Nuggets comeback twice after All-Star break
Billups scores 17 in third quarter against Sixers
After watching the Nuggets score just 37 points in the first half it didn't seem possible that they would be able to hit the century mark ... especially since most of their shots were having a hard time even finding the rim in the first half of an ugly win in Philadelphia.
Denver started off rather slowing and dug themselves a nice big 19-5 hole to open up the game. And after managing just 13 points in the first quarter (25-13) it was apparent that the Nuggets were suffering from a pretty large All-Star break hangover.
I listened to the first quarter on Mile High Radio as I sped home (1510 a.m. for you Denver folks) and things over the air waves sounded a lot uglier on radio than perhaps watching on TV. For instance I heard that Dahntay Jones missed a layup and you get no real sense of the degree of difficulty from the play-by-play guy - so I found myself wondering if the Nuggets were missing hard shots or just every shot they took. Although when I heard Kenyon Martin missed a three-point shot I knew right away that no matter the look he got, it was ugly. (Please Kenyon ... stop shooting three-pointers ... it was fun when you hit a rare one here and there, but this HAS TO STOP!)
I walked into my apartment just as Marreese Speights hit a jumper to extend the Sixer lead to 27-13 to open up the 2nd Quarter. I knew the Nugget offense would eventually wake up and I was hoping they would do so before they found themselves down 20+ points.
Nene capped off a small 10-6 run with a thunderous dunk to cut the Sixer lead to 10 at 33-23 around the 7:02 mark and you could see that Denver was starting to come to life by taking the ball inside. Nene was a force all night and finished the game with 22 points on 8-10 shooting and recorded a +15 in 33 minutes. Nene again found himself in foul trouble in this game, but Karl allowed him to play with the fouls (5) and I'm telling you ... when this guy gets going the entire team has an easier time scoring the ball.
Denver cut the lead to seven points before the Sixers made a small run and closed the half on top by 10 (47-37).
A play worth mentioning in the first half occurred with :46 ticks left on the clock in the second quarter. JR Smith found KMart charging towards the hoop from the left baseline and once Martin received the ball you could see him size up the man in front of him ... 6'8'' Reggie Evans. Martin then took off with intentions of posterizing Evans ... mission accomplished as KMart threw down a NASTY two handed rim rattling dunk. This is the player Denver expected when they traded for him from New Jersey. Watching Kenyon in what I think is near 100% health has been nothing short of awesome when he attacks the rim.
Watching both KMart and Amar'e post microfracture surgery and seeing them get their athleticism back has been sweet. There was a time when ACL injuries were career killers. The same was thought for microfracture procedures with Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and Chris Webber, but we are now seeing some major success with the surgeries. Hats off to doctors everywhere - or perhaps different bodies react differently.
The Nuggets Chauncey Billups came out ON FIRE to start the 3rd Quarter. Billups scored 8 of the first 10 points for Denver with a barrage of offensive moves and the Nuggets tied the game with 9:59 left to play in the quarter. Denver utilized a 19-2 run and went up 56-49. Billups wasn't done.
Chauncey led a fast break and faked a behind the back pass from the top of the foul line to his right, before bringing the ball back around to a streaking KMart on the left ... Martin flushed home the layup, drew the foul, and sank the free throw to extend the Denver lead to 10 (61-51).
The Sixers, without Andre Miller (17 points in just 22 minutes) in the second half (calf strain) went on a 17-10 run to end the quarter, but found themselves down 71-68. Billups scored 17 points in the period! Nene picked up his 5th foul with under a minute to play in the quarter and Melo had a noticeable limp (left thigh) heading into the fourth. I was a bit nervous.
Andre Iguodala fouled out in the 4th Quarter with 5:01 left to play and his team down 85-77. With both their top scorers out of the game the Sixers were dead in the water.
Denver closed out the contest and won the game 101-89. Getting this win after the All-Star break is huge. Denver came out rusty, but found a way to get on track (behind Billups) and pull out another win on the road in impressive fashion (in the second half anyway). Denver outscored Philly in the second half 64-42 and mustered some much needed offense in the win.
Views you can use:
- Billups, JR and AC combined for 15 of Denver's 19 assists (5 each)
- Chris Anderson recorded a team high 4 blocks
- Melo notched his 9th double-double with a team high 26 points and team high 14 rebounds
- The Nuggets are now 17-11 on the road (37-17 overall)
- Denver is currently 5-1 on their 8 game roadtrip
Opposition: Liberty Ballers