It’s easy to forget that when the Denver Nuggets are on their game, they can run with the biggest dogs in the NBA. Such was the case last night at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets crushed the Miami Heat 130-102 in front of a packed, enthusiastic crowd. Sometimes referred to as the “Heatles” because of the hype and hysteria that surround the Heat’s big three (Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh), Miami takes a playoff atmosphere everywhere they go. The Nuggets were able to overcome the circus and play a cohesive, solid game, giving the Heat their worst loss of the season.
“It was a turn-back-the-clock night,” The Denver Post writes. “Fans came in droves, they cheered consistently, and their team actually shared the ball (31 assists).” JR Smith had a game-high 28 points, followed by Carmelo Anthony’s 21 (box score and video highlights via NBA.com). The Nuggets held Wade, one of the NBA’s premier scorers, to just 16 points and Bosh to 24, but they didn’t have to face James, who was out with a bum left ankle.
Despite the high energy of the night, it’s difficult to avoid wondering how often we’ll see games like this without Melo. “[Anthony’s] anticipated departure will break up a certain playoff team that was playing its best Thursday,” Sports Illustrated writes. And Denver Stiffs agrees that “the gloomy shadow of Anthony’s imminent departure—and possibly Chauncey Billups’, too—lords over this franchise.” That didn’t stop Nuggets fans from greeting Billups with a loud pre-game ovation.