Friday night, I watched the beginning of the Denver Nuggets game and once we were down 17-3, said, "F*** you, Nuggets!"
Somewhere tonight, Brian Shaw was drinking a beer, watching the Nuggets play the Milwaukee Bucks, and once we were up 13-2, I pictured him saying, "F*** you, Nuggets!"
Denver got off to a hot start against the Bucks tonight with Melvin Hunt manning the coaches chair, and had an 11-point lead on Milwaukee early in the first quarter. Not surprisingly, the lead was short-lived against a Bucks team who have been playing pretty decent basketball of late. Denver certainly looked energized by today's changes, and were running the floor more than they have in several games.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee's cold start was the only time they were chilly in the half, and Denver's streaky shooting had a hard time keeping pace. The Nuggets cooled off considerably in the second quarter, but managed to keep pace with the Bucks through effort and stolen turnovers. With some inspired early play by Danilo Gallinari (17 points at the half) and Kenneth Faried (10 points at the half), Denver tied the game back up at 50 with three-and-a-half minutes left in the half.
From there, the Nuggets pressed the Bucks into three more turnovers alongside a couple solid blocks pushed the advantage back to Denver, who went into the break up 55-51. A funny side note, the Nuggets last lead at the half had been against these same Bucks a six games ago. Would the outcome be any different this time around?
The third quarter was a continuation of the story... Denver looked better on the floor through sheer effort, and the first time we've seen effort of this sort in many many games, There were still mistakes, issues, gaps, and foibles. But the team was trying, and trying hard.
To that end, for any stragglers still hoping the team had not given up on Brian Shaw, and were simply playing crappy basketball, consider that case closed. The team looked better than they have in weeks, and that leaves as many questions as answers about the heart and makeup of this squad. You could hear the Nuggets tank commanders screaming bloody murder about an impending Denver win going into the fourth, including the possibility of triple-digit scoring for the first time in seven games.
It was apparent the Nuggets were hungry for a win, and continued the pressure against the Bucks, stretching their lead early in the fourth to 15 points, and with five minutes in the game, Denver was still up by 11. The Bucks started making inroads, but the Nuggets were not going to fold tonight. Ty Lawson's three pointer with 38 seconds left in the game put the Nuggets up by 13, and sealed any doubt about the outcome. Final score, your Denver Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 106-95.
Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points in his best game of this tough season. Gallo was money from all over the floor, and contributed further with seven rebounds and a block.
Ty Lawson was back in business with a double double of 16 points and 10 assists, burying the Bucks with scoring in the second half.
Kenneth Faried found the Manimal this evening with a double double of his own, 14 points and 14 boards to go with a couple of pretty blocks down low.
Wilson Chandler threw in 12 points of his own, and had some solid defensive plays to snuff out several Bucks attempts in both halves.
Jameer Nelson had a nifty array of high arcs of the board, and added a floater to nearly have double-digit scoring himself... he and Randy Foye both had nine points on the evening, and had Foye found one more, all five Nuggets starters would have been in double digits on the night.
No one. Maybe Brian Shaw, who I hope stopped after the third beer.
The Denver Nuggets halt their 10-game home losing streak, and manage to avoid tying their record for the same. A bittersweet night in many ways, but a nice win for a team badly in need of a pick-me-up. Are you angry the tank took a detour, Nuggets Nation? Or just relieved to not watch one more abomination? Tell it like it is!