Coming off coach George Karl’s announcement Tuesday that he has throat and neck cancer, the Denver Nuggets were faced with playing the best team in the NBA last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nuggets proved they were more than up for the challenge, besting the Cavs 118-116 in overtime to cap off one of the most thrilling games of the season so far. And Carmelo Anthony logged one of the best games of his career, racking up 40 points, including the game-winning shot over Cleveland’s LeBron James with about a second left in overtime (via NBA.com, with video highlights).
Kenyon Martin also had a huge night, scoring 18 points and pulling down 17 rebounds, and Chauncey Billups scored 18 and hit a clutch three-pointer in overtime.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer says the Cavs better hope they don’t have to face the Nuggets in the playoffs, because they just don’t know how to beat them. The Nuggets bested the Cavs in Denver earlier this season, and after yesterday’s loss they’ve been swept by the Nuggets for the third time in four years.
But the Nuggets had more than the Cavs to think about yesterday, as the NBA’s trade deadline expired. Despite the Nuggets’ obvious need for a big man up front, the team did nothing. The Denver Post reports that the Nuggets tried to trade a future first-round pick for Tyrus Thomas of the Chicago Bulls, but the Bulls ended up making a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats. Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien said earlier this week that the brass likes the team they have and will have to ride it out for the rest of the year.
CBS Sports counts the Nuggets as one of the trade-deadline “losers,” saying although the Nuggets are good enough to hang tough in the Western Conference, adding another big man would have helped—a lot. But coach Karl seems happy regardless. He tells The Associated Press basketball is going to be his “sanctuary” as he deals with his cancer over the next couple months.