In the preview I said this should be a cakewalk win, and the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony didn't disappoint as he had a monster third-quarter. In the third, Melo scored 23 points on 8-11 shooting including a rare three-point barrage; as he was 6-8 in the quarter from downtown on his way to a game-high 36 points. Denver won going away 121-107.
The receipe is simple when teams come into town on the second of a back-to-back.
Step 1: Keep the game close early ... don't exert too much energy, but don't allow too much confidence for your opponent. Check ... Denver was down 30-27 after one. The Nuggets allowed the Pacers to score 30, but they also stayed right with them to show that no matter how hot they start ... the Nuggets are right with them.
Step 2: Push the pace in the second quarter and begin to show your opponent another gear. Check ... the Nuggets inserted Ty Lawson, shared the ball, pushed the pace and used their defense to create turnovers and hustled down court after missed shots. Nene and Melo each had 13 points at the half, but Jeff Foster (the guy who Denver had tried to trade for in season's past) was keeping the Pacers frisky with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Step 3: Really kick things into high gear and show your weary legged opponent that tonight is not going to be their night. Melo, who started the game 0-6 was 8-11 in the quarter and put on a show from downtown by hitting six threes in the quarter. Melo hit three in a row from deep and it was an impressive performance because on the season Melo is shooting just 25% from beyond the arc. Denver had a 93-78 lead after three and the Pacers were out of the game.
Step 4: Cruse to victory. Check ... the Nuggets' Lawson made good on his Taco Bell ad by sinking two free throws to give Denver 110 points, thus giving Denver locals four tacos for one dollar tomorrow. Melo suffered a left knee injury with about 10:29 left in the game when Brandon Rush rolled into Melo's leg after a rare missed layup on the night by #15. Melo left the game and eventually limped off the court after the game ... hope everything is good. Anthony Carter entered the game with about 5:25 left and every Nugget, except Melvin Ely, scored at least one-point (Gary Forbes) tonight.
Tonight's game was a classically predictable one from the Melo era versus a sub .500 teams coming in on the second of a back-to-back. Too often this season we see the Nuggets take a game that, on paper, looks like an easy one and turn it into a hotly contested battle. Thankfully tonight the receipe was executed and the Nuggets earned a tasty victory that was cooked to perfection.
- Melo's six three-pointers were a career-high for him.
- I love hearing Kenyon Martin yell, "Get that shit outta here!" after big blocks. We got to hear that twice tonight after swats on Tyler Hansbrough and Darren Collison.
- Speaking of Hansbrough, he had a team-high 27 points and never stops moving. He plays tough and probably is learning a lot from Foster, the wily veteran.
- Nene had a nice double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds (only 2 points in the second half) and looked comfortable going right at 7'2'' Roy Hibbert.
Al Harrington led the Nuggets bench with 16 points he also had 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Lawson added 13 points and 5 assists and was again playing aggressive offense. The rest of the bench added 16 points.
- The Nuggets played aggressive defense tonight and had 11 steals (four by Nene), 5 blocks and scored 17 points off 14 Indiana turnovers.
- The Nuggets held Collison and Danny Granger to a combined 13 points on 4-20 shooting. The two average a combined 35.5 points per game, but were rendered useless tonight.
- Billups led the pass-happy Nuggets with 6 assists and the team had 28 total assists on 47 made shots tonight.
Up next for the Nuggets is a five-game roadtrip. If the Nuggets can win them all they'll be 10-13 on the road this season ... time to step up.
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