Nuggets improve to 3-1 on roadtrip by extinguishing the Heat
When a prizefighter hits the canvas everyone wants to know how they will respond in their next bout. Everyone worries that perhaps the champ wont be able to regain the supreme confidence that was required to climb to the top. Well the Nuggets took a hook to the jaw when they lost to the Nets by 44 points last Saturday.
Denver, just like the prizefighter, got their shot to respond last night versus the Miami Heat. Denver came out and put a 12 round beating on the Heat en route to a 17-point win (99-82). The Nuggets came out and took the ball to the rim. By the end of the first quarter Denver was up 32-20 as Kenyon Martin poured in 10 points and the Nuggets made 15 of 20 shots in the period.
In the 2nd Quarter the Nuggets extended their lead to 18 (44-26) and would finish the half up 16 points cruising to a 56-40 lead thanks in large part to an attacking offense and suffocating defense. Denver was going to force Dwayne Wade to beat them singlehandedly.
A scary moment at the 1:42 mark just before the half when Billups hit Chris Anderson in transition and the Birdman went flying in for a dunk when Shawn Marion clipped his wings in midair sending Anderson hard to the ground. The Birdman made the layup and the subsequent foul shot, but had to leave the game at the next clock stoppage clutching his left hand (wrist sprain). The Denver Post reports that X-rays on Birdman's hand were negative, Anderson also suffered a left-hip contusion on the play and is listed as day-to-day.
As the second half got under way Chris Marlowe informed us that the Birdman had not returned to the bench after the intermission and he didn’t return the rest of the way.
The story up until the 3rd Quarter had been the Nuggets aggressive offense that was attacking the rim at will and Dwayne Wade who was carrying the Heat on his back once again. Wade finished the game with 33-points, but was held to only 2 assists and just did not get much help from his teammates. We learned that Wade was playing in his 50th straight game, which is the most for him in his career and he looked tired to say the least last night.
A note on Wade and the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball players: a good friend of mine has been discussing how the Olympic players will probably all go down with injury before this season is over. These guys have been killing their bodies and their bodies will wilt under the stress. Thus far of the 12 members of the Gold Medal team the injured have been: Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Redd, Deron Williams, and Chris Paul. Look out Kobe, LeBron, and Dwight!
Anyhow, the Nuggets went cold in the third and the Heat made a run. Denver for a short period stopped attacking the rim, but even when they did their shots were just not falling. The Heat used a 10-2 run to close the Denver lead to 64-56 and outscored the Nuggets 25-18 in the period, but still found themselves down 74-65 heading into the 4th Quarter.
I hated the decision by coach Karl to keep JR Smith on the pine for all but the last shot of the quarter and to give those minutes to Anthony Carter – Smith had been passing the ball well in the first half and had yet to really look for his own shot. It was one of those nights where JR making those around him better. It also seemed like JR was due to erupt offensively and needed to be in the game. Let’s face it … the kid usually gets hot in big moments and with the Heat melting away the Nuggets’ lead it was JR time.
Things got a bit hairy in the 4th Quarter as the Heat climbed all the way back into the game down just four points early in the period 76-72 after a Udonis Haslem layup. But the Nuggets started to hit some three-pointers; they had been 0-15 on the night up until Billups found the stroke.
Chauncey hit a clutch three from the top of the left elbow on a kick-out from JR Smith to push the score to 79-72 and on the next possession JR cashed in from downtown from the left corner extending the lead to 82-74 and that was as close as the Heat would get as Denver ran way with it going on a 23-10 run to close out the game thanks to Chauncey Billups scoring 13 of his team-high 23 points in the period. The Nuggets earned their third win halfway through this eight game roadtrip as their confidence proved unwavering.
Denver has a tough matchup tonight night with the Orlando Magic in their last game before the All-Star break.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets shot 50.6% for the game despite a 5-21 performance from downtown (23.8%)
- Kenyon Martin recorded a team high +25 in the +/- category and attacked the rim all evening finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds
- Linas Kleiza went 0-6 from downtown and finished 2-11 from the field on the night, while recording a team low -10 in +/- (once again proving to be less than stellar on the nights where he refuses to take the ball inside)
- The Heat turned the ball over 19 times leading to 27 points for the Nuggets
- The Nuggets turned the ball over 10 times leading to only 8 points for the Heat