Minutes before the opening tip, fans at the Pepsi Center and watching on air were left wondering ‘where is Kobe Bryant?’ And it wasn’t until the opening tip it was official that Bryant was a no go in a big game for both teams and while Phil Jackson said after the game that Kobe decided he couldn’t go, but Kobe (who was present at the Pepsi Center) said he wanted to but was told to sit out.
No matter, it helped the Nuggets pull a game a head of Utah Jazz as lead in the Northwest Division with only four games
left. And Carmelo Anthony and the always inconsistent JR Smith played as if Kobe was in the game. Melo scored a game-high 31 points and had three blocked shots, including blocking Derek Fisher’s shot as time expired. And JR Smith was hot and became the Nuggets all-time leader in three-point shots made. Reminding the fans when he was close and screaming in excitement when he broke the record.
However, for me it was JR’s shot selection that got me excited. After missing a three in the fourth quarter, JR repeatedly drove on the much smaller Shannon Brown.
- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and Anthony’s fiancée Lala Velasquez were present at the game.
- Jackson benched Sasha Vujacic for a minute in the third quarter after Vujacic tried to grab the rim.
- The Birdman returned after missing the last two games and grabbed seven rebounds in the process.
- With the victory the Nuggets win the season series between the two teams, winning the series 3-1.
- Smith, who surpassed Michael Adams for the franchise leader in 3-pointers made, finished the contest with 26
points and six rebounds.
- Anthony proved to be the best player on the court and rediscovered his shot from distance, after hitting 3 of 5 treys.
- Malik Allen is the lone returning player on this list. He absolutely did nothing for the second straight game and was burned by Lamar Odom. Allen’s line was 0 points, 0 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 0-2 from the field and an airball.
- Adrian Dantley continues to prove to the fans and the Denver Nuggets that he a career assistant coach. He doesn’t earn the respect from the players and has by far the worst rotation in the league. He also doesn’t trust rookie point guard Ty Lawson, who is the key to the Nuggets beating the Lakers in the playoffs. But hey at least he played everybody, well everybody but Renaldo Balkman.
- Denver (52-27)- For the best chance at winning the 2-spot the Nuggets need to go 3-0. WINS: Memphis; WINNABLE: San Antonio; TOUGHEST: At Phoenix. IDEAL OUTCOMES: 54-28 or 53-29
- 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