I am going to break down the highs from each quarter because the Nuggets were just that good!
The first quarter was sparked by Reggie Evans’s great hustle and gianormous boost off the bench. The Nuggets also established that they were going to shoot a high percentage and dominate the boards. I felt that as soon as the ball was put in play that the Nuggets were sending a message to the Clippers that history meant nothing and they were in big trouble tonight. By running the Clip-show into the ground, the Nuggets found themselves up 28-17 at the quarter’s conclusion.
In the second, the Clippers did show signs of life as the Nuggets inserted their reserves, but Denver’s bench held off LA and gave the Nuggets a 52-49 lead going into half. I felt that at this point the Nuggets had taken the Clippers best punch and it was time to deliver a knock-out punch of their own. The strength of the Nuggets was obviously way too much for the Clippers to handle and it was only a matter of time before the dominant team flexed its muscle.
And that muscle Nuggets fans was flexed right off the bat in the second half. Any good basketball coach knows that ball games are won and lost in the first few minutes of the second half and the Nuggets took the opportunity to put the Clippers to sleep early and without much resistance. They launched out of the gates with a quick five points to extend their lead to eight and never even checked the rearview mirror.
The highlight reel was ready to roll and who better to start it off than J.R. Smith? The steal of this past off-season decided that he was going to show his boosties not once, but twice and put a couple of Clipper defenders in compromising positions. The first was off a missed jump shot when J.R. went top shelf and slammed home the offensive rebound, with two hands like his momma told him, on the helpless Clipper rebounding core. The guy simply got up higher than anyone on the court and had to make the Clippers pay. His next facial was on James Singleton out on the fast break. It was almost sad to watch because Singleton really did want to make a play, but Nuggets fans knew he was in for an embarrassing moment. J.R. put on the high-risers again and threw it down on poor James as the Pepsi Center erupted!
The jam put the Nuggets up 69-56 with just over six minutes left, and when Carmelo’s deadly jab step was implemented the Clippers were found on the short end of an 87-70 beating at the end of the third quarter. Typically, I would still be worried that the Nuggets were capable of collapse and this game would be tight down the stretch, but tonight was a different story.
In the fourth quarter, Nuggets fans finally got to see this team close it out and throw out the trash. The highlight reel continued with Andre Miller putting Shaun Livingston in the spin cycle and Carmelo continuing to dominate offensively. Even though they only scored 16 points in the quarter, Denver only gave up 18 and closed it out with a final score of 103-88. Good night folks, the fat lady is really belting one out!
The Denver Nuggets as a team were phenomenal, but there was some stars of tonight’s game. Carmelo continues his tear of 30 point games and finished tonight with 33 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Plain and simply stated; There may not be a hotter player in the league as of right now. J.R. Smith continues to be the answer to all of the Nuggets Nation’s prayers at two guard and had 23 points, two steals, and two assists on 7-15 shooting. Andre Miller also added a double-double with 14 points and ten assists. And last but not least, were the performances of Joe Smith recording his season’s best outing thus far with 15 points to go with Reggie Evans’s 14 rebounds off the bench.
As a team the Nuggets shot 51% from the field and 82% from the free-throw line. They collectively had 27 assists and nine blocks in their winning efforts that look to continue against the struggling Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night. The game is at home and should be a feather in the Nuggets cap before they go north to tangle with the Timberwolves on Friday night. Denver has now won eight of their last nine games and are one of the hottest teams in the league. The Grizzlies better be ready or it’s going to be another major-league blow out victory for the Nuggets. I’m ready, are you?