Don't let the 20-point deficit fool you. The Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers put on a shootout Monday night worthy of the Wild West or even better the original ABA. The Pacers were running short-handed and ran short on fire power midway through the fourth quarter which allowed the Nuggets to claim the W, 135-115.
While the Pacers made it mighty interesting most of the night, with the exception of a few minutes late in the second quarter, they couldn't contain the Nuggets all night. And by contain I mean keep them away from the rim.
The Nuggets came into the game leading the league in dunks and they had to expand that lead tonight. There was an inordinate amount out run out open dunks off Pacer misses that ought to make film sessions quite uncomfortable tomorrow.
When they weren't running free on the break, the Nuggs had their way in the paint. The Pacers needed a drop cloth because simply moving their feet and stopping penetration wasn't working. Along with even more dunks there were many little runners in the lane by Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony.
The second quarter, however, was tons of fun. Danny Granger played like a man possessed as he pumped in 18 points, doing everything in his power to bring the Pacers back from their initial 20-point deficit early in the game. Bring them back he did. The Pacers scored 42 second quarter points to go to the half down 74-70.
I repeat, the Nuggets were up 74-70 at the half. Somewhere, the ABA was smiling.
The wheels gradually fell off in the second half as Danny resumed playing as a mere NBA mortal and the defense was non-existent. After only turning the ball over two times in the first half, a string of turnovers fueled the Nuggets on a 21-3 run that seemed like a 40-0 run and the Pacers had nothing left to return the favor.
A few other thoughts:
- T.J. Ford was suited up but unable to play tonight. Whether it was the abdominal strain or back strain is unknown. I was assuming it was the ab strain, although J.R. Smith mentioned after the game that T.J. said it was his back. Regardless, he was missed.
- Also, Marquis Daniels tried to play through a strained groin but only played 11 minutes in the first half. He was missed in the second half, especially when the Nuggets started going on their run.
- Granger was a monster in the second quarter but just couldn't get it going again in the second half. He did finish with 36 points which almost seems routine at this point.
- Troy Murphy finished with 15 and 12 for his 17th double-double of the season. Again, the numbers are becoming routine.
- Brandon Rush has slipped back out of the rotation. Stephen Graham stepped into his role off the bench and even with Quisy unavailable in the second half, Rush did not see the floor until cleanup time late in the fourth quarter. Naturally, he hit a pair of 3-balls.