Denver delivers again at home
Fun fact: Since the 2011 trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, the Nuggets’ record is 223-223.
Saturday night’s 127-114 win over the Knicks at the Pepsi Center was the game that evened the mark.
The player that closed the book on the trade, Jamal Murray, was on the court. The player that started the trade — Anthony — was out there, too. There was some question as to whether he would be because of a nagging shoulder injury. His 29 points were vintage Melo, but the Nuggets owned the night, coasting to the win.
“That’s how we want to play,” guard Gary Harris said. “We’ve just got to keep this going. I like the energy we’re playing with on both ends of the floor. We’re having fun. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
That brings us to fun fact No. 2: Since starting 0-3 at home, the Nuggets are 5-4 at the Pepsi Center. They’ve
chipped away at the narrative that they’re a better team on the road, and they’ve done so with quality victories over good teams such as the Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers and the Knicks. They have not trailed in either of their last two games.
Scoring 100 points is a thing again. They’ve done it in three straight games at home, and two have resulted in wins. The Nuggets are averaging 123 points in that span.
“We realize that if we really want to be a playoff team, ... you have to win at home,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “What did we win last year? Nineteen games? We have to be better at home; we’re doing that as of late.”
On Saturday, the Nuggets used a mixture of solid defense and freeflowing offense to get the job done. Kenneth Faried scored a season-high 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Emmanuel Mudiay played his best game in some time with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and had seven rebounds and five assists.
“This was one of Emmanuel’s best games,” Malone said.
But it is the starting lineup around Mudiay that has been the biggest, most eye-opening change. Since the team returned to full health and, essentially, last season’s starting lineup was reinstated (Mudiay, Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Nikola Jokic), the Nuggets have rolled. They got off to a hot start against the Blazers on Thursday and did it again in the first quarter against New York.
Mudiay and Chandler got the Nuggets rolling early, but the defense was the biggest catalyst.
The Nuggets led by as many as 21 and survived a couple of Knicks rallies that made the deficit manageable, although the outcome was rarely in doubt.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, a former Nuggets star, tries to score against Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler during the first half of Saturday night’s game at the Pepsi Center.