This was one of those wins that you could see coming by the end of the first quarter. The Nuggets kept toying with blowing the T-Wolves out for about five minutes before expanding the lead to double digits in the second quarter. The Nuggets shared the ball very well, dishing out 30 assists on 43 field goals and finished with 54.4% shooting. They out rebounded the T-Wolves (albeit by one 46-45) and seemed to never be in serious trouble for the rest of the game. Good performance on the road for the team and they "improve" their road record to 9-15 ... yay!
-Kenyon Martin's affect on the Nuggets psychologically cannot be understated. This team is 100 times more confident with him in the lineup. The team seems to listen to Kenyon and feed off of his energy. Even when Kenyon is playing like garbage, the Nuggets with him in the lineup have a presence about that cannot be replaced. Carmelo Anthony in particular seems to have more hop in his step with Kmart out there. Good to see.
-I think I've figured out why Kevin Love gets so many rebounds (he finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds). He seems to be the only one on the T-Wolves who actually has a nose for the ball. Particularly with Darko Milicic in the lineup. Darko is rather weak in the post, and seems to make little or no effort on the boards. Not to discount Love's talents which are quite real. It's just he doesn't have much to compete with in the starting front court. I think if you pair Love with an effective center his rebound numbers would decrease, but his effectiveness would increase.
-No one on the Nuggets runs the pick and roll like J.R. Smith. Which makes me wonder why George Karl never seems to put J.R. in the position to run it consistently. He and Nene have a great chemistry on the pick and roll. Additionally Arron Afflalo seems to feed off of J.R. and the two have a good chemistry as well. I was surprised to see J.R. suffer no repercussions besides the fine (for a flagrant 2 foul on Raja Bell the night before). I was figuring Karl would suspend him. I was pleasantly surprised that he didn't.
-Both Melo and Chauncey Billups had effective games. CB1 had a nice all around game with 21 points and 13 assists. Yes, that's right, 13 assists. Nice night. Melo had very efficient game with 25 points on 9-13 shooting and played within himself quite a bit. Both of the "stars" played a great role in this game and each hit key shots in both the first and second halves.
-I like where Nene is at with his game right now, but he was clearly laboring and struggling in the second half. He looked very tired and I felt glad the Nuggets were playing a weaker opponent so they couldn't take advantage. Also, Chris Andersen seemed to re-injured his knee during the game. This was disappointing because he was actually showing glimpses of 2009 Bird. Maybe it's time he sits until the knee is well?
Nuggets of Wisdom
I'm sticking with my assertion that the hard foul by J.R. Smith changed this Nuggets team. So far they are 1-0 and they proved it by sharing the ball tonight and playing with a crispness they have rarely shown so far this year. I look forward to the next game against the Houston Rockets to see how the Nuggets perform against elevated competition (well....elevated over the T-Wolves). I know people don't think that they can embrace this team because of the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony, but I have to say that since the trade rumors have died down the team has come together. The Nuggets have won 4 of their last 6 games on the road and seem to slowly be showing glimpses of the good team we saw the last two season.
My hope is it comes back with a vengeance.