Do you guys honestly expect me to write cohesively about that monstrosity? What a horrible display of basketball. The Denver Nuggets struggled to put away the San Antonio Spurs JV squad after Greg Popovich chose to hold Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili out of the game. Reportedly Manu has a hip contusion he suffered the night before in Oakland, but there was no apparent reason that Duncan and Parker sat out.
The Nuggets had some problems of their own as Kenyon Martin was home with tonsillitis and strep throat (Tonsillitis? Really Kenyon? I had my tonsils out when I was four. I freaking missed Halloween.) and Chauncey missed the second half after tweaking his right ankle in the second quarter.
The Nuggets appeared to take control of the game late in the first quarter as they turned an 18 to 12 deficit into a 29 to 21 lead in just over four minutes. They carried a double digit lead for most of the second and third quarters. The Spurs would not go away, or more accurately, the Nuggets would not give them a reason to go away as they kept sloughing off on defense.
I have not seen the Nuggets so confused on defense from start to finish of a game all season. Perhaps that had something to do with Denver not having time to adjust to the Spurs scaled back roster. The Nuggets made about every mistake you could imagine at some point. They failed to rotate, they overrated frequently as it was fairly common to see two defenders running at a shooter, the bigs failed to step up on picks even late in the game after they should have realized that the one player that could bring them down was Roger Mason, in some instances both players would go with the player coming off a screen and there were other times where neither player would guard the man coming off the screen. It was the most disorganized defensive effort I have seen in a long time.
Offensively, they mailed the second half in as they have been prone to do settling for jumper after jumper. The offense had good flow to it in the first half and Denver did a good job earning easy shots. I wish I could blame the insipid offense on the absence of Chauncey, but we know he has been prone to join in the chuck fest when the Nuggets start getting completely perimeter oriented.
Even when the Spurs pulled to within two in the fourth quarter it was frustrating, but I never got the feeling that Denver would completely let the game slip away. There was a lot of a wins a win type analysis after the game, but the way Denver’s defensive effort yo-yoed all second half long it only creates more concern in my mind about their mental toughness.
With that Denver now embarks on two road trips broken up by the All-Star break and game one is tomorrow night in Oklahoma City. At this point it is not known if Chauncey will be able to play.
Additional Game 48 Nuggets
- Anthony Carter made probably five or six of the ten worst passes I have ever seen, and that includes the rec league games my six year old daughter played in this year. You can imagine my surprise to peek at the box score and see that Carter led the Nuggets in plus/minus with a +15. How is that possible? I guess he did play pretty well in the first half.
- Chris Andersen was great as the Nuggets defense seemed to pick up once he entered the game.
- Carmelo once again proved to be rust proof as he drained jumper after jumper to ensure the Nuggets kept their lead. Most of his 35 points came from the perimeter and the free throw line. He was feeling it.
- If I were Popovich I would have told Parker and Duncan that if the game was close they were going to play the last six minutes. They could have warmed up in the hallway or something. Had he done so, there is no doubt in my mind that the Spurs would have won.
- The really weird thing about Popovich sitting the three stars for the Spurs is they have four days off after tonight’s game. Is the regular season really that insignificant that they can sacrifice the tie breaker with the Nuggets? I guess they do not consider the Nuggets to be much of a threat. Then again, I could see Popovich playing mind games with the Nuggets where should the two teams face off in the post season both teams know that San Antonio pummeled Denver in the one game where Parker, Duncan and Manu all played. Maybe that mental edge is worth preserving.
- Nene really needs to stop glaring at the refs after every shot he takes. At this point his visual protest is easily dismissed because you know it is coming. Although I do think he had a pretty good case on several occasions tonight.
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 95.9
Defensive Efficiency: 100.1
Offensive Efficiency: 108.5
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