Their first game post-Melodrama was anything but a letdown. Despite only having eight men in their rotation, the Nuggets rolled to an easy victory over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night.
It sure looked pretty easy. The Nuggets led by 26 points after three quarters. J.R. Smith played over 42 minutes, finishing with 26 points (on 22 shots), eight rebounds and five assists. Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Gary Forbes and Nene all got plenty of good looks.
These are the new Nuggets — no longer does one guy dominate. Everyone gets their touches, everyone gets their shot attempts, and everyone gets a chance to contribute.
And not only is Carmelo's domination of the ball a thing of the past, but so is the off-court distraction he's generated all season. Finally, the Nuggets have their freedom.
But now the Nuggets bring Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov into the fold. How will things change? Will one ego rise to the top and assume Carmelo's old role as the alpha male in the room, or will a true team identity begin to form?
We'll begin to find that out on Thursday night, as the Nuggets host the Celtics. The C's have been a cohesive team for years now; the Nuggets are just now beginning to learn. It's a new era, and the Celtics will be right in the thick of it.