The names Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups have been in the minds of Denver Nuggets fans, beat writers and casual observers all season long and with good reason. Carmelo has been Denver’s franchise player for eight years now, and he has made it known that he wants to take his talents elsewhere — allegedly to the New York Knicks, but Chicago, New Jersey and Denver are “allegedly” under consideration as well. If he does leave, whether via trade or free-agency, the Nuggets figure to be in rebuilding mode, which will also affect Billups. Chauncey is 34-years old, he’s won a championship, and although he’s not the same “Mr. Big Shot” as he was during his title run with the Detroit Pistons, he is still an effective player (15.9 points and 5.3 assists per game). He’s earned the right to be on a contending team, not one in transition — and without Carmelo, or someone of value in return, that’s exactly what the Nuggets would become.
So when Denver visited the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Wizards Tuesday night, I was curious to see how Carmelo and Billups would perform under the weight of all the alleged trades and transition. Carmelo had 23 points and seven rebounds, Billups had 15 points and six assists, and both players were integral to the Nuggets’ 120-109 victory. However, I came away from the game with the names of their two teammates in my mind instead: Ty Lawson and Al Harrington.
Lawson had 17 points and two assists, and did most of his damage in the second quarter when the Nuggets stretched their lead to 12 points (although it got as high as 17 at one point in the period). The point guard had seven points in the second, and he kept both John Wall and Mustafa Shakur completely off-balance with his ability to change speeds, get to the basket, and knock down the open shot.
Harrington was a non-factor for three quarters, but he came alive in the fourth quarter when he hit five of the six three-pointers he attempted. He finished with 21 points, and he did so despite being heckled the entire game by courtside Wizards fans who insisted on calling him Othella, instead of Al (Kyle Weidie detailed this exchange in a great post).
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