2010-11 Game 66: Denver Nuggets 131 – Detroit Pistons 101

For two consecutive games the Denver Nuggets have outscored its opponent by at least 19 points. It’s too bad neither of those teams happened to be the Lakers or Heat, but taking care of business is taking care of business last I checked, no matter who the opponent is.  The Pistons are a team in turmoil, perhaps more than any other team in the entire league right now. It’s your classic case of a rebuilding nightmare where you aren’t loosing enough games to land a top pick in the draft, yet you’re not winning enough games to make the playoffs either. Top this all off with an array of player-coach feuds, multiple hideous contracts and not nearly enough cap space to sign big time players in the off-season and you have the makings for a perfect Franchise-Failure Sunday — courtesy of Joe Dumars.

So, it was only fitting that the Nuggets took a bite out of the vulnerable treat that is the Pistons these days. The surprising thing: We absolutely manhandled them even without two of our starters. Beating a bad team by 30 is one thing — one totally awesome, fun, exciting thing. But beating a bad team by 30 without two starters? You’re saying something when that happens, and my guess is it’s probably along the lines of, “We’re the Denver Nuggets. We’re bad-ass. And we’re not afraid of anybody. Come get some if you want a piece.” After all, that’s the message our team has been subtly conveying to the league for roughly the past three years, and that same mentality nearly landed us our first trip to the NBA Finals.

The obvious player to point to in such a route would be none other than JR Smith with his 31 points off the bench, but it’s important to keep in mind that about 15 (at least) of those came when the game was already out of reach from the Pistons standpoint. Yes, JR surprised nobody tonight, where in typical JR fashion he did most of his damage when the game was nearly sealed shut. Tonight’s win — in my eyes at least — really was ignited by the great play of the “role players” (feels weird saying that because it seems as though we have a team full of them), specifically Birdman, Al and Forbes. Altitude mentioned several times that the reason Bird has been playing so well according to Karl, is because “[the Nuggets] have two new roosters in the hen house.” Technically we have five, but it’s clear Karl’s referring to the hens that actually get playing time and are similar in size to the Bird. I think a lot of Nuggets fans suspected this was the reason for Bird’s revived energy, but Karl’s comments are affirmation, and I must say that it’s quite nice. Having competition within the team only creates a more competitive environment and allows for only the best lineup to be on the floor come game-time. It’s something every team can hope for, but only few are lucky enough to have. We are one of the lucky ones and because of this I think it’s fair to say that Bird finally found his wings again.

Notable stat lines consists of Nene’s 18 points on 6-8 from the field, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block; Ty’s 15 points on 6-11 from the field, 11 assists (tying his career high which was set two nights ago) and four steals; and of course JR’s 31 points on 11-22 from the field as well as 9-16 from downtown, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Closing Thought: The “Gold Digger of the Night” award goes to “Shooter,” aka “Jr.,” aka “JR Swish,” aka — OK, that’s all the nicknames for JR I can come up with off the top of my head. Anyways, (insert nickname from above) reminded us all once again why we love him… then why we can’t stand him… then why we love him some more… then why of course we always find our faces in our hands when it’s all said and done. JR was amazing tonight, there’s no doubt about that. He’s capable of doing things only few players in the history of the NBA have done, yet on a consistent basis. Making nine 3-pointers to anybody else in the league not named Ray Allen would be a night to remember, yet with JR it seems like just another day in the life. Watching nine 3’s drop from the same dude is crazy. I was sitting on the couch all alone tonight, yet often found myself pumping my fists, talking out loud and smiling the entire time JR was shooting. How many players in the league can you honestly say make you do that? Not many, that’s for sure.

I’m a big JR guy. I think his talent is so incredibly unique that if harnessed the right way, he could be one of the deadliest forces in basketball. I mean, he’s already one of the best Sixth-Men in the entire league (if not the best) and he’s undoubtedly the biggest wild-card any team could even think of pulling out come playoff time. But like every superhero, he’ll always have that one fatal flaw — that one weakness. Sadly, it’s JR’s own mind that is his Kryptonite. Take tonight for example. After avoiding (for the most part) bad shots all game, JR just absolutely spat in the face of respectability when he walked over to Forbes, demanded the ball out of his hands when we didn’t even need to shoot — just let the clock expire — and hoisted up one last 3-pointer that didn’t even come close to going in. It was such a poor display of respect all around. Lack of respect for his own teammates, lack of respect for his opponent, lack of respect for his coach, but most importantly lack of respect for the game. From a mile away when I saw JR walking towards Forbes I just kept thinking in the back of my mind “Oh, he is not about to do that! He is NOT about to do that!!!” And of course, as always, JR did.

It will be interesting seeing how JR’s future plays out with the Nuggets. He’s a free agent after this year and although he’s stated how much he would love to continue his career in Denver, there’s no doubt that (A) George Karl’s contract extension will play a roll in him deciding to come back, and (B) many teams will be lining up for JR’s services in the hopes that he’d be their starting SG, and not a backup like he is here. I want to see JR back, but with an already crowded back-court and the points mentioned above you have to ask, “Are the days of the most athletically gifted/talented knuckled in Denver Nuggets history about to come to an end?” Only time will tell.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

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  • Ernie

    JR is a frontrunner. If you need points to go from up 15 to up 22 he’s your guy. And will then mimic his hands being on fire. But for these kind of games when two starteres/scorers are out he’s nice to have so that Nene and KMart don’t have to play more than 26 minutes.

    • http://www.yahoo.com/ Irene

      fQjGnt Kudos to you! I hadn’t thought of that!

    • http://wvfqkqmnfvxp.com/ fyqwimie

      9D96LN msvzyzswkbkp

  • GZ

    It must kill Pistons fans every time they lose to the Nuggets. We’ve directly benefited from some of Dumars’s stupidest moves – Not drafting Melo, paying Denver $350K to take Afflalo off their hands, trading Chauncey for Iverson…Somehow we probably also benefited from the Charlie Villenueva signing and Rip’s contract extension. Drafting Monroe was the first smart thing they’ve done in awhile. I hope for their fans’ sake that they get a new coach, owner, & gm and don’t televise their games against the Nuggets anymore.

    • Zeiram

      Oh boy, I hear you! I love my Pistons but the trainwreck right now is hard to watch. At least you guys have an exciting unselfish team. We have an unexciting selfish team…
      At least I have the pleasure of seeing Big Ben play, wait DNP-CD again? Ok shoot me now!

  • Ian

    I don’t see J.R. coming back. We have a very deep team as it is and J.R. is due for a raise and probably is eyeing a starting spot somewhere else. Will I miss him? Probably. But we just have to spend our money, limited as it is by market and the new CBA, wisely. That means not giving 8M/yr to a sixth man.

  • Charlie

    Here’s my problem with JR – when is the last time he scored 20 points in a close playoff type game besides just padding stats in a snoozer blowout? How about JR having a performance like this on the road more than once in a blue moon?

    JR had a great game, no doubt. But he sucks on the road. And despite being a seven year veteran he still is a fragile child who seems to always resort to chucking one way or another.

    All JR has to do to prove me wrong is play a great game on the road. Or maybe just have a 25/5/5 game without needing to shoot 15 three pointers to do it. But as it is I’d like the Nuggets to keep AAA and maybe Wilson Chandler before worrying about bringing JR back. Things could change if he got a little more consistent in the playoffs but what are the chances of that happening?

    JR is great against the Pistons. But he showed last night why he isn’t trustworthy in a playoff type game against the really good teams. He’s just not a smart and dependable player by nature

    • Kalen

      Yeah, I’m sort of on the same page Charlie. Like I said, I’m a huge JR supporter, but at what point do we draw the line between sensationalism and actual substance with him? Making nine 3-pointers is crazy fun to watch, but when was the last time he made nine 3-pointers against a team that actually put up a fight?

      That said, it’s really about security, or insurance with JR more than anything. Every time you step out on the floor in the playoffs with JR on your roster you have ability to pull out that wild-card that’s a total game changer. And he’s actually played really well in the playoffs since he’s been in Denver, the problem is he just never really goes off like he did last night. Still, his 3-point shooting ability is rivaled by few in this league and come playoff time that’s one of the most important things to have on your team.

  • Aussie Nugs Fan

    JR drives me crazy! Agree with Kalen and Charlie. Hate to complain about a man who makes 9 threes, but zero free throw attempts? He is so athletic we know he can get to the rim and finish but often he refuses to go in and get contact. And even then, for a guy who can shoot lights out fading away from downtown he is only hitting 74% at the line!

    I know he is a 7 year veteran but he is also only 25, would hate to see him go somewhere else and finally get it. We are rebuilding on the fly and when you rebuild you want young players with high upside, they aren’t that easy to find.

  • Jason

    I understand that fans are frustrated with JR, but it’s only because we can all see the enormous upside. Yes he’s been in the league for seven years but he’s only 25 and his type of game will last well into his mid 30s. I may be naive but I think that he will really mature over the next season or two and display much better judgement and consistency (both of which can’t get much worse). There are not many players available with his potential. I think he fits well into this up and down style of play. Denver can’t afford to lose him and watch him potentially become a star somwhere else. Then all our headaches went in vain. We’ve already endured the immature years, we’ve got to at least see what we get out of him during his prime. He could very well end up being one of the best shooting guards in the NBA before he’s done. I know that it’s asking a lot but I for one hope management takes the leap of faith and shells out $8 million/year to keep him.

  • http://www.NBAbyELIAS.wordpress.com ELIAS

    JR Smith is one of the most entertaining ballers in the entire league! Pay the man! I’ve been a basketball fan my entire life and I’ve NEVER seen such a combination of athleticism and lights-out shooting in one player. This entire squad (except Afflalo) exhibits the same bone-headed qualities you’re complaining about, but they’re unselfish, they play great help defense and they pile up the points. That’s entertainment. I’m all about winning, but I’d rather watch these kids figure it out together than have a boring / steady season like San Antonio year after year. You guys need to stop thinking like GMs and just enjoy the show, because you’ll miss it once it’s gone. We’re 2-deep at every position! Bring on the playoffs, baby.

  • Drew

    Is Denver working on getting Nene an extension?