With all the consternation surrounding what the Denver Nuggets will or will not get in return for Carmelo Anthony we may be missing a significant component of building a champion. Losing. There is little doubt the Nuggets are going to be worse off with Carmelo playing in a different uniform, but the future success of the franchise could rest upon pulling off a trade that transforms the Nuggets into a big time loser.
Recap by GoldenNugget
Warriors we are not. Most of the time, that’s a good thing considering our record in comparison to theirs, but tonight that was not the case. For three quarters the Warriors made one 3-pointer after another, finishing the game exactly 50 percent from downtown in route to their 116-114 victory over the Nuggets. Then, in the fourth quarter the Warriors suddenly lost their touch from behind the arc and went cold, only scoring 16 points. Still our beloved Nuggets couldn’t capitalize, and with a chance to win or tie the game and only eight seconds to go the ball somehow ended up in Nene’s hands where he shot a mid-range clanker that sealed the deal for the Warriors.
This has to be the most bizarre season of Nuggets basketball I can ever remember. In what seems like a side story of the 2011 season, the Nuggets continue playing games and fall to Houston for their second straight loss at home. There are a couple ways to look at this latest defeat. It bears repeating that Denver played without Nene and almost no Chauncey Billups. Even shorthanded, it does seem a little disheartening and unexpected that Melo has a career game and the Nuggets still roll over at home thanks to a heartless collective team effort. Should we really be surprised though?
After months of rumors, sporadic play on the court, booing fans, speculation out the yin yang, millions of words written in newspapers, magazines, on the internet, in emails, in tweets, spoken around the water cooler and thousands of potentially productive man hours lost to fiddling with the ESPN.com Trade Machine the Carmelo Anthony saga appears to have hit rock bottom. There are multiple reports that the Nuggets are in negotiations in a three team trade that would send Carmelo to New York in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer a future first round pick from the Timberwolves, and if I understand things correctly, an eight digit trade exception. That is it. No Danilo Gallinari, no multiple first round picks and no dynamic young player with promise.
Before you completely discount the rumor as being something the Nuggets would never agree to, which my first inclination, keep one thing in mind. While it is certainly the worst deal for Denver that has been leaked from a talent standpoint it would save the Nuggets roughly $15 million dollars this season. Denver would be sending out Carmelo’s $17.1 million salary and only taking back $5.8 million providing roughly $4 million in salary savings over the final few months as well as over $11 million in luxury tax payments. No other trade I have heard or read about would save Denver so much short term money.
Just as the Jazz’s methodical attack showed us the bad habits and weaknesses in this team’s style, you can always count on the discombobulated T-Wolves to bring out the better side of these Nuggets. After losing a gritty battle of wills with Utah, the Nuggets bounce back by getting out of their one-on-one ways long enough to survive their customary defensive lapses.
No offense to the Wolves, but this should have been a routine win Denver needed to have. Yes, Denver played late last night against an angry Utah team they met at just the wrong time – but Minnesota also played last night in Toronto where Michael Beasley left with a minor injury. You had to think this could get ugly between two tired teams who both play questionable defense. Still all Denver needed to do was show up with the effort they showed last night as they just have the more capable team top to bottom.
I honestly have nothing bad to say about Denver’s effort tonight. In the preview, I lamented how the Nuggets have refused to show up in big time statement games like tonights. They were so badly embarrassed by the Lakers and Spurs you just have to assume that when things aren’t going their way against quality opponents, the Nuggets are going to fall apart and just give up – that’s just who they are. Although the Nuggets lost tonight, they fought hard through their shortcomings and gave themselves a great chance to win a game that at times seemed far out of reach. In many ways we’re getting a look at the real Nuggets tonight – a team with questionable front line talent and mediocre defense despite their best efforts. Furthermore, they fall victim to their own emotions again and the lucky breaks just weren’t in their favor either. It’s no knock on the Nuggets, but they need that luck. When they don’t get it, they just don’t have that elite level mindset to execute and win anyways.
As I write this, the Nuggets are down by 18 in New Jersey and will lose to the Nets by a yet to be determined amount. One thing is sure, and that is that the Nuggets play is so fundamentally poor that it’s hard to make the argument that Denver is actually a good, contending team simply going through a lull of poor play. If that’s indeed the case, it’s been a frequently occurring lull lasting the entirety of the season. Despite facing the third worst offense in the league, the Nuggets again allow their opponent to shoot lights out in another embarrassing defeat that’s no longer the least bit surprising to anyone.
During a brief road resurgence in which the offense got rolling, the Nuggets settled into their familiar road habits and lose the last two to arrive at a predictable 8-15 record away from home. Fundamentally, the Nuggets don’t run anything different or drastically change their style on the road. They simply make a ton of selfish, mental mistakes out of frustration and fall into the mindset of other inexperienced and mentally weak teams that suffer similar problems on the road.
Carmelo Anthony is a very talented player, but no longer has any desire or passion to put on a Nuggets jersey. While both sides have “made the best” of a challenging situation, the long and trivial season the Nuggets are trudging through keeps reminding us they cannot run from their fate much longer. In yet another example of the common theme we’ve seen in games this season – a disinterested team led by Melo begrudgingly go through the motions, squandering their early advantage against Philly en route to a routine, but still frustrating road defeat.
I’ll have to admit, I’ve missed the last three games, and thanks to new contributor GoldenNugget I’ve discovered they’ve been able to bring their balanced offensive attack on the road to the tune of some rare wins. We all know the Nuggets haven’t won with defense in quite a while, but with such a poor road record they need to be what they are and take wins however they come away from home. Unfortunately, what they are is incredibly inconsistent and it showed after this game opened up like a typical road contest this season. When both teams are content to take quick shots, Denver’s offense can carry them all the way through when the ball is moving and finding open shooters. Chauncey Billups provided the early spark in this one, making his first three shots from deep and kicking out to others for open shots off his dribble penetration. He vaulted Denver to an early nine point lead and it seemed the Nuggets merely needed to take care of the ball while once again the offense could settle in and do all of the work on this one.
Recap by GoldenNugget
Well, apparently the Cavaliers new year’s resolution of winning one game in 2011 has been postponed for at least another contest. Friday night the Denver Nuggets held off the the Cavs 117-103 as they marched through Quicken Loans Arena led by Carmelo Anthony’s 33 point outburst.
Recap by GoldenNugget
Watching the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons go at it tonight, seemed eerily similar to the match we saw Tuesday against the Washington Wizards. Both teams had many highlight plays, pushed the pace and couldn’t figure out how to get a stop if it’s life depended on it. Yet once again, the Nuggets came out victorious, which is usually the case when this style of ball is implemented.
Note: Due to your usual staff missing in action for tonight’s game, please enjoy the guest recap and first RMC contribution from GoldenNugget!
Tonight seemed like nothing more than a glorified street-ball game, in which the goal was simply to embarrass the opponent with the most blocked shots or amazing dunks that you could; defense was certainly an afterthought – which of course, is not a typical characteristic of a championship caliber team.
I don’t normally like to include personal information into recaps, but in this situation I feel it’s appropriate given the context, so here it goes…
On November 9th, the Nuggets gave up 144 points in a loss to the Pacers after fumbling away a tough game in Chicago the night before. Regardless of fatigue, it was an embarrassing performance in which Indiana dominated throughout and made their first 20 shots in a 54 point third quarter. Tonight the Nuggets got their opportunity for revenge, with the Pacers on the second game of a back to back this time as their road trip comes to a close in Denver. After a slow start, the Nuggets pass the ball and shoot lights out behind Melo’s 36 points to pay back Indiana with a blowout of their own.
Quick recap tonight, because this was a game in which the Nuggets just didn’t measure up – literally and figuratively. There are a lot of reasons this years Nuggets are a full tier below the Lakers and other top teams in the West, and pretty much all of them were exposed tonight. The defending champs dismantle the Nuggets with aggressive defense, a sound gameplan that plays to their strengths and simply enough patience to wait Denver out and let them implode on their own. It worked to perfection.
Normally this would be where I lay out numbers analysis at the halfway point, look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team and performance relative to expectations for the season. Not that I mind doing that or don’t think it’s a virtuous exercise or anything, I just don’t see the point in getting too in depth about any of it. With Melo’s fate holding the team and the NBA in suspense the entire season, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions about a team living on borrowed time, where any day could be its last.
With the announcement on Wednesday that the New Jersey Nets have shredded their lottery ticket for the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes I am left with more questions than answers. In an attempt to work through my befuddlement I will do a question and answer with myself because I do not find anyone more interesting than me.