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
- Do not laugh, but I thought Kleiza played his best defensive game I can remember seeing from him tonight. He had a tough assignment covering Rudy Gay and did a very good job chasing him around screens and making sure he
- Chauncey kept the Nuggets in the lead in the third quarter as he poured in 16 of the Nuggets 21 points in the quarter. It was Denver’s worst individual quarter for points scored.
- Wow, was Nene terrible. He did it all, got into foul trouble, missed free throws, lost the ball frequently, made some very bad decisions, turned it over (eight times!) and missed three of his five shots. If this is what happens after tying the team record for most shots without a miss in a single game, I bet Nene will pass on ever going 12 for 12 again.
- J.R. once again led the Nuggets in plus/minus with a +27. Mayo did get off to a hot start, but I thought J.R. did decent job chasing him.
- The Nuggets call for the big men to make entry passes into the post more than any other team from what I have seen, and I have seen a lot. To make things more complicated they ask them to throw entry passes down to the block from the top of the circle.
- The seats in the FedEx Forum are a very pretty. We had a great view of them all night long. The crowd reminded me of when the Denver Bears AAA team used to play at Mile High Stadium and there would be 1,000 spectators crammed into 77,000 seats.
- J.R. Smith had another superlative game. The Nuggets offense was very stagnant to start the game and when Chauncey had to leave the game with his second foul at the 5:17 mark of the first quarter J.R. took over. He started attacking the rim and really created open shots for himself and his teammates. Hopefully J.R. can continue his heightened level of play when Melo returns.
- The officiating was shaky at best. It was touch foul central tonight in Memphis (none more staggering than the offensive foul call on Billups for bumping into Mike Conley as he made his cut down the lane after passing the ball off to initiate the offense). Both teams suffered from the plethora of odd calls as Chauncey, Nene and O.J. Mayo had to sit out due to foul trouble. The only area the refs did a good job in was calling charges. They called probably seven or eight charges and I thought all of them were good calls.
- Memphis did play hard and no matter what the score was they brought all of what they had to the floor. We should be careful to give them too much credit though as they got Marc Iavaroni fired.
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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