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2007-2008 Game 49: Denver Nuggets 111 - Washington Wizards 100

Box Score

19-25, 3-3, 8-8 49!

Not a bad shooting night for Carmelo Anthony.  19-25 equates to 76% and he did not miss a three pointer (the 3-3 from above) or a free throw (8-8).  Also, most of those 25 shots and 19 makes came from 15 feet or further from the hoop.  However, he did do a good job of getting to the basket almost at will when he wanted to.  Anyway, it all adds up to a career high of 49 points.  

Tonight’s game was a success not just because of the win, but because the Nuggets as a whole were able to stay away from the mental trap they have fallen into so many times.  They came out of the chute quickly and never trailed.  Of course, when you get 20 first quarter points from Melo, you better get out to a fast start.  

The only real flaw in the Nuggets play tonight was that they were never really able to throw a knockout punch.  They did extend their lead to 21 with 6:35 left in the second quarter.  However, at that point the Wizards experienced their only hot streak of the game shooting 9-11 over the remainder of the second quarter.  Not coincidentally it was the only stretch of the game where Washington made a consistent effort to get in the paint as four of their nine makes were layups or dunks and a fifth was a short jumper in the lane.  

Washington remained hot to start the third quarter going 4-6 and to top if off they were able to gather the offensive rebound and convert after both shots they missed.  The hot streak ended at that point as the Nuggets responded on defense after that getting a steal, block and shot clock violation over the Wizards next five possessions.  The Nuggets were able to go on a 15-4 run to reestablish control.  The Wiz would never get any closer than 11 points the rest of the night.  

Overall, the Nuggets played pretty solid defense as the Wizards played almost exclusively on the perimeter except for the brief stretch we just detailed.  But before we get too carried away, I think Washington had as much to do with how they played on offense as the Nuggets did.  Antonio Daniels only played seven minutes before aggravating his bad ankle and the Wiz missed having a pure point guard on the floor.

Honestly I do not think there was much to take away from this game.  The Nuggets put forth an acceptable mental effort, which was a plus.  Melo’s explosion made the game somewhat of a flukish event as did the rash of injuries to the Wizards.  

The Nuggets may have put forth a good mental effort, but the Jazz must not have.  They saw their ten game winning streak end tonight in Sacramento.  I did not see one second of that game, but I wonder if the battle they had in Denver on Wednesday took a mental toll on them.  I bet if you check out Basketball John you would get an answer to that question.

The Nuggets are now 2-1 in this difficult two month stretch as they head east to play at Cleveland, Miami and Orlando.  For a point of reference, I think they are going to have to get at least 17 wins through this stretch of 29 games in order to make the playoffs.  

(By the way, brand new Nuggets blog 5280 Hoops does a better job of narrowing it down to a more manageable ten game stretch here.  Make sure to read all three parts if you like Part 1.)

Other Observations From Game 49:

  • It is too easy to make fun of those tragic threads the Wizards wore tonight, but I cannot resist.  Many jerseys that are considered "unfashionable" make a comeback as a throwback jersey after a couple of decades.  I do not think we will be seeing people parading around in their Caron Butler bronze and black Wizards jersey in 2028.  The Astros jerseys from the mid 80’s thinks those things are hideous.
  • My other thought about their jerseys was regarding the stars they have on their backs over the name plate.  They all have three stars across their backs.  I think they need to put as many stars on that panel as that player deserves.  I thought it was unfair that Alexi Pecherov gets as many stars as everyone else.  I think players like Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison should have four stars on their backs.  Deshawn Stevenson should have two and Pecherov should not have any.  Even in elementary school you have to earn stars, even if it just for not putting boogers in the hair of the girl who sat next to you.
  • I thought the end of the game brought about an interesting question of ethics and sportsmanship.  The Nuggets were obviously trying to get Melo 50 points.  It reminded me a little of Larry Bird’s 60 point game.  Even with a big lead Bird kept jacking up threes in an attempt to reach that magical total.  I did not think Melo did anything of that nature, but having him in the game to the very end could be viewed as questionable.  The game was no where near out of hand as the margin was somewhat respectable in the last couple of minutes.  It is a difficult issue for a coach, one that got the Nuggets in a bit of trouble at MSG last season.  Do you leave a player in to try to reach a historic point total or do you remove him out of respect for the opponent?  When Kobe had his 81 point game Phil asked him if he wanted to play in the 4th quarter.  Maybe Karl asked Melo if he wanted to stay in although I do not think anyone was even considering 50 to be possible until he made that improbable three with just under two minutes left.  If you guys have any thoughts about this leave them in the comments section or start a diary on it.
  • Ultimately, I do not think Melo or Karl did anything wrong.  The Wizards certainly showed that they were not going to let Melo get to 50 as Blatche and Jamison basically played ring around the rosie with Melo filling the role of the May Pole in the waning seconds.  I think Melo responded correctly by accepting it and not trying to force his way through them.  Even though he ended up at 49 I bet every person who watched it will remember it just as well.  Perhaps even better.  
  • I though AI played almost a perfect game.  He only took nine shots making seven to reach an incredibly efficient 18 points.  All of his shots were quality looks.  He made seven of them and added 11 assists to boot.  He did have six turnovers, but he played very under control and smart basketball.  Obviously, Melo will probably not have another night like tonight this season, but if AI can tone down the ball handling and shooting when one or more of his teammates have it going he will be much better for this team.  
  • Melo only had two assists, but I though he passed very well.  Washington started doubling him on occasion in the second quarter, but he never panicked and there was only one occasion where I remember him dilly dallying with the ball and putting a teammate in a poor position (when he dribbled backwards away from the double team and passed to Kenyon who was almost 30 feet from the hoop as the shot clock was about to expire).  It reminded me of when you played smear the queer (sorry if that name offends anyone, but that is what everyone calls it so it must be OK) as a kid and there was always the one guy who would throw the ball in the air just before he was about to get tackled.
  • Saying I was disappointed with Anthony Carter for taking 14 shots against the Jazz would be an understatement.  He was much better tonight as he only attempted seven shots, a couple of which he had to take due to the ever ticking shot clock.   He added eight assists and played very under control and smart ball.
  • J.R. Smith only played three seconds against Utah after playing well against Portland.  Tonight he played five minutes in the first half, but did not get any run in the second.  Doesn’t J.R. have to play more than that in a game the Nuggets have under control for almost the entire second half?   Even with everything Melo did his breathtaking reverse layup while getting fouled after receiving the behind the back pass from AI was the highlight of the game.
  • NBA.com does not have their final game info data up yet, but from what I can tell, the Wizards had less than 20 points in the paint.  Had they played anymore of a perimeter game they would have had to file flight plans with the FAA.
  • What did I tell you about Andray Blatche?  I thought the Wizards really missed an opportunity with Melo guarding him.  The very first possession and only 12 seconds into the game Melo had his first foul as they posted the 6’11" Blatche on him.  I expected them to pound the ball in to Andray and try to get Melo in foul trouble, which he has a propensity to do on either offensive fouls, or cheap fouls defending the post.  I do not remember Washington going back to Blatche in the post again until the second quarter at the earliest, and it may have been the second half.  Had they got Melo his second foul in the first quarter, this is a completely different game.
  • By the way, if I was running the Nuggets not only would the Nuggets have Blatche, but they would have Monta Ellis too.  The tradeoff would be no LK.  Blatche and Ellis would have the Nuggets far better off than Ricky Sanchez and LK, right?  As good as I am at blogging you will all soon realize my true gift is my eye for talent.  I already have on friend who says when he wins the lottery he will buy an NBA team and make me the GM.  Of course, I had a friend in college say that if he started a band I would be the lead singer.  I never followed up on that, but I hear his band is doing really well.

That is probably enough even though it is a Friday night and I could keep going as my wife grudgingly allows me to sleep in very late on Saturdays.  (Thanks honey, I love you...no, not just because you let me sleep in...can we talk about this later please?)

For more high quality insight, or just some high quality insight depending on what you think of this gibberish, take a trek on over to Bullets Forever.