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See what happens when you take the ball to the hole?...

Not having Carmelo Anthony tonight might have been a blessing in disguise for our Denver Nuggets. It's not that we don't need Melo for the long term - of course we do. But it's as if the Nuggets' offense had become stagnant ever since Melo's remarkable 33-point quarter last week. All too often during the Nuggets recent three game losing streak, Melo's teammates would just stand around and watch as Melo hoisted bad shots on a bad elbow.

Tonight was a different story, and the end result - a much needed win against division rival Portland - was proof of that. The Nuggets finally did something that Denver Stiffs has been begging for since last April's playoffs: take the ball to the @#$%& hole! The Nuggets out-attempted the Trailblazers 39 to 19 from the charity stripe, and made the Blazers pay by making 28 of those 39 attempts.

Compare tonight's 39 attempts to the amount of free throws the Nuggets shot during their three losses against Phoenix, Cleveland and Houston. In those losses the Nuggets attempted 23, 17 and 17 free throw attempts, respectively.

In case you're curious, the Nuggets currently rank second in the NBA with 29.6 free throw attempts per game, behind only Golden State which averages 29.8. Throwing the Warriors out of the equation (their free throw attempts are credited more to number of possessions than anything else), the other teams rounding out the top six in free throw attempts are Boston, the Lakers, Orlando and Utah. That's pretty elite company.

Diving further into the numbers, the Nuggets are 13-1 when they attempt 29 or more free throws in a game, and are 5-9 when they attempt less than 29 free throws. What a difference!

There are certainly a lot of factors that contribute to winning a basketball game. But when you're consistently driving the ball into the teeth of your opponents' defense, especially with bruising athletes like Melo, Nene, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith, it wears down your opposition creating even easier shots later.

In the upcoming games, I'll be watching closely to see if George Karl calls timeouts when the Nuggets resort to ill-timed jump shots early in the shot clock. Inspiring his players to drive the ball to the basket should be one of Karl's top priorities moving forward. I just hope he realizes it.

Oh, and did anyone notice that the Nuggets are 1-0 when J.R. starts this season?