Carmelo Anthony

Baseline to baseline recap: Denver looks good against Indy. For whatever that’s worth.

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In the real game of the night, Ben Roethlisberger was making the kind of heady plays on the field he can never seem to make off it, plus Rex Ryan’s level of disgust on the sidelines was surprisingly entertaining.

But this is an NBA blog. And so our actual Game of the Night had to be the only Game of the Night:

Nuggets 121, Pacers 107: That score makes it seem closer and more interesting than it actually was.

Indiana fans should have known they were in trouble early on. Denver started out missing a series of layups and tip ins. Carmelo Anthony missed his first six shots. Indiana has six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone. And yet the score was always close. Everything went right for the Pacers and they were up just three after one quarter.

Eventually things were going to start going wrong, eventually Nuggets shots would start to fall. And they did. Carmelo Anthony knocked down six three pointers in the third quarter (note to the Pacers: You may have wanted to close out on him a little better at some point) on his way to 36 points. He was so good he was not even booed after the game. Denver killed the Pacers by just knocking down their looks — they hit 15 of 22 spot up opportunities (according to Synergy Sports). The Nuggets also were strong in transition. The Pacers seemed to go to the post a lot but that was less effective and they didn’t have another gear to keep up with Denver’s scoring.

This was the kind of game some might point to and say that with Anthony the Nuggets are contenders in the West. They’re not. And we’re not saying that just because of how the Lakers dismantled them on Friday night (but that gave you some clues).

Denver has a powerful offense — they came into the game second in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). But their defense is 20th in efficiency and that will not get it done. They won this one because they could just simply outscore Indiana — the Pacers finished with six more points per 100 possessions than they average on the season. The Pacers are not a good offensive team but they had a pretty solid night against Denver.

The Nuggets are fun while this lineup lasts. But they are not contenders. With this kind of defense they are a first round playoff exit under the best of scenarios.

Kobe Bryant says his age 37 is not like Michael Jordan’s age 37

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Once again, Kobe Bryant‘s career arc is being compared to Michael Jordan’s.

There’s a lot of reason’s that’s flawed — starting with Kobe being drafted on to a Lakers team that had Shaquille O’Neal and was already considered NBA elite, as opposed to Jordan working to build a franchise up. That said, Kobe has invited the Jordan comparison at times and it has been a constant through is career. Fair or not.

Kobe is coming back this fall after seasons of injury to the NBA and those comparisons continue — now to the Wizards’ version of Jordan. And Kobe is not at all fond of that, as he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“This is uncharted territory,” he said. “My 37 (years old) isn’t MJ’s 37 (when he returned after taking two seasons off to play for the Washington Wizards), you know what I mean? Nor is it the same team or the same system that he was playing in. It’s much, much different. There’s really no barometer, no (precedent) for training physically, for recovery. It’s uncharted territory.”

Kobe is right, starting with Jordan was retired at age 37 (he came back at 38). Also, Jordan had four+ seasons off by the time he was 38 and was not coming off multiple major surgeries.

Kobe is entering his 20th NBA season and what any real basketball fan should wish for him is health. Let him play one full season (with limited minutes and nights off), let him get to the final game of this season next April and make his own decision on his future. Let him leave the game on his own terms.

That said, if Kobe can average Jordan’s numbers at that age — 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game — it will be a major accomplishment, and the Lakers will have a better record than many of us expect.

And Kobe may want to play a 21st season as well.

Celtics ease to 124-91 win at Olimpia Milano in Global Games

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MILAN (AP) — The Boston Celtics eased to a 124-91 victory over Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum on Tuesday, comfortably winning the first of a double-header in Europe as part of the NBA Global Games.

Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Celtics with 18 points, including nine in his first seven minutes after coming off the bench midway through the first quarter.

Jared Sullinger added 14 points, as did Avery Bradley, who also had four three-pointers, while David Lee weighed in with 13 as well as seven rebounds and three assists.

Alessandro Gentile – who is reportedly wanted by the Houston Rockets, who hold NBA rights to the 22-year-old – top scored for Milano, with 19 points.

Next up for the Celtics is Real Madrid in Spain on Thursday.