The nice thing about playing a team as bad as Memphis is even after mailing in the first 18 minutes of a game against them, you are only down eight. If Denver plays that badly against a good team they might have been down 20 and in need of a miracle to earn a victory.
The turning point in my mind was when George Karl decided to implement a trapping defense after a Memphis timeout with 5:51 left. Whenever Mike Conley came off of a high screen they would jump him and push him back towards mid court. The defensive energy increased from that moment and the Nuggets started forcing turnovers and getting out on the break. In the two possessions after they started trapping the pick and roll they had back to back three point plays off of steals, one by Chauncey Billups and the other by Linas Kleiza.
Before that the Nuggets were just going through the motions on defense as they are wont to do from time to time. They would go through a couple of rotations and then the last guy would be late. O.J. Mayo started off red hot, just like the first time he played the Nuggets and you could tell early on that not only were the Grizzly players looking to impress their new coach, but they were getting that feeling that they just might be able to keep their nine game losing streak from reaching ten.
Denver did take control of the game in the second quarter though and there was only one time where I sat forward on the couch a little bit and that was when the Grizz cut the lead down to four at 78-82 with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets made sure I could recline once again though as they held the Grizzlies scoreless for the next 5:10 during which time they bumped their lead back up to 18.
This game does not deserve too much discussion. After starting slowly the Nuggets matched the Grizzlies intensity and ended up winning the game rather easily. Hopefully they were able to get the turnovers and bad decisions out of their systems as they will need to put forth a complete effort in order to get a win tomorrow night against Chris Paul in New Orleans.
Additional Game 45 Nuggets
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 101.6 – A very fast pace thanks to the 53(!) combined turnovers. The previous season high for combined turnovers was game six when the Nuggets, and you guessed it, the Grizzlies each accumulated 22 turnovers.
Defensive Efficiency: 83.7 – That is a new single game low topping the 85.9 they posted against, you guessed it, the Grizzlies the first time they played. A big key to earning such a good rating was their blocked shots. Denver blocked 15 shots, if you assume that Memphis would make 40% of those shots that were blocked that is another six made shots and 12 more points. Those blocks also helped hold Memphis to 37.5% shooting, the first time Denver held an opponent to sub 40% field goal percentage since their December 15 game at Dallas. The Nuggets have now compiled sub 100 defensive efficiencies in each of their previous three games.
Offensive Efficiency: 98.4 – The Nuggets actually shot the ball alright making 44.4% of their shots and 39.1% of their threes, but their season high 27 turnovers just killed their efficiency.
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