Do you all remember during the regular season when the Denver Nuggets could not stop the pick and roll to save their lives? There were many games where they looked completely lost at what to do when the opposition set a ball screen.
What they are doing now in the first two games against the New Orleans Hornets series is almost too good to be true. Tonight the Nuggets actually implemented four different schemes, at least that I recognized, to slow down Chris Paul. During game one they brought help on both sides of the screen in order to keep Chris Paul out of the lane. Tonight, they ran much less of that while they did a lot more switching, they also trapped and they even played some straight up hedge and recover.
No matter what scheme they followed Paul was never left alone and Denver was able to direct him into situations where his best option was to pass. In game one the Nuggets played off of him a little bit more and he was able to get off 19 shots. I think Denver decided that they would rather have Paul rack up the assists with a few points than a bunch of points with his typical amount of assists.
If that was indeed their thinking it could not have worked better. Ina game where I expected to see a hyper competitive CP3 look to dominate the game from start to finish, Paul only managed 11 shots. Not nearly enough to impact the game with his scoring.
As in the first game the Nuggets played almost equally well on both ends of the floor. Chauncey was obviously on fire again. With Melo and J.R. also having efficient offensive nights the Hornets were at a loss for how to defend Denver. They were so conflicted they actually completely lost track of Chauncey on one possession leaving him wide open for another made three pointer.
It has been incredible to see Chauncey almost reborn in the postseason. He has a fire and focus that we have not seen from him all season. He has even added some flash to his game. With 6:01 left in the second quarter Chauncey caught an outlet pass on the Nuggets side of half court. He dribbled towards the lane from the right side while Nene ran down the middle of the floor. Chauncey then attacked the rim forcing Chandler to step up to guard him and slipped the ball behind his back with his left hand, and practically right across Rasual Butler’s chest, into Nene’s hands.
Chauncey made an equally enthralling play in the middle of the third quarter. He caught an outlet pass from Kenyon with six minutes left at the Hornets’ free throw line dribbled up the floor. Chris Paul tried timing a steal on him, but Chauncey pulled off a beautiful spin to his right while keeping the dribble with his left hand leaving Paul in the dust. He then pulled up from 17 feet and drained the jumper. It was beautiful.
That is all for tonight. I am experiencing some serious sleep deprivation so you will all have to wait until sometime tomorrow for the additional game nuggets. If you simply cannot wait that long you can get a couple hundred more words on the game by clicking here and checking out item seven (yea I have fallen from number two to number three and now down to number seven).