The Denver Nuggets are now 27-5 at the Pepsi Center after downing the pesky Portland Trailblazers 118-106 last night, led by Denver’s stingy defense and 30 points from Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets really pulled through on the defensive end, with Arron Afflalo shutting down one of the NBA’s best players, Portland’s Brandon Roy (via NBA.com). Afflalo’s impact goes beyond working wonders on Roy. He also held the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant to 3-for-17 shooting last week.
The Nuggets will need Afflalo and everybody else to step up even more with big man Kenyon Martin down for at least the near future with a bum left knee. NBA Fanhouse reports that the Nuggets are working out Brian Cook and Jake Voskuhl today to help sustain the team in Martin’s absence.
Reserve Nuggets center Johan Petro, who snagged 10 rebounds in 23 minutes last night, may be able to help, but he’s rusty on the offensive end and somewhat slow against smaller opponents, and last night committed pointless fouls, which would kill the Nuggets in the playoffs.
But before we start talking playoffs, Denver will have to find a way to keep winning. The Dallas Mavericks have won 11 consecutive games compared to the Nuggets’ three, and Dallas currently claims the second spot in the Western Conference (via NBA.com).
The Web site Covers.com counts the Nuggets as one of three teams with the worst remaining schedules—at least 16 games against teams with winning records, and nine of their last 10 games against winning teams. The Nuggets have four- and five-game road trips remaining and will play back-to-backs on six nights. This is all without Martin and while Coach George Karl undergoes cancer treatments.