Tonight’s game between the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks was your typical no win situation for the home team. Win big, so what. Just squeak by, or heaven forbid, lose and we all go nuts. I guess the good news is that the 114-105 result was not news worthy. The Nuggets simply took care of business.
While beating the Bucks was not a major accomplishment there were a couple of aspects of the game to be encouraged with. The Nuggets really put the pedal down early in the second quarter as they went on a 14-0 run, that continued into a 19-3 stretch, where the Nuggets ran the Bucks ragged. Another positive was that they put up 114 points, but Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smtih combined for only 33 points. They had great balance on offense. In fact no Nugget played more than 29 minutes. The other aspect of the game that I thoroughly enjoyed was the fact that after the Nuggets built up their big second quarter lead the Bucks were never able to get back in the game. The final score was as close as it was due to Austin Croshere and Joe Alexander getting hot late in the game.
The Nuggets defense in the first and fourth quarters left a little something to be desired. They allowed Milwaukee to make their first five shots and three of them were wide open layups. Those easy buckets served as a wake up call and the Nuggets defense improved quickly. In the second quarter they held the Bucks scoreless for five decisive minutes.
In my preview I lamented that if Nene were to get into foul trouble that Andrew Bogut would be in position to go hog wild on the Nuggets. Interestingly enough, Bogut was injured on the play where Nene picked up his second foul early in the first quarter and sat out until the start of the second. I thought the game really turned on the couple of possessions where Bogut was on the floor before Nene reentered the game. The Nuggets played great defense and swarmed around Bogut forcing missed shot after missed shot. Nene returned soon after and he proved to be too much for Bogut to handle on both ends of the floor.
I know I have been driving the bandwagon for the Nuggets to slow down and play a more defensive oriented half court game, but I was happy to see the Nuggets put up 29 fast break points tonight. Playing a half court style does not necessitate a team to stop running. A good team can take advantage of all of their scoring opportunities. I will always remember how the San Antonio Spurs at their peakof their powers could beat any team in any style of game. They would outscore the Suns in one round and then out scrap the Lakers in the next one.
This Denver Nuggets team has the potential to be that kind of team. They played half court grind it out basketball against the Celtics and tonight they scored a bunch of fast break points. The important thing for the Nuggets to remember on offense is to push the pace when they can, but to be patient when the break is not there.
With each passing game my optimism for this team grows. Next up they have another opportunity to raise my opinion of them a tick higher with a big road game against a battered and bruised San Antonio Spurs team.
Other Observations from Game 11:
- J.R. Smith had another rough shooting night, but I thought he played about as well as I have seen on offense. He was very patient and worked to earn his teammates good scoring opportunities. Last season he took a shot almost every couple of minutes, but tonight he only took one shot during his first nine minutes of game time. Even so he had a man sized impact on the game. Defensively he chased cutters and pressured them into catching the ball outside the three point line. He also grabbed two rebounds and he handed out three assists during that nine minute stretch. Many fans will look at his five points on 1-7 shooting and figure he had a bad game when in fact the opposite is true.
- Linas Kleiza ran the floor as well as I have seen him since his 41 point game against the Jazz. He played a tremendous offensive game from inside and out making two of his five three point attempts (with a third barely rimming out) and getting to the line 15 times (more than doubling his previous career high of seven).
- Chucky Atkins made his return tonight and promptly missed all three shots he took, including missing two three point attempts. He did net four assists, but they were all on long jumpers. Atkins will be a better fit this year than last year with the Nuggets as he is good at running the pick and roll and the Nuggets are running more pick and rolls with the point guard this season. Even so, I hope his time is limited to games like tonight.
- I was impressed with Joe Alexander. He is strong, has good length, is athletic and tough. He also has a nice short range jumper. He made a couple of threes and if he can add that as a consistent weapon he will be a big help to the Bucks in the future.
- I did grow a little concerned towards the end of the game when Karl ran out the scrubs a little early. He did have to reinsert J.R. with a couple of minutes left just to make sure nothing disastrous happened.
- I mentioned I was at the game tonight and was fortunate enough to watch it from a luxury suite. Well, I would like to offer my special thanks to good friend Mike McWilliams from 3t Systems for his company’s hospitality and allowing me to attend the game tonight. I highly recommend 3t for all your technological needs.
Razzle Dazzle Game Stats
Despite the Nuggets running for a couple of quarters the pace of the game was a moderate 95.4 raising their pace factor for the season up to 94.7.
Their defensive efficiency left a little to be desired thanks to the Bucks making ten of their 20 three point attempts. As it was they posted a rating of 110.0 raising their defensive efficiency for the season to 102.2.
Denver’s offensive efficiency was a very impressive 119.4, their best mark of the young season, raising their rating for the season to a respectable 104.4.
One last thing, make sure you check out Brew Hoop’s top notch coverage of the game.