Nuggets 19 point win evens series at 2-2
The Denver Nuggets just won the biggest game in their franchise history. Yes, Game 5 against Seattle was great in 1994, but it was not the Western Conference Finals. So now Game 5 in this series becomes the biggest game in Nuggets' history.
It's getting interesting right?
Had the Lakers won last night's game they would have had a strangle-hold on the series. The Nuggets however, refused to lose and an inspired team effort was the story of Game 4.
The Nuggets trailed 1-0 to start the game, but when Kenyon Martin made a 17-foot jumper he gave Denver the lead for good as the Nuggets wouldn't trail again.
Seven Denver Nuggets scored in double-digits and all the points were needed as Carmelo Anthony wasn't finding his shot early. We found out that Melo was battling a stomach flu and received an IV at the half ... gutty performance. Melo did not record his first field goal until the one minute mark of the 2nd Quarter when J.R. Smith found Melo for an easy dunk giving the Nuggets a 50-42 lead.
J.R. did a great job of finding his teammates open dunks early and found his shot late to seal the win for Denver. It's been key for somebody to step up and last night J.R. took his turn.
Denver had great energy last night and it showed up on the stat sheet. The Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers 58-40 (20 offensive rebounds) as Birdman, Nene, and KMart were all over the place protecting the rim and getting Denver extra possessions. Denver's bench also outscored the Lakers' bench 42-24. Like Renaldo Balkman's leg tattoos say, "Hustle ... Harder."
Denver continues to play with confidence against L.A. and they find themselves in a position to prove that while they may not have the best player in this series, they do have the better team. That's the best thing about basketball ... it's truly a team sport and the Nuggets to me look like the better team in this series.
-Melo managed to play 35 minutes with the flu and after turning his ankle while guarding Kobe. 3-16 shooting (0-3 from deep, 9-11 from the charity stripe) for 15 points, 3 rebounds (2 offensive), 5 assists, and 1 steal. Melo was doing a great job of finding the open man when the double teams came last night ... he was making quick decisions out there and helped lead the unselfish attack.
-J.R. Smith: 28 minutes, 9-17 (4-9 threes, 2-6 free throws) for 24 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. J.R. got his game going early by getting his teammates easy shots and getting himself to the rack. All 4 of Swish's assists came in the first half. J.R. still needs to do a better job from the foul line, but like we said of Kleiza's performance in Game 2 ... the Nuggets probably don't win this game without Swish last night. And by the way ... nobody can guard this kid on the Lakers team. Swish blew by Kobe when he wanted to and needs to remember that.
-Kenyon Martin: 35 minutes, 13 points on 5-11 shooting (0-1 three, 3-4 free throws), 15 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Kenyon hasn't dominated on the boards like that in a long, long time ... his second highest rebounding total came on Halloween (October 31st) in Denver's second game of the season against the Clippers when he had 13 boards. KMart picked up his 6th technical of the playoffs last night and faces a suspension if he gets one more. He'll have to play under extreme control from here out.
-Nene: 35 minutes, 14 points on 5-8 shooting (4-7 free throws), 13 rebounds (7 offensive), and 6 assists. Nene was a beast getting himself above the rim when he had the ball and he was all over the offensive glass. Offensive rebounding is basically desire driven and Nene put his stamp on the game by giving Denver extra offensive possessions.
-Chirs "Birdman" Andersen: 24 minutes, 6 points on 2-4 shooting (0-1 three, 2-4 free throws), 14 rebounds (4 offensive), and 2 blocks. It felt like Bird was scoring a lot more, but maybe that was just because of the nice ESPN piece they did on him at the half. Bird was all over the glass as well and provided the crowd with some patented sparks by blocking some big shots and getting some crowd roaring dunks.
-Chauncey Billups: 42 minutes, 24 points on 7-16 shooting (1-6 three, 9-9 free throws), 3 reb, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 0 turnovers. Having Billups running things just gives me a comforting feeling. Billups took some quick transition shots, but knew he had to muster some offense with Melo being ... well not-Melo. Billups did a nice job going to the rim and should continue doing so since his outside shot is not falling.
-Linas Kleiza: 13 minutes, 10 points on 3-5 shooting (2-3 threes, 2-2 free throws) and 2 rebounds. I actually found myself wanting LK to get some more burn with Melo out of sorts. LK had his shot going and provided Denver with a nice spark off the bench. This is a different Nuggets team when LK is on as he brings size and shooting. It's been nice to see him with a mini-resurrection.
-Anthony Carter: 6 minutes, 2 points on 1-1 shooting and 2 assists. A perfect game from AC ... he provided Billups with some relief minutes and gave the offense a couple of good plays. AC again is not a good play in this series because of his lack of size. I thought he was used perfectly last night.
-Dahntay Jones: 19 minutes, 12 points on 3-5 shooting (0-1 three, 6-6 free throws), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 great dunk, and 1 horrible trip. I'm hearing that fans say Jones should be suspended and I'd be very surprised if he is for his trip on Kobe Bryant. The play was stupid and dirty and luckily Kobe was ok, but suspending Jones would be a little drastic ... sort of as drastic as making Kobe vs. LeBron commericals and playing them every 5 minutes.
Views you can use:
- Denver scored 120 points last night and after not scoring over 30 points in the first three periods ... Denver exploded for 43 points in the 4th Quarter
- Denver finished +13 from the free throw line over the Lakers ... (37-49 for Denver and 24-35 for the Lakers) The Nuggets were the more aggressive team last night and attacked the rim all night
- The Nuggets were just 7-24 from three-point land ... good for 29.2% or I should say bad for 29.2%