The Denver Nuggets only allowed the Memphis Grizzlies 17 first quarter points and followed that defensive effort up by only allowing 23 in the second. They were comfortably in the lead going into half 57-40. Pau Gasol was frustrated all night long by Francisco Elson, Marcus Camby, and believe it or not, Rueben Patterson. Gasol would finish the game with only ten points and one rebound.
The reserves would extend the lead to nearly thirty points by the end of the third quarter and with the starters resting to start the fourth Memphis was led back to within fifteen with five minutes left in the game. One time Nugget Bobby Jackson and rookie high-flyer Hakim Warrick sparked the Grizzlies, but it was too little too late. Jackson would end the game with a team high 22 points while Hakim contributed 14 points in 18 minutes. These numbers may have indicated a defensive breakdown but with the game so far out of reach, and the starters waiting to finish it out, there was no need to panic. It was good for the starting five to sit and let the bench players log some minutes with the looming seven game eastern road trip starting later this week against Philadelphia.
Denver is starting to cash in on a consistent rhythm of playable personnel. Rueben Patterson is filling the void nicely at shooting guard, and is not taking away from Carmelo’s flow to the game. Having Reggie Evans coming off the bench and providing consistent rebounding and an interior presence is also catapulting the Nuggets. Adding Earl Boykins and Greg Buckner is just sprinkles on an already sweet situation. It is scary for would be opponents to think about the possibilities this team is capable of with a healthy Kenyon Martin in the starting line up soon
The momentum right now is heavily in the Nuggets favor. This is the first time all season long that they are five games above .500, and three of the next four road games are against teams with losing records. This road trip is going to be the defining chapter to the regular season for the Nuggets. If they can win five of the next seven games on this eastern odyssey they can look forward to being eight games above .500, and have a comfortable lead in the Northwest Division with only 14 games left in the regular season. Of these 14 games, eight are at home in Denver.
The regular season workload is laid out in front of you Denver. The path is clear. The objective is stated. Finish out this regular season strong, build on this budding chemistry, and get ready for the playoffs. The city of Denver is ready and waiting. Please Nuggets, don’t let us down.