The Nuggets defeated the Phoenix Suns last night 94-91 in the first of their handful of excursions into the hinterlands of our great country. Before we get too excited about another Nugget victory let’s keep in mind that Phoenix was playing without Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.
However, the Nuggets played without Allen Iverson. Well, that is not entirely true. AI was on the court, but in his first game back from a swollen knee he was ineffective due to a sprained ankle. AI did tie Grant Hill for the high output for the game in one category. Sadly, that category was turnovers and AI had five which was more than he had points or assists (he had four of each). Iverson played 82 games last season for only the second time in his twelve year career. As long as he can rest up and get healthy before the regular season starts there should not be much to worry about, but if he starts the season off with some swelling and soreness, well, that is not good.
I was able to listen to most of the first half on the radio, but missed much of the second due to the necessity of meeting my filial obligations. I hate to draw conclusions from a game I was not able to actually watch, but with the combination of the radio broadcast, box score and excellent game recap from Chris Tomasson at the Rocky Mountain News, I think we can make a couple of observations together.
In his second game at the Syracuse University Carrier Dome since he led the Orangemen to the 2003 NCAA National Championship Carmelo Anthony (that’s a lot of capital letters for one sentence) played a very good all around game. He nabbed nine boards and dished five assists in only 24 minutes. Imagine how much it would help the Nuggets if he could average eight or nine rebounds and five assists. He has the talent to do it. Also, he was 6-11 on two point shots and two for two from the line. Without the 0-3 from the three point line he would have had a great game. Karl even complimented him on his defense, but I am not going to touch that until I see it for myself.
J.R. Smith had an excellent game again leading the team in scoring with 19. He keyed a couple of nice runs with steals and fast break buckets. He shot 8-11 and only took one three, which he made. He also added five assists in only 24 minutes. We all love J.R.’s long range abilities, but if he focuses on getting to the rim and setting up his teammates, he will be an All-Star.
Nene played a nice game as well, or at least a nice first half. He blocked a couple of shots early and was active offensively. I am very excited to see what he can do playing 30 minutes a game during the regular season. Very excited.
In other news Smush Parker did not get off the bench for the second time in four games, but Cleaves only played ten minutes. As long as AI enters the regular season healthy I think both Parker and Cleaves are going to be let go. Kenyon Martin had the night off and Renaldo Balkman sat out with a minor hip pointer. However, most importantly of all, Ruben Patterson managed not to get a technical foul called on him at the end of a close game.
Make sure you check out Bright Side of the Sun for a game recap from the Suns point of view.