Tonight’s game against the Magic was just that: magical. There was magic happening in all corners at Amway Center this evening. The act of disappearing was in full effect as balls that looked to be in people’s hands suddenly were found in the laps of those in the front row. Also illusion was extremely prevalent, where feet that appeared to be in-bounds were called out. But my favorite had to the failed attempts between numerous players to try and teleport the basketball through their opponent to another teammate. Yes magic was everywhere the day after St. Patrick was honored around the world by noble citizens who paid homage to the patron saint by downing as many Jagerbombs as possible. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, “hangovers + magic” isn’t the best equation when it comes to winning basketball games.
I really have no idea what I just saw out there tonight. The only way I can describe it is to say that if the NBA was the animal kingdom, each game being a creature, then tonight’s game was probably a naked mole rat; it was ugly. Between the two competing teams there were a combined 34 turnovers and only 36 assists, so for nearly every “extra pass” or bucket not made in isolation, there was a turnover to pair it with. It was like Turnover Paradise out there, many of which came in baffling fashion. I can recall times when players were just dribbling with nobody around them, and suddenly they lost their handle for no apparent reason. Then of course there were the constant failed pick-and-roll attempts where somebody would set a pick and continue trying to pick when nobody was around to even get picked, which naturally led to errant passes to nobody. There was more bobbling of the ball tonight than maybe all season combined; it was that bad.
To add to the already frustrating ball-handling skills on display, the Nuggets looked virtually drained in every sense of the word. It was like watching a bunch of zombies look for their next meal at times. There was no energy, liveliness or life to be found in the Amway Center until maybe the fourth quarter, and even then it was misplaced as it often times led to more turnovers or missed shots. Still, the game was good and remained tight the entire time, up til Jameer Nelson’s heartbreaking buzzer-beater to win it for the Magic as time expired.
I’m just gonna throw it out there and let you be the judge of it, but I think there is a good chance some of the guys were dealing with hangover symptoms tonight. I mean, I can’t think of any other reason as to why after playing as good as we have recently, we’d come out and lay an egg like this. What we witnessed wasn’t just a “road game” where people were tired and unfocused leading to poor play, this was a total anomaly. I’ve been watching basketball now for a long time and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a game so sloppy. Have I seen worse games? Absolutely. I just don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a dumbfounding performance from so many players at once. To put it into greater perspective, I had a hangover today and all I kept thinking was, “This is exactly how I’d be playing if I was out there.”
So I’m taking it you probably get the point by now that this game was ugly. Knowing that, lets look a few of the more interesting story-lines that dominated this contest…
Danilo Gallinari finally made his first appearance since being injured nearly a month ago and had a pretty descent outing overall. There were times when he forced his shot, but this also led to 11 trips to the line where he efficiently knocked down 10 of those attempts. Being that the Nuggets shot 24 free-throw attempts tonight I think it’s fair to say this game might not have been as close if it weren’t for Gallo. Also highlighted in his performance was a great defensive display against many of the Magic’s bigger guys. Gallo was constantly mixing it up down low and getting chippy, specifically with Brandon Bass which led to a great block and a few key rebounds. Amazingly Gallo even defended Dwight Howard on a few occasions and did just as good as anybody else on the team. All in all, Gallo is a deliciously tantalizing prospect who appears to have everything it takes to succeed at this level and I can definitely see him becoming the Nuggets’ go-to scoring option of the future. The only negative I see is that his acting can be a little much at times. But hey, last I checked the guy plays for the Nuggets and not the Spurs; therefore, I like him.
Other than that, everyone seemingly had the same frustrating type of performance tonight. Wilson Chandler did have a good game finishing with 20 points on 50 percent from the field but conversely had a team-high number of turnovers with six, two more than anybody else. Chandler struggled early on missing many of his attempts, but got hot near the end of the game and looked to be the only one actually hitting his shots. K-Mart and Nene also had descent outings with K-Mart scoring eight points to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block while Nene finished the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Still, what killed the Nuggets in my estimation more than anything was their poor shooting, especially from Afflalo and Felton who combined to go 4-22 from the field. As a team we shot 35.9 percent in large part thanks to those two.
Chunks – O’ – Gold:
– I’ve been kind of critical of Dwight Howard in the past. Basically I always thought of him as overrated and a crybaby, but after seeing how bad he got beat up in the post tonight, I can kind of see where he’s coming from. Still, the dude has to realize he’s a dominate center in this game, and he can’t bully people around with his physical attributes and expect not to get it back.
– On more than one occasion tonight we had people passing up wide open jump shots to defer to a teammate. I just don’t get it. Reminded me a lot of a half-hearted pick-up game where your kind of playing seriously, but you’re also kind of not.
– JR only played 16 minutes which was somewhat perplexing. This seemed like the perfect game for JR to take over, or at least infuse with some energy. We needed that one boost the entire game and never got it, but if we did I’m confident the outcome would have been different.
– The game-winner by Nelson was the perfect ending to such a bizarre night. I don’t know why but when the Magic had 5.7 seconds left on the clock I had this weird feeling they were going to make a shot, and when I saw Jameer get the ball it was as if I had a vision of him nailing it right before it actually happened. I think I just said “figures” while throwing my hands up in the air right after it went in.