If you went to bed early or had other things to do besides watch the Denver-Utah game on ESPN last night, you made the wrong decision. One, because the NBA is awesome and this is its strongest iteration since about, oh, 1996; and two, because you missed Carmelo Anthony’s enormous dunk over Paul Millsap, who is legit in his own right. Or was. RIP Millsap’s cred, you will be missed.
The play was an effective dagger into Utah’s heart for the night; the Nuggets had begun to pull away in the second half, but Utah was still hang-ging around, hang-ging around, down 8 halfway through the fourth quarter. Millsap had just corralled a defensive rebound and sent a lazy pass up the court to a waiting Deron Williams. Bad decision, sir, as Anthony was waiting for the pass. Anthony picked it off, took one dribble, and utterly posterized Millsap, who compounded his earlier bad decision by standing in the crease. Video? Of course there’s video, after the break.
(I’ve watched this like 50 times today. 51… 52…)
Denver would lead by as many as 16 down the stretch and ended up winning by a safe nine points. More importantly, they looked every bit like a defending conference runner-up. Don’t sleep on the Nuggets, guys. Now that Chauncey Billups has some young legs behind him and can stick to 30-35 minutes a game, the Nugs don’t have any big holes.
Aside from ‘Melo, who poured in 30 points, 8 boards, and 5 steals, Denver was spurred both of their point guards; Billups scored 25 points, and rookie Ty Lawson had 17 - most of which came in Denver’s second-half surge. Yes, that Ty Lawson, the one who barely escaped being a second-round pick by a bad team this spring. Lawson looked like a ready-made pro, which should surprise nobody who actually watched him play at UNC.
Meanwhile, the media-declared “ready-made pro” from UNC, Tyler Hansbrough - taken about a dozen picks earlier than Lawson? The dreaded DNP-CD. Although really, who could possibly outplay the immortal Solomon Jones? Hansbrough’s helpless against Solomon Jones. Anybody would be.