The Nuggets have now officially defeated all 29 teams in the NBA with Chauncey Billups. Ironically, the Detroit Pistons, Billups' former team, had been a pain in the Nuggets rear-end and they didn't go quietly into the chill Denver night.
After dropping their last three contests against the Pistons will Billups in a Nuggets uniform, Denver earned a victory over the boys in blue with a 107-102 win. It was good to see coach George Karl back on the sidelines with the Nuggets after his absence against Golden State. It was also nice to see Joey Graham get some run last night and he made the most of his 21 minutes as Kenyon Martin was unable to go.
Graham, built like a linebacker, was the one-man comeback at the beginning of the second quarter last night. The Nuggets down 29-22 after the first quarter were brought back by a series of Graham dunks. Joey scored 9 of Denver first 15 points in the period and in a flash the Nuggets were up 37-33.
It must be frustrating to only see the floor due to another player being injured, but hats off to Graham for being a professional and being ready whenever he is called upon. I have been surprised by the rare use of Graham this season, especially since his defense and skills were talked about at length before the season. The Nuggets, as we all know, rely heavily on Chris Andersen, Nene and Kenyon Martin and it'd be nice to see some more of the Nuggets' reserves as the season winds down. I think it's safe to say that Graham would like this as well.
It's just too bad Graham isn't 6'11'' ... if he were perhaps the Pistons wouldn't have had so much suceess on the glass last night. Detroit outrebounded Denver 50-38 and the Pistons grabbed 20 offensive rebounds ... 20! Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace were able to combine for 11 of those offensive boards. Maxiell proved to be a handful all night scoring 16 points off the bench. Too bad Joe Dumas didn't gift wrap him to the Nuggets as well, but his $5 million annual salary for the next four seasons (including this one) are not too appealing.
What was appealing was the Nuggets bench. J.R. Smith, Birdman and Graham really came through for the Nuggets in the win with 36 combined points. The Nuggets were led was again by their two headed offensive monsters in Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony. Billups' daggers were again deadly, but the two really did the job at the foul line. While getting to the line was key, Melo's shooting while at the charity stripe contined to disappoint. In Melo's last two games he was 3-8 and last night 8-13 at the line. Hopefully this small hiccup will be fixed soon as we've all gotten used to the Melo-man being practically automatic at 83% this season from the foul line.
It was good to see the Nuggets step up and beat a couple non-playoff teams in their past two games. A big game looms tomorrow in Los Angeles against the Lakers and the Nuggets will be riding their three-game win steak into Hollywood.
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: David Zalubowski