The Denver Nuggets are attempting to right the ship by taking care of business against some of the league’s lesser squads. After a tight win over the New Jersey Nets Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets were in Oakland, CA to take on the Golden State Warriors.
By the way, before we get started here New Jersey was stuck pulling the dreaded back to back moving from the Pacific time zone to the Mountain time zone to play at altitude and they still had a layup to tie the game up in the closing seconds. The Nuggets captured their second straight opponent playing the second night of a back to back and things went a little more smoothly on the East Bay than they did in Denver versus the Nets.
Golden State was coming off a very poor performance against the Los Angeles Lakers the night before where they shot 35.2% from the floor and an abysmal 3-20 from behind the arc. The Warriors were either going to continue to fall apart, or they were going to shoot the lights out a la the Indiana Pacers.
Early on it appeared the Warriors would dominate the Nuggets on the offensive boards pulling down five in the first quarter alone. However, Andris Biedrins was whistled for his third foul late in the first quarter, not sure why a player who struggles with foul trouble was still in the game after being called for his second foul that early in a contest, but Denver was not complaining, once Biedrins left the game the Warriors lost their offensive rebounding mojo and they only nabbed five more offensive caroms the rest of the night.
Denver was able to stay in the game in the first half thanks to some tremendous three point accuracy. Denver converted on 10 of their first 11 three pointers, courtesy of Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington.
After a tight first half that saw the Warriors head to the locker room with a one point lead, Denver took control in the second thanks to the offense of Carmelo Anthony. Melo had a very good first half pouring in 17 points, but Golden State could not keep pace with him as he topped his good first half by producing a 22 point second half. Believe it or not, the Warriors only outscored Melo himself by 17 in the third and fourth quarters.
With Chauncey Billups sitting out after landing face first after being fouled on a fast break layup attempt versus New Jersey Ty Lawson stepped into the starting spot and after an uninspiring first half, Lawson did everything Nuggets fans would want him to do. He pushed the pace, scoring on a one on three one man fast break and he has definitely found his shooting stroke. Lawson is now 5-7 from behind the arc after an absolutely abysmal start to the season from long range. You could see the confidence with which he was shooting by the way he never thought twice about what to do when he had an open look behind the arc. He shot with enthusiasm as you could tell he was wanting to take advantage of this hot streak.
The story of the game was Carmelo and the Warriors inability to contain him. The plan was to play Melo straight up on the catch and then bring help as soon as he dribbled. The plan may have worked except for the lousy execution by the Warriors. Melo was easily able to blow by Dorrell Wright, or whoever was in front of him, and the helpers only succeeded in fouling him over and over. I am not sure why Golden State did not attempt to change things up, but they seemed content to let Melo go to the line. Once he was there he was automatic converting all 17 of his attempts.
The Nuggets defense was solid although they received some significant help from the Warriors who followed up their 3-20 performance from behind the arc in Los Angeles the night before with a 6-26 effort versus Denver. To make things worse for Golden State they repeatedly settled for outside jumpers as the game wore on. It is an affliction we have seen the Nuggets suffer from plenty in the past so it was nice to view things from the other side.
Denver has entered a somewhat cushy portion of their schedule. Out of Denver’s first 14 games they had to travel prior to 13 of them. Their longest homestand has been a mere two games. Denver will now get five straight at the Pepsi Center with nary an elite team to be found. Couple that with a relatively easy four game east coast road trip and when December 15 rolls around and players signed over the summer are eligible to be traded, Denver could be in a nice position in the standings making a Melo trade more difficult to execute. Depending on your viewpoint, that could be good or bad. Nevertheless, if the Nuggets are going to make a move up the standings the next three weeks are their best shot.
Game 14 Additional Nuggets
- I realize it is not fair to do so, but if we remove the debacle in Indy a couple of weeks ago, the Nuggets have been a pretty solid defensive squad. Their defensive efficiency apart from the Pacers blowout loss is 101.1, good for tenth. That is right where the Nuggets have been in the recent past. Other defensive indicators are becoming more solid as well. Their opponents field goal percentage apart from their lone appearance in Indianapolis is 43.4%, which would be fifth.
- Chris Andersen is back. He was not healthy for much of last season. As a result he did not block as many shots as his exceptional 2008-09 season, but that may have been a good thing. Without his trademark explosiveness, Birdman was forced to play a more conventional style and it showed. When he was not launching himself at any and every shot he played better position defense and he had a career year on the defensive glass.
- How many times did you utter the phrase, “Wow, Denver really misses Chauncey.”? I realize few people look forward to Anthony Carter getting some run, but he did Anthony Carter things getting steals, compiling a couple of assists, making some poor decisions and bricking jumpers. I continue to contend he is fine playing a few minutes here or there from time to time, but if he should somehow find himself required to play game after game, things would get ugly fast. Still, Lawson did a good job and I am excited to see what he can do as a starter when his time comes.
Killer Advanced Game Stats
Pace Factor: 93.7 – Relatively slow for these two teams
Defensive Efficiency: 94.9 – Best mark since the loss in Chicago eight games ago
Offensive Efficiency: 113.1 – Denver is a little up and down on offense this season, but this is the fifth game in their past seven with an efficiency over 110.0
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