Adrian Dantley and the entire Nuggets team should pay for all of Chauncey Billups’ expenses on their way back to Denver, because he saved the Nuggets Wednesday.
Facing a 13-point deficit, Billups rediscovered his shot and lived up to his name as Mr. Big Shot. Billups scored 15 of his 31 shots in the fourth quarter and helped Denver win single-handed.
While Billups was knocking down shots, the Nuggets stepped up their D in the fourth quarter. After giving up 80 points through three quarters, Denver held Oklahoma City to a mere 14 points.
In the first half, Arron Afflalo provided the Nuggets a rare offensive spark, he hit all three of his treys and finishing the game with 17 points. Anthony finished the game with 24 points and 11 rebounds and finally made some frequent trips to the free throw line (10-of-11).
Of course, despite the win there were two very bad things stood out, Dantley and the play of JR Smith.
- He again depends too much on Billups, playing the veteran point guard 37 minutes on the first night of a back-to-back.
- Dantley didn’t use his timeouts wisely and was left with only two 20 seconds time outs in fourth quarter.
- When Anthony got hurt at the end of the third quarter, Dantley for some strange reason refused to call a timeout and left his star player on the floor for a good 20 minutes before calling a time out.
- He for some strange reason left the cold-shooting JR Smith in the contest, despite JR making only 1 of 6 shots and 2 of 3 free throws. He also only played star rookie point guard only four minutes in the contest.
- Despite playing a good first half, Smith must have left his brain in the locker room at halftime. When he came into the contest the Nuggets were up 71-67 with four minutes left in the third. And the Thunder ended the quarter, 13-2. He helped the Thunder out by jacking up a trey with three minutes left in the third, which set up Oklahoma City for an easy basket. On a 3-on-1 fast break, Smith fed the ball to Billups on the left and the shot was blocked and set up the Thunder for an easy basket. And than when Melo went down at the end of the third quarter, Smith completely ignored the injured player and went 1-on-5 and was bailed out by a jump-ball call.
- This was one of those games I was hoping to see some Joey Graham and boy did he let me down. He started the fourth quarter and two consecutive dumb plays.
- Malik Allen had a pretty miserable line, 15 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 0-2 from the field.
- Ty Lawson played only four minutes, while Billups played 37 minutes.
- Denver (51-27)- For the best chance at winning the 2-spot the Nuggets need to go 4-0. WINS: Memphis; WINNABLE: San Antonio; TOUGHEST:Lakers, At Phoenix. IDEAL OUTCOMES: 54-28/53-29/52-30
- Dallas (51-27)- The Mavericks need to lose two of their final five games for the Nuggets to have a shot. The Mavs could easily lose their away games at Portland and Sacramento and a home games against San Antonio could be potential losses. WINS: At LA Clippers; WINNABLE: San Antonio, At Sacramento; TOUGHEST: At Portland. IDEAL OUTCOMES: 54-28/53-29
- Phoenix (51-27) – The Suns also need to drop one of their final four games to help the Nuggets. Road games at Utah and Oklahoma CIty will be tough for the aging Suns.WINS: Houston. WINNABLE: Denver, At Oklahoma City. TOUGHEST: At Utah. IDEAL OUTCOMES: 53-29/52-30
- Utah (51-28)- To get some separation with the Jazz, the Nuggets need Utah to at least drop one of their final three games. But their schedule is much easier down the stretch. WINNABLE: At Golden State, At New Orleans, Phoenix. IDEAL OUTCOMES: 54-28/53-29/52-30