Wow, am I embarrassed to be a Nuggets fan after that big turd they dumped on the city of New Orleans in the fourth quarter. I cannot communicate how frustrated I am at that performance without using words that I do my best not to utilize. I guess the best way to express my anger is simply to share that for the first time all season I shut the game off before the end of the game.
In my mind this was a must win game. I honestly believe there is no way Denver can hope to split the season series now with New Orleans unless the Hornets happen to play the last game of the series without Chris Paul. Maybe Denver could pull off a win if David West, Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic are all out, but I bet it would be close.
The thing that really scares me about tonight’s game is that the Nuggets proved that they were not mentally strong enough to win. You can talk all you want about back to backs and how well they ended up doing without Carmelo, but in a game of this magnitude you cannot pack away your brain and lay down like that. For all the excuses Nugget fans can produce I think the fact that New Orleans was playing without their second and third best players trumps them.
With two minutes left in the third quarter Anthony Carter was called for a back court violation. George Karl went absolutely crazy for the first time this season resulting in a technical. Carter’s response was not as demonstrative as he rolled the ball down the floor away from the refs, but the result was the same as he was called for a delay of game, the Nuggets’ second and thus a technical. At that point I figured that Denver was either cracking or they would play inspired basketball. Well, it turns out the call was a correct one and it proved to be the first cracks in the Nuggets’ mental dam break that would occur just a few minutes later. The frustrating thing is didn’t Carter know he bounced the ball off of his own foot? He cannot allow himself to pick up the delay of game technical there.
For most of the night the Nuggets’ offense was inept. If either J.R. Smith or Kenyon Martin were not going to the basket you could pretty much expect a bad shot to be hoisted up. I continue to look for Chauncey Billups to take control of the offense and demand a good shot when things start going down the drain and Denver begins standing around on offense. Instead again he was one of the leading culprits in long range artillery barrage the Nuggets assaulted the basket with. I wanted to throw my television through the wall when with the Hornets on a 10-0 run Chauncey chose to slowly dribble the ball up the floor and, with Peja on him mind you, launch a three. The fact that he was clearly not shooting the ball very well, he was 1 for 4 from long range at the time and finished 1 for 6, only exacerbated things. Instead of deciding to run the offense in an attempt to get a good shoot he switches into Mr. Big Shot mode and becomes a part of the problem.
Name for me another top notch point guard who will take that shot? Chris Paul never would. Deron Williams wouldn’t. Maybe Steve Nash would take that shot, but not as frequently as Chauncey seems to.
The offense was stagnant and lazy and Denver lost this game on that end of the floor.
Denver’s defense was pretty good for most of the night until they closed up shop early in the fourth quarter. They forced Paul into a tough shooting night and only three of his ten assists were at the rim. Most of them came on long jumpers. The Nuggets did a pretty good job containing Paul coming off of screens. They switched a little too much for my liking early on, but in the second quarter they stated to play the ball screens more stoutly as Nene was hedging and Anthony Carter did a good job of fighting over and recovering. They avoided switching as much as possible after the first quarter, but they never ran the aggressive trapping defense that worked so well against Deron Williams and Utah.
We have talked about it before. When a key player or players are out the team as a whole must step up and fill that void. The Hornets played intense defense, they fought for every loose ball going to the floor far more frequently than Denver did, they ran their offense and when open shots presented themselves, they made them.
Sure this was only game 46 of an 82 game season, but we play the regular season to learn things about the teams. Tonight I did not care for what I learned about the Nuggets.
Additional Game 46 Nuggets
- The player of the game for the Nuggets was J.R. Smith who had a very good all around game. He turned the ball over a couple of times too many and took one or two questionable threes, but as I wrote above, he was the only guard who was willing and able to get the ball in the paint and to the rim. Defensively, he did a very good job chasing Peja around, especially to start the second half. Peja managed to get away a couple of times when J.R. had to help and he was able to shoot over J.R. when he would post him up, but that is not J.R.’s fault. He is four inches shorter than Peja. That is a matchup issue. I wrote last night that I thought Kleiza played some of the best defense of his career against Rudy Gay last night. Well, tonight his completely inept defensive performance, which was almost as bad as his offensive performance, forced Karl to keep J.R. in the game to cover Peja.
- In my game preview I wrote that the Nuggets had a major advantage with their bench compared to the depleted Hornets’ bench. I heard Jason Kosmicki on the radio say he expected the Nuggets bench to double up the New Orleans’ bench scoring. Well, that did not happen. Denver’s bench accumulated 13 points on 6 for 17 shooting. The Hornets bench players scored 42 points. Over three times as many. And that was including a nightmare shooting night by star sub James Posey who was 1 for 13 and 0 for 6 on threes.
- The Nuggets did not take advantage of Nene in the second half. The Hornets decided to double him in the post and instead of dumping the ball in and then forcing the Hornets to scramble to rotate the Nuggets simply stopped giving him the ball in the post. After the Hornets produced an eight to three run to start the second half Karl called a timeout and designed a play to go to Nene. The result was a double team and Nene dumped the ball to Kenyon for a dunk. Easy, but never replicated.
- Denver was minus 1 while Paul was on the bench to start the second quarter and ended up being minus 5 while he was on the bench to start the fourth. In fact the first ten points of the Hornets 14 to zero run that put the game away were scored while Paul was on the bench which is very difficult to fathom.
- LK has stopped going to the rim. He did not take a single shot in the paint tonight.
- Kenyon needs to stop shooting threes. The party is over. I would not be one bit surprised if he missed his next ten or more. The law of averages is coming for you Kenyon.
- Dahntay Jones needs to stop shooting jumpers. Any and all jumpers. Period. In fact, seeing as how he is a horrible passer too, he should not have the ball passed to him unless he has a dunk on a fast break. Just go stand by the coach’s box on offense Dahntay.
- The Nuggets tried picking up Chris Paul full court with about eight seconds left in the first half and Kenyon was called for a foul as he bodied him up a couple of times. There was a great shot of Paul twice holding Kenyon’s arm so that he could not pull it back when Martin made contact. Paul is a crafty little prick.
- I have thought ever since he was in Sacramento that Peja is a better shooter with someone running at him than when he is left alone. Then I remembered that he won the three point shootout a couple of times and that no one was running at him then and realized I was an idiot.
- I got a kick out of how many times Hilton Armstrong stepped in front of Nene right in front of the rim, waited for the pass and then sloughed off dejected after being ignored again.
- I think James Posey is an overrated on the ball defender. I thought that when he was a Nugget and I think so now. Even when Posey was matched up against power forward Kenyon Martin he was unable to keep Kenyon away from the rim.
- OK, I have changed my mind. Dahntay Jones is to be ignored on offense no matter how open or easy a shot he has.
In Depth Make Your Head Spin Game Stats
Pace Factor: 89.1 – Slow.
Defensive Efficiency: 105.5 – Not bad, they should have done better with the Hornets missing West, but they lost this game on the offensive end of the floor.
Offensive Efficiency: 90.9 – The lowest single game efficiency rating of the season surpassing the 92.6 they posted against the Magic five games ago.
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