Carmelo Anthony, Rueben Patterson, and Andre Miller anchored the Denver Nuggets in the win. Anthony clocked in at 24 points and four assists. Rueben Patterson chimed in with 21 points, eight assists, and five rebounds (three on the offensive end). This was Rueben’s best showing as a Nugget thus far. And quite possibly the most important component to the Nuggets was Andre Miller showing up in a big way. Bouncing back from what was his lowest assist total of the season against the Rockets, Miller dished the rock seven times for direct scores, and never turned it over. He also added five rebounds, a steal, and seven points.
We all knew that the starters were going to be fired up after a regrettable effort against the Rockets on Friday night. What we didn’t know was how the bench was going to react when called upon for the Magic. In one word, the bench was ‘Tremendous.’ Earl Boykins, Reggie Evans, and Greg Buckner arose from the bottom of the milking pail and showed they were the cream that George Karl can rely on. That makes the Nuggets eight deep, nine if you factor in that Kenyon didn’t suit up because of his sore knee. All this in reaction to the loss on Friday, or possibly the Nuggets are reading the Nugg Doctor…
In any event the results from the reserves were phenomenal. Earl broke free from a shooting slump almost a week old and scored 21 points while pushing the ball up the court and getting the Nuggets in a fast break style game. Reggie Evans is quickly becoming the brightest spot in last week’s trade by consistently crashing the boards on both ends, no disrespect Rueben, and continuing to score more points efficiently. He finished with a double double, 12 points and ten rebounds.
After taking an overview of this game it was apparent that two things are going to be the pivotal points in the Nugget's season. First, and most importantly, is tempo. When the Nuggets get out in the open floor, move the ball, and attack the basket they are magnificent to watch. All of the Nuggets are adept at making the extra pass and it really gets everyone involved. This involvement transfers over to the team defensive strategy and intensity. Second, the play of the reserves is critical in every game. Without guys like Earl, Reggie, Buckner, and even Eduardo Najera answering the call during the second and the beginning of the fourth quarters. The Nugget starters just don’t have enough juice in the tank to get it done. This makes the bench just as important as the starting five. They may not put up all the numbers and make all the highlight reels, but they are the yin to the starter’s yang. Let us hope that George Karl realizes this and gives these guys consistent minutes in the forthcoming games and develops regiment that the Nuggets can start to rely on.
The Nuggets have one more game at Pepsi Center against the Memphis Grizzlies before embarking on a seven game road trip to the east coast. It will be important to put another win in their back pocket before this eastern odyssey.