I hate to say I told you so:
While the Nuggets announced that Kenyon “is expected to return” at some point this season, there is no timeline. No week to ten days or two to four weeks. Expected to return makes me a little bit queasy.
Honestly, Denver can handle life without Kenyon for a few games here and there. If they are forced to play without him for a prolonged period of time I think you can kiss any shot at the second or third seed goodbye and perhaps even home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Saying the Nuggets would struggle without Kenyon was not quite as inspired as Columbus declaring the world was round or Copernicus promoting the heliocentric universe, but many fans dismissed the possibility Denver could lose home court advantage. I have some bad news for you Nuggets boosters, after losing in Dallas the Nuggets are a half a game behind the Phoenix Suns who have slid up to fourth.
Any hope of Kenyon returning to right the ship still has little merit. We are three weeks into his treatment and during the broadcast when asked by Chris Marlowe if there is a timetable for his return or if he was still in “wait and see mode” Kenyon replied, “Wait and see. I know what my pain level is. I am going to have to play in some pain, but as long as it is not the pain I had before I sat out.”
Looking at the game itself part of me wanted to turn it off when it was 9-2. However, the Nuggets did show some heart as they fought back in the second and fourth quarters. The best stretch of the game for the Nuggets came in the middle of the second quarter and if you think jacking up contested jumpers and switching every screen had anything to do with that section of the contest you have not been paying attention.
Ty Lawson changed the pace of the game during that time. In fact, there was one sequence where the Nuggets were inbounding the ball from under the Mavs’ basket and Altitude was showing a replay where Lawson scored a one man fast break layup before they could get the feed switched back to what was going on on the floor. Joey Graham had a nice drive for a basket and the defense played with very impressive cohesion. From the double teaming of Dirk and recovery to the rotations and they way they tried to fight over screens the defense was solid.
The Nuggets were within four and then for some unknown reason Anthony Carter entered the game. Carter gave Jason Kidd an open three after leaving Kidd to not really double Dirk, which was the same shtick he foisted on Denver against Orlando the day before. Carter also had a horrible turnover on a lob pass into Nene in a “what on the freaking earth was he thinking throwing that pass?” moment and air balled a three pointer. Carter was a key component of the Mavs’ late second quarter run that destroyed any momentum the Nuggets bench had established.
The bottom line is Denver never was a threat to win this game. The Mavs were rested and jacked up to play that game while the Nuggets were playing their fifth game in seven nights and Chauncey and Carmelo were both completely incapable of creating any offense. It begs the question over a five and a half month regular season is there any need to have teams play two sets of back to back games in the same week? Good teams can win on the second night of a back to back. Few can win on the fourth game in five nights and I doubt the fifth game in seven nights is much better.
If you are looking for a silver lining other than five of Denver’s final seven games are at home how about Ty Lawson returning to his proper status as the backup point guard (thanks for listening Coach Dantley). Lawson played much better than in his first stint in Boston, which is to be expected, but the fact that he did not play in New York possibly transformed this road trip from a frustrating 2-3 trip to a potentially devastating 1-4 trip.
The Nuggets finally get a couple of days off before facing off with the hot Portland Trail Blazers who have won eight of their last nine.
Additional Game 75 Nuggets
- Chauncey again chucked up seven threes despite the fact he is ice cold. It is one thing to shoot yourself out of a slump. It is another entirely to shoot your team out of a game. Chauncey was red hot in February and he took more threes than usual, 6.8 per game as opposed to his season average of 5.5. However, through the month or March when Billups was cold as the dark side of the moon he continued to shoot 5.5 a game. In half of the games in March, eight out of 16, Chauncey shot at least five threes while making fewer than 30% of them.
- Some of you may remember when the Golden State Warriors upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs it was Stephen Jackson who hounded Dirk Nowitzki game after game. If the Nuggets have a player that fits that mold it is Carmelo Anthony. I was hoping to see Melo spend some time covering Dirk and I got what I asked for. Melo worked hard, fought for position and kept Dirk on the perimeter. He could have done a better job boxing out, but it would be interesting to see what Melo could do on Dirk for an extended period of time.
- I think we can look forward to a few battles between Rodrique Beaubois and Ty Lawson. I am not sure how good of a passer Beaubois is, but he is certainly quick enough to get to the rim.
- Joey Graham played well and was a big key to the Nuggets’ run in the second quarter. Going small is not always the answer, but I would rather have Graham on the court than Malik Allen.
- Yes Melo and Chauncey were that bad. They were 6-30 from the floor. The rest of the team were 26-48.
- J.R. had a very good scoring game, shooting 10-16, but again had no assists and turned the ball over five times.
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