- Is there any doubt that the Northwest Division is the best division in the league? It has four teams that will most likely be in the playoffs, Denver (42-21), Utah (40-22), Oklahoma City (38-24) and Portland (37-28).
- For the first time this year, Johan Petro started at Center for the Denver Nuggets and actually played well,
‘Frenchy’ as his teammates call him had four points and game-high 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. Hopefully this is the lineup that Coach Karl goes with while K-Mart is hurt. You can never go wrong having a frontline of 7-foot and 6-foot-11. Nene definitely enjoyed it, he scored 14 points, had seven rebounds and blocked four shots, looking much more comfortable playing power forward.
- Carmelo Anthony looked like he is back to his old self, hitting his midrange jumper and taking defenders to the basket for 30 points on 11 of 19 shooting. It was his third straight 30-point game.
- Denver couldn’t miss, shooting an impressive .589 percent from the field and hitting 9 of 22 treys. The only place where the Nuggets missed was from the charity stripe – Melo missed four free throws, Chris Andersen made only 1-of-4 free throws and Arron Afflalo hit only 2-of-4.
- JR Smith is finally coming into his own – hopefully for the stretch run. He scored 22 points and had seven assists last night. In the last four games, JR has averaged 19 points, four assists (15 last two games) and 1.3 steals. Also over that time, he has also hit 26-of-51 shots, 15 of 33 from behind the arc and has hit his nine free throws.
- Like JR, Anthony Carter played another solid game, his third straight. He hit all three of his shots last night, including one from behind the arc. In his last three games, AC has posted 25 assists to five turnovers and 11 of 16 shots.
- The Nuggets defense made it obvious from the get-go that their No. 1 job was to shutdown Brandon Roy, just like they did with Kevin Durant. Roy was held to 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
- Current (and what sounds like could be former) Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall was courtside with his girlfriend. In the second half, a fan sat next to him wearing a Bears hoodie.
- Titans’ running back Lendale White, who is originally from Denver and cousin of Chauncey Billups, sat 10 seats down from Marshall sporting a very blingy watch.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Nuggets did what they needed to do and that was take care of business at home. They averaged nearly 120 points a game in the three contests and shutdown two of the top players in the NBA, Kevin Durant (19 points, 5-of-14 shooting) and Roy (3-of-14 and 12 points). The bench was also marvelous, averaging 41.7 points in the three games and much of that was due to the play of AC and JR. It was also exciting to see Petro step in and play well. If K-Mart can’t go the rest of the season I think the Frenchman should get the start. Not because he does the intangibles but his size helps negate Denver not having its top defensive player. Now the big challenge is how this team does on this next road trip (Minnesota, New Orleans, Memphis and Houston). The Nuggets can easily go 4-0 on the trip and stay right with the hot Dallas Mavericks, but at the same time it is hard not to just wish for a 2-2 outcome from these Nuggets.
All photos are courtesy of Jonathan Maness