Leading up to Thursday’s 1 p.m. (MST) trade deadline, not all is quiet on the Nuggets front. While it’s certainly wise to take Adrian Wojnarowski at his word when he recently said the Nuggets would stand pat at the deadline (I mean, really, when was the last time this guy was wrong about a trade rumor?), it’s equally unwise to support the notion that the Nuggets won’t even consider a minor move, especially given how much Timofey Mozgov’s name has been thrown about lately. Whatever the case may be, rumors will remain rumors and we’d all be lying through our teeth if we said we don’t eat them up with a voracious appetite. So, to satisfy your trade-rumor cravings, here is a short list of what people are talking about right now.
It was something the Nuggets haven’t had to worry about in a very long time. With the ball, shot clock turned off and one bucket away from winning the game. If it wasn’t a straight up inbounds to Melo in isolation, it was a failed high pick and roll with Chauncey and Nene, the ball ending up in Melo’s hands anyway. Just as the Nuggets adapt their style of play to an overhauled roster, the coaches are in uncharted territory trying to re-learn how they are going to close games.
With 8:50 to go in the fourth quarter, Carmelo Anthony picked up his fifth foul and was forced to the bench. With 3:08 left, Portland’s Nicholas Batum drew a charge on Melo to foul him out of the game. Denver scored 12 points in the fourth quarter on 3-of-13 shooting.
That pretty much tells you how this one turned out.
The Nuggets posted a combined 54 points in quarters one and three, while only scoring a dismal 29 points in periods two and four. The story of Denver’s season encapsulated in 48 minutes at the Rose Garden on Thursday night.
In a slow-paced game which clearly suited Portland’s style of play more than Denver’s featured two very different tales of how this game would turn out. Denver’s shot selection, aggressiveness of taking the ball to the basket and defensive intensity was night and day in those two halves of the game. The whole game was one of runs, with Denver blowing multiple double-digit leads and Portland feeding off their electric crowd to pull this one out. Portland was without All-Star guard Brandon Roy whose knees are giving Blazers’ fans nightmares of Sam Bowie and now Greg Oden, who will miss the entire season with another microfracture surgery on his bad knee.
Portland coach Nate McMillan only went with an eight-man rotation, and all of his starters played at least 36 minutes (that distinction would go to Marcus Camby), so you’d think Denver could take advantage with a somewhat deeper bench and a clear advantage in the backcourt (on paper). Lets take a look at some postgame thoughts in bullet form:
Next up for Denver is the Nets on Saturday night back at The Can. New Jersey is playing without Troy Murphy who is still suffering from a foot injury. The rookie Derrick Favors (rumored to be coming to Denver in that four-team trade before the season) and Kris Humphries should pose no threat to Denver’s frontcourt, but you never know what kind of production Denver’s bigs will give you. Brook Lopez is a double-double threat, Anthony Morrow can shoot the lights out and Travis Outlaw has big-time potential, but if Denver doesn’t win by 15+ I will be shocked and disappointed. Plus Carmelo Anthony has another chance to audition for his possible next destination, right? (too soon? sorry guys.) After dropping 120 points on the Knicks earlier this week, expect a similar high-point total in this one. A loss would drop Denver below .500 for the first time this season; I don’t know about you but with all the speculation and rumors surrounding this team, with this level of competition out West, that does not bode well for support or confidence in Nuggetland anytime soon.