Carmelo Anthony is a smooth player.
His shot is purer than 24 karat gold, his size is too big, his quickness too explosive to cover and Melo’s finger roll is reminiscent of George “The Iceman” Gervin’s.
Anthony is the NBA’s second leading scorer, at 29.7 per game (just .1 behind LeBron James) and his scoring will be quite beneficial for the Nuggets tonight through the All- Star break.
But, it’s not like Denver has struggled mightily without Melo, as they went 5-3 while he’s missed the last eight games. Chauncey Billups has literally held the team together and propelled them to victory during Anthony’s absence, all behind the best basketball the eight-time All Star has played in his career.
Since Jan. 8, Billups has averaged an astounding 24.8 points and his career-high 39 in LA Monday was magical. Mr. Big Shot made nine three pointers, another career high, along with dishing eight dimes.
Likewise, J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo have improved to be more consistent scorers and overall better players. Afflalo hit his career high, 24 points, on Jan. 25 versus Charlotte, and he’s been rebounding and assisting more steadily recently. Smith has put in 17.5 points per since his noteworthy walk off the court on Jan. 23, while filling up the stat line with assists, steals and rebounds.
But, just since Anthony is back, it doesn’t mean the Nuggets are healthy. Billups is struggling with ankle sprains in both legs and is a game-time decision. Kenyon Martin and Chris “Birdman” Andersen both have ailing knees, although they will likely both play.
Afflalo has an ankle strain as well, but told Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, “I’m good to go. I plan to get out there and be normal, just play. I twisted it pretty bad, but I got treatment. It’s sore, just like anything else, but I’m ready.”
Lastly, center Nene has a strain of the lower leg and may be held out to give him some rest.
The Nuggets (34-17) sit second in the West and atop the Northwest division, while the Mavericks (32-19) are in fourth currently. While Denver is 7-3 in their last 10, they struggle on the road at 12-13. Winning in Dallas isn’t impossible though. The Mavs are the worst team at home of the top six Western Conference teams (15-9), although they will fight tough in this probable playoff-like game.
All the action tips off at 7 p.m. MT on Altitude Entertainment in Denver and the surrounding areas.
Update: Denver improved its record to 35-17 in the best game they've played all season. The Nuggets won 127-91, and everyone that got into the game scored. Anthony scored 19 points with six assists as Denver absolutely destroyed Dallas.
If there was any doubt that the Nuggets are the legit No. 2 seed in the West, there shouldn't be now. After this thrashing, and their destruction of the Lakers in LA without Melo, Denver is looking like they could be the most legit championship contender they've ever been.
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