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News » Nuggets cruise in passing lane Denver tallies 30 assists in rout


Nuggets cruise in passing lane Denver tallies 30 assists in rout


Nuggets cruise in passing lane Denver tallies 30 assists in rout MINNEAPOLIS - Timberwolves superfan Bill Beise is super annoying.

He sits courtside at the Target Center but seldom sits, opting to kneel in his suit and tie, banging rolled-up papers onto the hardwood like an irate coach. But by the fourth quarter Wednesday, Beise was glumly slumped in his seat, as quiet as the Timberwolves' shooting.

The Nuggets defeated the defeated Timberwolves 124-111, Denver's second win in two nights against teams on a 13-game losing streak (the other was New Jersey).

"We know those teams aren't playing very well," Denver guard Chauncey Billups said, "and we know the most important parts of those games are early in games, taking their confidence away, letting them know - not tonight."

The Nuggets (11-4) tallied 30 assists, Denver's third-highest total of the season. But it wasn't just the total that stood out, it was the total team effort that did. This might be the coolest stat in quite a while: five Nuggets had four or more assists.

"Great ball movement," said Billups, who tallied five of them. "When we play like that, even if we're missing shots, if everyone's touching the ball, everyone's getting shots, we are very, very dangerous."

On that brutal six-game road trip earlier this month, the Nuggets had 20 or less assists in five of the games. When the team returned, coach George Karl told his players in so many (four-letter) words that if Denver didn't start passing, teams would pass them in the standings.

"We took heat," Carmelo Anthony said.

Since that road trip, the Nuggets have averaged exactly 27 assists per game (to put that in perspective, the NBA leader in assists per game, the Celtics, average 24.5). Yes, Denver has played the likes of the Nets and T-wolves (1-14), but as Anthony said, this passing thing "is starting to become contagious amongst the whole team."

Anthony has been the linchpin. In the past two seasons, he averaged 3.4 assists per game. Entering Wednesday? Yep, 3.4 this season too. But in the past five games, Melo averaged five assists and, sure enough, tallied five against Minnesota - including a nifty play when he (somehow) dribbled between two defenders, drew Nene's man and pushed a little shovel pass to Nene for a dunk.

Anthony, Billups and Karl are all noticing the same thing. With Anthony scoring at such a high level this season (29.7), teams are anticipating his dribble penetration by sometimes throwing an extra low-post defender at him. But as Anthony calmly feeds others for dunks and jumpers, it makes Denver dynamic. Even the possibility of the pass can be a weapon, if Melo utilizes it so.

As for Nene, the center had six assists. When he and Anthony are passing with the foresight of a Billups, well, this could be a fun ride this season.

"I think Melo and Nene are starting to figure out where the double teams are coming from, where to make the pass," Billups said.

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or bhochman@denverpost.com


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 28, 2009

 

 
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