2008-09 Game 38: Denver Nuggets 90 – Detroit Pistons 93

Box Score | Highlights

In my humble little game preview I mentioned that I expected the Denver Nuggets game against the Detroit Pistons would be frustrating.  I had no idea how frustrated I would be by the end of the night.

The Nuggets followed the same blueprint they used against the Miami Heat.  Play a great first half and then abandon everything that made the first half a successful one.

I was baffled by the Nuggets play in the second half, especially on offense.  They played like the Portland Trail Blazers had sent out a memo threatening legal action against any team who displayed any kind of movement or purpose on offense.  It was despicable and four hours after the end of the game I am still insane with anger.  Denver could have played better on defense, but it was their lack of offense in the second half that lost this game. 

The sad thing is as hard as Denver worked to lose this game Detroit played so badly, they barely won.

I am planning on putting together a Film Room segment on tonight’s performance so we can all relive the special torture.

Maybe I expect too much from Chauncey Billups, but I continue to wait for him to organize this team and demand that they run some semblance of an offense after they start to chuck up bad shot after bad shot.  Instead of putting a stop to it, he seems to join the parade eager for his turn to chuck up a bad outside shot.

I thought there were instances where he got caught up in trying to be the Pistons himself and in the second half he was clearly tighter playing against his former team than Allen Iverson was.  Of course, that was to be expected as he felt a greater attachment to Detroit than AI did to Denver.

If Denver is going to hang onto their spot in the standings while Melo is out they must win games like this.  They cannot rely on J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza making almost all of their three point attempts as they did against Miami.  They can do enough defensively to stay in these games, but if they continue to play one on one take the first shot available offense in the second half they will be lucky to win two or three more games before the end of January.

Additional Game 38 Nuggets


  • For probably the first time in his career Kleiza played better defensively than he did offensively.  I was worried about his ability to guard, but really he did not do too badly.  However, he was so bad shooting the ball, he even missed two or three layups, that he did not play enough to fall apart on defense too.
  • For the first time all season the Nuggets played 2-3 zone and I am not sure why.  It was during that point in the game that Jason Maxiell began to terrorize the Nuggets on the offensive glass.  It started a trend that would haunt Denver for the rest of the game.
  • I thought the officiating down the stretch was horrendous and played a big role in the outcome.  It seemed every bit of contact was called on the Nuggets while Detroit was able to bang away, especially at Nene, to their hearts content.  The most egregious example though was when J.R Smith was fouled by two Pistons with the Nuggets down one and only 20 seconds left and instead of getting free throws the Pistons were awarded credit for a steal after deciding J.R. was not grabbed and the play was clean.  Even my wife, who was quite disgusted with my behavior during the fourth quarter, joined in the chorus of fury.
  • In the fourth quarter Allen Iverson was killing the Nuggets on penetration off of screens so they decided to start trapping him to keep him out of the lane and force him to pass the ball.  The strategy worked pretty well, but on a couple of occasions the result was that the Nuggets were left scrambling and the result was a couple of easy baskets by the Pistons. 
  • Chris Marlowe tries to manipulate the broadcaster jinx.  The reason the broadcaster jinx works is because he will unwittingly mention that so and so has not missed a free throw all night long.  Marlowe goes out of his way to mention it.  Someone needs to tell him that it does not work that way.  Also Marlowe and Scott Hastings kept referring to Aaron Afflalo as a rookie.  I think that is pretty much the opposite of the broadcaster jinx and probably the reason Afflalo went 6-6 in the last nine seconds of the game.
  • From a strategic standpoint I liked the Pistons fouling Nene instead of allowing the Nuggets to run a play to get a three.  After AI fouled J.R. in the act of shooting they decided not to try to foul Chauncey, but he missed the game tying three at the buzzer.  Speaking of J.R. being fouled shooting a three with 5.5 seconds left I told my wife that he would only make two of them.  I do not think in the handful of times he has been fouled shooting a three he has ever made all three and most Nugget fans probably remember the Pacers game last season where he was in the same situation with the chance to tie the game with three free throws and he only made two of them.
  • I have to question Karl’s decision to remove Anthony Carter from the game instead of Dahntay Jones when he reinserted Chauncey with 7:23 left in the game.  Carter had scored six points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and had netted four straight points.  Jones did not do anything of note over the next few minutes.
  • In the end maybe the deciding factor in the game was Kenyon Martin missed a short hook shot with 40 seconds left that would have put the Nuggets up three and then Tayshaun Prince hit a little runner that put the Pistons up one.  If Kenyon makes his the game may have been completely different.

Mind Blowing Game Stats

Pace Factor – 86.3

Defensive Efficiency – 107.8 – It would have been better if they did not give up six points on free throws in the last nine seconds.

Offensive Efficiency – 104.3 – The collapse in the second half was total.   In the first half they shot 50% and had an efficiency of 111.2.  In the second half they shot 33% and had an efficiency of only 97.5.

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