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Nuggets at Wolves recap: No names, no problem as Nuggets win

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Denver grabs a huge win in Minnesota tonight, 119-113. Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Nene and Al Harrington all sat out tonight, but that didn't stop Chauncey Billups and Renaldo Balkman from gutting out a win at the Target Center. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a satisfying win nonetheless.

 

1st Quarter:

  • Just finding out in pre-game that Nene will be out tonight as well as he has a tight hamstring. No Nene, No K-Mart, No Melo and No Harrington ... small ball at its finest???
  • Starting lineup includes: Billups, Arron Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Shelden Williams and Melvin Ely.
  • J.R. gets Denver to 5 points by posterizing Darko Milicic ... WOW! Milicic is a league leader in blocked shots ... no fear.
  • The thing about having Shelden and Ely in the game ... Denver has 4 offensive rebounds at the 7:53 mark and Denver has 13 points ... nice! Those guys are parking themselves near the offensive glass and getting after it.
  • George Karl takes a timeout after Minny starts 8-10 shooting and a quick 10-1 run to make it 18-13. The Nuggets are cold from the outside and hesitating on the inside ... only 5-13 shooting.
  • The downside to Shelden and Ely ... 2-7 combined shooting.
  • 4 MINUTE MARK AND RENALDO BALKMAN IS IN!!!!!! CRIME STOPPIN' TIME!?! ... along with Ty Lawson, Gary Forbes and Chris Andersen.
  • 3:07 mark, Forbes to Balkman for the layup! 24-21 Minny, but Balkman making things happen after a nice defensive effort on Love.
  • End of the 1st: Minnesota up 30-23. Wolves out-rebounding Denver 13-8 (3 offensive). Nuggets shooting 8-25 ... where is the scoring going to come from tonight? Going to need a lot better defensive effort if the Nuggets want a chance in this one. Wolves shooting 14-22 or 63% from the field ... too many open looks inside.

2nd Quarter:

  • George Karl gets a technical to start things off in the second quarter sticking up for Balkman (called for over the back) ... who says Karl doesn't like Balkman??? haha ... and a make-up call on the other end, Nuggets ball and J.R. turns it into a trip to the foul line and goes 2-2.
  • Nuggets just can't buy a shot and the Wovles can't seem to miss. Balkman is ALL OVER the offensive glass and is just a pest for the opposition, how can you not play this kid? Forbes takes advantage and gets to the foul line and goes 2-2 ... 33-27 Wolves.
  • Beasley is 6-8 for 16 points at the 8:56 mark ... gotta slow him down somehow.
  • An email question for Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe asked if they have any tattoos. Marlowe says no. Hastings says he has more than he needs ... awesome.
  • 7:45 mark Love flops BAD on Gary Forbes ... sad to see guys flopping, especially on an offensive rebound attempt, refs fall for it and Love gets a bucket on an offensive board right after 41-35 Wolves.
  • 6:45 mark Milicic is hurting after catching Afflalo's knee in his hip. Will have to see if he returns as he hobbles off the court.
  • At the 5:38 mark Denver cuts the lead to 5 points at 45-40 and Luke Ridnour hits a circus behind the head layup And1 back up by 8 points ... one of those kinds of nights for the Nuggets? ... blah.
  • Nuggets catch a break as the Wolves miss about 83 shots at the rim and Denver finally grabs a board and Lawson hits 1-2 free throws to cut it back to 5 points at 50-45.
  • Wolves up 59-50 and blow a putback dunk attempt ... Nuggets on the fastbreak and Lawson hits a layup, Wolves called for an offensive foul, Denver with a turnover, Billups with a steal, J.R. goes 1-2 from the foul line and Denver down 59-53 ... could have been down 11+ easy ... nice to see the team fighting!
  • Beasley misses a long jumper with AAA defending to end the half ... Denver right in this one.
  • End of the 2nd: Minnesota up 59-53. The Nuggets are cold tonight, but getting good looks and taking pretty good shots, just not falling. Would like to see the guys in the paint take it harder to the rim and dunk when they can instead of falling away from the hoop. Playing with a lot of hear though as Denver is just 18-41 (39.1%) from the field, 2-10 from downtown, 15-21 from the foul line, 10 offensive rebounds, but only 7 combined assists. Billups leading the way with 14 points and Lawson has 13 of his own. Wolves are 24-45 from the field (53.3%), 1-5 from downtown, 18 team assists (wow!), but they have 10 turnovers.
  • Denver's got a shot to pull this one out ...

3rd Quarter:

  • Same lineup to start the second half that started the game ... Billups bricks the first shot of the half and Minny bricks theirs as well, hope is alive.
  • Ely is having himself a ballgame tonight, 4 points and 5 rebounds ... not bad for Ely.
  • Milicic is back in the game, thigh contusion, but limping a bit.
  • Nuggets making a move early here ... down 65-63 and playing with focus. Momentum is starting to shift as Shelden is called for an offensive foul ... gotta get over that 2-5 point hump and things might really start to go Denver's way.
  • AAA hits a loooong two to tie the game at 65, Minny head coach Kurt Rambis takes a timeout ... refs might review to see if AAA had his toes behind the three point line ... it was close from the cutaway replay.
  • 7:28 mark J.R. gets a steal and dishes to Shelden for and And1 and Denver has the lead, Williams blows the free throw but up 67-65 ... AAA buries a three as I'm typing and Denver is up 70-65!
  • AAA buries another three! 73-65 Denver ... defense stepping up ...
  • Nuggets the best in the business at coughing up leads ... Wolves come right back and go up 76-75 ... Billups answers with a three of his own, going to be a close one at 78-76 Denver with 2:50 left in the quarter.
  • Balkman continues to look more than useful with a huge dunk in traffic to give Denver an 82-78 lead. Enjoying seeing Crime Stopper's energy out there. On the other side of things ... Birdman (an energy guy) blows a dunk ... where'd the hops go? Yikes.
  • Beasley buries a three in Balkman's face to end the quarter ... dammit.
  • End of the 3rd: Minnesota up 83-82. Denver wins the quarter 29-24, but still trying to fight back from that seven point deficit from the first quarter. Funny feel to this game. Denver is playing hard, shooting a miserable 42.6% (29-68) and can't seem to get control of this game. It's once again going to come down to the final quarter ... I can't take it! Help me!

4th Quarter:

  • Martell Webster hits a three to start things ... was worried about him and he has 13 points.
  • Nuggets start with J.R., Lawson, Balkman, Forbes and Birdman. Creative lineup ... should be a running lineup, we'll see what happens.
  • Watching Birdman has been painful.
  • Webster is killing the Nuggets, hits a long two that will be reviewed.
  • Denver gets away with clobbering Love a couple times down low and Lawson has an And1 opportunity on the other end ... 5 point swing ... those typically go AGAINST the Nuggs.
  • BALKMAN WITH ANOTHER DUNK ON A FASTBREAK FROM LAWSON! 88-88! And Balkman gets screwed on the other end with a hand check I guess? Bullshit. Wolves blow the shot off the inbounds and Nuggs running again, Lawson hits layup ... Wolves miss again ... Denver running with Afflalo in and hit another layup (in for Forbes) ... 92-88 Denver. Love watching these guys use their defense to set up a fastbreak offense.
  • Balkman with another dunk as J.R. steals the tip after Love out-jumps Lawson on a jumpball ... 11-0 run for Denver. 12-0 run for Denver now after Lawson 1-2 on a clear path foul on Ridnour ... 95-88.
  • Billups with a HUGE three pointer from waaay downtown 98-90 Denver ...
  • Wolves with a 4-0 run ... Balkman gets hacked on his way to the hoop after another nice cut and hits both free throws (10 points on the night) ... 100-94 Denver. Tacos tonight?
  • Seems like every time Balkman makes a bucket he gets called for a foul on the other end (his 4th foul) ... Beasley with an And1 100-97 ...
  • Balkman gets his 5th foul ... might be doomed if he fouls out ... 100-99 Denver.
  • Three minutes left and we're tied at 105 ... Billups hits a three ... he's been great tonight. Denver just can't stop fouling on the other end after big shots, Wolves will go to the line for free throw attempts 6 and 7 in the quarter and they haven't missed yet ... 5-5 for the moment and 7-7 now.
  • Last shot is going to win this game ... oh my goodness ... Nuggs up 112-109 as the teams are trading baskets.
  • Love called for a crucial loose ball foul on Birdman ... Bird goes 2-2 from the line and Denver is up 114-109 ... love does the dirty work on the offensive glass and is at the foul line for two more free throws ... 9-9 in the quarter for the Wolves at the charity stripe.
  • Biggest possession of the game and J.R. bricks an open three from the top of the key and Love is called for a push in the back on Birdman ... Andersen hits his first free throw, Balkman in for defense and Bird bricks the second freebie. Where is a trash can, I'm going to throw up! Entertaining game.
  • End of the 4th: Denver wins 119-113. Not the prettiest game around, but a pretty win for Denver as they were shorthanded on the night. Might be the most enjoyable win of the season from some aspects.

Post game thoughts:

Good thing about these games ... the bench guys get a chance to figure things out on the court. Getting lots of playing time for your role players can be a good thing for a long season. The Nuggets have been mixing and matching lineups all season and tonight George Karl did some great work getting some interesting sets out there tonight.

  • Billups was a monster tonight. He finished with 36 points on 9-14 shooting, 6-6 from downtown and 12-13 from the foul line, 5 assists and 3 steals. Billups had the ball in his hands late and looked reluctant to give it up as he was doing all he could to get Denver the win. He did have 5 turnovers, but he was clutch.
  • Renaldo Balkman: the Crime Stopper put a hurting on the Timberwolves in his 18 minutes of play. Karl played Balkman early tonight in the first quarter and Karl has either helped Crime Stopper realize he needs to work harder at being a professional or Karl owes us all an apology for planting him on the bench. Balkman scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting, was active on the offensive glass and created rebounds with tips for his teammates and gave Denver a great shot of energy tonight. His cuts to the basket and ability to get out and run are things this team desperately needs. We can all now ask (even Jeff texted me about this during the game) ... Does this performance mean Balkman will earn some minutes? Who the hell knows.
  • Shelden Williams and Melvin Ely combined for 12 points, 9 rebounds (6 offensive) and 4 steals. They both started and played about as well as anyone could have expected. Their contributions were key to getting the win.
  • Ty Lawson had a brilliant first half with 13 points and finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Lawson was 5-7 from the foul line and his speed and aggression helped fuel some nice fastbreaks. Balkman and Lawson could play some exciting minutes on the second unit as both guys like to run.
  • J.R. Smith was cold again from deep (0-5), but he played some very good defense tonight and had 3 steals to go with 5 assists. It was nice to see him do some other things tonight besides score the ball, but he also had 12 points (on just 4-16 shooting).
  • Gary Forbes had a rough evening with just 2 points coming from the foul line. What happens to his minutes if Balkman is able to eek his way into the lineup? Are there minutes available when Al, Melo, K-Mart and Nene come back Saturday? ... well maybe not Big Al?
  • Chris Andersen had a decent game tonight. His 7 rebounds led the team and his clutch free throw shooting late helped ice the game for Denver. Battling Love can't be easy, but Bird's 11 points were huge.
  • Arron Afflalo had 17 points and his only two makes from deep couldn't have come at better times as he helped Denver gain their first leads of the game. Afflalo grabbed 6 boards and added 4 assists.
  • Karl had a nice game tonight sticking up for Balkman on a bad foul call and getting a Technical. He also paid homage to Birdman by wearing a turtle neck of his own ... not made of ink, but rather of pea green cloth. Karl did a nice job shuffling lineups and getting to 119 points without the names mentioned is big time. I loved how Karl played Ely, Williams and Balkman.

Views you can use:

  • Beasley, Love, Ridnour and Webster combined for 96 of Minny's 113 points tonight. Those guys were just killing Denver and almost pulled of a big win for the home squad.
  • Denver had 17 fastbreaks points, 13 steals, 25 assists and 13 offensive rebounds ... huge hustle numbers right there.
  • Six different Nuggets scored in double-figures tonight.

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter: Nate_Timmons