The Nuggets dominated tonight’s game for three out of four quarters. The first six minutes saw the Nuggets out to a big league to start the first. San Antonio was diligent however and only trailed by four going into the second. Next step for the Nuggets was to turn it up a notch on offense. In the second, the Nuggets posted 31 points and were rolling into halftime with a fourteen-point lead.
Unfortunately the Nuggets showed a side of themselves that is better off not surfacing. The stagnate; stand and watch Nuggets, showed up to the third quarter and the Spurs began to dictate the tempo and style of the game. On defense the Nuggets were soft on the interior in the half court set and were giving Tim Duncan and Tony Parker way too easy of looks at the basket. On offense, Carmelo Anthony sat for the final five minutes to save some gas in the tank for crunch time and left the Nuggets discombobulated. The slow and grinding pace that the Spurs were executing was taking away from the Nuggets fast break opportunities. Consequentially, the Nuggets went through a lapse where nobody was slashing to the basket and they tried to rely on outside jump shots. This only materialized 17 points on one end and gave up 3O on the other. Going into the fourth the Nuggets were now only up by one.
This is where the Nuggets showed me that they are a maturing ball club. Having to regroup with the defending champs breathing down your neck is no easy chore and it took the defensive foundation of Marcus Camby and the offensive growth of Carmelo Anthony. Camby hammered the defensive glass limiting the Spurs to one-shot possessions and ended the game with 21 rebounds, two blocks, and nine points. Carmelo Anthony took this team on his back down the final eight-minute stretch. ‘Melo finished the game with 32 points and three assists. No Spur was able to defend Anthony with any consistent effectiveness. Anthony was exploiting Bruce Bowen with his jump shot and just about everyone else the Spurs ran at him got beat to the cup off the dribble. The Nuggets executed George Karl’s game plan and the result was a 32-21 forth quarter and a sealed win to split the regular season 2-2 with the Spurs.
Part of being a maturing ball club is taking each game one at a time. The Nuggets are riding a high right now, but need to keep a clear focus on the big picture. There are thirteen more regular season games. Closing the show and locking up the third seed is only going to happen by taking care of business. The Nuggets host the Supersonics next and they lost to Denver at home the last time these two teams met. They will be looking for payback when they visit Pepsi Center on Friday night.