Game Notes: Bucks at Nuggets
No Melo again, but Nene and JR Smith carry Nuggets to win over Bucks.
by Sulaiman Folarin
Anthony finished with 14 points but was ejected with 2:40 left in the third quarter for arguing with an official over a call.
“We had a couple of guys play just great,” Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said. “JR was awesome. He was making so many plays.”
In what was his fourth career double-double, Smith had another great performance for the Nuggets. He has played great in the last two games and both times, Anthony was out sick (Phoenix) and ejected (Milwaukee).
“I cannot say anything but an A+ performance from JR tonight,” says Nuggets head coach George Karl. “I don’t know for how long, though.”
Without Anthony, the Nuggets were able to overcome a determined Milwaukee team that had a five-point lead heading into the half.
“We were in a good place when Melo left. We were playing very good,” Karl said. “I thought we kept it up and sustained it.”
In the third quarter when Anthony picked up his first technical foul, the Nuggets were up 68-62 with 3:28 left in the quarter. Anthony thought he was fouled by Bucks’ center Larry Sanders when he drove for a lay-up.
“The main thing was to get Melo off the court and of course that happened,” Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said. “Then the other guys on their team stepped up.”
In less than a minute after the first call, Anthony drove and was blocked again by Sanders. When he complained again heading into a time out, the referee issued the second technical and he was ejected.
“I didn’t think he was 100 percent,” Karl said about Anthony’s game. “I think he was sluggish.”
Anthony was not the only one who looked sluggish. The Nuggets start to the game was poor. But credit to Milwaukee, they had a 42.9 percent shooting in the first quarter and capped it off with a 47.8 percent shooting at the half.
“George (Karl) came in at the half and made an emphasis on helping out the big men,” Smith said.
When the Nuggets returned for the second half, they went to their big men with Nene getting a layup that tied the game at 61 with 5:31 left.
Without Andrew Bogut, who has been out since November 24, Milwaukee relied on Sanders and he finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 8 blocks.
“Larry did a great job stepping in tonight,” Corey Maggette said. “He had 8 blocks; a great job stepping in filling in for Bogut.”
Brandon Jennings added 14 points with John Salmons leading all Milwaukee scorers with 21 points.
Milwaukee kept it close to start the fourth quarter only down by five, but when the Nuggets went on a 7-0 run, the Bucks did not recover. Milwaukee went on their run, but could not stop the Nuggets as Billups nailed a three-point shot with 7:39 left to give Denver an 11-point lead.
“They came out and had their way with us,” Scott Skiles said. “Their offense scored 31 in the third. That put us back on our heels a little bit.”