Who needs Carmelo Anthony, heck, who even needs a full roster! For one night at least, the Denver Nuggets didn’t after whipping the Memphis Grizzlies 120-107 with only 9 active players thanks to the blockbuster trade that went down Monday night.
The Nuggets were led by J.R. Smith who put up 26 points to easily lead Denver past Memphis, a team that they just always seem to beat at home. They also got 21 points from Ty Lawson. Both Smith and Lawson found themselves thrust into the starting lineup after the trade by head coach George Karl, who had to mix and match his line-up due to the limited players available.
"I’ve been told by a lot of owners that I coach better when I have a shorter bench," Karl said. "I think everybody knows I enjoy these type of games where you have to mix and match some situations and circumstances and find some success."
With the drama surrounding the Anthony situation finally over, the remaining players could finally focus on what they are paid to do, play basketball, and they did with resounding success.
"I’m just happy it’s over with. Period. We won’t have to answer these questions no more," Denver’s Al Harrington said. "I hope this is the last time I’m going to have to answer any trade questions for a long time."
That sense of relief seemed prevalent across the board as the whole team contributed to the win and did so in a relaxed and almost relieved manner. A far cry from the team that lost four of six before the All-Star break.
"I think there was an enjoyment to the game that we haven’t had in a while," Karl said.
The loss of Anthony is a huge one, but in all honesty, it doesn’t have to be a fatal one. With a superb coach in George Carl and a group of motivated players who are out to show everyone it wasn’t just Carmelo who can play ball in Denver, this team is poised to make their mark on the Western Conference.
"We don’t expect one guy to take over Melo’s ability, he’s a great player," guard Arron Afflalo said. "But at the same time it does create opportunity for myself, for J.R., for the new guys coming in to play a little freer and watch the ball move around just a little bit more."