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Chris "Birdman" Andersen an unlikely key to tonight's impending Nuggets victory

The Nuggets' brutalization of the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night make it abundantly clear that the team will finish off Chris Paul and company tonight; thanks to a drive and focus we haven't seen around here for ages, a let-down seems about as likely as cable-news coverage of the swine-flu story that stops short of hysteria. And if the Nuggets do indeed qualify for a second-round matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, who polished off the San Antonio Spurs last night, a big reason will be the play of unlikely hero Chris Andersen. The Birdman was more of a novelty than a standout during his first stint with Denver, and his most memorable moments with the Hornets, his next team, came thanks to a horrific/comic performance at the 2005 NBA All-Star slam-dunk competition. But this season, Big Bird has provided great energy off the bench and played the sort of not-in-my-house defense that gives the Nugs a good shot at winning the next series, too.

If that's the case, Andersen may earn as much ink as he's got on his body -- and he'll deserve it.

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