With the most fans ever to file into the Pepsi Center on hand, all the Nuggets raised their games to new heights. In the first half, both teams played to a stalemate of 62 points after Denver had once led by as many as nine midway through the first quarter. Ray Allen had scorched the Nuggets for 14 points in the first twelve minutes before going cold in the second while Carmelo Anthony led all Denver scorers with 18 points at intermission.
In the second half, the Nuggets applied more defensive pressure by way of a two-three zone and the Celtics were visibly bothered as they only scored 22 points in the third quarter. Marcus Camby was swatting shots all over the place, Kenyon Martin played fantastic one-on-one defense on Kevin Garnett, and the rest of the Nuggets were scrappy on the Celtics’ perimeter shooters. Coincidentally, the good overall defense by Denver translated into even better offense as the Nuggets put 26 points on the scoreboard by way of five different Nuggets scoring.
Entering the fourth, the Nuggets were in foul trouble as Kenyon Martin would eventually foul out and Marcus Camby and Carmelo Anthony would have to play the duration of the final quarter with five fouls. However, there was no need to worry as the Nuggets once again relied on balance scoring, including three three’s (back-to-back bombs by Linas Kleiza and one by Marcus Camby!), to close out an absolutely fantastic team effort. Denver even had to overcome one of the most horse manure calls that I have seen in all my years of watching NBA basketball to subdue the struggling Celtics late in the fourth quarter. With 20 seconds to play and the Celtics down by six, 121-115, Boston called its final 20 second timeout where they drew up a play for Ray Allen to launch a three. Jesus Shuttlesworth got the shot off, but the attempt was well short and way right, and when Carmelo Anthony grabbed the errant shot referee Bennie Adams blew his whistle and ruled the rebound a goaltend! It was the single most ridiculous call I have ever seen made since, come to think of it, quite possibly ever, but thankfully the Nuggets made enough free-throws to stave off any last ditch efforts by the Celtics.
The box score for the Denver reflects just how inspired the Nuggets played, not only as individuals, but for once as a team. Immediately, Marcus Camby narrowly missing another triple-double by one blocked shot is just a reflection of just how great of a season the Captain his having. Marcus finished tonight’s game with eleven points, 13 rebounds, nine blocks, three assists, and three steals in 40 minutes of action. And as I mentioned before, Marcus hit a three which was the nail in the coffin from the right corner with just over two minutes remaining. The bomb gave the Nuggets a seven point lead, the ability to make the rest of the game a free-throw contest, and the Cambyman his third make of the year from downtown.
Kenyon Martin also played spectacular. Despite having a throat cold, K-Mart gave the Nuggets 28 tough minutes on both offense and defense en route to scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds, swiping two steals, and swatting a shot before fouling out with just under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Martin played excellent one-on-one defense on all of Boston’s big men and was an efficient 8-12 on the offensive end. I particularly enjoyed how Martin allowed the game to come to him, and when it was his time to produce, he had no problem doing so.
Offensively, the Nuggets were led by Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds, including a 12-13 performance from the free-throw line. Anthony received a lot of help from Allen Iverson who shot his way out of a mini-funk to finish with 28 points on 7-16 from the field while dishing out nine assists. The Answer also grabbed seven rebounds, but uncharacteristically did not record a steal. It should also be noted that the Nuggets out shot the Celtics in every category. Denver made 51% from the field in comparison to Boston’s 44% and most importantly made 8-17 of their three-point attempts.
So, bring out the little people because ding-dong the witch is dead! The Celtics have finally lost to a Western Conference foe bringing their record against the left coast to 16-1. The Nuggets' next game is on Friday in Chicago against the Bulls. Every game matters, Nuggets Nation. You know it, I know it, and apparently, the Nuggets got the memo too!