Just call Carmelo Anthony Mr. Clutch and his shot against Toronto on Friday is arguably the biggest shot of the year and maybe his biggest shot as a Nugget (outside of his shot against Dallas in the second round of the playoffs last season).
But just think about this, the Nuggets were on a three-game losing streak and on third game of a huge five-game road stand. Not to mention Denver is in a close knit race with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks and a win over Toronto and Utah’s unexpected loss to Indiana has now pushed Denver a half game ahead of Dallas and a full game in front of the Jazz.
Than think about the possession, Melo missed a 20-foot jumper which took a wicked bounce and recovered by Nene, who rotated the ball over to Melo,who pulled up to nail the shot over two defenders. Not only was this all in less than 10 seconds and when Melo got the ball there were less than two seconds on the clock, but he had the mindset to get enough lift on his shot to guide it into the basket.
The shot was probably the only pretty thing about the last four games and even through the struggles the Nuggets are still sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. Even if Denver drops the next two games, the squad is still on pace to win 54 games and be 2 or 3 in the West.
- Johan Petro, while he didn’t play a great game. Was solid, grabbing four boards in 15 minutes and a plus 5 ratio when he was on the floor.
- Nene had a solid all-around game, putting up 20 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out six assists to go with three steals.
- Arron Afflalo wasn’t fabulous, but was solid in his few minutes.
- Chauncey Billups is still wearing down and isn’t being the smart veteran is known as. Billups missed 14 of his 18 shots, but did hit a huge three in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.
- Chris Andersen is obviously is still hurting, but still grabbed five points and five rebounds.
- Malik Allen hasn’t been playing great and definitely wasn’t great Friday. He missed both of his shots in seven minutes.
- Joey Graham didn’t play terrible, but wasn’t great either.
- JR Smith had an impressive first half, but went 0 for seven in the second half. But he did grab some big boards in teh fourth quarter.
- Anthony Carter was huge for the Nuggets when he came into the game in the fourth. He had five assists and two steals and played smart basketball.
- Adrian Dantley hasn’t done a great job coaching the last few games. He seems like he has not control of his team and lets Smith, Anthony and Billups do whatever they want without any repercussions. He also has been too dependent on Billups, who is getting worn out. Billups has averaged more than 36 minutes on the road trips, which doesn’t make sense especially with Ty Lawson back and Carter playing well. He also puts his team in a bind when he lets the likes of Allen, Andersen, Carter, Graham and JR start the second or fourth quarter together. What I think he needs to do differently is play Petro, Afflalo and Lawson more and Allen, Billups and Graham less. If I was coaching the team, I probably wouldn’t play Allen or Graham unless absolutely necessary, but I’d divide the minutes like:
Center: Petro 20/Andersen 18 (until he gets healthy)/Nene 10
Power Forward: Nene 26/Carmelo Anthony 13
Small Forward: Anthony 25/Arron Afflalo 15/JR Smith 8
Shooting Guard: Arron Afflalo 13/Smith 20/Chauncey Billups 10/Lawson 5
Point Guard: Billups 22/Anthony Carter 16/Lawson 10
Their minutes would add up:
Petro would play 20 minute, Nene 36, Anthony 38, Afflalo 28, Billups 32 (at least until the playoffs), Andersen 18 (until he gets healthy), Smith 28, AC 16 and Lawson 15.