Nuggets have
new luster

Mar 7, 2006 12:56 AM

If you have access to the Las Vegas Hilton, it’s recommended to quickly act on the Denver Nuggets at 60-1 to win the NBA Championship.

Suddenly Denver’s rather ordinary 32-28 record looks far more promising than just a few weeks ago, especially coming off a 98-87 win last week over the Detroit Pistons.

Only Indiana has lost more games to injury in the NBA than Denver, but often-injured Kenyon Martin is now healthy and draining 3-pointers. Martin, who had only one trey all season, hit a pair in the final period to finish with 28 points and 12 rebounds in handing Detroit just its 10th loss of the season.

Denver is 5-2 (against the spread) ATS in its last seven games, due in great part to having its starting frontcourt of Martin, Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby finally healthy at the same time.

The Nuggets, while undermanned, have benefited from playing in the NBA’s weakest division, the Northwest. Utah, Minnesota, Seattle and Portland are all below .500 with the second place Jazz fighting to stay within range (three games) of Denver.

Not that 32-28 is anywhere close to dominating, but the upside to the Nuggets is a lot brighter compared to the other four division members. Utah and Minnesota will be fortunate to finish at .500, while Seattle and Portland are basically playing out the season.

The Nuggets, by virtue of leading the Northwest, stand to be the No. 3 seed in the West and a team nobody really wants to face in the playoffs — particularly if Martin and Camby can say in the lineup. Denver was close this week to signing former Nuggets guard Jon Barry to a contract, which would add depth and experience to the backcourt. Barry was recently released by Houston.

In the win over Detroit, Anthony added 25 points to basically match is season average (25.9), while Camby contributed 12 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks. Those glittering frontcourt stats have been missing most of the season.

The coming schedule for Denver, however, is brutal. The Nuggets embark on a seven-game road trip, which includes three back-to-back games. If Denver can manage a 3-4 record heading back to the Pepsi Center, the rest of March looks quite favorable.