Offensively, the Nuggets were led by ‘Melo who managed to score 17 points, dish six assists, and grab two rebounds in a limited 25 minutes of action. The good news for Nuggets fans is Anthony didn’t look as if he has skipped a beat after leading Team USA Basketball to the gold medal in the FIBA Americas Games. Especially considering recent mention in the local papers that he was, “a little tired”, from the continuous basketball he’s been playing. Overall, ‘Melo continues to abuse defenders at will , both inside and out, and just watching him for a few minutes gave me goose bumps.
Now, speaking of not skipping a beat, or a rebound for that matter, I have to go off the handle for a second about the performance Marcus Camby put on. Camby grabbed 23 humungous boards in 24 minutes, swatted three shots, dimed four assists, and pitched in 13 points. For the last two seasons Marcus Camby has been the defensive backbone of the Denver Nuggets, and if George Karl wants to improve defensively, it shouldn’t be too long before the rest of the Nuggets become inspired by nights like this by the Cambyman. Marcus was crazy good tonight and while his box score is impressive in its own right, his impact on this game went so much deeper. The man flat out owns the area around the goal and I would even go as far as to say the Clippers, at times, looked intimidated when driving the lane knowing that Camby was lurking somewhere on the week side. And if tonight was any kind of a teaser for the season to come for Camby… Let’s just say defending his Defensive Player of the Year title should be no problem.
Other offensive bright spots for the Nuggets were Von Wafer, J.R. Smith, and Linas Kleiza. The big three off the bench all played well in one capacity or another, but I do not feel that any of them had that great of a showing for differing reasons. Von Wafer matched the 17-point team-high set by ‘Melo and grabbed six boards, but fouled a lot on defense and gave up numerous drives to the cup. J.R. Smith started the game and managed to finish with 15 points, but did so on a dreadful 5-14 shooting night which included a 0-7 showing from long range. Linas Kleiza, who probably played the most well rounded game, finished with 12 points on 5-10 from the field while nabbing three rebounds. Linas didn’t really get a chance to do much attacking of the rim and I feel that for him to establish an early confidence that can carry over the entire length of the season. He has to get things going to the basket so defenders have to respect his drive; thus opening up his outside shooting.
Oh, and I almost forgot… Allen Iverson also plays for this team!
The Answer finished tonight’s game with eleven points, seven assists, and a rebound. AI looked very assertive driving the ball into the Clipper defense, willing to dish to the open man, and still capable of finishing at the rim. The Nuggets will benefit tremendously, (not to mention the kind of flexibility Denver will have substituting for different line-ups), if Allen Iverson is concentrating on getting others involved as a point guard instead of a score-first shooting guard. And it is no secret that Denver is light at the point, but if they would be as fortunate as to have a guy like Allen Iverson transform his game into one that serves the situation around him. I truly believe that there are great things in store for the Nuggets Nation this year.
Up next for the Mile High crew is the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night. I slacked off big time today and didn’t post a game preview article, but swear to you that there will be one for Friday’s game.