Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 80 – Indiana Pacers 119

The Denver Nuggets were blown out by the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, losing by 39 points and dropping their third straight game. Game grades can be found below.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 109, Pacers 96

[Note: Unfortunately, I couldn't get the Rapid Reaction generator working, so a regular, old-fashioned recap follows the jump.]

The Denver Nuggets came out strong, building a 19-point halftime lead, then weathered Indiana’s third quarter scoring barrage to hang on for one of their biggest wins of the season.

In facing a powerhouse with the best record in the NBA, their hopes were at least partly pinned on the fact that the Pacers were on the second night of a back-to-back, having gone into overtime against the Kings in a game that saw their starters average 40.6 minutes.

Denver took full advantage of this opportunity right out of the gate, bursting onto the court with defensive energy that was fueling forced turnovers and fast breaks. (more…)

Report: Nuggets to interview Lionel Hollins on Saturday

ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that “Lionel Hollins will interview with the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, according to a source.”

Earlier this week, Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reported that the Pacers and the Grizzlies had, respectively, granted the Nuggets permission to talk to Brian Shaw and Hollins in their pursuit to find a replacement for fired head coach George Karl. (more…)

Andre Miller’s clutch time execution versus the Pacers [VIDEO]

With just under three minutes remaining in yesterday’s game against the Pacers, the Nuggets trailed by three. They had just allowed a 7-0 Indiana run which reversed the lead Denver had held earlier in the quarter, and appeared to be on the verge of yet another fourth quarter collapse.

That’s when Andre Miller decided to take over the game. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 92 Indiana Pacers 89

Denver Nuggets 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Indiana Pacers
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 2-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 9 PTS | +3

The shooting still isn’t there, but Gallo didn’t let it affect his aggressiveness everywhere else. He was solid on the boards from a big spot and showcased his ability to open up gaps with his passing, compiling a season-high 8 assists.

Kenneth Faried, SF 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -14

Faried is still young enough and raw enough to avoid the reputation of an awful defensive player. Nights like tonight, where he allowed David West a perfect 8-8 shooting in the first half, make you wonder just how long he’s got left.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -9

Overall a nice return performance for Koufos, whose efforts really limited Roy Hibbert’s impact on the offensive end.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 1-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | -3

How many nightmare games is enough? This is the second time this season Ty has played over 35 minutes with zero free throw attempts while scoring fewer than 3 points total. It’s the sixth time in 20 games he’s failed to reach double-digit scoring in starters minutes.

Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +1

Poor showing from an offensive standpoint, but this was one of the Nuggets better defensive efforts of the young season. Iguodala turned up the pressure in the second half, guarding a variety of players and playing a huge part in a defense that allowed just 39 second half points.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 8 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +2

Wasn’t making shots, and while Hamilton’s minutes are suffering a bit from Brewer’s recent surge, I think his body language and energy level just haven’t been consistent all year. He needs to stick with it and understand taking a bad shot is likely to get him benched right now.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 9-16 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +5

Brewer’s put up some phenomenal efforts this season, to the point he’s becoming the focal point of the Nuggets’ bench. Brewer took 8 shots in the paint, 5 threes, and two 11-foot jumpers. That kind of shot selection is what Nuggets basketball is all about

JaVale McGee, C 30 MIN | 9-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +17

Great game and even better was the personal growth and maturity on display in McGee’s first 30 minute effort of the year. He was running and finishing at a high level, shooting a perfect 9-for-9 while showing improved touch around the rim.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | +13

This guy has been moving at double speed since halftime of the Atlanta game. He either got a new pacemaker installed or is finally starting to hit his stride and understand that he needs to bring all-out energy to the game from the moment he comes in off the bench. Miller’s play was a big reason the Nuggets were able to close strong in a tight finish.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Nuggets’ interior defense picked up a ton in this game. Credit Koufos’ return, a much more focused JaVale McGee and just a well prepared gameplan for keeping the Pacers’ bigs away from the basket and off the offensive glass.
  2. Defending the three remains a problem. Although the Pacers have the second least efficient offense in the league and have struggled to get it going from deep, they shot 10-23 from three, many of them wide open and uncontested. The Nuggets generally play decent defense inside the three-point line and thankfully, Indiana didn’t have the horses to hurt the Nuggets from outside all night. Against the better offenses in the league, the Nuggets will struggle if they don’t improve their perimeter defense.
  3. Although the Nuggets had yet another colossal failure to produce a shot attempt late in a close game, they only had 8 turnovers to Indiana’s 18. If the Nuggets can limit their turnovers, they can live with the inept free throw shooting and awful three-point percentages that have become mainstays of their new offense.

2010-11 Game 82: Utah Jazz 107, Denver Nuggets 103

After a valiant effort in which the Nuggets only played seven players for the majority of the night, the Utah Jazz finally pulled away in the waning seconds of the game to win the season finale on it’s home floor.  (more…)

2010-2011 Game 43: Denver Nuggets 121 Indiana Pacers 107

Box score | Highlights

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.

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2010-11 Game 8: Revenge of the Law of Averages

Box Score | HoopData.com Game Stats | Highlights

Which team has a lower defensive efficiency, the two teams full of Melos (who are also coached by Melos) in his new shoe commercial or the Denver Nuggets versus the Indiana Pacers?

Prior to tipoff I made the comment to the individual I was sitting next to that the Indiana Pacers were due to have a breakout game on offense.  They may not be a good offensive team, but they are certainly much better than their performances from their previous couple of games where they shot 31.5% against Philadelphia and 38.7% versus the Milwaukee Deer.  The law of averages dictates there must be some kind of return to the mean.

The Nuggets fought the law and the law won.

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2009-10 Game 4: Denver Nuggets 111 – Indiana Pacers 93

Box Score | Highlights

I only have time for a few thoughts on tonight’s 111-93 win in Indiana against the Pacers.

  • Carmelo looked more like the Melo of old. I think he got caught up a little too much in trying to score on Dahntay Jones and took more difficult shots than he has been in the first three games. Even so Melo scored 25 points on only 17 attempts.
  • The game was very sloppy and I thought the Nuggets were lacking focus for much of the evening. There were several occasions where there was a long rebound or a loose ball and no one went after it until they all realized no one was trying to run it down. The worst example was when Kenyon Martin perfectly executed the “pull the chair” defense on Roy Hibbert and Hibbert, who was on his butt nearly retrieved the ball before Anthony Carter jumped in and beat him too it. There were also numerous occasions where Nugget players did not even raise their hand in the air when their man was shooting.
  • Arron Afflalo is not a player who is very good at creating his own shot, but he did an excellent job of doing so tonight. Whether he was dribbling to get to the rim or to gain space for a jumper, he was able to clear space all night long.
  • Anthony Carter should not be starting, nor should he be playing 30 plus minutes as he did tonight, but he deserves a lot of credit for only turning the ball over three times in 90 minutes on the court so far this season. Could he be experiencing a late career renaissance? Yeah, probably not. Chauncey continued to do a good job of taking care of the ball too as he has not posted more than two turnovers in any single game this season.
  • After Ty Lawson said he was very tired following the first back to back set this season, I wonder if George Karl purposely held him to only 13 minutes in order to try to keep him fresh for the rest of the road trip and that is why Carter was on the floor for 31 minutes.
  • We have noted that Nene has been known to shy away from going at taller players in the paint, but he clearly is not intimidated by Hibbert. Nene was aggressive in the paint for most of the game.
  • Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and Brandon Rush combined to shoot 2-18 on threes while Nuggets not named Anthony Carter were 8-13. I do not think we can credit the Nuggets defense with all of those 16 misses. The Nuggets did a good job of making shots whenever it looked like the Pacers might make a run to get back into the game.
  • The Nuggets’ transition defense was once again very shoddy. On one occasion Danny Granger was bringing the ball up the middle of the floor and when he reached the top of the free throw circle Kenyon realized no one was paying attention to him, but was so far out of position that when he tried to reach out and grab him he was too far away.

Tomorrow the Nuggets are in New Jersey and they have the opportunity to wipe away two of last season’s worst memories. The last time the Nuggets were in Indy, Carmelo ended up being suspended a game for not coming out of the game when Karl told him to. Even worse than that memory is the 44 point drubbing the Nets laid on Denver last year at the Meadowlands. Hopefully Denver will exercise that dark night as well.

Check out the concise recap of the game over on Eight Points, Nine Seconds.  And I mean concise.

There was also a Nuggets related blog post over at Basketball Reference looking at Melo’s hot start and his plus/minus. Whether you agree with the analysis or not, it makes for an interesting read.

Denver Nuggets Wake Up in Beijing

After watching the Indiana Pacers roll over the Denver Nuggets in Taipei, I said I had some growing concerns about the mental state of this team. After one quarter against the Pacers in Beijing, I was not feeling any better. The Nuggets gave up their fourth 30 point quarter in 60 minutes against the Pacers and were down 33-29. The defense was not quite as porous as it had been in the first contest against the Pacers, but it was still lacking.

The frustration multiplied as the Pacers pushed their lead up to double digits a few minutes into the second quarter. The Nuggets finally found a spark with the group of Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Renaldo Balkman and Nene. The intensity on both ends of the floor increased with that group on the floor and the Nuggets surged from down 11 to up one at halftime and beat the Pacers by 16, 128-112.

The Pacers still managed to score quite a few points, but Denver looked much better and it appeared that when faced with the prospect of falling to 0-3 against NBA competition in the preseason, they decided enough was enough.

The real story of the game however, was Carmelo. He triggered the Nuggets second quarter run with some incredible offense and very good defensive rebounding. Offensively, Carmelo posted a performance that nearly rivaled his 33 point third quarter last season. Melo used a combination of pull up jumpers and piercing drives to the rim to accumulate a spectacular 45 points. The efficiency with which he scored was staggering. He produced his 45 points on only 19 shot attempts and in a mere 24 minutes of floor time. Unlike in the first game the Pacers started doubling Melo on the block, but just like shooting Mongo in Blazing Saddles, it only made him angry. Melo responded by scoring over the double team and he also made a couple of nice passes that resulted in either layups or free throws.

We all know Melo can score as well as anyone when he has it going and as much fun as I had watching hi score, I was equally as thrilled to see Melo make a significant impact on the game on the defensive end too. Carmelo was very intense on defense and the proof came with his eight defensive rebounds. He worked hard to box out and even bodied up Roy Hibbert after a switch and ended up corralling the missed shot. The most spectacular play Melo made came early in the third quarter when he deflected a running layup attempt by Dahntay Jones complete with a, “Get that (expletive deleted) out of here!” Melo also helped off his man and blocked a shot by Troy Murphy at the rim a couple of minutes later.

If Carmelo can play with the level of intensity on offense and defense he displayed in Beijing, there would be a lot of nights where he would only need to play 24 minutes as the Nuggets cruise to victory.

Other promising signs that the Nuggets awoke in this game was that they rebounded as a team. After getting outrebounded 52-40 in the first matchup, Denver won the battle on the boards 50-45. Chris Andersen and Melo tied with a team high nine boards and Arron Afflalo added seven of his own. The one area that they could still improve in though is the guards do need to do a better job of getting to the free throw line when a shot goes up as the Pacers were able to nab a few long rebounds that would have gone to Denver had a guard moved to the free throw line.

Denver also finally appeared to tire of seeing Hibbert dominate the paint. Nene led the effort to slow the second year big man by playing him physically in the second quarter and Denver did a good job of keeping him out of the lane and off the glass.

This was the first time I saw Ty Lawson against legitimate NBA competition and I was pleased with his play. He did make a couple of poor decisions, but did a good job of taking care of the ball, setting up teammates and getting in the lane. His defense is solid, especially for a rookie, as he does a good job of keeping track of his man away from the ball and, that is half the battle.

Afflalo is not great at creating his own shot, but he did drive with his left along the baseline twice and finished one of those drives with a nice lay in on the opposite side of the rim. He also showed some defensive chemistry with Renaldo Balkman as they applied some full court pressure on a couple of occasions that caused the Pacers some problems.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Melo’s offensive performance was to see him completely abuse Dahntay Jones. Jones fouled out in only 23 minutes thanks to his inability to cover Anthony. Seeing as how the Pacers will probably not play the Hornets in the playoffs, I am not sure they are going to get their money’s worth out of Dahntay.

Joey Graham would appear to be leading the competition for the thirteenth roster spot with James White as White only played three minutes in the two games against Indiana. Graham has been solid, but unspectacular. I have voiced my support for White as he adds more of a three point threat and has far greater upside than Graham. I value upside in players that fill out the end of the bench.

Denver now gets a week off to return from China and get over their jet lag before they head off to Portland for their next preseason game.

Denver Nuggets Drop a Stink Bomb on Taipei

There were two things I could not wait to end tonight. One was the 31-6 beating my less than stellar coed softball team endured and the second was the replay of the Denver Nuggets third preseason game against the Indiana Pacers.

After watching the Nuggets’ 22 point loss I am reconsidering my stance on demanding all of their preseason games available for consumption.

Denver dumped one of the most disjointed (or would it be least jointed) efforts I have seen from this team in a long time. Aside from some early offense from Carmelo Anthony they were basically run off the floor by the Pacers.

Offensively the Nuggets looked like they did two seasons ago. A lot of one on one play complete with wild forays into the lane with a healthy dose of take the first open jumper you see. There was not much passing, very little movement and no discernable purpose to anything the Nuggets did.

As insipid as the offense was, the defense was worse. The Pacers killed the Nuggets on open threes and open layups. The rotations were nonexistent on the perimeter, no help came on drives and the Pacers were regularly able to get open looks in transition. In the second half George Karl tried to invigorate his players by having them trap on the pick and roll, but it only served to further expose their lack of help and defensive rotations.

In all honestly, it is difficult to come up with anything positive from that game.

To make things worse the two players I was most looking forward to seeing, James White and Ty Lawson, did not see one minute of playing time. The Nuggets also held Nene out of action.

Individually Carmelo had some nice moments on the block as the Pacers chose not to double him in the post and he tallied 17 points, but it took him 15 shots to do so and he was credited with five turnovers. J.R. was second on the team in scoring with 16 points, but it took him 16 shots to get there. On one hand I liked J.R.’s aggressiveness as he drove into the lane repeatedly and tried to attack the basket. On the other hand, he was driving to score too often and the result was a hoard of misses and blocked shots. He only dished off a couple of times that I remember and as a result the Pacers knew they could collapse on him and force a miss.

Joey Graham was one of the few Nuggets with an efficient offensive night. He showed he is capable of dropping in mid-range jumpers and if he is on the court with players like J.R., Chauncey and Nene he should get plenty of open looks. Other than that Graham is not very adept at creating his own shot and he does not provide much assistance other than his scoring, which is dependent on being set up by other players. Still, he does not force shots and is a smart player. If the Nuggets keep 14 players, he is a lock to stay with the team and due to the fact both he and James White have non-guaranteed deals, it is possible the Nuggets keep both of them for the first month or two of the season until their contracts become fully guaranteed.

Kenyon Martin displayed what was advertised as a new and improved jumper. His stroke is still far from textbook, but he certainly seems to have moved his left hand further back on the ball and as a result his release is not dependent on the same awkward twisting motion by his left hand and wrist that has plagued it in the past. The good news is he should make a few more jumpers than he did last season. The bad news is that may motivate him to take even more of those types of shots.

In the box score Anthony Carter was only assigned two of the Nuggets 21 turnovers, but it sure seemed like he was responsible for at least four. If it were not for a couple of nice plays in the fourth quarter, a clean pick and lay up going back the other way and a drive and kick out to J.R, for a three, his night would have been a complete disaster.

If one player was a bright spot for Denver it was Renaldo Balkman. He just makes things happen. Although he only shot 1-4 he was very active garnering two steals and collecting five boards, which is another stat along with AC’s turnovers that I have to question the veracity of. It appeared Balkman had that many boards in the first half alone. ‘Naldo was the only Nugget to depart the game with a positive plus/minus with a +3.

Malik Allen continues to move well, but he is so limited on offense. He did squeak in a follow dunk that barely slid over the rim, other than that he too is dependent on teammates to set him up with an open look in order to score.

Arron Afflalo forced his offense a couple of times with poor results. He too needs to work on spacing the floor and only attacking the basket when he can exploit a crack in the defense.

Chris Andersen was fine, but clearly struggled with the size of Roy Hibbert who had a dominant showing.

The only other things worth noting are Karl seemed pretty disinterested in the proceedings as well. I would have hoped that regardless of whether it was a preseason game or not that he would get on the Nuggets for playing with such a lack of focus and purpose.

It is easy to dismiss the Pacers’ hot shooting as just one of those nights as Troy Murphy was 4-8, Brandon Rush was 6-12 and A.J. Price was 4-6. I could buy into that if almost every single one of those makes was off a wide open attempt. If you are rotating and closing out shooters and they do that, I am not going to get too upset, but when known shooters like Murphy are consistently left alone I am not going to be very sympathetic.

I get a kick out of watching games where the announcers are not at the arena, but they are clearly not supposed to admit it. The team of Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe did a good job although there were a few too many comments along the lines of, “Another three by the Pacers” instead of “A.J. Price hits another three for the Pacers.” At one point Hastings slipped up and commented on how the Nuggets were “there” instead of “here” which of course I found wildly entertaining.

The replacement referees did a very respectable job. There were not nearly as many fouls called as there have been in other games and at no point did I think they were having a negative impact on the proceedings. There were no calls where I had to wonder how they missed it. If anything, there were a couple of occasions where the whistle came a second or two late as they reacted more to the aftermath of a play instead of officiating the initial contact. All in all, they were not a story and that is what you want.

In conclusion I want to thank Mike Dunleavy, Jr. for wearing a hideous yellow jacket at the end of the bench. The combination of where he was sitting and the angle of the camera put the yellow monstrosity directly in line with the net on that side of the floor. It took me a little bit to figure out why the net had a pea green hue to it, then once I realized it was Dunleavy’s attire it was difficult to ignore.

I realize it was just a preseason game, but there are little bits of evidence here and there that are causing me to be concerned about the mental state of this team. We can delve into that as the preseason rolls along, but for now it bears watching. With the difficult opening schedule the Nuggets face and with J.R. suspended the first seven games Denver is not going to simply flip the switch once the games start counting. We need to see something from this team soon.

The Nuggets will play the Pacers one more time, this time in Beijing, on Saturday and it will be broadcast on NBATV and Altitude at 10:00 PM Mountain time. It will give us a nice potentially divorce inducing double header with the Rockies and Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets Adding Beijing to Preseason Destinations

You may recall that the Denver Nuggets will be playing the Indiana Pacers in Taipei on October 8.  That will not be their only stop in the Orient.

The NBA has announced that the same two teams will play in Beijing on October 11.  I think everyone expected to have at least one other date added as it would make little sense to fly 35 hours or however long it takes to get over there for only one contest.

The game will be played in Wukesong Arena, formerly the Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena, which has been refurbished and holds a capacity of 17,022 spectators.  According to Sun Kanglin, President of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sport, it will be the third time NBA teams play each other in Beijing.  It will also be one of five NBA games played outside the United States this preseason.  In addition to the Nuggets and Pacers playing in Taipei and China the Chicago Bulls will face the Utah Jazz in London, the Jazz will play Real Madrid in Spain and the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers will face off in Monterrey, Mexico.

Hopefully, the Nuggets and Pacers games will be televised on NBATV, but there has been no word yet on any broadcast plans.

The Denver Nuggets as International Mediators

The NBA will announce today that the Denver Nuggets will be playing the first ever exhibition game in Taipei on October 8, 2009.  The Nuggets will face off against the Indiana Pacers at the Taipei Arena.

There are two things that come to mind when I read this release.  First of all, from a basketball perspective I do not think it is ever good when your team has to travel thousands of miles to play a game.  That is a long trip and it will take time for the Nuggets to recover once they return.  The NBA has played games in Asia in the past and they seem to do a pretty good job of scheduling a long break for any team who is returning from a trip to that part of the world.  I am sure the Nuggets and Pacers will have a week without any additional preseason games once they come back from Taipei, but it will still be a physically draining experience that might impact their ability to practice for a few days after their return to Denver.

The other interesting thing I noticed is that there are two references to Taiwan in the press release.  Taiwan is a country on the island of Formosa off of the coast of China.  The nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled there after being defeated by the Communist forces of Mao Zedong in 1949 marking an end to the Chinese Civil War.  Communist China has never recognized Taiwan as a legitimate country and they throw a hissy fit whenever someone in the international community refers to Taiwan as Taiwan or the Repulbic of China.

The two governments struck a compromise that would allow Taiwan to participate in international competition as long as they are referred to as Chinese Taipei.

Now, when the NBA says the Nuggets and Pacers will play in Taipei, they are referring to a city in Taiwan and using the term that Communist China prefers.  The NBA press release announcing the game there did not mention where Taipei is thus not mentioning Taiwan. However, in a quote from Tim Chen, the NBA Greater China CEO, has the following quote:

“October 8th will be an historic day for the NBA and for the millions of basketball fans in Taiwan,” said NBA Greater China CEO Tim Chen. “Taiwan fans are very passionate about the game and we are honored to be able to present a matchup of these two great teams for them.”

I find it interesting that in the bulk of the press release the NBA almost goes out of its way to avoid mentioning Taiwan, but then the man who you would expect to be the most sensitive to the issues involving using the name Taiwan says it twice.

I am never as smart as I think I am so I am probably reading something into this that is not there, but I would think Chen’s use of the term Taiwan is intentional.  His use of Taiwan could be a slap in the face of the government of Communist China or it might be no big deal at all.  I tend to think it would be considered the former due to the effort Communist China has gone to prevent Taiwan from being considered Taiwan for decades.

In m y mind it certainly is possible Chen is challenging China by his use of the term Taiwan.  We have seen Ping Pong Diplomacy in China that lead to the normalization of relations between the United States and China in the 1970’s.  Could some roundball diplomacy lead to some normalization of relations between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan?

2008-09 Game 60: Denver Nuggets 94 – Indiana Pacers 100

Box Score | Highlights

You always wonder what a vagrant does with the quarter or dollar you give him.  Will he use it for food or for some green tea or will he use it for booze and mind altering substances?  Imagine a starving panhandler getting $50 bucks, but instead of buying food he spends $25 on a hooker and the other $25 on some yam-yam only to find out that the hooker was a transvestite and the opium was actually sawdust. 

That is exactly what the Nuggets pulled on us.  The win against the Lakers was like getting the $50.  Tonight’s loss to the Pacers was, well as the late Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.”

The Nuggets have now lost four straight games against teams who are currently under .500.  For some reason all the talk that every game is important seems to be just talk.  I think we all knew that there was going to be some let down after the way Denver played against the Lakers, but this type of drop off is just unacceptable.  I understand that there are nights where there is a lid on the basket, but effort and defense needs to be a constant.  I am not saying the Nuggets did not play hard or want to win, but they did not match the effort of the Pacers.

The Nuggets posted a decent defensive efficiency rating for the game and the Pacers only made 38.5% of their shots, but it was not a great defensive game by Denver.  They almost always had a breakdown that led to an open look for the Pacers.  One unpleasant surprise was the return of switching screens.  Indy ran some three man weave and Denver responded by switching.  The bigs also switched on down screens.  The Pacers had a set where they had Roy Hibbert set a down screen for Troy Murphy.  The Nuggets had Nene stay out to prevent Murphy from getting an open look from three, but that left the seriously outmatched Kenyon Martin on Hibbert who was just too big.

I understand why on paper it may make sense to switch in those situations, but I continue to believe it makes for a passive mindset.

The Nuggets now face three very difficult games and do not look now, but there is a decent chance their once apparently safe divisional lead could be all but whipped out by this time Friday night.  If the Nuggets have forgotten the importance of every game, they will soon be reminded of that fact.

Additional Game 60 Nuggets

  • I realize that no one was really playing well tonight, but why on earth was Linas Kleiza of all people on the floor for 12 of the final 13 minutes of the game?  Does his presence give them the best chance to win?
  • Apart from a minute and a half stretch towards the end of the third quarter where Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith and Melo all hit jumpers and the Nuggets scored 13 points the offense was just pathetic.  The Nuggets offense has been faltering lately.
  • I think the last time Kenyon made a jumper I was shopping for Christmas presents, but God bless him, he won’t let that get in the way of him hoisting more of them up.
  • Nene was called for a five second violation and I think it might have been the first time I have ever seen that call made.  The players who necessitated such a rule have long since retired.  Anyway, the call was not Nene’s fault.  He had the ball in the post and the Pacers sent a soft double his way.  The other four Nuggets combined to move about a foot and a half as they all watched Nene wondering what he might do.
  • I do not want to think about this game anymore.  Then again, I do not want to look forward to the Detroit game either because bad things happen to the Nuggets in Detroit.

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  95.6

Defensive Efficiency:  104.6

Offensive Efficiency:  98.4

Featured Blog:  Indy Cornrows 

2008-09 Game 60: Denver Nuggets at Indiana Pacers Game Thread

The Denver Nuggets raised their intensity level against the Los Angeles Lakers.  Tonight’s game brings a different type of challenge.  Can they play with focus against a lesser team? 

The Indiana Pacers are playing without their two best players as both Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. are out for the season.  Even without their two star swingmen the Pacers have a five game home winning streak.  You may have heard of a couple of the teams they have beaten during that five game streak, the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  However, only two of those five wins have come since Granger went down with a torn tendon in his foot.

I trust that someone has pointed that fact out to the Nuggets players so that they do not look at who is missing and ignore who will be on the floor for the Pacers.

The Pacers have been lead by some strong point guard play from T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack.  Their best player though has been Troy Murphy.  Murphy had a great February posting 18.5 points and 12.8 rebounds and he did so shooting over 51% from the floor and 45.5% from behind the arc although he did finish the month on a 3-15 slump from long range.  Murphy is a tough matchup for many big men due to his ability to shoot from outside, plus he has very good size and a nose for the ball.

Marquis Daniels is a player Denver must look out for.  He is a versatile player in the mold of John Salmons who tends to give Denver problems on offense. 

As long as the Nuggets put forth a quality effort they should be able to handle whatever the Pacers throw at them.  Denver has won four straight games in Indy.  The last time they lost was in Carmelo Anthony’s fourth game as a professional when he shot 1-13 and the Nuggets only managed 60 points, the third fewest for a single game in franchise history.  Since then offense has not been an issue.  Tonight Denver will be looking to sweep the season series for the fourth time in the past five seasons. 

The Nuggets defeated the Pacers earlier this year in a game that doubled as the night Jeff Foster assaulted Melo’s hand.  Melo played a great game that night, even after he fractured his third metacarpal.  The Nuggets defense was atrocious that night, but their tormentor was Danny Granger.  The Pacers will not get 36 points from him again tonight.

The Nuggets have some big games coming up after tonight.  They head to Detroit on Tuesday which has been a house of horrors for the Nuggets lately and then a back to back at home against Portland and on the road against the Jazz.  A win tonight where the Nuggets continue to build off of their effort against the Lakers would be important to build momentum for the tough stretch of upcoming games. 

Denver really should be able to handle the Pacers relatively easily, but if they come out soft the Pacers will jump on them and it will be a tough game till the final buzzer sounds.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes – Petro is still listed as the starter, but I would be surprised if Nene does not start

Previous Matchup:  Game 36 – Den 135 Ind 115

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