In an overwhelmingly sloppy first half overall for the Nuggets, something has to be said about J.R. Smith’s effort in the first 24 minutes. J.R. was lighting it up from downtown taking a break at halftime with 13 points and two assists on 3-5 from beyond the arch in a performance which included a four-point play. Smith was also playing very solid defense on Dwayne Wade and was a visible spark off the bench.
Unfortunately, the otherwise sloppy play I mentioned was affording the Heat to enter intermission shooting 61% from the field and holding an advantage in the rebounding battle 22-14. Carmelo was the best Denver rebounder finishing the half with a team-high four rebounds with Marcus Camby uncharacteristically grabbing just two rebounds in the first 24 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 14 points to lead Denver in points, but the otherwise lackadaisical Nuggets found themselves down to the league’s worst team, 63-57.
In the third quarter, the Heat continued their hot shooting but the Nuggets hung around largely in part to Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith shouldering much of the scoring load. Kenyon Martin was a perfect 6-6 from the field scoring twelve points in the quarter including six straight over a four minute span. J.R. continued his torrid shooting by hitting a three to end the quarter and managed to carry over the hot hand into the start of the fourth with a total of five straight three’s to give the Nuggets a, 93-91, lead with under nine minutes to play in the game. J.R.’s eight made three-pointers for the game is a new career-high, but it was his defense on Dwayne Wade in clutch moments of the game that really sealed an overall great performance.
The game would swing back and forth over the course of the fourth quarter and with the Nuggets having the final shot in regulation and the game tied. The Denver offense went flat and the final look at the rim for the Nuggets ended up being a fade-away by Allen Iverson that was snuffed out Dorell Wright.
Enter overtime where the Nuggets would strike first and never look back. Despite having an off night shooting, ‘Melo reemerged as the Nuggets’ bread and butter scoring six of the Nuggets twelve overtime points and gave George Karl his 14th double-double performance of the season finishing with 22 points, eleven rebounds, and four assists for the game’s grand stat total. Kenyon Martin finished with 24 points and six rebounds and J.R. Smith’s team-high 28 points and career-high eight three’s were enough for the Nuggets to overcome a dreadful night by Allen Iverson who finished with just 16 points on 5-20 shooting.
Dwayne Wade led all scorers with a double-double of 29 points and ten assists and Shawn Marion grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds to compliment his 23 points, but Marcus Camby’s 14 rebound effort in the second half ended up swinging the battle of the boards back into the Nuggets' favor for the game, 49-46. And none were bigger than his 16th and game-sealing rebound as time expired. The Captain finished tonight’s game nearly missing a triple double with 12 points, the aforementioned 16 rebounds, and seven huge blocked shots.
The Nuggets averted disaster tonight because they came together as a team with individuals stepping up at the right times. Kenyon Martin’s 12 points in the third period were huge. J.R. Smith was instrumental in keeping the Nuggets toe-to-toe with the Heat late in the third and to begin the fourth. Marcus Camby turning things up on defense in the second half set the tone for the Nuggets comeback and Carmelo not shying away from the spotlight in overtime despite having a bad night shooting are all equal reasons why the Nuggets can fly to Orlando tonight to face the Magic tomorrow with an extra spring in their step.
Great, ugly, overtime,win, Denver.