The Denver Nuggets were embarrassed by the inferior San Antonio Spurs 111-92 last night at the Pepsi Center. Denver Stiffs calls it a “get-away game,” saying the Nuggets took themselves out of it early with “horrific” shooting, a decided absence of attacking the lane, and an overall lack of focus.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Nene led with 20 points, followed by Carmelo Anthony with 19 points in his second game back after missing significant time with an ankle injury. Still, Denver shot a dreadful 39 percent from the field and an abysmal 15 percent from three-point range. The Spurs fared much better, shooting 53 percent from the field and more than 47 percent from three-point range (box score via USA Today).
But Nuggets fans should be happy with their team heading into the All-Star break. Denver sits in second place in the Western Conference and three games up on the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division, according to NBA.com. And there’s a lot to cheer for going into this All-Star weekend.
Chauncey Billups was a late addition to the All-Star team and will compete in the three-point shooting contest. Melo will start for the Western Conference on Sunday night, and coach George Karl, along with several of his assistants, will be calling the shots from the bench. Billups could have replaced the injured Kobe Bryant as a starter, but Karl tells The Denver Post he’ll instead fill the starting lineup with the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki. The game is being played in Dallas, after all, in the gaudy Cowboys Stadium.
Nearly 100,000 people are estimated to watch the game, and Karl says he wanted to generate good karma by putting the hometown boy on the floor to start. We’ll very likely get to see Billups and Melo start on the same floor over the next few years, as both have been named to the 2010-2012 U.S. Basketball team (via Westword).