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When Carmelo Anthony was booed during a mixed martial arts event in Broomfield last week, you might have thought Denver Nuggets fans would continue to be hard on him for not signing a contract extension with the team. But a deal to trade the superstar hasn’t materialized either, so Melo was in uniform for yesterday’s intrasquad scrimmage, and the fans who showed up were largely supportive, notes The Denver Post.
Melo went 7-15 for 23 points, but the game at Broomfield’s 1stBank Center was really just a glorified practice, and many of the starters weren’t the focus of the event. J.R. Smith was the high-scorer of the night, putting home 36 points, but others were impressive, too, including second-year point guard Ty Lawson (31 points, 14 assists) and new Nugget Al Harrington (34 points).
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In the Melo era, the team has never lacked the ability to score points, so the real focus for its on-the-court success will be a renewed emphasis on defense. The high scoring totals put up last night in the scrimmage show that if defense is also employed effectively, the Nuggets will be the playoff team fans have come to expect over the last seven years.
Denver Stiffs tries to put together an outlook for this season, but given the uncertainty surrounding Melo, it has trouble predicting what we might see when games start to count in a few weeks. The biggest problem for the team, says Stiffs, is all the off-the-court drama. Not only is Melo’s situation a major distraction, but George Karl is bouncing back from a battle with cancer, Kenyon Martin is hurt and in no hurry to return, and Smith, Karl, and Martin are all in the final year of their contracts.