While the Nuggets players got to enjoy the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday night, their Monday night opponent - the Atlanta Hawks - had to duke it out in Portland with the Blazers. So let's scout the Monday night game Oscar-style with a few awards...
Best Visual Effects: J.R. Smith
Two Smiths were up for this award - J.R. and Josh. And even though Josh is a former Slam Dunk Champion, J.R. landed one of the NBA's best three dunks of the season (against San Antonio on December 16th) in addition to an incredible 360-degree layup against the Spurs just a few days later. Josh remains a high-flyer, but hasn't had a memorable dunk for a while.
Best Foreign Performance: Al Horford
Before we all jump on the Danilo Gallinari bandwagon and anoint Nene as "the man" in Denver, there will actually be a better foreigner playing Monday night at Pepsi Center. That would be Horford, born in the Dominic Republic and the son of Tito Horford, a former NBA player. The younger Horford just played in his second straight All-Star Game and the appearance was well-deserved. An undersized center, Horford is a bruiser in the post and is putting up a career-high 16.1 ppg on an impressive 57% shooting to go along with almost 10 rpg.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jamal Crawford
The NBA's reigning Sixth Man Award winner is having a down season compared to 2009-10, but he remains a lethal threat off the bench. Should the Nuggets continue to bring Wilson Chandler off the bench, he could give Crawford a run for his money for this award, but Chandler still has a ways to go to get used to the Nuggets "system."
Best Costume Design: Denver Nuggets
Neither the Hawks nor the Nuggets currently have a great uniform design (the Nuggets regular unis are okay, but their alternate road jerseys are horrid), but the Hawks have had a series of awful uniforms since joining the NBA. The Dominique Wilkins-era striped uniforms were passable, but everything before and after has been dreadful. Remember the red fade/wraparound Hawk from the late 1990s? And now the Hawks have ditched the red and yellow combination in favor of dark blue/red look that makes no sense.
Best Director: George Karl
Larry Drew has done an admirable job guiding the Hawks to the Eastern Conference's fifth-seed in the wake of former coach Mike Woodson's abrupt off-season firing and most of the top teams in the conference improving last summer while the Hawks stood pat. But while Drew has 36 coaching wins to his name Karl has 1,020. And it's Karl's experience that kept the Nuggets afloat and in a decent playoff position despite the ongoing Melodrama that all but tore the team apart.
Best Producer: Masai Ujiri
The Hawks' executive vice president and general manager Rick Sund - who inherited most of his talent from former GM Billy Knight - has basically kept the Hawks' 50-win nucleus together without making a substantial move to improve the team further. I do, however, like Sund's trade deadline acquisition of Kirk Hinrich for Mike Bibby. Ujiri, on the other hand, was dealt one of the NBA's most difficult situations from a management perspective in the Melodrama and he handled it about as well as anyone could given the circumstances.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Joe Johnson
The Hawks' unassuming Joe Johnson will be the best all around player on the Pepsi Center floor on Monday night, edging out his own teammate Al Horford. Johnson's numbers are down quite a bit from his peak several seasons ago, but so are his minutes as the Hawks try to save him for the playoffs.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dominique Wilkins
The greatest Hawk ever has returned to the organization as the vice president of basketball and a broadcast analyst. Similar to the Nuggets trading their superstar small forward Carmelo Anthony right before the trade deadline last week, in 1994 the Hawks (shamefully) traded Wilkins - who was a pending unrestricted free agent - on the eve of the trade deadline to the Clippers for Danny Manning. There are several key differences between Wilkins and Anthony's departures, however. First, Wilkins was 34 (but was having an amazing season). Second, before trading Wilkins the Hawks were in first place in the Eastern Conference. And third and most importantly, Wilkins never wanted to leave. And as nice as it is to see Wilkins and Hawks make up after all those years, that trade cost the Hawks their best-ever shot at an NBA title (Michael Jordan had retired that season) and they've paid the price karma-wise ever since.
Opposition's Take: Peachtree Hoops