Nuggets do something they have rarely done this season, take control in the third quarter and blow out a team. This time it was your Denver Nuggets taking the Houston Rockets to the woodshed.
Nuggets win 101-86
A funny thing happened after halftime.
After pretty much lethargically going through the motions in the first half (trailing 49-43) the Nuggets turned on the afterburners in the third quarter ... outscoring the Rockets 37 -19. That's right, the Nuggets dominated a team coming out of the locker room! Hard to believe isn't it? Seriously. Listen to the radio highlights here.
See. I KNOW right? Anyway, this was an all around win in a VERY big game for the Nuggets. This was the definition of a team victory. With all but one of the starters getting double figures (Kosta Koufos who finished with 9 points). Everyone seemed to contribute in their own way, except Wilson Chandler ... more on him later. This was one of those games that had a "prove it" element to it.
The Rockets, after the first half seemed completely discombobulated. Out of sorts for what seemed to be the duration of the game. No flow to their offense (aided by good Nuggets defense) at all. In fact, it looked like when the refs stopped calling charging fouls in the third that the Rockets had no legitimate way to compensate. They build their offense by drawing as many fouls as possible and exploiting the weakness (like they did in the first half when Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried got two early fouls). When that went away it seemed like the Rockets flow was completely disorganized.
The Nuggets hit with some high points. Corey Brewer, Denver Stiffs punching bag, redeemed himself a bit by playing both good defense AND contributing on offense. Brewer limited his outside shots and concentrated on offensive shots he could actually hit. He finished with 14 points and 2 steals. That is the kind of game Brewer can play, and if he continues in that vein then he and I have no beef. Way to go C-Brew!
Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson both had 20 points. Nothing stands out about either other than the amount. AAA had himself a good second half with 18 of his 20. Ty was up and down, but when he was aggressive the Nuggets seemed to be operating on all cylinders. Particularly on offense. Both guards were solid all the way through and really sent things in to overdrive in the third quarter.
Danilo Gallinari had an up and down game. Looks like he regained some of his aggressiveness in the second quarter when he scored seven straight points for the Nuggets. He dropped off a bit at the end of the second but finished with 10 points 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Andre Miller had 11 assists for the Nuggets, and JaVale McGee continued his solid play with 7 points and 6 rebounds. Kenneth Faried had himself a solid game with 10 points and 11 rebounds. He and Gallo tried repeatedly to work the pick and roll in the first half but were thwarted by the dreaded "flop/charge" calls and it pretty much negated any P&R action the rest of the game.
Wilson Chandler briefly appeared in the second quarter of the game and looked either more injured than we thought or extremely rusty. Just as a point of order, if Chandler is THAT injured he shouldn't be playing. If it's rust, then the Nuggets did well to limit his minutes going forward. I'm inclined to believe that the Nuggets need Chandler for the playoffs in case Brewer returns to "bad Brewer". That back-up swing forward for the Nuggets is an important position. If Chandler can't go then the Nuggets will have to rely on Brewer to be more consistent.
Great win for the team. I can't stress to you how important it was to get the first game of this back to back. Right now, this is a playoff simulation, and the Nuggets just took game one. They will undo much of their good if they lose tomorrow. It is imperative that the Nuggets take these good vibes and translate them to tomorrows big road game against these same Rockets. Another big development was Marcus Camby leaving the game early. Not sure the state of his condition, but if he can't go tomorrow that will be big.
If I'm going to nit-pick just a little, it probably wasn't necessary to put Ty, Gallo and Faried in with five minutes left in the game. It was a 20 point blow out at that juncture and the back ups were rolling. In the game before, it was tight and the Nuggets needed more offense. Tonight's game the Nuggets were up big ... no need to risk injury. It looked like Gallo tweaked his thumb a bit going for a steal, no need to risk that sort of thing that late in the game.
That's a minor issue. Great Nuggets win. Let's get one tomorrow!