The Nuggets came away with a 114-105 victory in their opening game of the 2009-2010 season against the Northwest Division rival Utah Jazz Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center and while all of the Nuggets players showed why this team finished second in the Western Conference a year ago, new rookie addition Ty Lawson proved he is the real deal by turning in a spectacular performance.
Getting quality minutes due to J.R. Smith’s seven game suspension, Lawson shined going 7-13 shooting for 17 points. Lawson added 6 assists with beautiful passes and he at times played the point with Chauncey Billups on the floor sliding to shooting guard. This allowed Billups to spot up his three ball, especially in the 3rd quarter when he exploded for 14 points to help the Nuggets take the lead once and for all. Billups finished with 25 points.
The bigs also played well with Nene starting the night off right for the Nuggets establishing himself in the paint offensively finishing with 16 points. Kenyon Martin also proved that he is completely healthy by starting off the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Carrying the Nuggets offense was Carmelo Anthony who finished with 30 points 8 rebounds and 5 assists. These numbers are just as encouraging as the passion Melo showed on the court after he missed a jump shot but followed up his miss by intercepting the Jazz clearing pass and dunking it back down with authority. This play electrified the Pepsi Center crowd and proved that Melo is determined to lead his team back into the playoffs.
Despite Melo’s brilliant performance it was Lawson who pushed the Nuggets lead to double digits in the 4th quarter as he took over the game by driving deep into the lane, laying the ball up and drawing contact. Lawson cashed in a couple of three-point plays at the free throw line and created another for his team mate Nene. After missing a reverse layup, Lawson stayed with the play by getting a tip out to Nene who was fouled on his way in for a dunk.
Not to be left out was the play of two other Nuggets new additions, Arron Afflalo and Joey Graham. Each only scored 3 points but Afflalo kept Jazz point guard Deron Williams busy and made it hard for him to penetrate and kick the ball out to Jazz shooters. Graham played a key role when he saw 2nd quarter playing time when the Nuggets were able to make a surge and cut down the Jazz early lead.
Certainly Lawson showed that he is more deserving of more playing time in the future, even though coach George Karl typically does not give rookies quality minutes. Lawson will surely be playing similar minutes through the next six games while Smith continues to serve his suspension but if Lawson keeps it up Karl should be giving the fellow Tar Heel alumni the minutes Anthony Carter was slated to receive before tonights game. Clearly Lawson showed he deserves reward.
The Nuggets face a quick turnaround as they will fly out for Portland for tomorrows game against the up and coming Trailblazers.