It’s 1 AM east coast time—the Denver Nuggets have beaten the New York Knicks in double OT 119-114—and I’m on the team plane ready to fly home. A hard week of work is over for all involved. The preparation, the anticipation, the expectations are all played out.
We know we’re getting into Denver late, but nobody cares. The mood on the plane is festive, giddy if you like. For the first time ever, the Denver Nuggets played 4 games in 5 nights on the road, and won all 4!!
Bucks-POW! 76ers-- WHAM! Wizards—BOOM! NY Knicks—SEE’ YA!
The camaraderie on the plane is fantastic. There are coaches chatting about all the big plays, player’s high fiving and the media (our crew from Altitude) contemplating how lucky we all are. And, what the TV rating might be!
Big Al Harrington walks to his seat and everyone offers congratulations. Al is delighted to find out that they have stocked creamy peanut butter sandwiches on the plane. Usually all they have is the crunchy stuff. Assistant coach Melvin Hunt tells Al, “You keep shooting it the way you have, and we’ll make sure smooth and creamy peanut butter sandwiches are on the plane from now on!”
I walk to the back of the plane and see Nene lounging contentedly in his seat. I wonder if he’s thinking about the two biggest free throws of his career? The Nuggets were trailing 105-103 in the first OT with 9 seconds to play and he was fouled. At this point Nene was struggling mightily and had missed all four FTs he had taken. With the MSG crowd going crazy Nene stepped to the line. First one; good! Second one; also good! A key moment for Nene, and certainly a turning point in the match-up.
I’m also very happy for Timofey Mozgov who had his best all around game as a Denver Nugget scoring 16 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and blocking 2 shots. Mozzy is getting better all the time and could be a big factor in the playoffs.
Danilo Gallinari, meanwhile, just looks so cool. He is dressed to the nines and could be mistaken for a European model. Albeit, a very tall Euro model! He played the game of his life against his old team scoring a career high 37, making 18 of 20 free throws and collected 10 rebounds! And he outplayed Carmelo Anthony.
By the way, I did get a chance to say hello to Carmelo. Prior to the game, Melo was chatting with Altitude radioman Jason Kosmicki (@RadioKoz) —I walked over and we shook hands. In the 7½ years he was in Denver, Melo was always cordial. And, he let me be in his Nike “Jumpman” commercial (still on You Tube) so I will always be grateful.
Too sum up the trip…a tough win over the Bucks, an OT thriller at Philly, another nail biter in Washington and then the coup de grace, a double OT win at NY. Four wins in five nights on the road. In the NBA it doesn’t get much better than that.
Well, gotta go now. They’re serving up the ice cream.
Oh good! It’s chocolate!