Game Notes: Magic at Nuggets
Melo drops 35 on night Nuggets honor George Karl.
by Sulaiman Folarin
It was Denver’s 10th straight home win and, though it was win number 1,001 for the coach, Karl was honored before the game with a standing ovation from the fans.
“I wanted to punch Masai [Ujiri]. It was really nice, but it makes me feel uncomfortable a little bit because I didn’t win 1,000 games,” Karl said. “It goes on my record. There were a lot of coaches and players that are a part of the 1,000 wins.”
Anthony, who denied a report by ESPN that he would only sign his contract extension with Denver if he was traded to the New York Knicks, had a 20-point first half performance with the Nuggets leading after two, 61-55.
With about two minutes left in the game, Anthony drove the baseline and got a monster dunk that sent the arena into a loud roar.
“The ball movement was great and Melo was good,” Karl said.
When Anthony was asked about a possible trade rumor that he was heading to New Jersey, he pointed out that it was news to him. “I haven’t heard that one. That is new,” Anthony said. “I haven’t heard anything. I am officially saying I know nothing about that.”
Dwight Howard scored 21 points and collected 14 rebounds, but JJ Redick’s team-high 29 points, was also a career high for the fourth year player out of Duke. While Vince Carter added 18 points for Orlando, Jameer Nelson had a poor game with only 4 points.
Though Orlando’s offensive output was not its best, their defense was in question also as they gave up 46 points in the paint to Denver.
“We just have to play D and that means everybody,” Howard said. “We have to do a better job of not allowing anyone to get to the rim every play.”
“It was a lack of effort, lack of toughness, lack of any desire to defend anybody,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought all four games in the trip were the exact same.”
In fairness to Orlando, they were in the game for the most part of it. They started off leading the first quarter, but the Nuggets rallied to take a half time lead.
They outscored the Nuggets in the third quarter with Carter scoring eight of his total numbers to make it a one point game heading into the final quarter. Redick’s overall performance helped also; he was 6-9 from the three-point line.
“I think we reacted to Dwight a little bit and he (Redick) got hot. It happens,” Arron Afflalo said. “We will play them again and will be more aware of where he is on the floor.”
With a close game deep in the fourth quarter, Anthony had a three-point play to put Denver up by seven with 5:03 left while both centers Nene and Howard collided and drew technical fouls from the officials for shoving each other.
In place of an injured Chauncey Billups, Denver started Ty Lawson who added 16 points and 6 assists. Coach Karl will expect Lawson to play with the same intensity if Billups does not suit up against San Antonio on Thursday.
For the Magic, they have lost five of their last six games and they cannot wait to get back into the groove of winning again.
“We are just in a funk right now. Something happens to every team in the NBA and it is just happening to us right now,” Rashard Lewis said. “Good thing is we have a couple days before we play again, get a couple days of practice in and try to fix our problems.”
Before the game, head coach George Karl was presented with a golden basketball trophy by front office duo of Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri. The trophy was in recognition of his 1,000th win which he achieved against the Toronto Raptors last week in Canada.
Denver’s 11-1 home record is the NBA’s best ahead of teams like the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Three Nuggets fans were chanting “Let’s trade Melo,” while the arena cheered Anthony every time he scored or was at the line.