The Nuggets earned their 37th win of the season tonight in Utah 103-101, but it was just their 11th road victory. This game was a rollercoaster ride of emotions as the Nuggets held a small lead throughout much of the first half, lost the lead and found themselves down late in the fourth quarter, but fought back the right way to win it.
It's always fun to claim that games like tonight's are statement games or the biggest wins of the season. This game showed me a lot about the Nuggets. They were on the second of a back-to-back, on the road in a hostile arena, lost the momentum, lost the lead and all hope looked lost.
The Nuggets hung tough and used their defense, rebounding, passing, free throw shooting and finally a beautiful play when Raymond Felton fed Arron Afflalo for a three-pointer to give the Nuggets the lead for good. With the Nuggets up comfortably with just seconds remaining, something crazy almost happened. You'll see what I mean below. But that goofy ending aside, this was a huge win for the Nuggets. Splitting a back-to-back set would have been fine, but going 2-0 (now 5-1 since the big trade) on the set really sets the tone for the month of March. These Nuggets are going to wins games pretty, they are going to lose close games and they are going to fight for wins.
It's great to see how much this team gives and how their effort is rewarded. Read my running dialogue and see a blogger who raves about the team, loses his mind and finally is happy with the win.
-5:41 mark Denver is up 21-17 ... every starter has scored (Nene has 10 points) and every starter has at least one assist (Arron Afflalo 2 assists). The Nuggets have 6 assists on 9 made baskets ... love the early ball movement on the road.
-Chris Webber doing commentary tonight ... I guess he doesn't think people know Andrei Kirilenko's nickname of AK47 ... come on CWebb.
-The Nuggets have lost 7 of 8 in Utah? Come on Nuggets ... get a win here!
-The Nuggets transition defense has been pretty damn good ... it was awful until this new brand of ball has taken off. Good to see the Nuggets getting back on defense.
-Chris Andersen the Birdman is burying some free throws lately ... goes 2-2 at the end of the quarter to preserve a 7-point lead.
End of 1st Quarter: Nuggets up 30-23 and shoot 57% from the field. Man, this game has some intensity to it ... always does in Utah. The Nuggets are playing with great energy and moving the ball well. Denver is making the Jazz primarily a jump shooting team, no more easy buckets. I can live with Denver forcing teams to beat them on the perimeter ... hate seeing the team give up layups.
-I don't get why C.J. Miles is not starting for the Jazz. Maybe he only plays good against Denver, but he always seems to make a difference in these games. He hits his first shot to make it 30-25 ...
-Birdman with some extra effort gets a nice tip in! Love the extra effort by the Nuggets ... up 32-25. Bird with 6 points already ... a dunk, two free throws and a tip in.
-J.R. Smith is the only guy doing a little too much dribbling for Denver since the trade. He can play the one-on-one game, but he needs to keep his team play up. Guy is great passing in the pick-and-roll. Hits both free throws (improving!) to make it 36-27 Denver with 10:13 left in the quarter.
-The Jazz have suited up a fan for the night ... oh wait ... that's rookie Gordon Hayward. Miles now has 8 points in the quarter ... somebody needs to stay on him.
-8:52 mark ... Birdman records a block on former Nuggets teammate Franciso Elson. Elson went for a big time one-handed dunk and the Bird, maybe worried that Timofey Mozgov or Kosta Koufos stealing his minutes, continuing to look like a new player. Koufos, a former Jazz player, probably will be booed heavily if he gets into the game ... the way he forced his way out of Utah was really hard on their fans ... wasn't it? Nuggets up 38-31.
-8:10 mark or so and Al Harrington is in ... yellow headband, yellow mouthpiece, yellow wristbands, yellow knee/shin pads ... he's an accessory glutton! And he gets a nice dunk off a sweet J.R. assist ... 42-33 Denver at the 6:34 mark now.
-5:23 mark ... Jazz on a 7-0 run after a Harrington turnover and a Harrington missed three-pointer. His minutes are dwindling for a reason, accessories and all. 42-40 and Karl finally takes a timeout. Looks like we'll see the Felton and Lawson backcourt after the awful commercials I'm being forced to watch on TNT. Afflalo or Smith will likely be on the floor as well ... Jazz in prime position to make a run with the small ball lineup. We'll see what happens.
-5:23 mark: Felton, Lawson, Afflalo, Harrington and Nene ... need some defense and rebounding. Harrington beat on the offensive glass by Millsap.
-3:50 mark ... Harrington and Afflalo out for Chandler and Kenyon Martin. Starting lineup with Felton in for AAA. Interesting.
End of 2nd Quarter: Nuggets up 58-51 ... keep their 7-point first quarter lead. Quarter is a tie at 28-28. CJ Miles stars for the Jazz in the quater going 6-9 from the field and scores 12 points. Nuggets have 14 assists on 23 made baskets and go 8-8 from the foul line. The Jazz are only 1-3 from the charity stripe. The Nuggets controlled the pace for much of the first half ... squandered a couple opportunities on the fastbreak, but if the Nuggets can keep up their style in the second half, the Jazz could be in trouble.
Nuggets being led by Ty Lawson (14 points) and Nene (10 points). Nuggets leading the rebounding game 17-14 and have held the Jazz to 3 offensive boards. Nuggets are 4-10 from downtown and have 10 fastbreak points.
-Really want to see the Nuggets make a little run to start the second half. I don't want to see the Jazz make a 4-0 or 5-0 run and get their fans excited. I'd love to see the Nuggets make a quick 5-0 run with an old school And-1.
-Lawson and Harris having a little battle out there ... Lawson now with 16 points and up 62-55. Teams trading buckets thus far.
-If Nene got to call his own fouls he'd average 74 free throws a night. Al Jefferson knocks the ball out of his hands and out of bounds ...
-8:11 mark, the offense is a big stagnant to start things off ... not good. Utah trying to gain control of the pace of the game. Lots of whistles, stoppage of play and now foul shots for the Jazz. Denver needs to push the tempo and get the Jazz playing on their heels again. Who will find the energy for Denver on this back-to-back? 64-59 Denver.
-Raja Bell hits a jumper at the 6:23 mark ... it's 66-64 and another Nugget turnover ... Nene with a huge block on Harris ... Nuggets ball. Good time for a timeout ... Karl doesn't call one.
-4:56 mark ... Nuggets play throgh the mini-rally and come up with one of their own and go on a 4-0 run to make it 70-64. The defense created a turnover, Bell missed a jumper, Lawson pushed it to the rim and missed a lay in, but K-Mart following grabs it and dunks it home. Timeout Utah and the crowd isn't happy with the refs for missing what they thought was a travel by AAA. Will Karl come back with the starters or go to his bench here? Felton in for Chandler. Millsap misses a monster jam out of the timeout and K-Mart hits a banker ... 72-64!
-3:26 mark ... Felton trying to guard AK47 and Kirilenko commits an offensive foul ... K-Mart banks in another! 74-66 ... haha.
-1:51 mark ... TV timeout and it's 74-70 Denver. Nuggets can't buy a foul going to the rim (Nene and Lawson both not awarded contact as they focused more on getting contact than getting the bucket) and some sloppy play has the crowd up in arms as they feel the Nuggets are getting away with some travels, carries and such. Big final two minutes ... can Denver maintain their lead or will the Jazz begin to make a real push?
-J.R and Birdman are now in the game for AAA and Nene. J.R. commits a foul right away and puts Miles on the foul line ... dammit! He hits both and it's 74-72 ... Miles worries me and now he's in rhythm.
End of 3rd Quarter: The Jazz finish the quarter on a 10-0 run and go up 76-74. Utah wins the quarter 25-16 as the Nuggets offense goes into some one-on-one play and looked very lost in the final few minutes of the quarter. Karl had Felton, J.R., Chandler, Harrington and Birdman on the floor to end it ... I don't like that lineup at all. The Nuggets are going to be tested big time in the final period. The crowd is awake and ready to pounce on any play the Jazz make. If this were a boxing match, the Nuggets are no longer coming forward and are now the counter-punching team that is heading into a corner ... they better move before they get caught with a big punch.
-J.R. starts the quater with Denver's first free throw attempts of the 2nd half ... goes 1-2. Kyrylo Fesenko is in the game and gets a tip in to give the Jazz a 78-75 lead ... that big bruiser will give Denver's small lineup fits.
-Birdman now missing free throws ... goes 1-2 from the line ... Nuggets can't afford to miss freebies now ... down 78-76. (Denver 2-4 in the quarter from the foul line ... at least they are getting there.) Harrington not rebounding ... get him out of the game.
-Birdman to the foul line once again ... Denver now has 3 out of 4 possessions getting to foul line. Bird misses the first one (shit!) and misses the second as well. Wow ... Denver down now 84-78 after Miles goes to the rim once again. Karl letting this game get away from his team. Nuggets are in serious, serious trouble now. Finally Karl takes a timeout ... he needs a new lineup. Nuggets no longer playing team basketball and can't figure out how to get back to their winning ways of the first half. This game has totally flipped and the Nuggets look like the same road team we've been seeing all season aka not good! Announcer lets us know the Jazz are on an 18-4 run ... holy smokes.
-Karl comes back with the same exact lineup ... unreal. "Hey this isn't working ... let's try it some more!" 8:27 left ... Bird back to the foul line where he's building a house made of bricks ... hits the first and the revese jinx works! And he gets the roll on the second one too. Nice. I'm a basket case.
-The Jazz are using their size with Fesenko and the Nuggets are refusing to play any of theirs. Birdman back to the freaking foul line once again ... what in the world?!? He hits the first ... and he makes the second one too. 86-82 Jazz. Bird is 5-8 from the foul line this quarter.
-J.R. to the foul line as the Jazz are in the penalty already (7:37 left) and he gos 1-2 from the line and it's 86-83. A free throw contest for the Nuggets on the offensive end. Nuggets getting foul shots and the Jazz getting to the rim as Jefferson dunks one. I hate this game.
-Have I mentioned that I really dislike Miles? Why couldn't they package him with Deron Williams in that trade? Miles is killing the Nuggets tonight ... he has 20 points on 8-14 shooting and just drew a wimpy off the ball foul on Nene ... he should not be rewarded for flopping there, he should be ejected and suspended from the next Jazz vs. Nuggets game ... hahaha I'm losing my mind!
-5:32 left and Harrington has been on the floor this whole quarter I think. Why? I am not a fan of Harrington playing big minutes ... especially late in games ... K-Mart in for Harrington! Music to my ears!
-4:46 and Felton HITS a transition three-ball to tie it at 90! Yesssss! Nene with a layup and the foul ... makes the freebie and it's 93-90 Nuggs! I love this game! hahahaaha my mind is gone and K-Mart is going to the foul line for two huge free throws to give Denver some cushion. K-Mart goes 1-2 from the line ... protect the rim Denver!
-3:24 left and Denver up 94-90 ... and I'm out ... be back to recap this ...
End of 4th Quarter: The Nuggets win this one 103-101 and outscore the Jazz in the final quarter 29-25. Big possessions, big rebounds, big foul shots and a big three-from Afflalo. The Nuggets were up 5 points in the closing seconds and Harris buried a three, K-Mart got cute with the inbounds pass and fumbled the ball to AK47 and as Kirilenko was going up to tie the game with a layup, Martin somehow got a hand in and knocked the ball away ... Nuggets win. What in the world?!? Charles Barkley said the other night that the Nuggets had the crazy factor with a guy like Kenyon and whoa it almost cost the Nuggets their big road win.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets have now had 5 different scoring leaders since the new players have been in uniform: K-Mart had 18 points against the Celtics, Danilo Gallinari had 30 points against the Blazers, J.R. had 19 points against the Hawks, Chandler had 16 points against the Bobcats and Lawson had 23 points tonight against the Jazz.
- The Nuggets had 20 assists, 12 offensive rebounds, 12 steals and 14 fastbreak points.
- Five players scored in double-figures tonight for the Nuggets.
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