Carmelo carries Nuggets to victory over Grizzlies
DENVER ” Not even ‘Melo’s migraine could help the Memphis Grizzlies end their mile-high misery.
Carmelo Anthony overcame a throbbing headache to score 35 points and lead the Denver Nuggets to a crucial 115-101 win over the Grizzlies on Monday night.
Anthony said his migraine hit him when he got to the arena.
“I shot an airball the first play of the game. I couldn’t see the goal. The goal was moving,” Anthony said. “The lights are too bright in here ” seriously. This is the only place I catch migraines in. I never get them nowhere else.”
The lights, the floor, the altitude, the noise, the Grizzlies don’t like anything about the Pepsi Center, where they fell to 0-14 despite 22 points from Bobby Jackson.
The teams might meet in the first round of the playoffs and Denver’s two wins in the season series ” the teams play their third and final game later this month ” give the Nuggets the tiebreaker, which would mean home-court advantage.
That could prove invaluable for Denver because the Grizzlies are the only NBA team that has never won at the Pepsi Center.
“For two days, George (Karl) has been constantly stressing that this is a team that we’ll be playing against,” Anthony said. “We kind of wanted to make a statement that if we play you in the playoffs, this is what you’re going to see.”
The Grizzlies insisted it’s too early to worry about playoff positioning, but center Pau Gasol acknowledged it was something they had all pondered.
“You think about it,” said Gasol, who shot just 3-for-10. “We thought about it before the game, but not while you are playing. They beat us the first two here. Now we get hope to get them at home.”
The Nuggets shot a Pepsi Center-record 64 percent from the floor, outrebounded Memphis 41-21 and blocked 11 shots to the Grizzlies’ two. The 21 boards were the fewest ever for a Denver opponent.
With Kenyon Martin (knee) sidelined for the second straight game, Karl put 6-foot-5 swingman Ruben Patterson on the 7-foot Gasol, then rotated Marcus Camby, Francisco Elson and Reggie Evans on the NBA’s Western Conference player of the week.
“I want him to feel the heat, feel the energy,” Karl said before tip-off.
Gasol must have felt both, because he was held to seven first-half points as the Grizzlies stumbled at the start, trailed 57-40 at halftime and fell behind by 26 before mounting a futile fourth-quarter push.
“He’s the type of guy who doesn’t like to play physical, so I tried to deny him, take the ball out of his hands,” Patterson said. “He was frustrated. Every time he got the ball we were doubling him. We took him out of his game, so that was a good game plan.”
Gasol never did anything to thwart the Nuggets’ strategy.
“It wasn’t anything. I shot the ball (poorly) tonight. I wasn’t shooting the ball well,” Gasol said. “Ruben tried to front me. Tried to front me and not allow me to get the ball. Reggie was on me. Marcus was on me. They all tried to guard me.”
And they all were very successful at it, too.
Gasol finished with 10 points, half his average, in 23 minutes, and fellow starters Shane Battier (12) and Dahntay Jones (11) failed to pick up the scoring slack.
Anthony, who made 15 of 22 shots, scored 17 in the third quarter. His layup with 3:55 left in the third put Denver ahead 80-52, and the Nuggets, who led by as many as 26, took an 89-67 lead into the fourth quarter.
Memphis’ bench made the score respectable. Jackson’s running bank shot made it 106-97 with 4 minutes remaining but the Grizzlies got no closer.
“The bench played well,” Battier said. “They would have made a difference had we played well.”
Karl never was worried, though.
Not with Anthony hitting 15 of 22 shots and Camby tallying 13 points, eight boards and five blocks.
“Carmelo had an incredible shooting night tonight and Camby was sort of on a mission to stop Gasol,” Karl said. “He was probably the MVP with his presence in the middle.”
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