It was only fitting that the first two points were scored by Anthony on an alley-oop lob from Marcus Camby. Pepsi Center went bananas and it was just first chance of many for the Nuggets Nation to do so. Denver jumped out to a twenty point lead in the first quarter with the score 38-18. The second period was not that sweet, but nevertheless the Nuggets were still in the lead 59-47 at the break.
Carmelo showed us a couple of glimpses of his pre-suspension self in the first half. Once especially when he took the ball off the right wing, broke Pau Gasol with the cross over, hop-stepped and proceeded to throw it down with two hands. He would finish the half with 15 points, many of which came from the free-throw line. The man was back and it all seemed so familiar. I was cooing with pleasure!
It was also the same old same old from Marcus Camby from opening tip through final substitution. The Nuggets big man finishes the night with a double-dip of 17 big ones in scoring and rebounding. He added in three assists and just as many blocks while also stealing two balls. The “Chairman of the Boards” played at an All-Star level tonight and made defending the basket a lot easier for everyone else.
Four other Nuggets had big games too in fanning the jet fuel fire that is the Denver Nuggets offense. Allen Iverson scored 23 while dishing seven assists, J.R. Smith grabbed five boards to fit nicely with his 19 points, Steve Blake handed out a season-high 12 dimes to accompany his five points, and Nene continues to improve, so ever slowly but so ever surely, and chipped in another eleven points and five boards.
But tonight was all about Carmelo Anthony. His return. His rise to fan favorite in Denver. His seemingly easy ‘Melo-ness. It was almost as if he never left. Certainly the chemistry was there between Iverson and Anthony and no play leaves me anticipating more AI to ‘Melo magic than the super-sized alley-oop that the two hooked up on to give the fans one last treat. Iverson was streaking down the left side of the court and threw an underhand lob that was seemingly too hot and too high for anyone to catch, but as if it was scripted, ‘Melo came unpeeled to grab the pass and dunked it home! Carmelo finished tonight’s game with 28 points, six assists, and five rebounds. His jumper was a little bit out of rhythm, which was to be expected, but he is too versatile a scorer to let that ruin his night. He built his confidence by finishing 8-8 from the free-throw line and one last backdoor oop from Iverson before leaving the game with four minutes and change to a standing ovation.
And so did the rest of the starters, one-by-one, as the Grizzlies were beaten handedly. The Nuggets are the winners of four straight and will be playing a road game against the Seattle Supersonics tomorrow night. Sleep tight, Nuggets fans. It should be nothing but sweet dreams tonight! Seattle gets a taste tomorrow…