2008-09 Game 71: Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Sunx Game Thread

Once again the Denver Nuggets have to prove it.  I consider a prove it game to be a pivotal game against a good team where you need to prove that you are as good as you want people to think you are.  Denver has not done too well in “prove it games” this season.  

Prove it game number one – Game 13:  The Nuggets were 7-1 after acquiring Chauncey Billups including the big win over Boston as they headed into L.A. to face the Lakers.  They were absolutely demolished in a game that was nowhere near as close as the 104-90 final score.

Prove it game number two – Game 20:  After recovering from the loss to the Lakers by winning five of six the Nuggets were poised to send a message to the visiting Spurs and were rolled 108-91.

Prove it game number three – Game 26:  The Nuggets bounced back from the loss to the Spurs by winning four straight before losing a game at Houston.  Denver returned home to play the Cavs and Cleveland won so easily they probably thought it was just a scrimmage.

Prove it game number four – Game 53:  The Nuggets predictably bounced back from the 44 point drubbing at the hands of the Nets to wipe out the Heat.  The next night they were in Orlando where they had not won in years.  Denver pulled out a huge 82-73 win.

Prove it game number five – Game 63:  The Nuggets finally beat the Lakers and then promptly dropped games at Indiana and at Detroit, but bounced back to beat the Trail Blazers in Denver.  Denver then traveled to Utah and the Nuggets got off to a great start only to get shredded by the Jazz in the closing minutes of the second and then the third quarter.

The Nuggets now have three straight prove it games on the road starting tonight in Phoenix and we are running out of season to bounce back from a poor performance.

The one thing you need to know about Phoenix is the offense is back.  It may not be as flashy as when Steve Nash was running a three point circus with Amare flying down the middle for monster dunk after manhood stealing monster dunk.  John Hollinger recently pointed out that even with the plodding Shaq and an aging Nash since Alvin Gentry took over the Suns are on a league record pace for offensive efficiency posting a 117.7 (as of March 17).

The Nuggets have won five straight games, but their play has not been what you would call exemplary.  I especially have not been pleased with their defense.  They have been content to play a solid quarter of defense here and there and then coast to a victory.  They cannot afford to do that against the Suns. 

Leandro Barbosa is out, but over the past couple of games Jason Richardson has looked like he did in Golden State with point totals of 31, 25 and 35.  They may not have Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, Jim Jackson or Casey Jacobson anymore, but they can still hurt you with the three thanks to Nash, Richardson and yes, Matt Barnes.  The Nuggets have been struggling to defend the three and over the month of March the Suns have bumped up their three point attempts to 20.9 per game and are making 39.1% of them.  They also have the surprisingly spry Shaq roaming the paint who is capable of either overpowering you or making a crafty pass to take advantage of any out of position defenders.  The bottom line is if you miss on your rotations, fail to cover the pick and roll, fall asleep on the weak side or just flat out get out of position, the Suns will torch you and the Nuggets have struggled in all of those areas recently. 

Keep in mind the Suns will have to stop the Nuggets as they can certainly put the ball in the hoop pretty well themselves.  The Suns do not have any good defensive matchups for Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith and Chauncey will need to make Nash work on defense as well. 

We have seen the Nuggets play lockdown defense this season and they are certainly capable of holding the Suns in check, but as I have said, this is a prove it game.  I am going into tonight not expecting anything from Denver.  They will have to show me they are ready to win.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes

Previous Matchups:  Game 27 – Den 101 Phx 108 | Game 40 – Den 119 Phx 113 OT

Featured Blogs:  Valley of the Suns | Bright Side of the Sun

Take this with you:  The Nuggets have lost eight straight games at Phoenix.  If you think that is bad, they have lost 17 of their last 21 in Phoenix too.  And just to make sure you are not overconfident they have lost 37 of their last 44 contests in Phoenix.  I do not care if Phoenix is currently ninth in the conference a win tonight will be a nice accomplishment.

  • Josh Hopp

    A win would be a great way to set ourselves up for the very tough patch of basketball coming up. This is absolutely a winnable game. Nene is probably one of the best equipped men in the league right now to slow down Shaq in the paint, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble. Without Amare and Barbosa, that is a huge chunk of the Suns firepower out of the mix and we must take advantage of that. Go the Nuggets.

  • BeefySwats

    Ugh. I had no idea we performed so badly in Phoenix. This is definitely a big game and while not a “must win”, it certainly would help towards making this a pivotal 3 game trip.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    Dear Nuggets,

    I have finally started to forgive you for the post-All Star break meltdown. However, a loss tonight puts you right back on the couch. Did you like sleeping on the couch? DID YOU? Then DON’T LOSE!

    Love,

    Mermaid.

  • BeefySwats

    Jesus christ, I don’t think you could possibly have a worse start to this game.

    Denver is all perimeter, looks lost on D, and Nene is once again deferring when he’s right under the basket to…KMart for a 20ft jump shot?

    DUNK THAT, NENE!

    Down ten already. *facepalm*

  • Josh Hopp

    So much for getting off to a good start.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    That is a horrible tatoo on Barnes’ neck. Not as bad as KMart’s…but bad none the less.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    I just can’t understand how the Nuggets can consistently come out in game that are this important and play like fucking garbage. That has to be on the coach…doesn’t it?

  • Josh Hopp

    we are playing like trash and the refs are actually treating us favourably

  • BeefySwats

    Mermaid, to an extent, yes. Inadequate preparation for the challenges of the road does lie on the coach.

    But Denver HAS to understand that they have to move the ball if they want a shot at beating Phoenix. Outside jumpers could not possibly be a part of Karl’s game plan. Denver is bigger at every position except C and they keep trying outside shots.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    wow…to come out of that quarter and only be down 7 is a freaking miracle. Now if the Nugs can simply extricate their coconuts from the derrieres then we might have a chance.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    why does LK still have a job?

  • Josh Hopp

    LK is just an object of amusement now. Every time he gets the ball I laugh out loud

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    As far as who is to blame for the team coming out flat it is on everyone, but I blame the players more than Karl. Some games should not require any motivation from the coach and this is one of them.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Not a great decision by Carter to go with the oop to Smith, but it worked pretty well.

  • BeefySwats

    Like Karl said once, you can really only fire players up a few times a year before yelling at them doesn’t work anymore.

    If this is the way Denver is playing against a Phoenix team they should by all rights better than, especially with them missing both Barbosa and Stoudemire, then they deserve our spot in the playoffs.

  • BeefySwats

    Just give Balkman 48 minutes a game. Fuck.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Every time the Nuggets get close the Suns hit a three.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    And by close I mean within seven…

  • UnarmingMermaid

    @Beefy:

    Do you think that Balkman can play all the positions for 48 minutes? We might be better.

    @Jeremy:

    You’d think we’d actually try defending some of those 3’s.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    GK looks confused.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Nene cannot put the ball directly in the middle of his body and let Shaq block it. If he puts the ball to the side and has his forearm in the middle of his body that is a clear foul.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Silly ‘T’ on Gentry there.

  • BeefySwats

    What can we do here? I’m kinda lost. I don’t really know what the Nuggets can do to counter the Suns.

  • BeefySwats

    I…I don’t even know what you call that.

    Nene looks just like his namesake underneath the basket lately – a baby. He’s timid, defers, doesn’t dunk and is missing EASY layups he was making all season.

  • Josh Hopp

    thank goodness Portland is trailing against philly. if they lose it will nullify a loss for us a lot

  • BeefySwats

    And there goes KMart.

    So much for all those games we were resting him to get his back better.

  • Josh Hopp

    HEY EVERYONE!!! K-MART IS HURT!!! :)))))))) YAY!!!!!!

  • BeefySwats

    Josh, no it won’t. We can’t afford to give ground with the Hornets right behind us. We should be shooting for the HCA, not another 6 or 7 seed.

  • BeefySwats

    Haha.

    KMart saw 4:20 on the game clock and sank two free throws. Coincidence? I think not.

  • sdchlr

    Great decision to leave KMart in.

    …also Kleiza denied LOL

  • Josh Hopp

    fair enough beefy, but it wouldnt hurt. guess i’ve just been salivating after the division title all season long

  • BeefySwats

    @ Josh – yeah, me too. I just know how talented this team is. They can still win the 2 or even the 3 seed this year. I expect them to win no less than the division title with what they’ve shown me.

    I am hard on my team, but that’s because I love them. I know they can play with any team in the league and I have seen the nights when they absolutely dominate. When they are on, they are a championship team.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    If we can take this into half down by 5 or less, I think that’d be a small victory.

  • Josh Hopp

    these suns reporters are HILARIOUS

  • Josh Hopp

    OOOOHHH!!! LK!!!

    OOOHOHOHOHOHO!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS????????

  • UnarmingMermaid

    Oh Shit!

    LK!!! Reminding me why I used to like him.

  • BeefySwats

    Do work, Kleiza, do work.

  • BeefySwats

    72 points scored in the quarter. Holy hell.

  • Josh Hopp

    I just hope Karl wan’t reward LK with more minutes for that beautiful little abberation

  • BeefySwats

    @ Josh – Oh, you’d think not, but watch him play the entire second half.

    (he better not)

  • UnarmingMermaid

    Vroom Vroom Party starter!!!

    I’m out guys…finishing up at the local watering hole.

    Go Nugs!!!

  • BeefySwats

    No starter has a positive +/- and yet we are down only 3 at the half.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Belated halftime stats:
    Pace Factor: 101.0
    Defensive Efficiency: 124.8 – Denver had 8 defensive rebounds to the Suns 10 offensive rebounds. Disgraceful.
    Offensive Efficiency: 118.8

  • Josh Hopp

    wow.

  • sdchlr

    We got bailed out by free throw shooting and suns turnovers so far. I actually like this pace. If Carmelo and JR get hot it’s over.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    I am supposed to write a piece for the ESPN Daily Dime tomorrow on this game and should the Nuggets hang on to win I am at a loss to explain how the Nuggets can defend this poorly and beat a quality team on the road.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Now the Suns are the team who has lost focus.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    I think the Suns playing zone has helped the Nuggets play more unselfishly.

  • Josh Hopp

    this is really incredible. please please let us come up with the W!

  • Josh Hopp

    foul trouble for nene. DAMNIT!

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Suns are going to try to pick and roll the Nuggets to death from now on.

  • Josh Hopp

    melo is doing a great job of recognising the need to keep our momentum going

  • Josh Hopp

    these announcers are completely insufferable

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Phoenix is picking the intensity back up again.

  • Josh Hopp

    highly disappointing, albeit predictable, end to the quarter

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    I never had a good feeling about this game, even when the Nuggets were up 11, but now I am sick to my stomach.

  • sdchlr

    I knew we would lose the lead when Kleiza came in. Prompty bricks a 3 and it leads to a 3 pt play for phoenix

  • BeefySwats

    Hey Jeremy, here’s something to reallly make you sick – Kleiza let Richardson on the break for 3 points and now the Blazers are up 4 on the Sixers after the Sixers had a 14 point lead. Ugh.

  • Josh Hopp

    smith sucks

  • Josh Hopp

    LK sucks

  • BeefySwats

    Can someone tell me why the fuck Andersen is not playing for Kleiza right now?

  • Josh Hopp

    nene is a moron

  • BeefySwats

    Good work Nene. Way to demonstrate mental toughness in a close game and just reinforce the thuggish stereotype of this team.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    After review that flagrant foul on Nene should be a flagrant zero. It was a foul, but that was ridiculous to throw him out.

  • Josh Hopp

    Haha! now they are trying to paint admudsen as a passive peaceful hard done by guy being knocked around by big mean nene

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Hey Beefy, I stopped keeping track of the Sixers/Blazers game a little bit ago. That is frustrating.

  • Josh Hopp

    oh man me too I missed that. friggin blazers. philly up 1 right now though

  • Josh Hopp

    i am going to miss the end of this game due to class. good luck everyone

  • BeefySwats

    Cya Josh. I’m cringing enough for the both of us. Denver has played well this second half but this will really prove if we have the ability to tough this game out.

    So many missed out of bounds calls this game…Jeremy: does a Flagrant 2 mean Nene is out vs New Orleans?

    If so, fuck.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    Beefy – Nene will be able to play the next game. Flagrant foul points determine if a player is suspended for a game and I think they need to acquire five or six points before they are suspended for a game.

  • BeefySwats

    Time for a miracle.

  • BeefySwats

    Sigh.

    I really really really wish Denver would realize that once again you cannot just turn it on whenever you want.

    Denver absolutely lost a winnable game tonight.

  • BeefySwats

    If Denver doesn’t spot Phoenix a 14 point lead, we win this game by 5.

    Or if they hold on to their lead when they were up 11 points.

  • RyanSev23

    I hate the NBA. What other league’s games are more influenced by officiating? Rewarding flopping, throwing Nene out for such a weak elbow. This game was reffed poorly for both teams and sadly that is a common occurrence in the NBA. If you are on the road you are going to get a raw deal, plain and simple. It’s sickening. After games like tonight I have to ask myself why I even watch the NBA anymore. I thought after the Heat-Mavs atrocity in the Finals I would not be back but something always keeps pulling me back. Damn that stung. It also was a cold reminder of why the NBA is becoming less and less watched by the general public.

  • sdchlr

    I thought we should have held for the last shot when we were down 2 with 20 seconds left. On the road, I think you go for the win and try to get a 3 off a drive and kick or something. Oh well, we still haven;t put together a solid complete game and didn’t really deserve to win.

  • BeefySwats

    Also, Jeremy, I think I’m right – a Flagrant 2 does mean a one game suspension, Hastings and Marlowe were just talking about it. I really hope they review it, but even if they do, I think the headbutt/elbowdrop on Amundson is enough to keep it as a 2.

    Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • BeefySwats

    One last final thought: at least Portland lost tonight.

    Signing off till Wednesday,

    -Swats

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com jeremy

    OK, I was wrong, I guess there is a chance the league can suspend Nene for the Hornets game. I would be shocked if they did due to the very limited amount of contact with Amundson. Of course, if they decide he made contact with the official after the call that could be another story. Sorry for the misinformation.

  • UnarmingMermaid

    Well? The Nugs are back on the couch.

    I really can’t defend Nene. I like the guy. But I think he should be suspended. It looked to me like he clearly attempted a head butt and that has no place on the court.

    Next two games just went from must wins to…whatever is above must win.

  • Josh Hopp

    AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! THIS SUCKS!!! This has been such an emotional season for me. Thank GOD Portland lost in OT to Philly. If the league steals Nene from us for our next game its over. Game over man. Game over

  • BeefySwats

    Disappointing loss, but we fought hard. I would really like to see them win on the road at NO, but I really don’t see that happening. I see us eking out a win in Dallas, then returning home 1-2 and a 1/2 game ahead of the Jazz and Blazers.

  • BeefySwats

    “The story of the second half of the season for Denver has been a defense without cohesion, incapable of getting stops when it desperately needs one and an offense that vacates the kitchen when quality teams turn up the heat. As a result the Nuggets have not defeated a team with a record over .500 since March 4, when they beat the Trail Blazers in Denver. Their last road victory against a winning team was Feb. 18.

    Right now when I look at the Denver Nuggets I do not see a team capable of making a run to the Western Conference finals, as was once thought to be the case. I see a team that will once again be one-and-done, and that is a tough pill for Nuggets fans to swallow.”

    Ouch, Jeremy :(

    So is that it, then? You’re giving up all hope of us being able to get anywhere this season?

  • Mulanquelmelf

    Привет. Как ваши дела-то?
    На вашем форме спамить-то можно?