Mile High Victory For The Denver Nuggets
The last time the Denver Nuggets made it past the first round of the NBA Playoffs, in the 1993-1994 season, the Colorado Rockies had just completed their inaugural season.
The Rockies were the only NHL team Colorado had at the time and they moved to New Jersey a decade earlier. McNichols Sports Arena was home to the Nuggets and Mile High Stadium was hosting both football and baseball.
15 years later, the Nuggets advance to the second round, with a 107-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at the Pepsi Center.
Denver won the series 4-1 and won their four games by an average of 30 points. The Nuggets won three of the four games by over 20 points.
Denver again started out quickly, taking an early 6-2 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Kenyon Martin scored four of Denver’s first six points, with Carmelo Anthony adding the other bucket.
It took the Hornets less than two minutes to grab their first lead at 7-6. Peja Stojakovic scored the Hornets first seven points of the game. The Nuggets and Hornets would go back and forth over the next four minutes.
David West got a 9-0 run started with a layup assisted by Chris Paul. West was fouled by Anthony and made the free throw. Sean Marks scored four of the Hornets six points to open a 25-16 lead on Denver with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
The Nuggets then went on their own run to end the quarter. In the last minute and fifty two seconds, Denver outscored New Orleans 8-2, cutting the Hornets lead to three. Chris Andersen scored six of the Nuggets eight points to end the first quarter.
The second quarter was back and forth. The longest run either team had was seven points, with the Hornets making the run in more than a two-minute time span, taking a 47-44 lead. Both teams went to the locker room tied at 49 at halftime.
Denver ran away with the game and the series in the third quarter. The Nuggets outscored the Hornets 31-17 in the third quarter, taking an 80-66 lead.
The quarter started back and forth until it had six minutes remaining. The Nuggets and Hornets were tied at 62, when Denver went on an 18-4 run to close out the quarter.
With three and a half minutes left, the Nuggets made three-consecutive three-pointers in more than a minute time span, to take a 73-62 lead with 2:31 left in the quarter. J.R. Smith made two of those three pointers.
The closest the Hornets would get in the fourth quarter was 14 points, which they trailed by entering the fourth quarter. The Nuggets went up by as many as 24 points.
The first round series loss, was the first New Orleans head coach Byron Scott has suffered in his coaching career.
The Nuggets shot 51 percent from the field, 43 percent from the three-point line, and 85 percent from the free throw line.
Anthony led the Nuggets in scoring with 34 points and steals with four. Anthony played 46 of the 48 minutes and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career. Smith scored 20 points off the bench.
Chauncey Billups led the team in assists with 11. Martin, Nene Hilario, and Andersen led the team in rebounds with seven each.
The Hornets shot 38 percent from the field, 15 percent from the three-point line, and 83 percent from the free-throw line.
West led the team in scoring with 24 points, James Posey scored 18 off the bench, and starters Stojakovic and Paul each scored 12.
Paul led the team in assists with 10 and steals with three. West led in rebounds with nine.
The Nuggets will play the sixth seed Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals, with Game One in Denver.
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