson if he ever struggles at all struggles against longer players like Brewer. I remember Dermarr Johnson used to give him trouble with his length as Iverson would be able to get by D.J but D.J would erase his shot from behind. I thought Brewer might give Iverson a little trouble but it turned out my worries were for not as Iverson got him in early foul trouble and he was never really a factor during the game.
- Melo vs. Harpring. I know Harpring comes off the bench and Kirilenko was on Melo to start the game but I feel as if Harpring with his physical, tough-nose defense has always given Melo fits. Harpring is one of those guys you hate to play against in pick up basketball because of his physical nature and how strong he is. Although Melo scored 23, I thought Harpring did a very good job agitating Melo and forcing him into some bad, frustrated shots like he always seems to do. Harpring is an absolute pest, especially against Melo. He should have played football.
- How we did when Camby came out of the game and the possibility of him guarding Okur. First of all I was worried about him guarding Okur, which he didn’t do a lot of because Kleiza drew him a lot of the time, because of Okur’s ability to stroke the 3-ball. As Jeremy noted in the game tapes against Orlando, when Camby has to guard a center or a power forward with 3 point range like the match up he had against Rashard Lewis from Orlando it usually turns into a liability for us because Camby does not like to go out and guard the 3 line. Fortunately for us Camby wasn’t on Okur for very much of the game so it turned out to be a non factor.
Secondly, my main concern for this game was what was going to happen once Camby had to go to the bench for rest because Kenyon Martin was not playing in the game. As anybody who follows the Nuggets knows, once Camby goes out and you don’t have the services of Nene and Kenyon then you have a very small lineup out there, one that can perhaps run out on the break a little better, but certainly gives up a lot in the way of a shot blocking presence down low and a lot of rebounding mismatches. I thought Najera, Kleiza and even Melo stepped up in the rebounding game and provided a solid performance. Melo could be a 10 rebound a night guy if he really wanted to. I don’t think people realize how big Melo really is until you see him up close. It is amazing. Another thing I liked about the game was the job done as a team on Boozer. Boozer was there only real low post threat and we didn’t let him hurt us even with Camby off the floor.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the truly special performance put on by Linas Kleiza. It was very special to see him drop in 41 in person, something that I will remember for a long time. And it wasn’t just the 41; it was the efficiency in which he did it that was fascinating to watch. Just a phenomenal individual performance from him.
Also, I think many would agree with me in saying that this was one of the Nuggets better performances of the year. The offensive was flowing, the ball movement was exceptional, even the defense was pretty solid for the most part. Performances like this are what make me optimistic that the Nuggets can become an elite team in the NBA very soon. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention was the great job the Nuggets did running the ball up the court on this night with a purpose. I counted quite a few times they got easy buckets running off of a made basket which was extremely nice to see. They ran with a sense of urgency and at a pace I just don’t see from the Nuggets all that often even though they always say they want to run more. Against the Jazz they did it and it was good to see.