At no point did I expect the Nuggets to pull this game out. Every time the Nuggets would get within a couple of baskets some kind of bad bounce would go against them. Kleiza would have the ball knocked out of his hands with no call under the basket. A loose ball would bounce away from a Nugget and directly to an open Jason Terry or Dirk Nowitzki for an open three pointer.
I was impressed with the Nuggets tonight though. The past three games without Melo the have played with good to great effort on defense. They must play with that kind of effort for every game here on out. If they can play this hard they will make the playoffs easily. If they go back to a lazy mindset once Melo returns, things will be more uncertain.
On the other end of the floor the Nuggets really struggled when they had to play in the half court. The Mavs are a very strong defensive team. They clearly did not care if the Nuggets took long jumpers and in the first quarter Denver played right into their hands.
The entire first half they did not run at all. Somehow they ended up with six fast break points, but I have no idea how. In the third quarter they started to break loose and climbed back into the game because of their aggressive pace.
In the end the Nuggets needed the biggest three point outburst in Anthony Carter’s career, he hit three in the span of a couple minutes, just to keep it close.
Yet again we are left to wonder if the Nuggets can duplicate a strong mental effort. I believe they will. They are playing the team with the best record in the west on the road the night after a tough loss. I believe the Nuggets have finally figured out that nothing is guaranteed to them and they need to win every game they possibly can from here on out.
Once again the schedule gives the Nuggets a chance to show up something tomorrow night.
Other Observations From Game 43:
Kleiza did not have a good offensive game, but he did a good job of impacting the game in other ways. He played well on defense, ran the floor and rebounded. If he is getting to the point where he can make an impact without shooting well, the Nuggets will be a much better more consistent team.
Check out Mavs Moneyball for some insight from the victors.