If I was a teacher and the Denver Nuggets were students in my classroom, I would go to the school board and demand they get sent back to kindergarten. They keep failing to learn a lesson that has been taught to them over and over and over again this season. You cannot build a modest lead and mail in the rest of the game and expect to win in the NBA. Another lesson I thought they had learned that went completely out the window was that they needed to move the ball and be patient on offense in order to score consistently.
The Nuggets played the kind of solid team oriented offense in the first half that they have displayed since Melo was injured and the result was an 11 point halftime lead. For some reason as soon as the halftime buzzer sounded Denver forgot everything they had been doing the previous four and a half games. The second half turned into a sickening display of one on one basketball with little movement and no attention to detail.
The guards rarely looked to drive (Chauncey was the only one who ever tried to get in the lane, but when he did he was always looking for the foul instead of to score or dish and as a result all he had to show for it was a fat lip). The bigs slipped far too many screens and at no point did anyone on the court seem to stop and wonder why things were falling apart around them. You would think with as many games as this team has given away on the road they would recognize the symptoms. I sure as heck do. I bet every Nuggets fan does.
Stats can be misleading and it is not often you can find one number that defines a game, but tonight I believe we can. Here is the number.
That is the number of assists the Denver Nuggets had in the second half and one of them came 45 seconds into the third quarter. Over the final 14 minutes of the game they had one assist. Maybe that should be the number. OK, make the new number 1.
If Denver fails to earn the second seed in the west and fails to return to the Western Conference Finals it is games like tonight that will be the reason. I do not care who is on the floor or who is out of the lineup, everyone can play smart basketball.
Sacramento is now 2-7 over their previous nine games and both wins have come against Denver.
Additional Game 37 Nuggets
- J.R. Smith made a play I had never seen before. He took the ball out of bounds after a miss. Tyreke Evans shot a three pointer that only touched the bottom of the net and I am not saying it hit nothing but net in the sense he swished it. It only touched the bottom of the net. J.R. obviously did not have a clear view of the ball because he caught it, backed out of bounds and threw the ball into AC. I think everyone was a little stunned and I even questioned if the ball had actually gone through the hoop thinking it must have since J.R. was throwing the ball inbounds. The result was a turnover unlike any I had ever seen before.
- After getting manhandled by Brockman in the first half I thought Nene and Kenyon did a much better job of trying to block him out and he only pulled down three second half rebounds.
- Against Cleveland it did not seem like the Nuggets were getting dominated on the boards, but the Cavs collected 12 more rebounds than Denver. Tonight Denver actually won the rebound battle 39-38, but it sure did not seem like it.
- After touting J.R.’s newfound free throw prowess he bricked two straight after a clear path foul was called on Sacramento early in the fourth.
- For the third or fourth time this season Denver dishonored the memory of a nice win with a bad loss. They followed a good home win against Houston with a sad road loss in New Orleans where they blew a 16 point lead. The impressive win over Utah was followed up with the home loss to Philly where Denver had an early nine point advantage. Now the very impressive win over Cleveland was soiled by tonight’s second half stinker where they again lost a big first half lead.
- A very big turning point came with 6:53 remaining when Arron Afflalo had a three pointer from the corner rim in and out that would have given Denver a ten point lead. Just over a minute later the Kings had cut the Nuggets’ lead to two with a runner by Casspi where Afflalo had to back off because he had five fouls and a three pointer by Evans.
- The Kings were able to frustrate Nene by playing him very physically. The officials allowed them to push and grab and they took advantage of it. It was ironic to me that the Nuggets’ chances of winning disappeared when Nene was called for an offensive foul trying to post up with 22 seconds remaining. Of course Chauncey’s very poorly timed pass was going to go out of bounds anyway.
- After stopping LeBron James twice in the final minute last night Kenyon could not get the stop Denver needed on Evans. On the game winning possession Evans got Martin on his hip driving to his left. Nene did a decent job of helping over to keep Evans from getting to the rim, but the help came far too late as Evans was able to stop, spin and splash a short five footer.
(Hat tip to Cowbell Kingdom for the video)
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