The 2003 NBA Draft was one of the most hyped in recent memory with high school wonderkind LeBron James being the prized selection.
Recently, basketball fans have debated the merits of that class and have taken to giving the draft a virtual â€œdo-overâ€ with James still leading the way, but with Dwyane Wade and, occasionally, Chris Bosh following him.
The player that seems to have been lost in the shuffle is Carmelo Anthony, drafted third that year by Denver. Yet, if last nightâ€™s game against the Raptors is any indication, youâ€™d better get used to him.
Anthony scored 37 points, many on fast-break dunks and layups, while displaying an improving jumper. His J, like many young, athletic, swingmen, was an issue coming out of Syracuse, but he has put in work to give himself another weapon in his offensive arsenal.
Led by Anthony, the Nuggets simply outran the Raptors to a 107-101 victory. Kenyon Martin chipped in a double-double, with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while the diminutive Earl Boykins added 16.
Mr. Space Mountain, Mike James, led the Raps with 22, while Jalen Rose had another solid evening, contributing 21.
While the Raps did lead 54-52 at the half, that is not always directed correlated to an addition to the wins column. They came out of the gate shooting well and did a great job of controlling the defensive glass in the first half. Yet, they did show signs that the lead was precarious.
They allowed too many easy buckets in the first half and things only got worse in the second. More troublesome, they allowed the Nuggets to get to the line 19 times in the first half. The combination of easy buckets and frequent trips to the free throw line is great when your team is getting them. Sadly, that only seems to happen when the Raps play Seattle.
Predictably, the team struggled in the third quarter. While they were not victimized by a superhuman performance by one of the Nuggets, they shot only 35% for the quarter and managed to grab a grand total of ZERO offensive rebounds. Someone should have told the team that Hoffa wasnâ€™t playing.
In the end, the Nuggets were too much. They got the easy buckets in transition (they led Toronto 36-15 in fast break points), got to the foul line 39 times (hitting 30 of them) and shot the ball well. The Raptors were clearly gassed after their fifth road game in seven days and saw their collective jumpers disappear like Paul Martin as Prime Minister.
One positive from the evening was the play of RaptorsHQ fave Pape Sow. Sow had nine points and three blocks in 20 minutes of play and played a high-energy style. While somewhat Hoffa-like with five fouls, he didnâ€™t shy away from the contact and drew a couple of charges. He also hit all five of his free throws.
Chapmanâ€™s Random Thoughts
- I like some of what Sam Mitchell did defensively in this game. I like having Sow guard Carmelo and, while he waited too long to do it, I liked the double teaming of Anthony in the third. Now, if he could just get his players to play D more consistently.
- Eric Williams with the start? Can you say showcase?
- Are Kenyon Martin and Method Man the same person?
- It was really frustrating watching the Nuggets get easy bucket after easy bucket.
- Morris Peterson is struggling. Are his road woes back? Is he tired from the long trip? Feel free to talk amongst yourselvesâ€¦
- Whatâ€™s up with the background music at the Pepsi Center? The first half, it was all hip-hop, with the likes of Mobb Deep and T.I. catering to Kmart and Melo. In the second half, it was a little J. Geils Band and Marilyn Manson. Did Eduardo Najera and George Karl make their requests at halftime?
- Speaking of T.I., I think Pape Sowâ€™s nickname should be â€œThe Rubber Band Manâ€.
- Paging Joey Grahamâ€¦
- Paging Joey Grahamâ€™s alma materâ€¦.
- And, yes. I did bet on the Raptors +8.5.
- Chapman's Music Pick of the Week: "Breaking Kayfabe" by Edmonton rapper Cadence Weapon. Get it. Now.