Sometimes in sports, things actually work out the way they’re supposed to (pay attention, Denver Broncos). The Denver Nuggets had every factor going in their favor headed into tonight’s matchup with the Orlando Magic. More rested, more cohesion, deeper bench, and currently just more skilled, to be frank. Not that that’s always been a recipe for a win this season, but tonight very little went wrong for the Nuggets, as they beat the Magic by 26 points (the game actually wasn’t even that close. The Nuggets flirted with 40 point leads once or twice in the fourth quarter.). Shots were falling, defense was solid, and Denver had seven players in double figures, led by 18 each from Randy Foye and Evan Fournier. Let’s also add a little love for Quincy Miller tonight, who posted his first pro double-double in his second career start, with 16 points and 11 boards. Q had a sweet dunk to wrap up the game, and had he hit even half his 3-point attempts (0-6 from the field), he’d have been on SportsCenter tonight.
The Nuggets came out of the gates in the first quarter with energy, but were making a lot of little errors at the start, giving the Magic a chance to stay close. Orlando did their best to stay in it… for the first five minutes. Both teams looked gassed early, and Brian Shaw started inserting bench players into the game. Orlando had no answer for fresh legs, and shortly before the end of the first quarter the Nuggets were up by 15 points. They took their foot off the gas for a minute or two, and Orlando closed the lead to nine to wrap the quarter.
Fortunately, these Nuggets "lapses" keep getting shorter and shorter during games, and Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson had quick treys to start the quarter and stretch the lead back out to 15. From there, the game seemed a bit of an inevitablility. Halfway through the second quarter, the Nuggets had stretched the lead to 21, had it at 22 by halftime, 26 by the end of the third quarter, and were really pouring it on in the fourth before garbage time kicked in, and Orlando made the gap a little less embarrassing.
Orlando looked lost, tired, and undermanned (Arron Afflalo was out for the Magic with a foot strain), and could not match the depth of the Nuggets. This loss makes seven in a row for the Magic, and you can see their guys are feeling the same strain the Nuggets recently went through in their collapse. As to Nuggets injuries, the only hopeful for tonight’s game that didn’t play was Wilson Chandler, who missed his second game with a groin pull. Joining him in groin hell tonight is Darrell Arthur, who left in the second half with a groin strain. Darth was solid tonight, even with no points, posting a +19 in 11 minutes with a lot of good screens, deft passing, and solid defense (the other bigs were struggling with Glen Davis tonight. Big Baby put up 20 on the Nugs.) Let’s hope Darth and Chandler are back soon, as that’s a strain on the Nuggets frontcourt.
With tonight’s win, the Nuggets now stretch their streak to five as they end this homestand with another blowout, and travel to Utah Monday night. Their recent shift in playing time and offensive style has lit a fire under the squad, and even the players not seeing the floor look more at ease. Of course, winning soothes every ill, and the recent hot streak by Denver makes every move we make look like a stroke of brilliance right now.
So many ways to cover this, as every Denver starter found the double-digit scoring column tonight, with Fournier and Timofey Mozgov joining in off the bench. Mozzie kept up his solid-to-stellar play of late, narrowly missing another double-double by a single rebound. He also kept going for dunk after dunk in the face of some pushing and shoving from the Magic, and finally had a great throwdown in the second half. Courageous effort by Moz. Ty Lawson had 16 points and eight assists to go with only two turnovers, and Foye matched his 18 points with some impressive interior passing and good defense. Kenneth Faried also barely missed a double-double with 17 points and 9 boards. Very little went wrong for our boys tonight.
Well… aside from Orlando… me, I guess, for even remotely doubting the Nuggets would salt this one away in my pre-game review. I can’t even complain about J.J. Hickson tonight, although I wish he’d stop taking anything that could be described as a "jumper".
So, what do you think, Nuggets Nation? Are we climbing the ladder, or are we just putting away teams we ought to? Fun fun win for your Denver Nuggets.