Recapping the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets losses
The Nuggets are now 3-3 without Carmelo Anthony (since breaking his right shooting hand January 5th against the Pacers).
Two of those losses are the haunting kind, the ones that got away if you will. Denver had should have been able to put the Pistons away and the Nuggets certainly had a chance to steal one in Houston yesterday. Still, I’ll take a 3-3 split in the murderous schedule Denver has faced. And let’s face it … the refs sort of helped out in the end versus both the Mavericks and the Suns, so I can’t be too upset with the flop Chuck Hayes was able to pull off on Linas Kleiza to take away the go-ahead bucket Nene slammed down.
Let’s rewind a minute to the Orlando game that took place Saturday January 17. Early in that one it looked like Nene was not going to back down from Dwight Howard and that the Nuggets were indeed going play a very physical game against a team that I think is a bit on the softer side.
Denver really didn’t do a good job on the perimeter and Hedo Turkoglu was able to launch three-after-three without a hand in his face. He connected on 5 of 9 three-pointers and finished the game with 31 points. I think I may have blacked out somewhere in the second half as the anger sharks swam and the Magic pulled away. This is one of those games that you feel good about turning off or you watch through spread fingers as you attempt to cover your eyes. Or better yet you get off the couch, wander to the kitchen and try to find something to blind yourself (I recommend either jamming a fork into your eyes or using a common cleaning product that can easily be found under the sink and spray directly into eyes … I’m joking of course.) But the 106-88 loss to Orlando surely was not a thing of beauty for Nuggets fans, no matter how you viewed it.
The 115-113 loss to Houston yesterday afternoon was baffling. I am not quite sure that I can stand to watch the Nuggets cough up late leads in the 4th Quarter and expect to live much longer. I feel an attack may soon be in order on my heart if things continue in this manner.
Watching Yao Ming down in the post reminds me of watching a wrecking ball smash into buildings. The guy is allowed to play with more contact than anyone in the league and again reminds me that in the NBA sometimes it’s all about your name and not so much about the play itself. Yao dishes out, but also takes a lot of abuse in the paint. Chris Anderson probably used a few hundred ice bags after the game.
Even with Nene’s dunk being taken away Denver was still in a position to tie or win the game on the last play. Kenyon Martin was able to dart down the lane untouched and was fed the ball perfectly before Luis Scola fouled him just enough so the ball rolled off the rim. How many times does KMart miss out on three-point plays this way? I’d say the over/under on the season has to be set at 75. I’ve never seen someone have so many shots roll off the rim as he’s fouled.
My confidence with Kenyon stepping to the line with the game in his hands was sort of the same as it would be if I saw Megan Fox out on the town and decided to approach her. Needless to say, there wasn’t a chance in hell that KMart would hit that first free throw. And he didn’t. The intentional miss was fumbled by Nene and JR Smith and Yao was able to corral it in and seal the victory for Houston. I hope this game doesn’t come back to haunt Denver later in the season.
Nuggets Head Coach George Karl called the game a “good loss” and was happy to see his team battle a hot Rockets team (even if they didn’t have Tracy McInjury or McGrady playing).
I would also agree that there were lots of positives in both back-to-back losses to the Magic and to the Rockets. Linas Kleiza is having a revelation that he can get to the rack whenever he wants and he has been attacking the rim with a lot more frequency. And JR Smith has relocated his shot. JR is looking to set up his teammates a bit more than usual lately (well, not so much against Houston … one assist). Nene was able to bounce back after a foul filled game versus Dwight Howard and score 23 against the Rockets.
Chauncey Billups is sort of a guy that you take for granted. I can see why he tends to get overlooked in the talk about the best point guards. The guy is just consistent. You pretty much expect him to come out and get you a double-double or close to it. He led the team with 12 assists against the Rockets, but his team lost. Billups has recorded double-digit assists with the Nuggets nine times now and the team was a perfect 8-0 when he did so before yesterday. Denver is now 8-1 when Billups records double-digit assists.
Denver vs. Sacramento
The Nuggets take on the Sacramento Kings (10-31) tonight at Pepsi Center. Denver isn’t in action again until Sunday January 25th when they’ll face Utah at Pepsi Center.
The Kings are rebuilding and right now they don’t play a whole lot of defense (give up 107 points per game to their opponent). They will try to outscore their opponent, but they give up way too many easy baskets and three-pointers (ask the Magic and their NBA record 23 threes). Sacramento is led by the other KMart (Kevin Martin); he averages 24 points per game. Rookie Jason Thompson out of Rider University has played well this season and has shown why the Kings drafted him a little earlier than expected (12th overall), even though he wasn’t supposed to have much NBA upside potential. Other than those two guys the Kings don’t really have a lot of exciting players on the roster. So, Denver looks to end their recent two game skid tonight against a sub .500 team. Check out the game notes to see why they should win.
Game Notes and Observations:
- Denver is 17-1 versus teams under .500 this season
- Denver is 10-14 versus teams over .500 this season
- In the two wins recently versus Dallas and Phoenix JR Smith recorded a combined 14 assists
- In the two losses versus Orlando and Houston JR Smith recorded a combined 2 assists