Depth isn’t a problem for the Denver Nuggets, but they player their double overtime game against the New York Knicks with only 7 players. According to the usual trend, someone had to have a huge night against the Knicks at the Garden, this time being Danilo Gallinari, scoring a career high 37 points in the 119-114 win.
And as much as Gallinari’s first game against his former team went so well, he did score almost half of his points from the line (18-20). Al Harrington was actually the player to shoot and score more from the field on a very fun to watch Nuggets team, scoring 24 points as the Nuggets went smaller, without Mozgov, with the game on the line.
The biggest story to me is the Knicks’ losing streak, and more importantly, Amare Stoudemire continuing to struggle. It’s understandable if Caermelo Anthony is the first shooting option, but for Stoudemire to attempt only nine shots from the field in 45 minutes? Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas all took more field goal attempts than Stoudemire.
Carmelo Anthony did score 25 points, but he had more field goal attempts than points in an embarrassing night for him. Only 10-30 from the field, and somehow he actually managed to rack up 5 assists, although a picture of Anthony giving up the ball at any point during the game just doesn’t come to mind.
The Knicks have lost six straight, and Stoudemire has scored over 20 points only once during these six losses. He’s shooting well below 40% from the field during this recent slump, while scoring 22.2 points and just under 50% during wins. The Mike D’Antoni system doesn’t work without a point guard, and it’s even harder to execute properly with Carmelo hogging the ball.
And while the Knicks look like a one man show, it’s a different story for the Nuggets, who got most of their depth from the Knicks in that huge trade just under a year ago. Most importantly, in contrast to the Knicks, waiting for Baron Davis to return from his injury, is having a point guard who’s a pass first kind of guy. There’s no obvious go to guy, their are several, and while none of them are bonafide superstars, the Nuggets are a team that hardly struggle with finding ways to score.
Gallinari scored more than double his season average (17.4), and is looking more and more like a big promise slowly fulfilling itself, continuing his successful road he began with the Knicks almost four years ago. Not an All-Star yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him there in a couple of years, if he keeps going like this. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing the Nuggets actually win a playoff series or two, being 12-5 so far this season, with the current roster and energy in it.