Carmelo Anthony wasn’t spectacular shooting the ball tonight, a mere 6-17, but found his way to the free throw line and made good on 12 of 18 from the charity stripe. The majority of his made jumpers came from the right side of the floor and were off quick moves before the double team arrived. ‘Melo was also brilliant in other areas besides scoring. He had arguably his most complete playoff game of his young career, despite not shooting a high percentage, by recording seven rebounds and four assists. The Nuggets other biggest assets on offense were Earl Boykins and Andre Miller. Earl came off the bench and contributed 27 solid minutes with only one turnover, pitched in 13 points, and five assists. Miller was also efficient. The Nuggets point guard scored 14 points, snared three rebounds, and passed out seven assists while only coughing it up twice. The Nuggets finally got out and ran the floor, even though they didn’t quite hit the century mark, and the pace of this game was favorable.
All of these are good things for Nuggets fans, but there was one performance that I felt really pushed the Nuggets over the hump. That performance was from Rueben Patterson. Rueben didn’t light up the box score in points or play spectacular defense, but what Rueben did do was find three offensive rebounds in critical points in the game where the Nuggets were looking like they were slipping into a funk. These three offensive rebounds may not seem like much, but they were at crucial junctures in this game and made a monumental difference.
The Nuggets were also wise to continually attack the bucket, which put both Elton Brand and Chris “The Neanderthal” Kaman in serious foul trouble. Brand would foul out of the game late in the fourth quarter, and Kaman would finish the game with two points and five fouls. The figurative schmorgisborg of second chance points that these two fed on in game one and two was just not there tonight. Largely in part to Marcus Camby recording 13 rebounds and scoring twelve points in a solid double-double performance that included drawing a critical charge in the wee minutes of the game.
The order is still tall for the Nuggets. I still believe that their only chance to win this series still wavers on a game four victory. If they can knot this series at deuces, it is literally up for grabs. The Mile High City is going to be rockin’ on Saturday night and the Nuggets need to restore faith in the Denver faithful. Tonight’s effort and resolve was a good start. The Nuggets need to trim back to rough edges, execute more efficiently, shoot a better percentage from the free throw line, and keep attacking the basket to win game four. A lot to ask, I know, but you could be right back in this one Nuggies! Take care of business and square this series up a two a piece!