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News » Nuggets focus on rocking the rim Carmelo Anthony sets the tone with drives to the basket, layups and trips to the foul line.

Nuggets focus on rocking the rim Carmelo Anthony sets the tone with drives to the basket, layups and trips to the foul line.

Nuggets focus on rocking the rim Carmelo Anthony sets the tone with drives to the basket, layups and trips to the foul line. The Nuggets ain't bad.

Here's a play that sums up why.

In Tuesday night's game against Toronto, Carmelo Anthony received a pass on the right wing and cruised by his defender, thanks to a Stonehenge pick set by Renaldo Balkman. A hard, crossover dribble was Melo's key to unlock the key. Once in the lane, he Adrian Peterson-ed a pair of post players, soared toward the rim and then, in one midair motion, yanked the ball down waist-high and flung up a backwards, no-look layup.

It's good!

And the foul!

On this singular play, Melo did everything that's epitomized Denver's success so far. He got into the paint, got the layup to drop, got to the foul line.

"They know that I want rim," Nuggets coach George Karl. "If they don't get 30 layups, they know they'll hear about it. And it takes a lot of penetrations to get 30 'rim' shots."

These rim shots are no joke.

Karl suggested his team has achieved 30 layups in 80 percent of the games. Moreover, Denver (8-3) is sixth in the conference with 41.4 points in the paint per game.

And here's the big one. The Nuggets are first in the NBA with 26.7 free throws made per game, more than three made free throws per game than any other team.

Translation? Nuggets + paint = production.

Against Toronto, the Nuggets notched 68 points in the paint, prompting Raptors coach Jay Triano to say: "They just destroyed us (in the low post)."

Though big men Kenyon Martin and Nene - the latter second in the NBA in shooting percentage - have had high-caliber low-post nights, the Nugget who has dominated in the paint is Anthony. Melo has averaged 10.7 free throws per game, third most in the NBA, and his 9.1 free throws made per game lead all players.

Anthony made a commitment in the preseason to get into the lane, and to the line.

"It can be a weapon," he said. "I'm trying to attack the rim, get in that mode and mind-set - whether they call a foul or not. I'm not trying to give George any reasons to say we're not going to the hole. It's something I'm making a conscious effort with."

Now, he's doing so at an astonishing rate.

But just how are Anthony and the Nuggets getting to the paint and the line so effectively?

"Some of it's how you space your court," Karl said. "A lot of Basketball, they always have a big man on the strong side. We don't. We keep the big man on the weak side, and a lot of our actions, we try to keep both big men high. We have an open-the-middle mentality.

"The free throw is the second-best shot in Basketball. First is the layup."

Denver is banking on both.

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 21, 2009


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