As I write this, the Nuggets are down by 18 in New Jersey and will lose to the Nets by a yet to be determined amount. One thing is sure, and that is that the Nuggets play is so fundamentally poor that it’s hard to make the argument that Denver is actually a good, contending team simply going through a lull of poor play. If that’s indeed the case, it’s been a frequently occurring lull lasting the entirety of the season. Despite facing the third worst offense in the league, the Nuggets again allow their opponent to shoot lights out in another embarrassing defeat that’s no longer the least bit surprising to anyone.
During a brief road resurgence in which the offense got rolling, the Nuggets settled into their familiar road habits and lose the last two to arrive at a predictable 8-15 record away from home. Fundamentally, the Nuggets don’t run anything different or drastically change their style on the road. They simply make a ton of selfish, mental mistakes out of frustration and fall into the mindset of other inexperienced and mentally weak teams that suffer similar problems on the road.
Carmelo Anthony is a very talented player, but no longer has any desire or passion to put on a Nuggets jersey. While both sides have “made the best” of a challenging situation, the long and trivial season the Nuggets are trudging through keeps reminding us they cannot run from their fate much longer. In yet another example of the common theme we’ve seen in games this season – a disinterested team led by Melo begrudgingly go through the motions, squandering their early advantage against Philly en route to a routine, but still frustrating road defeat.
I’ll have to admit, I’ve missed the last three games, and thanks to new contributor GoldenNugget I’ve discovered they’ve been able to bring their balanced offensive attack on the road to the tune of some rare wins. We all know the Nuggets haven’t won with defense in quite a while, but with such a poor road record they need to be what they are and take wins however they come away from home. Unfortunately, what they are is incredibly inconsistent and it showed after this game opened up like a typical road contest this season. When both teams are content to take quick shots, Denver’s offense can carry them all the way through when the ball is moving and finding open shooters. Chauncey Billups provided the early spark in this one, making his first three shots from deep and kicking out to others for open shots off his dribble penetration. He vaulted Denver to an early nine point lead and it seemed the Nuggets merely needed to take care of the ball while once again the offense could settle in and do all of the work on this one.
Recap by GoldenNugget
Well, apparently the Cavaliers new year’s resolution of winning one game in 2011 has been postponed for at least another contest. Friday night the Denver Nuggets held off the the Cavs 117-103 as they marched through Quicken Loans Arena led by Carmelo Anthony’s 33 point outburst.
Recap by GoldenNugget
Watching the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons go at it tonight, seemed eerily similar to the match we saw Tuesday against the Washington Wizards. Both teams had many highlight plays, pushed the pace and couldn’t figure out how to get a stop if it’s life depended on it. Yet once again, the Nuggets came out victorious, which is usually the case when this style of ball is implemented.
Note: Due to your usual staff missing in action for tonight’s game, please enjoy the guest recap and first RMC contribution from GoldenNugget!
Tonight seemed like nothing more than a glorified street-ball game, in which the goal was simply to embarrass the opponent with the most blocked shots or amazing dunks that you could; defense was certainly an afterthought – which of course, is not a typical characteristic of a championship caliber team.
I don’t normally like to include personal information into recaps, but in this situation I feel it’s appropriate given the context, so here it goes…
On November 9th, the Nuggets gave up 144 points in a loss to the Pacers after fumbling away a tough game in Chicago the night before. Regardless of fatigue, it was an embarrassing performance in which Indiana dominated throughout and made their first 20 shots in a 54 point third quarter. Tonight the Nuggets got their opportunity for revenge, with the Pacers on the second game of a back to back this time as their road trip comes to a close in Denver. After a slow start, the Nuggets pass the ball and shoot lights out behind Melo’s 36 points to pay back Indiana with a blowout of their own.
Quick recap tonight, because this was a game in which the Nuggets just didn’t measure up – literally and figuratively. There are a lot of reasons this years Nuggets are a full tier below the Lakers and other top teams in the West, and pretty much all of them were exposed tonight. The defending champs dismantle the Nuggets with aggressive defense, a sound gameplan that plays to their strengths and simply enough patience to wait Denver out and let them implode on their own. It worked to perfection.
I don’t buy that the Los Angeles Lakers are struggling. They may be vulnerable yes, but that certainly isn’t anything new. No disrespect to San Antonio, but these are still the defending two time champions with the most proven all-star duo in the league. And for my money still the most difficult team to face in a seven game series.
If the Lakers have slipped at all, it’s probably due to miniscule cracks in their foundation of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Kobe’s averaging his fewest points and shot attempts in seven years, but continues with his trademark intensity and leadership as the game’s best winner. Pau Gasol is again contributing all around production at a high level, but occasionally gets passive and flustered in clutch situations. Andrew Bynum’s return has been strong, but stuttered by injury and yet another adjustment for the Laker bench after losing Matt Barnes.
The Laker defense is what makes them dangerous. They try to defend without fouling and run teams off the threes. When the pace gets out of control, they can be prone to giving up too many steals and offensive rebounds. In a frenzied offensive showdown they can be knocked off their normally steady half-court composure.
If Denver can muster enough pride to defend, they have the weapons. Ty Lawson should get whatever he wants against Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. Against San Antonio Melo let Richard Jefferson force him into awful shot selection all night. If that doesn’t change against Artest this won’t be close. Because Denver looks like and acts like a good team at home, they have a great chance against a team they’ve had a vendetta against the past few years.
Update: In preparation for tonight’s game check out this Q & A between Jeremy and Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles.
Normally this would be where I lay out numbers analysis at the halfway point, look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team and performance relative to expectations for the season. Not that I mind doing that or don’t think it’s a virtuous exercise or anything, I just don’t see the point in getting too in depth about any of it. With Melo’s fate holding the team and the NBA in suspense the entire season, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions about a team living on borrowed time, where any day could be its last.
With the announcement on Wednesday that the New Jersey Nets have shredded their lottery ticket for the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes I am left with more questions than answers. In an attempt to work through my befuddlement I will do a question and answer with myself because I do not find anyone more interesting than me.
After losing a preferred trading partner for their disgruntled star, the Nuggets won a game against the division leading Oklahoma City Thunder. Under the circumstances, it might have been one of the gutsier team wins of the season against a top notch opponent in what was largely a sloppy game. Judging by the listless and sullen crown at the Pepsi Center, the win seemed overshadowed by yet another twist in the ongoing Melo saga that most fans know is going to end unhappily… sometime.
As soon as Carmelo Anthony decided he wanted out of Denver, Chauncey’s days were numbered too. From the feedback I receive Nuggets fans have already mentally and emotionally parted ways with Carmelo. However, the idea of being separated from Billups is more than they can bear.
It’s not terribly surprising the Nuggets lost one of their toughest matchups yet against the league-best San Antonio Spurs. On one hand, you’d have to be happy with a complete effort defensively and a mere sign of improvement on the road in the second game of a back to back. For fans that know this team, it’s another miserable reminder this team can’t reach its potential while the constant delay to ending this soap opera robs them of any real hope or vision for the future. In what should be the end of the Carmelo Anthony era in Denver, the Spurs put on a defensive clinic to embarrass a disjointed Nuggets team, dropping them to a rock bottom 5-13 record away from home.
For me, the saddest thing I’ll remember about this golden era of Nuggets ball is the fact they never learned how to win on the road. It seemed every year they dug a hole and fought uphill the rest of the season. This year more than ever, it’s again a tale of two teams. There is currently no playoff team in either conference with fewer road wins than the Nuggets. They’re tied with Philadelphia at five. It’s why these Nuggets teams were regarded as more flash and flare than actual substance. It’s what separated them from being good most of the time but championship worthy only once.
Having won only 2 of their last 9 road games, the Nuggets look to improve their 5-13 mark away from the Pepsi Center against the 34-6 San Antonio Spurs. Despite losing to the Spurs in both of their previous matchups, the Nuggets have competed and overall played well against them twice. Had it not been for a controversial, but “correct” charge call on Carmelo Anthony, Denver might have turned a one point loss to a win on December 16th. On December 22nd, had the Nuggets managed to avoid getting outscored 29-14 in a fourth quarter collapse against the zone, they would have had their best win of the season. But almost doesn’t count and finishers finish in this league, which is why San Antonio won both times and shouldn’t fear the road weary Nuggets tonight.
Update: Ty Lawson will play, Birdman is still out. For San Antonio Matt Bonner and James Anderson are out.
Apologies for no preview tonight, but I had a feeling this game might be… like it was. The Cavs have only won once in their past 23 games and end their six game road trip on the second night of a back to back. Although the Cavs rank near the bottom in every offensive category, they also own the league’s third worst defense and haven’t held an opponent under 100 points in 10 games. To get the job done the Nuggets simply needed to score at about half the level they’re capable of, which they did with ease.