Editor’s Note: I am at Denver International Airport trying to finish this up before my plane departs. I may have to cut it a little short. We do have a few days to catch up on any details I might have to leave out.
Anytime you end a 15 game losing streak it is cause for celebration. When you do it by holding the fourth best offense in the league to 73 points I think we should all take the day off tomorrow. It was the fewest points the Nuggets allowed in a single game since April 6, 2007 when they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 75 to 71 at the Pepsi Center.
Watching the game was an excruciating experience. It felt like I was watching a postseason baseball pitchers’ duel. Every time Orlando got a guy on base (made a three) it felt like everything could crumble down. I did not feel comfortable at all until Nene made both of his free throws with 29 seconds left to put the Nuggets back up by eight 81-73.
You have to be impressed with the effort and intensity the Nuggets played with all game long, especially considering they played a tough game in Miami last night, they had already won three games on the trip and could have felt a sense of contentment and it was the last game before the All-Star break. Denver decided early on that they wanted to avenge the smackdown they received at the hands of the Magic last month.
I was impressed with almost everything Denver did on defense tonight. I am sure this will surprise a lot of you, but I am on board with their strategy of switching most of the perimeter screens. The Magic are a team that you can get away with switching. In fact, they are such a good perimetedoing so. Anyone who can guard Hedo Turkoglu can check Rashard Lewis. If you try to fight through
Orlando bombarded the Clippers with 16 threes in 26 attempts in the first game Jameeer Nelson missed. However, since then in three games the Magic have shot a combined 26 for 83 which converts to 31.3%. Orlando seems to have lost the drive and kick game without Nelson and that makes it much easier for teams to rotate and challenge shots, even after doubling or collapsing on Dwight Howard.
I thought Denver did a good job of mixing up their defense on Howard. Sometimes they played him straight up, sometimes the doubled and other times they swarmed him. NO matter what their strategy was they all seemed to be on the same page. I think it was the most organized the Nuggets have been on defense all season. Of course, despite the Nuggets solid defense Orlando deserves some of the credit (blame) for only scoring 73 points. When they did have open shots they ended up missing them anyway.
The Nuggets can really feel good about themselves heading into the second half of the season. They have set a team record for best record after 53 games and they have a few days off to get everyone healthy.
Additional Game 53 Nuggets
- The Nuggets offense in the fourth quarter was very inconsistent. They found a play that worked pretty well with Melo getting the ball on the left elbow and driving right off of a screen by Martin. After a few open short jumpers Orlando started trapping Melo and after that the offense completely bogged down into purely one on one isolation sets. Orlando’s defense is far too good for that to be effective and that lull halfway through the fourth quarter prevented the Nuggets from putting Orlando away.
- Linas Kleiza is in one of his terrible funks. The few times he drove he ended up traveling and once again he missed every jumper he launched. I have no idea why he played as much as he did and I found it curious that with the Nuggets in need of a boost on offense that J.R. played as little as he did.
- The solid play of Johan Petro was a huge key and even if this is the only good game he plays all season I think it was worth sacrificing Atkins. Petro did not back down from Howard on defense and even got the better of him on a couple of possessions. Offensively Petro proved that he is incapable of catching the ball in traffic. The one time he did he finished off of a nice dump off pass from J.R.
- Chauncey did not have great numbers, but as in the previous game against the Heat he hit a couple of big shots and played good defense.
- Part of the reason why Orlando shot so poorly from three point range is because Mickael Pietrus, Anthony Johnson and Tyron Lue took 17 of their 31 attempts. They made combined to make four of those 17 attempts. Of course, Lewis and Turkoglu did not do much better.
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 90.4
Defensive Efficiency: 80.7 – That destroys their previous season best of 83.7 from game 45 versus Memphis.
Offensive Efficiency: 90.7 – That would be a season low if it were not for the 78.3 they dropped in New Jersey.
Featured Blog: Third Quarter Collapse
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