Additional Game 44 Nuggets
- J.R. Smith set the tone for the game right off the bat as he attacked the rim over and over. Both in transition and off of a diagonal screen and roll where J.R. would receive the ball well beyond the three point line on the left side and get a pick from Nene. From there he simply penetrated as deep as he could and most of the time the result was either a pretty finger roll or free throws. He also netted a couple of assists, one on a kick out to Chauncey for a three when the Utah defense did collapse on J.R. in the lane and the other a nice dump off to Nene for a layup. He then dropped in a couple of jumpers for good measure just to prove to the Jazz that he was unguardable.
- Sadly, as good as J.R. was on offense he was just as bad on defense. I briefly mentioned in my original recap that Utah is just a difficult team for J.R. to defend against because he gets lost in screens and does not have the understanding of how to ensure he defends from the inside out. Utah runs their offense so well they will get open shots, but you need to bottle up the lane and eliminate the uncontested layups that Utah is so adept at earning. J.R. was responsible for guarding Kyle Korver for a short time in the second quarter and needless to say I was scared to death. The result was a couple of wide open threes in about a minute and a half.
- Denver did a good job of keeping their energy up in the troublesome third quarter. They did allow the lead to fluctuate in the second half, but the Jazz would never get closer than ten points after Chauncey started the second half with a three to put Denver up by 12. The key to that was the Jazz just could not get the job done on defense. The Nuggets probably did shoot a few too many jumpers in the quarter, but they also were able to get the ball inside much more than they have in recent games. The Nuggets scored 12 points in the paint in the third quarter, and that is not including free throws, which I believe count as points in the paint if the foul occurs on a shot attempt in the lane. Denver outscored the Jazz 31 to 26 in the third quarter and it could have been more had they not missed nine free throws.
- Utah did a good job of slowing the Nuggets’ offense down in the first half by switching to a 2-3 zone. The Jazz switched to the 2-3 early in the third quarter at the 8:57 mark. Denver scored 14 points in the next three minutes and the Jazz were back to man to man at the 6:00 mark of the third. Nene was able to get inside for a couple of layups and J.R. hit two of his three long bombs during that stretch and Jerry Sloan pulled the plug. At that point I thought Utah was out of bullets. They knew that they could not stop the Nuggets from scoring and they were faced with a 19 point deficit.
- I hope Melo never gets hurt again because I never want to see that butt ugly jacket he wore tonight again. Maya Stark, the Altitude sideline reporter had the dig of the night as she asked him if he got it from Doug Moe.
- Dahntay Jones was called for his third foul with 9:39 left in the third quarter. He earned his fourth foul with 9:20 left in the third quarter. He looked to the bench and communicated to George Karl that he wanted to remain in the game. On the very next play after getting beat on the dribble by Deron Williams Jones purposely sticks his left foot out and trips Williams. Did he already forget he had four fouls? It was a mindless play and hopefully Karl remembers that Jones cannot be trusted to stay in the game with foul trouble in the future.
- The Nuggets had a couple of defensive breakdowns on inbounds plays in the second half. The first occurred at 8:16 in the third quarter. Utah ran Brewer off of a double screen and J.R. did a good job of keeping up with him, then Deron Williams came behind him off the same double screen. Williams came off clean, but neither Nene nor Kenyon reacted to help out. They both just stood there. Chauncey was covering C.J. Miles who had inbounded the ball to Williams. He had to come off and help stop Williams from driving to the rim. Miles snuck in behind Chauncey and Williams passed off for a thunderous dunk. Kenyon did lunge at Miles, but it was after he caught the ball. I have no idea how anyone can just sit there and watch the other team’s best player get the ball in position to score and decide to just watch.
- At 5:14 of the third quarter Utah ran Kyle Korver off a screen to the ball side and he caught a pass and drained a ten footer. Chuancey was defending on the play and even though he did not get any help from Nene who should have stepped out to challenge the shot clearly took responsibility for the basket. At the 4:34 mark Utah was once again inbounding the ball from the baseline, this time from the left side of the basket, and Chauncey was once again guarding Korver. This time he fought through a double screen and was right with Korver forcing Utah to go to the second option.
- Korver typically kills the Nuggets in transition and the player who was most aware of where Korver was on the break was Kenyon. On a couple of occasions Kenyon prevented Korver from getting an open look on the break.
- Kleiza made the first beautiful pass of his NBA career at 11:00 of the fourth quarter. He got a loose ball, drove the lane and dumped a little drop off pass behind Okur’s back to Nene. Nene was fouled by Millsap and missed the shot, thus no assist for LK, but it was encouraging to see him pass the ball at the rim to get someone else a better shot. By the way, Kleiza has recorded zero assists 21 times this season in 44 games.
- Chauncey credited the chance to get some practices in with the Nuggets’ success and improved defense. He said it was the first time they had the chance to get in a few practices since he arrived. Hopefully the defense will continue to build off of this performance.
- Talking about Nene’s franchise record tying most shots taken without a miss Chauncey said, “I will never go 12 for 12 because I am going to shoot until I miss.”
- I was a little surprised that after the game Sloan seemed to be making excuses citing the refs, the back to back and their injuries. He was sounding a lot like George Karl last season.
- There is a report that Andrei Kirilenko may have to go under the knife to fix his sore foot.
- It seemed like there were a couple of occasions were Deron Williams tried to take over the game and get Utah back into it. He attacked the lane and made a couple of nice plays both times, but he just did not get a lot of support from his teammates.
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