Denver Nuggets Hit Stride in Four-Game Win Streak While Missing Carmelo, Billups

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Denver Nuggets Hit Stride in Four-Game Win Streak While Missing Carmelo, Billups
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Ty Lawson has played well in Billups absence, during Denver's current four-game winning streak.

The Nuggets made a statement last night with their 138-133 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Their superstar and leading scoring threat, Carmelo Anthony, was sidelined due to sickness symptoms after playing just over two minutes of the game—yet the Nuggets prevailed in a high-scoring duel.

In the game, which was a total team victory, Denver had six players score in double digits, led by J.R. Smith’s 30 on 8-15 shooting from the field.

In fact, in all three games (the last three for the Nuggets) without Billups (for two) and Melo in the last one, Denver won by shooting more efficiently than their opponents, having at least four players score in double digits and rebounding the ball well.

First and foremost, the Nuggets have been flat-out outscoring opponents, to the tune of 112.3-105.5 during this current winning streak. The way they’ve gotten to those astoundingly high scoring numbers is by sharing the ball and scoring duties as Arron Afflalo (14.3 points), Ty Lawson (15.3) and Nene (15) have picked up the production in the stars’ absence.

And how they’ve been scoring—driving the ball well and kicking it out for open outside shots—has led to 48.2 percent shooting for the Nuggets compared to holding their opponents to 42.9 percent on this streak.

In the rebounding department, Nene has been king (eight per game) while Afflalo’s six per have been close behind. As a team, the Nuggets have out-boarded their opponents 54.8-51.3, an area they’ve struggled in for the last couple seasons.

Melo's buzzer beater was magical.

Overall, the new additions (Al Harrington, Shelden Williams and Gary Forbes) have learned their respective roles and are blending in with the Nuggets just as Chris “Birdman” Andersen came back from his knee injury.

The team is playing well right now, and the lesser known players have performed well in the stars’ absence.

Still, it’s hard to say that Denver doesn’t need Melo just because they beat the Suns last night—after all, he was the one to hit the 20-foot buzzer-beater against the Bulls just two nights before.

Carmelo Anthony may need the ball in his hands, and he slows down the offense with the high amount of isolation offense he runs, but the good comes with the bad and Melo not only is one of the best scorers in the league, he’s one of the top clutch shooters as well (it was his 15th buzzer beater).

And with Kenyon Martin coming closer and closer to getting back onto the court soon, this success and growth bodes well for the Nuggets 2010-11 campaign.

Yes, this Nuggets team (10-6 overall, seventh in the West) could make some noise in the Western Conference playoffs next spring, and Melo may end up deciding Denver is his best chance for a championship after all.

 

Next up for the Nuggets: Denver plays Milwaukee at home Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. MT. The Bucks (6-11) have struggled this season although they have a strong team-oriented play with six players that average 11 or more points per game.

Player to watch: Brandon Jennings leads the Bucks in scoring (17.8 PPG) and assists (5.8 per) while he finds a way to grab 4.8 rebounds per contest as well. He's electrically fast, can get to the hoop whenever he wants but is also a threat from behind the three-point arc (34.9 percent).

Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist and is actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being the Denver Nuggets and a Denver Broncos Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, Kurtzman is the CSU Rams Examiner and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.

Follow Rich on twitter and/or facebook!

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