John Vandelinder: Melo and the fellows

Rockies gone, Broncos sink, it's Nuggets time

— The general consensus this week in the "man about town" suggests Craig football fans have discarded the notion of the Broncos making the playoffs.

I listened.

The Red Sox swept the Rockies out of the World Series, ending a Cinderella run to the title by the National League Champions.

I watched.

The Avalanche have started strong, accumulating a 7-4 record to start the season. This is expected from a team that has made it to the postseason in 10 of the past 11 years and won two Stanley Cups in that same period.

I know.

But, we must address the b-ballers who opened the season Wednesday at home.

If that game is any indication of what is on the horizon for these hardwood heroes, get excited.

I am.

The Nuggets gave a rude welcome to No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant, handing the rookie and his SuperSonics a 120-103 defeat in each team's season opener.

Carmelo Anthony was the same fellow, knocking down 10 shots while amassing 31 points. There is a reason he was the NBA's second-leading scorer last year.

Marcus Camby displayed a formidable presence in the post on defense, swatting away five Seattle shots while hauling in 15 boards.

The bench - or the Nuggets International squad, led by Eduardo Najera (Mexico) Nene Hilario (Brazil) and Linas Kleiza (USSR) - put up 40 points for the home team.

If that keeps up, watch out NBA.

Can the Nuggets win the championship?

I believe Denver has "the Answer."

But, "the Answer" is Robin, while Melo is Batman.

Allen Iverson shed his ever-so-discussed scorer mentality, and dropped 14 dimes on Seattle to accompany his 25 points. The seven steals he amassed fit in nicely as well.

But it all will come down to Anthony.

Denver picked him third in the deep draft class of 2003. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have taken their teams to the NBA Finals.

Now it's Melo's turn. He will need to click on all cylinders for the Nuggets machine to get there.

In the FIBA championships this year, Melo led the U. S. team over, around and through the competition on the way to the gold medal.

Now is his time to transfer that dominance back to the smaller courts of the NBA.

With Kevin Garnett moving to the Eastern Conference and Kobe Bryant looking toward a cross-country trip, the West may not be the best anymore.

Dallas and San Antonio are the front-runners to advance to the NBA championship, but if the Nuggets have a say in the matter, make some space for the powder blue and gold in the Finals this year.

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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