The New Jersey Nets finished off their road trip at 1-3 as they dropped a heartbreaker to the Denver Nuggets 107-103. The Nets have now lost three straight games and will try to rebound when they head back home.
Carmelo Anthony was almost a Net during the offseason. Tonight he showed that he is still the leader of the Nuggets, scoring 28 points with eight rebounds. He came into the game averaging 24.1 ppg, good for sixth in the NBA.
Though Denver is now 105-24 at the Pepsi Center over the last three seasons, the Nets had several chances to tie the game late but were unable to do so.
Avery Johnson called for “better leadership among the troops” following Friday’s loss to Sacramento. To some extent, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez provided that leadership, but they also failed to come through with the game on the line.
Carmelo started off hot, recording four points and two assists on the Nuggets early 9-2 run. But the Nets followed with a 10-2 run of their own to take the lead aided by eight points by Lopez.
Chauncey Billups went down hard in the first and missed significant time. Denver then went on a 10-0 run. Both Anthony and Nene finished the first quarter with eight points and four rebounds. The Nets trailed by three after one.
The connection of Jordan Farmar to Derrick Favors gained steam in the second quarter. Favors was rumored to be the centerpiece of the package for Carmelo so he had a chip on his shoulder all night.
Favors scored nine points and added four rebounds in the first half while Farmar added 10 points and four assists.
Denver opened an eight point lead thanks to good energy play from Melvin Ely and Ty Lawson. The Nets then went on an 11-4 run and trailed 59-54 heading into the second half.
The Nets missed their first five shots of the second half allowing the Nuggets to take a nine point lead. Harris couldn’t get it going for the second straight night, but Farmar continued to pick up the slack, hitting several big threes.
After an 11-4 Nets run, Denver went on their own 11-0 run to open a 13-point lead. Rather than fold, the Nets showed great fight in chipping away at this lead.
Two clutch free throws from Favors cut the Denver lead to two. But Anthony answered with a three-point play.
With 1:40 left in the game, Travis Outlaw hit a clutch three from the corner to once again cut the lead to two. The Nuggets answered right back again to go back up by four.
Off a jump ball, Harris stole the ball and raced down the court for an easy layup, once again making it a two point game. The Nets got a much needed stop and called a time out.
Johnson drew up a play, and the Nets executed it perfectly except for one small but major problem: Lopez missed the layup that would have tied the game. He was in a good position put just missed it. Carmelo was all over him, but that’s no excuse for the size advantage and proximity to the net.
The Nets had seven players in double figures. Lopez led the team with 20 points, Outlaw scored 15, Farmar and Favors each had 14, Anthony Morrow and Harris had 12 apiece and Kris Humphries added 10.
Nene finished with 22, and Lawson scored 15 off the bench for Denver.
The loss marks the first time New Jersey scored over 95 points and lost this season. They fall to 4-9 on the year but will look to regain some momentum Tuesday at home against the Atlanta Hawks.