Game Notes: Rockets at Nuggets
Carmelo Anthony ties career-high in loss.
by Sulaiman Folarin / @sulaiman4real
“Fifty doesn’t mean anything tonight,” Anthony said. “I would give it back. When you score 50 points and lose, you start thinking why the 50?”
Anthony carried most of the load for Denver while the team lost Chauncey Billups to a strained left knee in the first quarter. Anthony was not only missing Billups. Center Nene did not play the game because of a sinus infection and chest congestion.
“Coming to the game we knew we had Chauncey and I don’t know what happened. Then not to have Nene coming to the game, I think George was scrabbling with the rotations and figuring it out throughout the game,” Anthony said.
Shane Battier had a tough time guarding Anthony. Battier finished with 0 points – missing all five field goal attempts – and 5 fouls in the process. He probably exerted too much energy guarding the All-Star starter.
“He (Anthony) is always a handful. There is not too much you can do when he puts his head down,” Battier said. “You have to play good defense on him when he is going to the hoop.”
“To me this was a weird game that had too many holes,” George Karl said. “Ty was questionable to play, Arron gets some foul trouble. Going small I thought was the best way to go. Maybe we should have gone big.”
For a team with a sub-.500 record, the Rockets looked like a post-season team. Denver’s perimeter defense was nonexistent with Houston finishing the half with a 54.5 percent shooting from the three-point line.
The Rockets had a good second quarter shooting 50 percent or better with their field goal and from the three point line. Houston went on a 6-0 run midway into the second quarter to pull away from Denver, but Arron Afflalo’s fade away jump shot cut the run short and the lead down to five.
Even when Houston later went on another run, the Nuggets had the chance to either tie the game or take the lead at the half and they fluffed it.
Back-to-back defensive plays on the Rockets and fouls committed by Houston meant Denver could get back into the game, but a missed technical foul by JR Smith and a 24-second shot clock violation with 5.1 seconds left meant the Nuggets trailed at the half and never recovered.
“They are a Playoff team so that is always going to give you a little confidence,” Martin said. “They have a lot going on around here.”
In the second half, Houston piled the pressure and never lost the lead to Denver. Led by Martin’s 18-point performance in the third quarter, Houston went on a 13-0 run to the surprise of the Nuggets and their home fans.
“They played better than us tonight, I honestly don’t know.” Afflalo said when asked what the Nuggets could have done differently.
Scola was tough for the Nuggets to guard also and it reflected in his numbers. “It was a pretty good game for us,” Scola said. “We needed this win. Denver is one of those teams that is way ahead of us. We needed it.”
Anthony scored 21 of his game-high and career-tying points in the fourth quarter, but it seemed too little too late to bring the team back even with a late Nuggets push.
Maybe missing Billups and Nene might have changed the outcome, but hindsight is 20/20.
– Nuggets guard Billups left the game in the first quarter with a left knee strain. He did not return to the game and will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
– Nene did not play Monday night due to a sinus infection and chest congestion. He is listed as day-to-day.