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February 20, 2010 3:23 PM

Can Melo, Nuggets win it all?

nuggets.jpgAfter Carmelo Anthony drained the winning bucket over LeBron James on Thursday night, there appeared to be an extra oomph in the Denver Nuggets superstar's exuberant celebration when heading down to the opposite end of the floor.

Sure, Melo sealed the game 118-116 for the Nuggets and halted the Cleveland Cavaliers' 13-game winning streak.

Sure, he had another big-time game putting in 40 and bested rival James once again going head-to-head.

Sure, he got the Nuggets rolling again after the All-Star break and lifted the team's season record to 38-16. 


Still it appeared Anthony's cool strut was cooler. His bright smile was brighter. His intensity was more intense after hurling that dagger in the Cavaliers' heart in overtime.

chauncey.jpgLike all great players, Melo balls with a chip on his shoulders, but that chip appears heavier in the '09-10 season as the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and James continue to get hoopla as the NBA's only elite players.

Coming off their gutsy Western Conference Finals 4-2 lost to the Lakers last season, Anthony and his Nuggets have continued to mature together and during various stretches have looked much better than last year's squad.

Melo's perhaps having his best pro season. Chauncey Billups remains "Mr. Big Shot." Nene has suited up every night. The Birdman, Chris Anderson, is soaring high again. And rookie Ty Lawson resembles a seasoned vet at times.

Still the Cavs, Lakers and even Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic are the talk of the NBA and the perennial favorites to win it all in June, which apparently has ignited that flame the last few months inside Anthony, who's averaging 29.5 points, 6.4 boards and 3.4 assists a night.

But Thursday night's slugfest showed that the Nuggets can definitely tussle with the Cavs, who are now unquestionably the Eastern Conference favorites with the pickup of NBA All-Star Antawn Jamison.

Meanwhile in L.A., health concerns may be a critical issue for the Lakers down the stretch. The defending champs and Western Conference favorites can win a playoff series without their superstar, but there's no way they can reach the NBA Finals this season without No. 24.

Plus players and teams occasionally need that extra inspiration in their stretch run for a trophy or championship. While unfortunate, Nuggets head coach George Karl's recent disclosure of throat cancer may be that incentive.

So... can the Denver Nuggets win the 2010 NBA title?

In watching Melo and the Nuggets' swagger on Thursday night and believing sometimes there's destiny in life and in sports, yes, it appears at this juncture of the NBA season they can and perhaps will get it done.

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