What the Sam Hill was that?
You know how you dream that you have already woke up, gotten ready for your day, go to school or work and everything is really weird? Like you give your teacher a test or someone turns in a project you were working and does a horrible job, but your boss thinks you did it?
I feel like I just watched a Nuggets game where they took control early then the bench blew it and Karl blew it by sticking with the bench for too long. Karl never plays J.R. Smith. Mike Taylor plays like an all-star. The Nuggets once again seem to be in control with a couple of minutes left only to lose control again and end up winning the game when a Marcus Camby three pointer falls short.
Can I wake up and watch the real game now?
You can say a win is a win until you are blue in the face, but I probably look green in the face because that game made me feel sick. At least it had an appropriate ending with Marcus Camby holding the result of the game in balance with yet another shot from straight away that Nugget fans are all too familiar with.
The Nuggets left their new and improved defense at baggage claim. Really if it was not for the fourth quarter of the Bulls game and the third quarter tonight the Nuggets would have strung together three straight poor defensive efforts in a row.
Tonight was especially galling as Denver seemed to have the game in hand on a couple of different occasions only to have the defense let the Clippers back into the game. The defensive breakdowns were far too numerous to focus on here. Needless to say the rotations were nonexistent allowing Eric Gordon to have nine wide open looks from long range. The main problem was the Nuggets inability to prevent penetration by Baron Davis, Gordon and Mike Taylor. They were either able to score in the lane or pas to an open teammate under the basket. When the bigs helped out on the drive no one on the off side was covering the player that the helper left open. Camby must have had four or five layups and dunks due to that breakdown alone.
Offensively when the Nuggets moved without the ball they had very good success. Unfortunately, they forgot to move, or chose not to for most of the fourth quarter. Down the stretch things got even worse as players started playing selfishly. On two straight possessions in the last couple of minutes of the game Melo had the ball on the wing and Kenyon flashed through the lane. Typically the second player to flash is open and Kleiza was next to cut, but instead of cutting through the lane for a potential layup or foul, he just spotted up hoping to get a chance to launch another three pointer as if the five he shot were not enough.
The other example of selfish play was with just under two minutes left and up three Anthony Carter took a swing pass and instead of making the extra pass, a pass that even chucker by reputation J.R. Smith has been making this season, Carter took the three and did not even hit the rim as Kleiza sat there with his hands up waiting for the pass that never came.
Once again it is tempting to say that the Nuggets did what good teams do and that is win on the road even when they are not playing their best ball. Well, not tonight. Tonight the Clippers let the Nuggets off the hook.
Despite their many shortcomings tonight Carmelo carried them through. He did not shoot a high percentage of shots and he only ended the game with three assists, but he willed them to win. He made several determined drives to the rim and only took one three pointer. Plus he hit the game winning shot on a pull up jumper off of a drive to his left. He also had another great rebounding night pulling down four offensive boards, mostly off of his own misses though, and seven defensive rebounds pushing his average for the season up to 8.8 a night.
The Nuggets will face a much sterner test tomorrow night against the Hornets. Hopefully we will find out the Nuggets were playing down to their competition tonight and the good to great defense we have seen them play will return with the introduction of one of the preseason favorites to represent the west in the finals.
Other Observations from Game 15:
- I made the comment during the game that any good feeling that Clipper fans had about the Zach Randolph era went out the window around his third or fourth horrible shot, which coincided with his first three or four shots. He was an offensive disaster. For a strictly offensive player, that is not good.
- We all were flabbergasted at how Altitude gave us no clue as to why J.R. did not play at all. However, they did provide the news that Chris Kaman was going to miss the rest of the game soon after he departed. How can they have news about a Clippers player and not J.R. If they did mention J.R. none of us noticed it and when a key player is benched wouldn’t you mention it more than once or twice? And we all owe Karl an apology for questioning his sanity and competence for not playing J.R. So ultimately Altitude owes George Karl an apology for all the nasty things we said about him. Particularly about how long he stayed with the bench in the second quarter when it was obvious they could not score and were going to surrender the lead the starters had built in the first quarter.
- For the third time in the last five games the Nuggets have allowed their opponent to shoot at least 45.8% from the field. I mentioned that their defense seems to be slipping and that is as good a sign as any.
- Kenyon Martin continues to play very well following his 10-10 performance with a 7-10 night made complete with ten rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists. I have only slight recollections of Kenyon playing in New Jersey, but I think it is safe to say that over the previous few games he is playing as well as he ever has. Kenyon did a great job grabbing rebounds in traffic tonight and he looks as athletic as he has been since joining the Nuggets.
- Nene had a great start to the game. He started out perfect from the field and the line in the first quarter. He played very good individual defense throughout the game, but fouled out trying to play help defense on Baron Davis and Mike Taylor as they drove into the lane time and time again.
- I thought the Nuggets did not do enough to exploit Camby’s defensive weaknesses during the game. I really wanted to see them pick and roll him to death, but that did not happen. As it was Denver did get a few open perimeter shots off of Camby’s unwillingness to leave the paint and at the end of the game they did go small and put Melo on him in the last couple of possessions.
Razzle Dazzle Game Stats
The pace factor for the game tonight was 96.5, which is on the quick side. For the season the Nuggets are posting a pace factor of 94.3.
The Nuggets defensive efficiency was a horrendous 108.8 brining their rating for the season up to 102.9.
Offensively the Nuggets had a solid game thanks to the first and third quarters as they ended up with an offensive efficiency rating of 109.8. The Nuggets are getting better on offense as they have had offensive efficiency ratings above 107.9 in five of their last eight games. Their overall offensive efficiency for the season is up to a pretty solid 105.2.