As stated in my game preview, the Cavaliers will eventually win a game and break this horrid losing streak that they're on. But it wasn't going to happen against our Nuggets thanks to a balanced, hard-fought attack.
Given how many complaints we've gotten lately about our articles and recaps being too Carmelo Anthony-centric, I was hoping to leave Melo out of this recap altogether. But with Melo having such a substantial imprint on this game, it's impossible to do so. Maybe we'll leave any mention of Melo out of Monday's game versus the Nets in New Jersey (yeah, right).
So what to say about the Nuggets Friday night victory over the Cavaliers? If I had to sum up the performance, I'd say that the Nuggets of November and December are back. You know, the team that routinely build up big leads early in games and into the fourth quarter only to squander said lead along the way. But, like those Nuggets of a month or so ago, while insisting on making games unnecessarily close against bad teams, our Nuggets ultimately found a way to win.
Here are some observations from the couch...
...at the beginning of the broadcast, Nuggets announcer Chris Marlowe referred to Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott as "a terrific head coach." I'm not sure what Marlowe's criteria for "terrific" are.
...it was good to see Nene and Kenyon Martin starting, and good to see Nene rest throughout the second half. Resting Nene was a gamble, but it should pay off if he's healthy the tough Philadelphia/New Jersey back-to-back coming Sunday/Monday.
...in spite of their awful record, Cavaliers fans seem to be supporting their team in big numbers (it probably helps that they don't have a hockey team to compete with for asses in the seats like the Nuggets do). If the fans can hang there while the Cavs rebuild, this bodes well for the franchise's future.
...I told you J.J. Hickson was a non-Stiff!
...Scott Hastings mentioned that the Nuggets are the second best team in the NBA in three-point percentage, something I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know. Altitude then cut to a great clip of Nuggets head coach George Karl admitting that the team had "terrible" three-point shooters prior to these past two seasons.
...speaking of three-pointers, during one of the commercial breaks I cut over to NBATV where a graphic was displayed showing that Chauncey Billups is the NBA's sixth all-time leader in three-pointers made. Again, I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know this.
...seeing Anthony Parker and Shelden Williams on the court together is pretty comical. I mean, how many times do you get to play against your brother-in-law in the NBA? And you had to love Williams' tireless effort on the boards tonight.
...Ty Lawson's second quarter hide-and-steal may have been the best steal I've seen in years.
...with the Nuggets up 73-50 opening the third quarter, I thought we were playing the Washington Generals instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
...Carmelo Anthony continues to miss supremely easy chip shots at the rim and wasn't anywhere near 50% shooting for the night, but he must be applauded for being aggressive and getting to the free throw line throughout the game. Melo seemed intent on winning this game and had the effort to back it up. And by getting to the line (something we've begged him to do for years now), it gave him additional offensive confidence that led to better shot making throughout the second half.
...remember that 73-50 lead? The Cavs admirably cut it to six at the nine-minute mark in the fourth quarter and then traded baskets with the Nuggets until the end of the game.
...the referees seemed hellbent on calling as many offensive three-second violations as possible tonight.
...oh where oh where did Al Harrington's shot go?
...if Arron Afflalo keeps up his solid play on both ends, re-signing J.R. Smith will become less and less of a priority for Nuggets management in the off-season.
...did anyone besides me notice that the on-court microphones were especially sensitive throughout the televised broadcast? I haven't heard this many "fucks" since watching a David Mamet play.
Non-Stiff of the Night
-Carmelo Anthony: 18 free throw attempts. That says it all. When Melo gets to the line early and often, he's so punishing on the opposing defense that the Nuggets are tough to beat.
Stiff of the Night
-The Cavaliers: No single Cavalier player had a bad night, but collectively this team is lost. Their matador-style defense is embarrassing, but give them credit for putting forth a gutty second-half effort. Seeing how much fan support they had tonight, I'm rooting for the Cavs to turn things around sooner than later.
It's no great accomplishment to beat the teams you're supposed to beat (especially when one is the NBA's worst team), but I'll take four straight wins (three on the road) any day of the week. I hope the Nuggets get their rest, though, because winning back-to-back at Philadelphia and New Jersey will not be easy whatsoever.