Nuggets/Mavs Game 5 Recap
Too much Chauncey. Too much Carmelo. Who’s Next?
Since the first day that Carmelo Anthony was introduced as a member of the Denver Nuggets, I have been given the unbelievable access to cover his team for this very site. At times, my involvement with the team has been heavy; at others I do much of my viewing/criticism from the friendly confines of my mountain abode.
This year was one such season, as my focus was put almost solely on the collegiate game for my blog, Cub Scouts. But in the past five years, I never missed a playoff game. I can safely say that I had seen each and every one played at Pepsi Center from my comfortable perch just behind the visitor’s bench.
But this year, again, was different; different in many ways. For starters I have a 3-year-old running around me and my 8.5 months pregnant wife (another WNBAer on the way) and time has become in high demand, but short supply.
But most importantly, though, I knew there was much greater things to come this postseason. Better competition, a better stage and a better rush. The thought of hitting up a Western Conference Finals game against the vaunted, Los Angeles Lakers kept me hopeful, but predominately on my couch during these first two rounds. I did hit up game 2 of the Hornets series and enjoyed the fans’ view for the Game 5 clincher a few nights later, (Sorry for no report on that one, a little too much of the “High Life” for yours truly) but have not been back in the building in two weeks.
I have enjoyed this heated Dallas Mavericks series from afar, but deep down burn for the chance to be up close and personal when things get more championship-frenzied (ie the possible aforementioned Lakers series)
With all of this in mind, one more win was still needed to advance for this “dreamy” team from the Mountain Standard Time. Dallas was fresh off a hard-fought victory in Game 4, but even that required another herculean performance from their mega-star (and newly minted First-Team All-NBAer) Dirk Nowitzki just to overcome a very offensive, but sloppy and short-handed defensive performance by the Nuggets.
Unlike all of the games in this series, though tonight’s game was seized in the first-quarter by Denver and was never relinquished. Owners of about an 8-14-point advantage for most of the night, the Nuggets put the finishing touches on an impressive eighth postseason victory, winning 124-110. The stars were bright as ever tonight, as Carmelo Anthony was hot early and clutch late, scoring 30 points, while his main man, Chauncey Billups was his usual self, finishing with 28/7/12. To their credit, the Mavericks put forth several strong fourth-quarter surges, but were never able to overcome the Nuggets ability to answer.
Dirk was his usual self, unstoppable, but almost solitary in his resolve to beat his opponent. The German finished with 32/10/7 but got no consistent effort and output from anyone else on his team.
The Nuggets seized control of the high-scoring, fast-paced game late in the first quarter on the shoulders of their Third-Team All-NBA players, Anthony and Billups. The home team shot an amazing 64% from the floor in the first-half (59% for game), as the Nuggets were able to off-set the splendid first-half two-man game of Howard and Nowitzki. Denver held a double-digit lead through much of the first-half and was boosted into the halftime by a sublime 40-second stretch by Anthony.
After a Nowitzki free-throw with under a minute left in the half brought the deficit to nine points, Anthony promptly nailed a three-pointer, and then facilitated a fast-break, assisting Nene on a dunk near the buzzer to push things back to 14, at 69-55.
And Anthony was there late in the game, as well. With six minutes left in regulation, the Nuggets were barely hanging on to a six-point lead before Anthony hit a turn-around three-pointer with the shot clock expiring, one of his four long-range shots on the night.
Both teams had five players in double-figures with Denver largely aided by JR Smith’s 18/5/6 and Nene’s 17 and 7 on 8-10 shooting.
The series win has the city of Denver finally excited for this franchise for the first time since Deke clenched the ball on his back in Seattle and now into the Western Conference Final for the first time in almost a quarter century.
Trust me, when I say that I won’t be on my couch for those games.