More Game Two Thoughts – Starring Dahntay Jones

Even though Chauncey Billups has been absolutely incredible and Carmelo Anthony played a tremendous team oriented game on both ends of the floor Dahntay Jones has proven to be almost equally as valuable.

I have said that Kenyon Martin seems to have been created to defend David West.  Well, Jones was pretty well designed for guarding Chris Paul.  I am not saying Jones can take Paul one on one and take him out of the game.  No one individual can.  Dahntay needs, and receives a lot of help from his teammates, but he has enough quickness to hound Paul while possessing the size and strength to absorb the contact Paul likes to create and still recover to either challenge the shot or handle the change of direction.  

Jones has been labeled a good defender since his arrival in Denver, but he was never known for his defense in his previous NBA stops.  I have seen plenty of games where his defense was far from being considered “lock down.”  In fact I only remember being really blown away with his defense when he covered Jose Calderon and Chris Paul.  Since Toronto is not in the Western Conference I guess it is a good thing Denver is playing New Orleans.

George Karl has taken notice too.  In March and April when J.R. Smith rediscovered his offensive explosiveness Jones’ minutes dropped down to 14.4 minutes a game, basically the first six minutes of each half and garbage time.  In the first two games against the Hornets Jones has logged 21 and 20 minutes.  It is the first time he has played at least 20 minutes in back to back games since February 6. 

You can see that Jones is loving every second of it too.  And clearly Chris Paul is not.  Paul is a competitor and a tough player, but the physical defense that Jones is playing is getting to him.

The Nuggets also switched a lot more on defense in game two and that left Dahntay matched up against West and even Chandler in the post on multiple occasions and he did a great job holding his ground and not giving anything easy.  Chauncey also did a great job in those situations too. 

And oh by the way, the Nuggets hottest shooter is not Chauncey, it is Jones who has hit eight of his nine shots in the first two games.

Chandler and West Respond on the Boards

After getting pushed around in game one the Hornets big men, Tyson Chandler and David West both had good games on the glass collecting 21 rebounds between them.  Chandler also did a very good job on Nene as he made the adjustment to simply hold his ground in the post and not go for Nene’s up fake.  Chandler is clearly hobbled and you can see every time he turns to run. 

Hornets Still Hounding Melo

Carmelo rebounded nicely from his poor shooting in the first game, but the Hornets still managed to keep him out of the lane.  Of his 20 shots, 16 came from outside 15 feet and only one was at the rim.  Part of the reason for that is due to his willingness to pass and not force anything, which is a good thing.  He does a very good job of turning into the help when he is doubled to beat the double team.  He has been doing it for most of the season though and I am surprised the Hornets have not picked up on it.  Every time he pivots toward the defender it catches them off guard.

Nene OK?

BeefySwats asked if there is something wrong with Nene.  Even though he had good numbers in game one and received a lot of praise for his play I thought his performance was a little shaky, but chose to believe the stats over my insecurity.  Well, last night in game two he definitely struggled.  He did make a couple of jumpers, but was largely ineffective in the post.  On more than one occasion he passed up a chance to dunk and the result was missed layups.

As I mentioned earlier Chandler did a good job of defending him on the block, but it is more than that.  At the beginning of the season Nene admitted he was still feeling the effects of his chemotherapy.  He started out strong though so I think any physical impact from his cancer treatments was forgotten.  Even if he was full strength to start the season he is four games away from passing his career mark for most games played in a season.  In 2003-04 Nene appeared in 77 regular season games and five playoff games.  This season he matched the 77 regular season games and he will certainly surpass the 82 total games from 2003-04 as the Nuggets have at least four games left (should the Hornets sweep the next four).  Playing this many games in one season is really a new experience for Nene and when you consider what he went through physically with his cancer treatment you have to expect him to hit a wall at some point. 

Nene’s 14 rebound effort in game one was only his sixth double digit rebound game since the all-star break.  The Nuggets need to close this series out quickly for no other reason than to give Nene a few days off.

Finally the Shoe is on the Other Cheek

Hornets fans are doing a lot of complaining about the officiating in game two.  Nuggets fans never expected to be on the other side of that fence in the playoffs.  The biggest complaint I have read are about how the Nuggets have drawn offensive fouls with their feet moving.  The Hornets have had a very difficult time clearing space to get their shots off.  As a result they have been pushing with their off arm quite a bit and that is a foul.  We have seen Melo called for doing it all season long.

Springing West

One adjustment the Hornets made between contests was to try to knock Kenyon off of West with a ball screen.   They only ran it a few times with limited effectiveness, but if West is hitting his shot, it will be an effective tactic. 

Game Four Info

With the Jazz defeating the Lakers in Utah tonight Game four of this series on Monday, April 27 in New Orleans will be played at 6:30 Mountain time and broadcast on NBATV instead of TNT as the Lakers get that spot.  It will also air locally on Altitude.

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  86.9 – Tied for the third slowest paced game for a game in Denver this season with game 28 against Portland.  The two slowest paced home games this season were game 38 versus Detroit, 86.3 and game 68 when New Jersey came to town with a pace factor of 86.6.  By the way, the Nuggets won three of those four games. 

Defensive Efficiency:  107.0 – Garbage time pulled this number down a little, but still a solid rating.

Offensive Efficiency:  124.3 – Actually better than game one, 122.6.

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  • jakester

    Boo, Jazz! You’re not going to beat the Lakers, so just go away and stop knocking off the Nuggets from national TV!

    Although I have to say, it’s pretty nice to see the Lakers somewhat exposed. Bynum with 6 fouls seems to have been the key. If it comes down to Lakers/Nuggets, I hope we can exploit that. Although, does Kobe ever have 5-24 nights against the Nuggets?

    My hope for tomorrow’s game is that we do NOT read our own press, annointing us the bestest team in the playoffs, and we lift our D yet another level. Denver lucked out in that the Hornets simply stopped going to Peja when he got hot and hit three consecutive 3s. To me, THAT is the mindboggling statistic of the game! This isn’t some scrub who gets on a minor streak, this is Peja, one of the purest shooters of our time.

    Anyway Jeremy, thanks for validating Dahntay’s play. I agree that his defensive reputation has been a little overblown. Going back and reading comments made after the Iverson trade, everyone simply assumed that Smith would take AI’s starting 2 role. But Jones has the making of a pretty decent player, and all of a sudden, him starting doesn’t seem to be the most ridiculous thing ever. Perhaps Karl was right all along??

  • Business Socks

    Complaining about officiating is the easy way out. It prevents you from looking at the true flaws of your team and the fact that you are getting outplayed. Believe me, I have been there. I used to be the guy that was always the first to blame officiating when one of my teams lost but I have found out that it doesn’t help at all. Waste of time. They make mistakes sometimes, they’re human. The side complaining about the officiating is 99 percent of the time the losing side.

  • sleepydog

    haha business socks. great handle.

  • Josh Hopp

    I am so pleased with Jones’ performance. I have always been in favour of starting him over JR, it just seemed right for some reason even though Karl, let alone I, could never articulate why it’s nice to to start a lock down defender. He is paying back the confidence coach has shown in him in a big way. Great stuff Dahntay.

  • runningdonut

    Oh god, thanks for getting everyone worried sick about Nene Jeremy :)

    I think he has had trouble playing against bigger centers since the all star break. The most recent Laker game comes to mind. I hope he is just dealing with the sore left hand and not really wearing down due to fatigue. The good thing is we’ve had 2 days rest between our playoff games. The Lakers Jazz series only had 1 day between all their games and I think it worked against the Lakers last night.