2008-09 Game 62: Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers Game Thread

During the All-Star break when the Nuggets had a three and a half game lead these next two games against Portland and at Utah looked to be important, but not life or death type matchups.  With the events that have transpired since then (the Nuggets slumping while the Blazers have surged and the Jazz have absolutely caught fire) the next two nights have taken on a much greater importance.  However, it has not reached that status to George Karl who referred to it as “one game in a marathon (season)” in the Denver Post today. 

The Nuggets have been in first place in the Northwest Division for most of the season.  If they lose the next two games and Houston and New Orleans win their next games Denver will wake up on Saturday and fine themselves in third place in the division and seventh in the conference.  Think about that.  For all the praise and good press the Nuggets have received they are really teetering on the brink right now.

What is the solution?  Desperation.  The Nuggets showed us when the pressure was on against the Lakers that they can perform at a higher level.  Intensity and focus on defense can overcome a multitude of issues.  Against the Lakers the Nuggets shot 41.7% from the field and 14.3% from three point land, but they won by 11 points.  They will have to play with desperation these next two games.

The Trail Blazers have a top quality offense.  They are second in the NBA in offensive efficiency behind only the Lakers.  They have incredibly talented offensive players in LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw and of course Brandon Roy.  What makes them even more dangerous is they play very unselfishly making them even more difficult to defend.  What they do not have is a defense that can go into lock down mode and that is the difference between these two squads.  Of course should the Nuggets come out tonight and go through the motions any defensive advantage will be completely negated and that is why it is important they play with desperation.

Portland comes into town having played a tough game at home against the Pacers and they were a Jarrett Jack three at the buzzer away from losing.  The Nuggets should be fairly well rested and Melo should be very well rested. 

Brandon Roy has yet to shoot well in Denver having a career field goal percentage of 37.8% on 28-74 shooting.  Portland has only won once in five tries in Denver since Roy came to town.  Earlier this season when the two teams met at the Pepsi Center Carmelo was sitting out to rest his sore elbow and the Nuggets won with defense.  They held Roy to 3-11 shooting and no one else stepped up to fill the void.  I wrote in my game recap that one of the keys to the Nuggets defensive effort that night was that they fought through screens with the bigs hedging to slow down the ball handler.  We should be able to get a good indication of what type of defense the Nuggets will come out with tonight based on how they defend the pick and roll.

These next two games are going to be more about effort and heart.  Denver can either lose their grip on the division or they can reestablish it.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes

Previous Matchups:  Game 28 – Den 97 Por 89 | Game 29 – Den 92 Por 101

Featured Blogs:  Blazer’s Edge | Center Court | Rip City Project

Take this with you (new feature for a big game):  With a great effort and win tonight Denver can put the Melo suspension behind them.  With a loss it will threaten to hang over them for the foreseeable future.

  • CCH

    This is a must win. I really like our odds after portland struggled against indiana at home. But like you said who knows which nuggets D will show up, and will we see the jump shooting nuggets or the attack mode nuggets?

  • Othe33

    Two must wins in a row. Great test – both the Blazers and the Jazz will be coming in with a must-win mentality of their own, so the Nuggs will either get a lift or take a blow. I’m glad these games happen now – if things go bad there’s time to adjust and recover.

    Jeremy – maybe you can use your excellent video analysis to decide what GK has in his mug. I’ve always suspected him of sipping stoli through the game.

    Very happy that I get to watch the game tonight – in a bar in Portland no less. Need the Nuggs to back up my mouth…

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    J.R. self assist on the first bucket.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Blake pressuring Chauncey full court to keep the ball out of his hands.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Love to see Chauncey step in off the three point line and hit that midrange jumper.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Love the way J.R. is playing.

  • Josh Hopp

    Hi everyone. Why is Petro starting? K Mart hurt?

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Martin sitting out because of his bad back.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Carter is out tonight too, I think because of his hip.

  • Josh Hopp

    Melo is hot. Hope it doesn’t get to his head

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Pass it Chauncey!

  • Josh Hopp

    Thanks jeremy

  • Josh Hopp

    Portland is now in the damn bonus

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Petro has two fouls, Nene has one and Bird has one right away.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    McMillen pulled Roy right when was heating up and he agreed to leave the game. Fascinating.

  • Josh Hopp

    I like that timeout by GK. It’s imperitive not to screw up late in a quarter when you have the lead.

  • Josh Hopp

    It sure would be nice to have Steven Hunter around to soak up some fouls

  • Josh Hopp

    Melo just needs to take it to the bucket. Seriously, what happened to our cadillac lottery pick scoring superstar?

    maybe that’s a bit much…

  • Josh Hopp

    Birdman with the jumpers tonight!

  • Josh Hopp

    Great first quarter. Let’s play D and put this one in the books.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Chauncey’s three was late. That was beautiful though.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    I think the Nuggets smell blood. As their lead grew, the D really picked up. Portland was very perimeter oriented and none of their shots were falling other than Aldridge’s.

  • Josh Hopp

    A poor shooting night from Travis Outlaw would be great. He is often their only real scorer. Not tonight though, LMA is looking his usual dependable self.

  • Josh Hopp

    A big part of our lead is this:

    Nuggets 3PTFG: 1 – 2
    Blazers 3PTFG: 1 – 6

  • CCH

    Jr and melo are Ballllin

  • CCH

    Im liking JR starting with Melo , great success!

  • Josh Hopp

    Tr-Out is heating up

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Outlaw is heating up. Josh Hopp is right about him. He can light it up.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Time for Balkman with Outlaw playing the power forward spot. Neither Nene nor Bird can guard him.

  • Josh Hopp

    KLIEZA WITH HIS FIRST 3 IN 44 GAMES AND 233 ATTEMPTS

  • CCH

    lol i think its his first three all season actually.

  • Josh Hopp

    With this team though, and particularly against the Blazers, NO lead is safe, as in NO LEAD is safe.

  • Josh Hopp

    17 point lead becomes 11 just like that

  • CCH

    3 turnovers in a row and AC isn’t even playing?

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    That’s funny CCH.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Now the Nuggets are the team that is playing 100% perimeter offense.

  • Josh Hopp

    Chauncey what the hell man

  • Josh Hopp

    ARRGHH

  • Josh Hopp

    LOCK DOWN THIS LAST POSESSION

  • Josh Hopp

    Outplayed by 8 points that quarter. Man this team makes me furious. I’m so sick to death of this bulls***

  • Josh Hopp

    OH!!!
    JR for 3!

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Woo hoo J.R.!

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Nene was throwing the ball in after Roy made his shot. He had Melo on his right, Chauncey in the middle and J.R. on the left. He looked at all three and chose to throw it to J.R. Good decision!

  • Othe33

    thank goodness for tnt coverage. I’ve missed my Nuggs so much.

    Carmelo seems determined. JR is energetic. Even NeNe seems to have the fire tonight. I like it.

    Finish it!

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Halftime Stats
    Pace Factor: 91.0
    Defensive Efficiency: 96.6
    Offensive Efficiency: 116.4

  • Josh Hopp

    I want GK to emphasise that the lead we have means nothing. JRs 3 was meaningless. We have to go out there from scratch and win this thing. Play perimeter D and take it inside to the bucket. We can’t hope that MElos and JRs jumpers keep falling. Just take it inside.

  • Josh Hopp

    Chauncey is ice cold. Why can’t all our guys make shots for just one game?

  • Josh Hopp

    And that…. was our lead.

  • CCH

    WTF CHAUNCEY

  • Josh Hopp

    Man I hate B Roy. And he is probably the nicest guy in the league.

  • Josh Hopp

    CRUCIAL time out.

  • Josh Hopp

    nice

  • CCH

    yeah lets GO

  • Josh Hopp

    LK! YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD!

  • Josh Hopp

    Phew. We actually outplayed them in that quarter. I’m going to freakin miss the 4th. Good luck everyone.

  • Othe33

    this is the Carmelo Anthony we’ve been missing. If the game off was what he needed, then I tip my hat to GK.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    J.R. is leading the Nuggets in rebounds with seven. It really has been a team effort on the glass. Portland only has four offensive rebounds.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Alright Nuggets, your defense can deliver you.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Kleiza is actually guarding Jeryd Bayless. That is not going to be a good matchup for Denver.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Chauncey needs to watch Fernandez and how he jumps in whatever direction he needs to in order to make sure he draws contact when his defender is in the air.

  • CCH

    Beautiful comeback game for melo

  • CCH

    Lets go Hart! Crisp passes and he knocked down the jumper cya AC

  • CCH

    I think that felt better than the Lakers win.

  • snafuthai

    Birdman spiking the ball off Rudy’s face was probably the highlight of the year for me. Haha, sooo sick. WP Nuggets, at least now the beatdown we receive tomorrow won’t be so infuriating.