Nuggets vs. Suns: Phoenix Comes From 15 Down to Spoil Carmelo's Career Night
Carmelo Anthony pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds in the losing effort, one where his team managed just a single assist over the entire second half. George Karl largely blamed this particular statistic for his team's collapse.
"How about one (assist) in the second half," Karl said. "Why don't you put that on the board? That should be the headline. Pass the damn ball, trust the pass, and play together."
1st Quarter: Denver 22, Phoenix 20
Sunday night against the Lakers, Phoenix hit 22 three-pointers, one shy of the NBA record. They tried to continue the hot shooting from downtown early in this one, but with decidedly different results: the Suns finished the first quarter 0 for 6 from three-point land, and just 7 for 26 from the field overall, for a dismal shooting percentage of just 26.7 percent.
On the Nuggets' side, things weren't much better. Denver made three more buckets than the Suns did, but the team was also 0-fer from three, missing all four attempts.
Carmelo Anthony looked a little out of it from the start, committing four turnovers and going just 1-for-5 from the field. He wasn't taking it too seriously, however, flipping the ball to a courtside fan after fumbling a rebound out of bounds. Anthony was effective on the glass, though, and pulled down six first-quarter rebounds.
Al Harrington led the Nuggets with seven points off the bench, getting the call just four minutes in after Nene went to the bench after picking up two early fouls.
Channing Frye, getting the start for the injured Robin Lopez, was largely ineffective, and managed just two points and a single rebound in 10 minutes, while going 0 for 3 from three-point range.
2nd Quarter: Denver 58, Phoenix 46
The Suns continued their poor shooting from beyond the arc, and the Nuggets finally realized that they had a size advantage. These two factors combined to allow Denver to push its lead to as many as 15 in the quarter, and hold it at a steady 12 by halftime.
With Carmelo getting a breather on the bench, Harrington and Nene wreaked havoc on the Suns interior defense. Nene scored 11 in the quarter inside, and Harrington added 4 more to bring his total to 11 as well.
Anthony continued his rebounding tear, collecting 11 before the break -- more than twice as many as any individual Phoenix player.
3rd Quarter: Denver 76, Phoenix 69
The Suns used an 8-2 start to the third to quickly pull within six, and cut the Nuggets' lead to just two at 67-65, after a put-back dunk from Josh Childress capped a 7-0 Phoenix run. But Denver closed the period on a 9-4 run of its own, taking a seven-point cushion into the final period.
The intensity picked up significantly, with players from both sides complaining often to officials about the physical play -- which didn't go unnoticed by the referees. Nene picked up a technical, after appearing to intentionally kick Channing Frye behind him after grabbing a defensive rebound. Grant Hill picked up one a couple of plays later, after slapping his shooting arm loudly in the direction of the official and yelling "Come on!" after he believed he was hit on his previous attempt.
Carmelo Anthony finished the third with 19 rebounds, which is a new career high.
One other note: J.R. Smith, who had appeared in all nine of Denver's games heading into tonight, is currently a DNP-CD. According to Nuggets' PR, there is no physical reason why Smith is unable to play.
4th Quarter: Phoenix 100, Denver 94
The Suns let their deficit slip to eight, before really getting rolling on both ends of the floor. Hakim Warrick tied the game at 81 on a powerful move inside, and Phoenix took the lead on its next possession, thanks to a running banker from Hedo Turkoglu that went in as he was fouled. Chauncey Billups was T'd up for throwing the ball at the official, and the four-point possession put Phoenix up 85-82, giving the Suns a lead which they would never relinquish.
After Al Harrington scored Denver's final bucket of the game, with the Suns running out the final 16.9 seconds of the clock, J.R. Smith was the lone member of the Nuggets standing at the end of the team's bench. He looked like he wished he could have contributed to Denver's dismal 3 for 17 effort from three-point land, but -- as George Karl confirmed afterward -- Smith was unavailable to his team on this night due to disciplinary reasons.
"J.R. was late for shootaround, and I felt to go another way because of that," Karl said.