Well, it wasn't pretty for the most part, but the Denver dominated down the stretch on both ends of the court and won their first game as a new team.
One game into the post-Melo era for the Nuggets (with all their players from the deal in Denver) and if nothing else, the team played at its highest level effort-wise since the mid-90s.
The Nuggets played true team basketball—every player was held accountable for giving his all on the defensive and offensive ends of the court. Denver ended up dominating late (16-0 run to end the game) and the Nuggets won 89-75.
On offense, Denver was more willing to run up-court and run together as a mob, which was working well to get some easier transition buckets on the dominating defensive Celtics.
The Nuggets shared the ball and heading into halftime, no one player was in double digits scoring, but some seven players had scored. At the end of the game, five Denver players scored in double digits, led by Kenyon Martin's 18.
The men from the Mile High City shared the ball as well as they had all season too: Lawson and Afflalo combined for 16 assists on the night. Denver's player movement was wonderful as they continuously cut through the lane and set themselves up for easy buckets.
Defensively, Denver was relentless in their pursuit of the better Boston Celtics, playing physical, scrappy defense that kept the Nuggets in the game with one of the best teams in the league.
They got back in full-force before one Celtic player did, just like the C's do to every team they play.
The play of the game was an important steal by Kenyon Martin that turned into a huge run-out lay up for Arron Afflalo that put the Nuggets up nine points with two minutes remaining. On the next possession, Ty Lawson blocked a shot and Martin sank a 20-footer as Denver sealed the victory over the best team in the East in Boston (41-15).
The most telling stat was Denver's 58 total team rebounds, a new season high, 18 more than the Celtics.
And really, despite not having the multiple superstars the Celtics do, the Nuggets resembled Boston on both ends of the court.
The Nuggets had only three wins when scoring under 100 points all season before this big win tonight and it may be a sign that Denver can compete without having to just out-score opponents—they can actually play a little defense as well.
It was an encouraging site, especially from a team that's been thrown together in the last two days and if the Nuggets can end up playing like the Celtics on a regular basis, it could be a best-case scenario for fans that have grown far too used to a team playing well only on offense.
In the end, the Pepsi Center crowd cheered and gave the Nuggets a standing ovation as a show of support for their Nuggets both new and old.
Notable New Nuggets
Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets in scoring deep into the fourth quarter, he shot well from the mid-range, hit a timely three-pointer to take the lead late and drove the ball to the hoop aggressively throughout. Chandler finished the game with 16 points and five boards on five-for-nine shooting.
Danilo Gallinari is a decent player with great size (6'10”) that tried harder tonight than anyone else on the court. He finished with two points, four rebounds and even swatted three shots.
Raymond Felton, who backed up Ty Lawson at point guard, played decently with four points and six assists as he felt out his new teammates in Denver.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is a Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos and NBA Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com, the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com and a weekly contributor to milehighhoops.com.
Rich also heads up PR for K-Biz and Beezy, a Colorado-based rap group.
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