It's been 31 years since the Denver Nuggets hit the halfway mark in better shape, and probably that long since they headed into the second half with so much optimism.
Even with Carmelo Anthony sidelined with a broken hand, the Nuggets are setting themselves up for a memorable season thanks to some roster shuffling that not only shed salary and got the team under the luxury tax for the first time in years but greatly improved the product on the court.
The Nuggets are an entirely different team with Chauncey Billups running the show since his arrival from Detroit in the Allen Iverson trade on Nov. 3.
Hustle. Defensive pride. Rebounding. Unselfish stars. It's all led to a 27-14 record, the third-best halfway mark in team history and the best since 1977-78, when they were 28-13.