2008-09 Game 42: Denver Nuggets 113 – Houston Rockets 115

Box Score | Highlights

Things in my home that nearly met their demise over the last couple of minutes of the game between the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets:

  • My shoe that I spiked on the floor
  • The wall my shoe hit
  • The light that my shoe almost hit after it bounced off the wall
  • The clothes hamper
  • My television screen after I repeatedly punched Bennet Salvatore in the face
  • Any remaining self respect I may be clinging to

I am very upset at the refs for the way that game was called, especially the fourth quarter, and George Karl wanted to hang the loss on their heads, but Denver just did not make the plays down the stretch. 

Consider these factors:

  • They missed three layups (two of which were completely wide open unmolested attempts) in the last 1:29
  • They missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds left 
  • They turned the ball over 20 times compared to Houston’s eleven

The Nuggets lost the game on defense in the first half and offense in the second.  Really I thought the defense started to improve a little in the second quarter, but realistically the biggest reason for the Nuggets defensive improvement was the Rockets stopped hitting threes.  The Nuggets second half offense once again pretty much folded in the face of increased defensive intensity by the opposition.  Had J.R. Smith not exploded in the fourth quarter Denver might have lost this game by 15.  Even with J.R. catching fire the Nuggets second half offensive efficiency was a lowly 94.6. 

Keep this in mind.  During a game where Yao was in foul trouble and Nene was having a field day in the post Nene did not shoot the ball from the 5:01 mark of the third quarter until there was only 1:55 left in the game.  I know Nene did not stop posting up.

Chauncey has to make sure that Nene keeps getting the ball.  Instead Billups was busy making poor decisions.  In the second half Chauncey was 1-7 from the floor, with four assists and four turnovers.  The four assists sounds fine until you put it into the context of the game.  He notched his eleventh assist with 4:37 left in the third quarter.  He was on pace to finish the game with 16 or 17 assists, but he only tacked on one more in the last 16:37.

Two things I will throw out in Chauncey’s defense are that there were three times I can remember that Chauncey went up for a jumper and was fouled where there was no call.  Twice the defender had a hand on his arm after he swung through and took the shoot (the first two times this season I have not seen that call made) and on another he elevated for a jumper and the defender ran into his legs from behind forcing him off balance in the air.  The contact was minimal, but it was clearly a foul because like a touch on the elbow, no matter how slight, it affects the shot a great deal.  The other thing I will say in his defense was he made a great pass to Kenyon on the last possession of the game that resulted in Martin’s chance at a game tying layup.  I am not sure if the play was designed for Chauncey to take the shot or if he was a decoy in an attempt to get Kenyon open, but it was a great design and was run nearly to perfection although we are left with the realization that no matter how crafty or pretty a play may be if the ball does not go in all is for naught.

The Nuggets let this one get away and I hope that they focus on the plays that they failed to make instead of the plays they believe the refs took away from them.

Additional Game 42 Nuggets

  • When both team’s fans think that the referees were absolutely atrocious you know the refs were either really good or really bad.  I think it is safe to say that the refs were really bad (even though the picture up at The Dream Shake of Yao blocking J.R.’s shot is a poor example of a bad call because before Yao blocked the shot cleanly he definitely fouled J.R. with his body on the way up).  I want to reinforce that I am not blaming this loss on the refs, but I would like to see Nene allowed to slam into his defender the way Yao was today.  I will say that Bennett Salvatore and Violet Palmer should never be paired together.
  • This was not the first time they officiated the same game for the Nuggets this season.  They worked the Memphis game where there were 61 fouls and 83 free throws taken.  Apparently they cannot make their mind up if they want to call everything or almost nothing.
  • Apart from Yao’s 31 points the Nuggets forced him into six turnovers and held him to three boards.  That has to count for something right?  OK, maybe not.  I will say I really miss the stoic Yao Ming from when he first joined the league.  This whiny cry baby version is really annoying.  I think he has been around Dikembe Mutumbo too long.
  • Chris Andersen deserves a medal, or at least a hot fresh chocolate chip cookie, for the way he fought with Yao in the post in the fourth quarter.  Once again he did the best job of the Denver big men in making things difficult on Yao.
  • Denver’s transition defense was just abismal in the first half as they allowed Rafer Alson and Von Wafer to fly up the court to the rim over and over again.
  • Dahntay Jones and Chauncey both deserve some recognition for their steals against Yao late in the game.  Jones ran along the baseline and tapped the ball away on one possession while Chauncey dug it out when Yao came across the lane too close to the elbow where Billups was stationed. 
  • I think we can all agree that Kenyon really has no business trying to cover Yao.  Maybe today would have been a good time to give Johan Petro a couple of minutes against the big man to see what he could have done. 

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  96.9

Defensive Efficiency:  118.6 – Not good, but the 105.1 in the second half was not atrocious.  It is clear as long as Denver continues to go through the motions on defense for at least one half every game they are going to struggle.

Offensive Efficiency:  116.6 – That would be great if it were not for the previously mentioned pathetically inept 94.6 rating in the second half.

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