D.R.: Nuggets so close | VailDaily.com

D.R.: Nuggets so close

Don Rogers

Denver came a whisker from stealing a second game on San Antonio’s court last night. The Nuggets scratched back from 17 points down to reach just 3 behind with 45 seconds to go in the game.

Just imagine if Allen Iverson could hit a shot last night. He was the difference, as he has been and will be in the series.

Or, if as he almost always does, he got to the free throw line with anywhere near the regularity the hard-driving guard normally does. Last night, it was zero. And it wasn’t that he never got fouled, either. Refs swallowing their whistles is part of the game, too, and the Nuggets benefited from that in game one, which allowed Nene to manhandle Tim Duncan.

The Spurs pretty much had to win this game, though. Losing two on their own court was inconceivable for a team of this high caliber. The Nuggets awoke the beast by taking the first game. And they very nearly stunned San Antonio last night. A couple of Iverson’s layup fall, a few fouls called and the Nuggets win this one.

Reporters are pointing to the Nuggets bench scoring in the single digits as another negative for Denver. True, but coach George Karl is only playing three off the bench, and not playing them very long at all.

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Eddie Najera is the only one of the three who is not playing tight. He’s not scoring, but his game is less shooting the ball than being the energetic hustler, and he’s doing that. He made some key plays for the Nuggets in game one. I didn’t notice any last night, but I was only half watching most of the game anyway.

Linus Kleiza and especially J.R. Smith look nervous out there. So the team’s best three-point shooters are clanking their shots and getting pulled quickly. Look out if either gets comfortable out there.

The Nuggets are playing eight, with none the three off the bench playing even 20 minutes. The Spurs are going 10 deep. Their verstaility is what gives them their best shot.

Carmelo Anthony was a little off his shot last night, two, but he played in the realm of what’s needed from him for the Nuggets to win.

Denver is playing tough. That’s the most heartening thing about them. Now, if The Answer just plays at his normal production, the Nuggets win. San Antonio, with the best team defense in the league, will try to have a little to say about that. But a layup is a layup; you don’t miss many of those and win games. Unless you get fouled.

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