No ‘Melo, No Problem: Denver Nuggets hit 50 Win Mark

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When the Denver Nuggets season started, most talk centered on trade rumors and speculation about how far the Nuggets might fall once they traded Carmelo Anthony.

Then the trade finally happened and an unexpected energy came surging into Denver.

A combination of relief over the end of the Melodrama and an appreciation for the fast-paced style brought by the new Nuggets created a sense of excitement throughout the Rocky Mountains.

What has to be one of the most dramatic seasons in Nuggets history hit a remarkable milestone Monday night with a 134-111 win over the Golden State Warriors.
The win in its penultimate game of the season gives Denver 50 wins for the fourth consecutive season. It also clinches the fifth seed in the Western Conference for the upcoming playoff series.

The Nuggets still don’t know who their first-round opponent will be, but that is a matter for later in the week. Monday was all about the 50-win benchmark.

“It feels great,” forward Kenyon Martin said. “Any time you can put 50 wins on the board it’s a successful season.”

The plateau is often seen as a mark of a successful season in the NBA in any year, and with what Denver has gone through, it is nothing short of remarkable.

The Nuggets have used 17 different starting lineups.

They traded their top-scorer and starting point guard.

And by the end of Monday’s game, Denver had six regulars sitting out with injuries.

But again, the Nuggets showed strength in numbers.

With the game tied 54-54 at half, Denver exploded in the second half behind some unconscious shooting from J.R. Smith.

The sharpshooter exploded for 17 points in the third quarter, including hitting four of five three-pointers. Smith was the catalyst for a 44-point third quarter from the home team.

The fourth quarter saw more of the same as Denver poured in another 36 points to blow the visiting Warriors out of the gym.

“That’s what it’s about, everybody getting involved, everybody playing together no matter who’s playing,” Martin said. “We’re going out there just contributing. It’s a testament to how hard guys work day in and day out.”

The Nuggets finished with an incredible nine players in double figures, led by 22 from Smith. It was the first time since 1987 that a Denver team had that many players finish with 10+ points.

This came as Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari rested nagging injuries while Timofey Mozgov continued to sit out with an ankle injury. Starting center Nene left at halftime with a groin injury and Arron Afflalo suffered another setback with his hamstring injury in the third quarter, but seldom used Nuggets picked up the slack. Gary Forbes started and contributed 15 points while Kosta Koufos started the second half in place of Nene and put in 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Those contributions demonstrate how coach George Karl’s team got to 50 wins.

“Everybody that’s been on our roster has probably had a role in at least one or two wins. Some of the guys in New York were definitely big time helpers in helping us win,” Karl said. “Then the new guys coming in and giving us that energy or enthusiasm or euphoria to play and try to become a very good team in a short period of time. It’s a special year.”

The Nuggets will now finish their season on Wednesday in Utah as they await a first-round series and a chance to make the season even more magical.

Our thanks to Hoops Addict for this basketball article.

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