The Nuggets may have started a little slow in LA against the Clippers, but they picked up the pace in the second half and cruised to an easy win. The short handed Clippers played hard, but it was easy to tell that they really did not expect to win. I thought from the start the Nuggets were a little too content to just play with the Clippers and the game was nip and tuck for the first quarter and a half, but by halftime they were up 16.
When the Nuggets pushed the lead up to 20 in the middle of the third quarter it was pretty clear the Clippers were ready to fold like a cheap hooker who got hit in the stomach by a fat guy with sores on his face.
Carmelo was red hot again. He is doing a very good job of taking shots from 16 feet and in. Of course he has taken ten threes over his previous three games making six of them, but he is staying away from the 20-22 foot jumper and that makes me happy.
AI played a very solid game even though he did not shoot well. I thought he attacked the basket better in the second half and he filled up the box score nicely with seven boards, nine assists and did it all with no turnovers. He also made it to the line ten times making nine.
Camby corralled 18 rebounds and looked to be playing with good energy for the first time in quite a while. He also did a nice job of attacking the rim resulting in a couple of easy dunks in the third quarter.
Really, there is not much we can take from this game. I did not think the Nuggets showed a determination to run, but they did a decent job of running their half court offense. The Nuggets have really struggled with zones and as RyanBuff pointed out in the comments during the game the Clippers did not try to take advantage of that, which was puzzling.
Other Observations From Game 78:
- Camby’s 18 boards was his highest total since January 30th when he nabbed 19 boards. That January 30th game was the 14th time he had ended a game with 18 or more rebounds in the first 34 games he played in and it took him 31 games to get to number 15. I believe part of the reason he has not had so many big rebound games since then has been due to Kenyon and Melo hitting the glass a little harder, but there have been a few games where Denver was handled on the glass and Camby was a no show. I really think he is getting worn down, but hopefully we have seen the last of his four or six rebound games.
- The Clippers actually tied an all time NBA record against Denver. A record that is probably shared by a large number of teams. They tied the all time single game low in fast break points with zero. When is the last time a Nugget opponent did not score a single fast break point?
- Linas Kleiza is enjoying a decent offensive surge over the previous three games. He is shooting 20-38, including 7-8 on two point shots against the Clips. I do not think you can expect him to ever get to the line 15 times again, but as long as he is getting in the lane and finishing he is a nice dual (inside/outside) threat and good third or fourth option on offense. Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings were noting he still seems to limp every now and then on that bad ankle, but if it is bothering him, he is dealing with it well.
- Elton Brand is back, but he is not back-back. He made some nice plays on both ends of the floor, but is clearly not as strong or explosive as he was last season. Obviously, it will take time to get that back though and I expect him to be back to his old self next year, but for what team? He can opt out after this season and you better believe a team like Philadelphia who has cap room and a gaping hole at the power forward spot will come calling if he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
- Brand is a very good offensive rebounder, but Denver did a very good job keeping him and the rest of the Clippers off the offensive boards. LA ended up with ten offensive boards, but six of them came in the last five minutes.
- One last Clipper related note. Al Thornton seemed much less aggressive than I have ever seen him. The guy is a chucker and has less of a conscious than J.R. Smith when it comes to shooting, but he only took ten shots in 40 minutes. He has averaged a hair over one shot for every two and a half minutes of floor time and had taken a shot every 1:54 in the Clippers previous three games against the Nuggets.
Make sure you check out Clips Nation to read what Clipper Steve has to say about the game.
The path is now clear to start focusing on the Golden State Warriors. The game on Thursday night will basically determine which team will make the playoffs unless the winner falls apart over their final three games.
Let’s start cranking out the hype from one corner of our mouth and prayers out of the other.