Nuggets Top Nets
“That was our mindset,” said Jason Kidd. “We wanted to go in and try to keep them to under 100 points. We put ourselves in that position. It wasn’t our defense tonight, it was our offense.”
The Nets ultimately lost control of the game in the third quarter, when the Nuggets ran out to a 23-4 run, and the Nets scored just one field and two free-throws in an eight minute stretch.
Said Coach Frank “To analyze the game, the third quarter was our undoing.”
New Jersey did have their shots to tie or take the lead in the final three minutes of the game. Down 88-86 with 2:54, Richard Jefferson missed an open three-pointer at the top of the key; Down 90-88 with 1:47, Jason Kidd missed a left wing three-pointer; and down 93-90 with under 10 seconds to go, Vince Carter missed a wide-open left wing three-pointer.
Coach Frank liked the looks that the Nets had.
“I thought Richard had a great shot at the top of the circle, Jason had a great shot on the left wing, and then Vince had a great shot to try and tie it.”
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 30 points, including 20 in the second half. He also got to the line 12 times.
“You have to give him credit,” said Frank. “He was able to attack in the post and he was able to attack on penetration. He hit two threes against the zone. He’s one of the premier players in the league and he’s one of the best three-men in the league.”
Anthony scored the first 8 Denver points of the game and the Nuggets held a 16-10 lead with 5:22 in the first. The Nets knotted it at 18 when Jason Kidd hit a jumper from the right side. The score was tied at 20 after one. Anthony had 10 in the quarter.
Linas Kleiza opened the second quarter scoring, hitting a three to put the Nuggets up 23-20. The Nets subsequently rolled off a 9-0 run, going up six. The Nuggets got back to within one (35-34) on a Nene lay up with 5:44, but two Richard Jefferson free-throws and an Eddie House three in transition pushed the Net lead back to six. The Nets stretched the advantage to eight at the 2:16 mark, and went into halftime up 49-42.
Vince Carter had 10 of his 16 first half points in the second quarter. The Nets were able to get Carmelo Anthony in early foul trouble, as he picked up his third foul and was done for the half with 7:47 to go in the second.
The Nuggets started the scoring in the third, as Allen Iverson hit a three and Marcus Camby a top-of-the-key jumper to cut the lead to two. The Nets pushed their lead back to six at the 8:46 mark on a Bostjan Nachbar jam. The Nuggets then went on a prolonged 23-4 run, stretching that six point deficit to a thirteen-point lead (73-60). The Nets made just one field goal - a Vince Carter dunk with 6:15 – and two free-throws – by Vince as well – in the span of nearly eight minutes. The Nets broke the draught with a Mikki Moore dunk, assisted by Kidd, who in turn baited Eduardo Najera on the next possession, scoring a jumper and making it a three point play. The Nets trailed after three, 73-65.
The Nuggets moved the lead to nine with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth. The Nets then forged an 11-3 run to pull within a point (79-78). Eduardo Najera scored a lay up, and 1, and Eddie House responded with a jumper. Carmelo Anthony scored the next eight points unanswered, putting the Nuggets up 88-80 with just under five minutes to play. The Nets made their run back yet again, this time to within two (88-86) when Vince Carter followed up on his own shot. Allen Iverson answered with a lay up, and Carter promptly followed up with a dunk. The Nets were again within two. With 1:38, Anthony converted on a lay up, and the foul, pushing Denver’s lead to five.
The Nets had their chances though. Richard Jefferson sunk two free-throws with 1:19 to go, keeping the Nets within a possession. Vince Carter was whistled for a traveling call with 44.6 and with 9.9 seconds left – and the Nets still down just three - Vince Carter had a beautiful chance at a wide open three-pointer, left of the key. He missed, the ball bounded towards mid court, and the Nets were left to foul Allen Iverson, who hit 1-2 and for all intents and purposes put the game away.
The Nets played the defense and gave the effort, but just could not hit the shot to put them over the top. The coach felt that the team had the fight.
“Defensively we did a good enough job, and offensively we just fell a little short in that third quarter.”
“We had some great opportunities but we missed some shots that we should have hit,” said Kidd. “We have to live with that and push forward and get ready for Orlando.”
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