This was a game and effort simply not worth the time it would take you to read about. Long story short, the Nuggets move to 0-2 on their three game road trip in demoralizing fashion at Houston. Since more important matters like the trade deadline loom, I’ll limit this exercise to some story-telling and general commentary while I watch this latest loss wind down.
The game started off very strange, with the Nuggets hitting shots and the Rockets throwing a very early zone at Denver in response. At first, it didn’t seem to matter as Houston struggled to convert stops into points at the other end. The Rockets offense looked lifeless and Denver took control quickly. It was almost as if Houston was offering up the game at that moment, saying “just be patient, play some defense and you guys can go ahead and have this one.” At one point, the Nuggets lead reached 15 in the first quarter. Then…
The reason the zone was a good idea is it made Denver think long enough to throw themselves off their game. The Nuggets got tentative and walked the ball up without a clue what to do with it. They were simply trying to survive with the ball long enough to hold on to a lead they didn’t work that hard to get. The Rockets may not have gotten stops out of their zone, but they found momentum and a small spark of energy they started the game without. Once the Rockets actually woke up and started playing, it was game over. The Nuggets are down by 30 as I write this.
Al Harrington is one strange dude. No joke, his game started off normally with a couple of missed threes and a few quick fouls. In one sequence he gave up a wide open dunk to Chase Budinger; then responded with a three and a rare fast break finish for an and-one. The very next play, he palmed the basketball in a failed attempt at dribbling. Al Harrington, even when he’s great – is so bad at the defensive end you have to wonder if his shooting and scoring talents are worth the trouble. The way Denver uses him as a big man makes no sense. Gary Forbes played the first half in Birdman’s place and Harrington found himself matched up on Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger at times. Those are two players even Big Al should be able to handle. It didn’t happen.
There was a clear point when the Nuggets stopped playing this game. The sad thing is I believe it actually occurred before they lost their big leads. Even with Denver up big, you could smell a bad loss coming from a mile away. George Karl actually called a timeout when the Nugget lead shrunk to only nine. That was the pivotal and deciding point in the game. Whatever happened in that huddle, the Nuggets responded to it with one of the most pathetically lifeless efforts all year.
I can’t know if Karl avoids taking timeouts because he doesn’t feel he can reach the team in them. I’ve heard that theory, and I don’t know what to say. When your team doesn’t listen to you to a point that even attempting to talk causes disaster, maybe your problems are bigger than calling timeouts.
I see no evidence that this team hasn’t quit on the season. They are now 3-7 in their last 10 with two games before the deadline. Since getting a fully healthy roster the Nuggets have played their worst.
Change beckons. With the Nuggets sliding further out of the playoff race, these last few games can’t get over with soon enough. With the trade deadline approaching, losses may not be the worst thing in the world. The front office thought they might face a tough decision in blowing up a team with promise. The Nuggets are making it easy for everyone by blowing themselves up early.
Additional Game 56 Nuggets