2008-09 Game 10: Denver Nuggets 90 - Minnesota Timberwolves 84

Box Score

You might not be able to get them to admit it, but I am starting to believe that the favorite basketball team of the Minnesota Timberwolves is the Denver Nuggets.  They love to prove to themselves that they can matchup with their favorite opponents, but in the end, they cannot stand to see them loose.  They always find a way to make sure their heroes win.

I have not been able to come up with any other explanation as to how the Timberwolves can roll into Denver, make the Nuggets look worse than any other team in the league can, consistently have leads late in the games and still leave the court losers.  The Timberwolves just love the Nuggets.  Maybe they all read Pickaxe and Roll too. 

Seriously though, the last three games between these two teams in Denver have followed the same script.  No matter how unlikely a Nugget victory may seem, no matter how poorly they play when the clock hits zero Denver always ends up with more points than Minnesota.

The bottom line is every team no matter how talented or well coached has nights where things just do not go well.  The shots do not fall, the energy and intensity wane and the crowd is just sitting there waiting for something good to happen.  I do not know if there is a reason why it happens against the Timberwolves.  For once it is not fair to say that last year’s team could not have won this game, because they did it twice last season. 

The Nuggets did get out to a good start and had a 27-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.  They were very active on defense and did a good job of getting high quality shots.  Things changed quickly though.  The offense ground to a halt in the second quarter, but it looked heavenly compared to how bad things became in the third quarter. 

The final tally for the third quarter will show Chauncey Billups had a strong quarter after scoring 13 points on 5-10 shooting.  And he did manage to turn his game around after starting 1-11 from the field, but I thought he made some very poor decisions.  There were a few times when he took a shot without passing the ball at all.  I realize he was looking to take over, but the primary issue we have all had with the Nuggets offense, and the one that consistently holds them back the most, is the overreliance on one on one play.  Out of his five misses I bet most of them came on those possessions.  Of course the way things went down no matter how objectionable his play may have been over the first 30 minutes of the game, they do not pull out this win without him, of course there are six other Nuggets who you can say the same thing about.

I guess you cannot blame Billups.  Melo had another weak shooting night.  He missed the same open fifteen footer three times during the game and missed his third dunk of the season from under the rim.  On tonight’s offering he never even got the ball over the rim.  Melo did have another good night on the boards.  He gobbled up defensive boards early in the first and pulled a couple of huge offensive rebounds in the fourth.  The second one led to the sequence where the Nuggets took the lead.  He ended up getting fouled attempting the put back, made the first free throw, but missed the second.  He missed so badly that the ball caromed to the corner where Nene ran it down and fed Melo for the dunk that put the Nuggets ahead for good at 81-80.

The bottom line is the Nuggets won another slow paced low scoring game and they are now 5-1 since acquiring Chauncey.

I just thought of another possibility as to why the Nuggets always get off the hook with the Wolves.  Could it be the curse of Dean Garrett?

Other Observations from Game 10:

  • Dahntay Jones, Anthony Carter, J.R. Smith and Carmelo deserve a lot of credit for holding Mike Miller to only four shots.  No matter what you do Al Jefferson is going to score 20 to 30 points and Denver realized the key was keeping Miller from having a big night too. Miller hit three of his four shots so there is no telling what kind of damage
  • After their slow starts I keep expecting Kleiza and J.R. to throw up some amazing game where they make more shots than they take or something equally impressive.  The truth is, they are both doing just fine and hopefully they can keep it up.  Over his last six games Kleiza is shooting 20-45 and 8-23 from long range.  Not as good as last season, but not horrible.  After playing a couple of games that were as bad as any he has played in a Nugget uniform J.R. has hit on 14 of his 29 shots and 7-15 threes over his last three games.  On the other end of the floor, Kleiza has been borderline competent and J.R. has done well chasing his man and being in the right position at the right time.
  • One thing J.R. has struggled with defensive over the past couple of games, and especially tonight, is getting beat off the dribble.  
  • I imagine you have seen the previews for the new movie Australia.  I have two observations.  Isn’t it racist or something to cast two people from Australia in a movie called Australia.  When they make a war movie, they do not use real soldiers or when they make a movie about a band, they do not use Third Eye Blind or Better Than Ezra.  And what’s with the rip off of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song?  Why even bother changing a couple of cords, just use the real thing.
  • It seems like the Nuggets give up a great deal of offensive boards early in the game.  Tonight Minnesota had six in the first four minutes, but only ended with ten.  I have no idea why, but they need to bring some better intensity out of the locker room on the defensive glass.
  • I think we can officially put a cork in Anthony Carter’s hot start shooting the ball.  He has made a mere nine of his last 38 shots and has missed 11 straight. Carter is averaging 24 minutes a game since Chauncey returned to Denver and at this point, I think that is a little high. 

Razzle Dazzle Game Stats

The Nuggets held their opponent to 39.7% shooting for the second straight game.  The sub 40% total for the season is now five out of ten games with two other instances of sub 41% shooting.  For the season the Nuggets are allowing only 42.5% shooting.  Their defensive efficiency is a very strong 101.4 after posting a rating of 91.3 tonight.

The Nuggets offensive efficiency took another hit tonight with a 97.8 which drops their season rating down to 102.9.

It was another slow paced game tonight with a pace factor of only 92.0, their slowest pace for a home game this season by 5.8.  For the season they are now down to 94.6.

Make sure you check out Canis Hoopus to see how frustrated Wolves fans are over blowing yet another second half lead.

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