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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Denver Nuggets preview -- Game 21

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Pensive Carmelo is pensive.
Pensive Carmelo is pensive.

The Big Picture: The Bobcats are pointing fingers through the media. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets have quietly put together a 13-6 record, which would make them the fifth seed in the West if the season ended today. All year long, rumors that Carmelo Anthony wants out have swirled around them, and they struggled out of the gate, but are currently on a seven-game winning streak. To be fair, six of those games were at home, but still, it appears that the Nuggets are clicking.

Denver coach, George Karl, is also sitting on 999 career wins. Only six others have reached the 1,000-win milestone. In descending order of total wins, they are: Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, and the Cats' own Larry Brown.

Musical Interlude: Waka Flocka Flame -- "No Hands"

Key to Victory: Whenever facing the Nuggets, it's always about Carmelo Anthony, who might fairly be called a rich man's Stephen Jackson at this stage of his career. When he tries, Anthony can be a beastly defender (funny how the most-elite athletes are like that), just like Jackson. But on offense, where Anthony is perceived to be one of the very best in the league, he separates himself from guys like Jackson by rebounding and cutting down on his turnovers. Jackson's been a much better scorer this year, even though their overall field goal percentages are nearly identical, because Jax has been hitting threes at a significantly higher rate (43% to 33%) and taking a lot more of them (5.8 3PA per36 to 2.3 3PA per36).

That's long been the knock on Anthony. His shooting is a little down this year, and he's taking fewer shots, so he's getting 23 points per game instead of 27 points per game, but he's still well outpacing Jackson's 18 points per game because he takes so many more shots than even an unrepentant gunner like Jax (18.2 FGA/g to 14.8 FGA/g).

So why does Anthony have a 21.2 PER to Jackson's 16.6 PER? For one, Anthony turns the ball over on only about 11% of his possessions, while Jackson does it about 16% of his possessions. For another, Anthony pulls down a lot more rebounds than Jackson. Normally, 'Melo's in the 10%-11% range, but this year, he's grabbing about 13% of available boards, while Jax gets about 7%. (Last year, Gerald Wallace grabbed about 15% of available rebounds.)

Wallace will likely draw 'Melo duty for most of the game. What these stats imply is that he should not spend special energy beyond what he might normally do preventing Anthony from scoring, since his scoring prowess is kind of ordinary. Rather, in order to make Anthony a relatively ordinary total player, he ought to keep Anthony from grabbing boards and force him to turn it over a few more times.

Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Arron Afflalo actually leads the Nuggets in minutes played this season.