With Carmelo Anthony playing only three minutes and scoring 2-points, it was up to others to step up their game. Up came J.R. Smith and Chauncey Billups and the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 138-133.

I was at the game tonight, and right from the opening tip you could see that Melo was laboring. He looked green (like nauseous) and lethargic. He's clearly still not feeling well, and I'm telling you first hand, he was definitely sick. I had to have Nate check for me and it confirmed my suspicions. So hopefully that kills any talk of conspiracy theories in this thread. With Melo going down early it was up to a several players to step up their game and I would like to highlight two specifically.

The first, Billups. I can honestly say this was Chauncey's best game of the season. Gone was the "chucking" I spoke about. Gone was the inability to gauge the flow of the offense. Right from the opening tip CB drove the lane, distributed the ball, and ended up with 25 points and 8 assists. Not bad at all old man. What was great is he only ended up with 34 minutes which was very good. He rested well in the middle of the game and came up big at the end with free throws and a pretty drive to the basket.

Second, J.R. Smith. He played his best game of the season as well. Despite a rather bizarre foul at the end of the game, J.R. played under control and really let the game come to him. It was nice to see J.R. get a lot of run in this game, and it shows that if he had played in the previous game against Phoenix the Nuggets most likely would have won the game. Timely threes. Great slashing moves to the basket. Most impressively for me was some very crisp passing to a wide open Arron Afflalo on the side for great threes. Game MVP goes to Smith from me, Jeff Morton, (award is worth absolutely nothing, but I may buy you some coffee down the line).

Other Nuggets very solid contributors were Arron Afflalo, Gary Forbes and Ty Lawson all with 15 points. And Shelden Williams making a very solid contribution 14 points and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes of duty.

Outside of that we had Steve Nash, despite his best efforts, looking a bit old during this game. This was the first time I’ve ever seen Nash look like he’s lost a step, and he had some great difficulty keeping up with Ty Lawson. Jason Richardson played well, very well. Finished with 39 points and benefited from a rather lax Nuggets defensive scheme that left him frequently wide open. Definitely poor execution by the Nuggets defense.

Random Observations

Chris Andersen look like he’s struggling to re-acclimate himself into the lineup. Frequently huffing and puffing up the court. I’m sure further work will improve his stamina. Also, Bird tends to get boxed out really easily and I hope that he does something to address that because it’s been a problem for years.

J.R. has definitely been working out and is substantially bigger in person than the last game I saw live.

Chauncey looked comfortable and frequently smiled at the crowd. Yet the crowd took a bit to get into the game. Particularly coming off such an exciting win against Chicago. I chalk it up to the Broncos being a vortex of doom. Great crowd considering the Broncos game wrapped up just before tip-off.

My dad kept pointing out that Hedo Turkoglu was a bit lost in the Phoenix offense. I have to agree. While he was ok tonight he seems like a square peg in a round hole.

Nuggets of Wisdom

Despite the Phoenix comeback, this was another one of those games where you never got the feeling the Nuggets were going to lose. As I said in the preview 10-6 looks better than 9-6…as I'm sure that 11-6 will look better than 10-6. It's all about scoreboard and the Nuggets are finally putting a nice streak together. Four wins in a row feels pretty good, regardless of how the Nuggets win. As I said, I would have preferred the Nuggets step on the Suns throat and just blow them out. I'm convinced with Melo in the lineup and a rejuvenated J.R. the Nuggets would have done just that.

One game at a time. If the Nuggets keep winning we will be looking pretty good by Dec. 15.