The two-headed monster known as Tymond Felson aka Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton combined for 45 points and 22 assists in the Nuggets' 114-103 win over the New Orleans Hornets. Don't let the final score fool you ... this one wasn't as close as the scoreboard indicates.
For as much as I disliked the two-point guard lineup of Chauncey Billups and Ty Lawson, I am loving the combination of Lawson and Felton on the floor at the same time. When Billups and Lawson tried to play together there was such a contrasting style on the floor. Lawson trying to speed the game up and Billups trying to slow things down.
Now with the North Carolina duo out there, both guys are pushing the pace and moving the team in the right direction. The go-go Nuggets have been imposing their will on their opponents and doing something that NBA teams rarely do ... push the game to another level for all four quarters.
When you are trying to push the pace and get your team to play at a high-octane level, you are going to sacrifice some possessions. The Nuggets had 10 turnovers in the first quarter and 21 turnovers overall against NOLA. They also had 29 assists on 40 made buckets.
Felton led the way in the assist department with 12 assists and Lawson added 10 assists of his own. Since the trade, Lawson has notched 10+ assists in 5 of the 10 contests, including three straight double-doubles of the points/assists variety.
Felton finished the night shooting 7-12 from the field, including a career-high 6-9 from three-point land for 22 points in 42 minutes. George Karl started Gary Forbes in place of Arron Afflalo, but turned to Felton to start the second half. Forbes was given the awkward start and is another player that Karl will play one night, another night he'll receive a start (due to injury) and then record the dreaded Did Not Play - Coach's Decision some nights. I don't know how he can be expected to show any consistency when his role with the team is so inconsistent. It's sort of like Karl sacrifices Forbes' confidence in favor of his rotations ... weird to me.
Lawson played 36 minutes and was 8-13 from the field (2-4 from three-point land) and 5-6 from the foul line for 23 points. There is some talk about a point-guard controversy and blah blah blah, but these two guys really appear to enjoy playing together and really tore the Hornets apart tonight. When Lawson buried a three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer it was Felton who was the first guy over to celebrate with a flying body bump. And later in the second half, when Lawson fed Felton for a three-pointer the smile on Ray's face showed me all I need to know. This Nuggets team is enjoying this wild ride.
Once again Denver was without Danilo Gallinari and Arron Afflalo, but the cast that was in uniform was more than enough to handle the fully healthy Bugs. Wilson Chandler played the first half with a jersey that read, "Chanlder" and it might have effected his game. In the third quarter, with the correct jersey on, he dumped in 14 points and was the team's leading scorer through three-quarters (21 points and 7 rebounds). He did not play in the final quarter and I was a little stumped as to why he wasn't on the floor, but J.R. Smith did provide some firepower (18 points) as NOLA tried to make of game of it late and outscored the Nuggets 28-20 in the fourth.
The supporting cast, Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen and Nene, all provided the little things tonight. Martin recorded 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. K-Mart held David West to a meaningless 6 points on 2-9 shooting and just owns the Bugs' power forward. Birdman has developed a nice pick-and-roll game with Felton and had two sequences where he finished plays off with a nice dunk and another dunk off an alley-oop from Felton. Andersen looks more like that player from the 2008-09 season and his energy and offensive output have been an added bonus. Nene was sort of the forgotten man tonight. As Nene will do from time-to-time he wasn't very aggressive offensively and finished just 4-7 from the field for 9 points, but added 13 rebounds.
Things started off slow for Denver as they opened the game 1-6 from the field, were down 11-2 and refusing to attack the rim. Denver finished the first quarter on a 21-11 run and never looked back after gaining the lead. At the half Denver was up 58-45, they pushed their lead in the third up to 19 points at 80-61 and hung on in the fourth quarter with some timely buckets and a nice cushy lead.
Views you can use:
-The Nuggets finished 17-29 from downtown ... good for 58.6% and 51 points.
-Each team recorded 10 offensive rebounds ... the Nuggets won the overall rebounding battle 43-31.
-I love monitoring how the Nuggets close out quarters. Check out these numbers from the final three minutes of each quarter:
- 1st Quarter at 2:45 mark: 8-6 Nuggets run
- 2nd Quarter at 2:30 mark: 10-5 Nuggets run
- 3rd Quarter at 3:00 mark: 12-9 Nuggets run
- 4th Quarter at 3:05 mark: 10-7 Hornets run
- Overall: Nuggets closed out quarters on a 37-30 run.
-If Andrew were writing tonight's recap his Stiff of the Night award would go to Al Harrington. He played just 12 minutes and was 0-5 from the field (0-2 from downtown), 2 rebounds, 4 turnovers and scored 0 points. Gallo can't get back fast enough.
-With tonight's win the Nuggets moved three games ahead of the Hornets in the loss column. NOLA now has 30 losses to Denver's 27.
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