The Nuggets gave an all-around tremendous effort in the first half with a lot of mentionable notes. For starters, all eight Nuggets that played, scored. AI led the Nuggets in scoring with twelve points, Anthony Carter led all Nuggets in assists with six, Marcus Camby was dominating the boards like a supped up machine with 15 rebounds, and everyone deserves kudos for a stingy defensive effort. Denver held the Hawks to a mere 27% from the field and allowed only 42 points while scoring 52 points on 44% from the field.
The only thing that bothered me about the first 24 minutes was Marcus Camby playing a little bit too much point guard, but when a guy grabs 15 boards in a half I guess he’s allowed a few coast-to-cost drives, right? Especially when he not once, but twice, bailed the Nuggets out by stopping consecutive fast break opportunities for Atlanta. The first came by way of Camby luring Josh Childress into a travel that was in all actuality a charge, and with the second by way of jarring the ball loose, and off of, Josh Smith and out of bounds.
Plus, Anthony Carter (in disbelief, mind you, for a foul being called on Marcus Camby after he demolished a last-second shot attempt by Marvin Williams) heaved a shot from about three-quarters court and hit nothing by the bottom of the cotton! It didn’t count for anything, but I think the official didn’t hit him with a technical foul purely based upon the degree of difficulty of the protest.
In the second half, the Nuggets managed to barely stave off the Hawks. The game got especially tight with only to go two minutes remaining and the score, 100-96, but the Nuggets displayed a nice sense of composure to close out the win. Anthony Carter showed he is capable of hitting clutch shots, Kenyon Martin tapped out a critical rebound with under a minute to play, and Marcus Camby iced it all with his 21st rebound of the night.
All Nugget starters except Anthony Carter, who had a team-high nine assists, scored in double-figures. Allen Iverson scored a team-high 29 points, Kenyon Martin recorded his second straight double-double (third overall this season) with 20 points and ten rebounds, LK scored 23 points and has scored more than 20+ in three of the last four games, and Marcus Camby swatted four shots, scored 13 points, and ripped the aforementioned 21 rebounds. In addition, tonight’s effort by the “Chairman of the Boards” now marks the ninth time Camby has grabbed 20 or more rebounds so far this year.
Highlights included Josh Smith recording his first career triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds, and ten assists and Linas Kleiza absolutely facializing Smith with two hands like his mother always told him to. Kenyon Martin, maybe in his best overall game so far this season, climbed high on the ladder to slam home a missed lay-up by Allen Iverson and there was also a rare "Bubba Chuck" dunk off a sly steal in the backcourt. But what is most important about this game is it puts the Nuggets back in first place in the Northwest Divisional standings with the help of the New Orleans Hornets beating the Trailblazers tonight, 96-81. Carmelo isn’t expected to miss anymore games to the best of my knowledge, so congratulations, Denver! It appears like you might have weathered the worst injury storm in the most recent stretch of injury-plagued Nuggets history with a nice win.