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.
Chauncey Billups set the tone early, pouring in 13 quick points but more importantly 6 first quarter assists against his per game average of only 5.2. Mired in a shooting slump for much of the season, Chauncey has taken heat from Nuggets fans for forcing the issue and failing to create scoring opportunities for teammates. In the midst of serious rumors he could be traded against his will, Chauncey’s delivered his best play of the season, averaging better than 9 assists over the past three blowouts. Throughout the first four games of January, Billups only recorded 9 assists total.
For the third straight game, the Nuggets destroy their opponent with a violent second quarter run that effectively ends the game. Al Harrington had his shot going early, Ty Lawson raced out to 5 assists in 12 minutes, and Arron Afflalo continued his efficient offensive play. Nene played a casual 19 minutes but led the team in scoring with 22 points on 10 shots. After a quarter and a half of competitive play the Nuggets are able to cruise towards the win with a difficult back to back looming against the league-best San Antonio Spurs.
Without an identity or a focal point of the team, the current Cavs present a grim look at the possible future some believe rebuilding entails. The truth is Lebron was a league MVP, primary ball handler and the best defender on a Cavs roster that was blindsided by his loss. Denver has known for nearly six months that Melo wants out and won’t have to wait till the playoffs to discover his heart isn’t in it. The picks and the prospects they’ve sought out could provide an immediate head start in what can be a long and painful process predicated on luck. At the end of the day, the Cavs are doing what they must and losing, trusting their fate to some of that luck in the lottery. Without a franchise player, a patient person would tell you it’s better to hang your hopes on plastic spheres and a prayer versus the false pretense that a 30-40 win team is going to keep improving organically – and that’s the case with these Cavs. It’s harsh, but an important question all Nuggets fans might find themselves facing soon.
Additional Game 38 Nuggets
- Ty Lawson left the game with a sprained left ankle in the second quarter. I didn’t get a look at what happened, but according to sideline reporter Aaron Lopez he’ll start treatment tonight with hopes of playing tomorrow in San Antonio. Huge loss if he isn’t able to go.
- The Cavs dressed only 8 players due to injury, including luminaries such as Manny Harris and Alonzo Gee. Mo Williams left the game with a hip injury and the Cavs had to finish the game with only seven.
- Arron Afflalo has added a mid range jumper to his game, and he’s shooting them off the dribble in addition to spotting up. Afflalo continues asserting himself more and more as a scorer and his improvement is a bright spot of the season. His consistency is impressive, scoring nearly 13 a game on better than 50% shooting despite not being much of a finisher. Him and Nene are making the most out of every possession they get.
- I shouldn’t have been so mean to Manny Harris. He’s got a cool name and been a nice surprise for the Cavs, averaging nearly 15 points and 8 rebounds his past four games. Tonight he had 14 and 7, but shot 4/14 and was a -32