George Karl, sitting in his chair during the entire game, had never seen his team play this type of basketball at all—not even from teams he coached in the past.
"Every coach talks about playing a playoff game, every possession having value, every possession having intensity to it,'' Karl began. "I thought my team, probably in my career, I've never seen a team probably do that on every possession—do what they were supposed to do and play the game the right way—as much as they did tonight.''
The Hornets seemed to be ready to go before the first quarter, with a sell-out crowd of 17,236 on hand ready and roaring. After a first shot missed by Billups, Stojakovic grabbed the rebound. West got the ball, and scored. The crowd exploded, thinking that their home team had this.
But they were oh-so wrong.
The Nuggets went on a 8-0 run and followed with three more 8-0 runs in the quarter, outscoring the Hornets 36-15 and holding them to 6-19 shooting (31.5 percent).
After a close 25-24 second quarter won by the Nuggets, a serious run could have been ignited, but was not. In the second half, New Orleans only scored 24 points while Denver trampled them with 60.
By the end of the third, about half the crowd had left.
After the Nuggets gave up a 14 point lead in game three, they came out with a mental focus I have never seen before. They played defense like never before, which then led to good looks on the offensive end. Dhantay Jones got under the whole Hornets team once again resulting in technical fouls and frustration on the Hornets' end.
Chris Paul responded by saying it is only "one game."
"Every time we tried something, they countered,'' Paul said, "We didn't play well and they executed their game plan to perfection...Understand that while it was embarrassing and they beat us pretty bad, it still was only one game.''
This one game could have been the momentum-changer when this series shifts back to Denver. The Nuggets held the Hornets to a series-low 31.5 percent and a franchise-high 27 turnovers, which turned into 41 Denver points.
Chris Paul has never scored less then 14 points in a series. Monday night he was held to four points and six assists. It was arguably the worst playoff performance of his career. Even more shocking, he didn't get to the line at all.
"I wouldn't have thought that we would win by 58 points,'' Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony said. "I never thought anyone could win by 58 points in the playoffs.''
Game five will be in Denver on Wednesday and shown on TNT.
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