Often times a man has been in a relationship that ended sooner than expected, and when opportunity presented itself to show his old girlfriend what she is missing, it became a welcomed challenge.
Similar to that situation was Denver Nuggets swingman Danillo Gallinari who had become a household name on the big stage of Madison Square Garden during his three and half year career for the New York Knicks. However, Gallo was packed up and sent away like scraps for the Knicks to acquire former NBA all-star, gold medalist, three-time NBA third team member, and former USA Basketball Male Basketball Player of the Year, Carmelo Anthony.
Nuggets fans in like manner relished the opportunity to prove their beloved team would be just fine in the aftermath of a trade that left the team superstar less yet deeper and still pretty darn talented.
The first chance for “Il Gallo” to prove the Knicks gave up on him too early was Jan. 21, 2012. In the lockout, shortened season that did not begin until Christmas the Nuggs raced out to an 11-5 record while New York and its new superstar talent looked awfully pedestrian amassing just six wins in its first 15 games.
After a close first quarter the Nuggets led 25-24. Throughout the first half Denver’s defense was able to keep Anthony under wraps although allowing a barrage of 3-pointers from guards Bill Walker and Toney Douglas. Walker and Douglas’ five 3-pointers anchored a New York attack that led to its nine-point half-time lead.
A couple of free throws from former Knick big man Timofey Mosgov followed by consecutive lay ups by point guards Ty Lawson and Andre Miller respectively brought the Nuggets deficit to just two points early in the second half. After falling behind by eight again Denver finished the third quarter on a 13-5 run to tie the game at 72 heading into the final quarter of regulation. Gallinari entered the fourth quarter with 22 points.
After regaining control of the game Denver squandered its five-point lead with 6:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. After trailing 80-83, the Nuggs would not trail for the rest of regulation. With 11.3 seconds, left in the quarter Anthony knocked down a shot that cut the Nuggets lead to 97-96. After Gallinari split a pair of free throws, who other than Melo to tie the game 98 with 1.7 seconds left, and after Al Harrington came up short on a potential game winning 3-pointer the game headed into overtime.
In the first overtime “Melo” took advantage of poor defensive rotation to knock down a 3-pointer that gave the Knicks a 103-100 lead. On the next possession after Harrington lost the ball, the loathed former Nugget Miller scooped up the ball and with tenths of a second remaining on the shot clock scored on a desperation heave three ball that knotted the game at 103. After Anthony missed on a 3-pointer, NeNe tied the game with 9.2 seconds left on the clock with two crucial free throws that eventually sent the game into a second overtime.
After Anthony scored on a smooth 18-foot jumper, the Nuggets never looked back in the second overtime. “Gallo” knocked home two free throws to give him a game and career high 35 points. With 46.9 seconds, left Harrington knocked home a trey on the left wing and stared the crowd down while skipping up the court. Gallinari scored on two more free throws to ice the game and push his career high to 37 points. Denver won its fourth straight game while the Knicks lost their sixth straight contest.