Tonight's game reminded me of my holiday dinner. As I sat at the table staring at all the beautiful looking food in front of me and filled my plate, I happily began enjoying my meal. I ate until I was full and then something happened ... I realized I overate and from that horrific realization forward the rest of my night would be ruined as my stomach was ready to burst at the seams.
The Nuggets started this game much like my holiday meal began ... lots of promise and hope of a 17-7 lead at around the seven minute mark. Then it happened ... I realized I overate and the Nuggets hit a brick wall as well by surrendering a 23-6 run to the Mavericks to end the first quarter.
A key to eating any big meal ... pace yourself because if you don't you will spoil the rest of your night. The Nuggets also ruined their night by not capitalizing on their early momentum, but not all was lost. Denver did play a pretty nice second quarter and they finished the first half on a tear by Kenyon Martin on the offensive boards and Arron Afflalo's dunk on a run-out that flushed home with just 1.7 seconds remaining cutting the Mavs halftime lead to 55-52.
The Nuggets built their very early lead with good-tight defense, pressuring the ball handlers, going to the rim on drives and hitting jumpers. It was picture perfect basketball. The Nuggets surrendered the momentum and the lead by succumbing to a slower pace and turning the ball over with some very sloppy passing.
I was a bit miffed as to why Ty Lawson was taken out of the game at the 3:39 mark of the first quarter when it was Lawesome who was hustling and looking like he was the lifeblood of the night. When he didn't check back into the game until the 7:15 mark of the second quarter I was beside myself ... then I realized his left hand was heavily taped around the wrist and thumb. Hopefully this was the only reason Anthony Carter saw extended minutes in that stretch because he was awful. A.C. had a couple horrific turnovers and a slew of missed shots ... a three, a running airball near the paint and a bricked bunny in the lane. It's pretty apparent that A.C. is at best a third guard for a team that isn't contending. With Billups out there needs to be more Lawson, Afflalo and Smith rotating at the one and two, having A.C. in the game is a detriment to the team's success.
The second half didn't fare much better for the Nuggets and Dallas would eventually win the game 104-96. The Nuggets let the Mavs jump out to a good start in the third quarter and couldn't recover. What Denver must learn is that each half, each quarter and each possession carries certain importance. Giving up big runs and leads will ultimately hurt the team.
The Nuggets also were not sharing the ball in the second half and that was limiting their success as one pass and a shot or drive was the result. Meanwhile, the Mavs were getting easy looks and even making some pretty difficult looks. The Nuggets needed some breaks and they didn't get too many as Carmelo Anthony fouled out and the Mavs made key shots when it counted.
I will admit that at times the officiating was questionable in the third and fourth quarters, but Denver's lack of passing and attacking the rim for much of the second half lent the team to needed some crucial breaks and when they don't get them the officiating woes look larger than they are. Had the Nuggets played the right way and played defense with more intensity they would have won this game against a team that was coming in on the second of a back-to-back.
I do applaud Denver's effort towards the end of the fourth quarter to make a comeback ... the team never game up and you always want to see that out of your team. Lawson looked almost unstoppable getting to the rim and continues to impress me. Denver just didn't turn on the intensity in time and it cost them the game. Once again ... too little too late.
The Nuggets are now 13-2 at home and lost to a team that they should have beat at least on paper as Denver had the rest and the Mavs had the will. What a luxury for the Mavs to be able to bring Terry, Gooden, Howard and Tim Thomas (when healthy) off the bench. The Mavs are a very deep team and a good team. The Nuggets meanwhile now sit at 20-11 and need to get a win tomorrow night in Sacramento.
Views you can use:
- Denver was once again out rebounded by their opponent: 51-45 (although Denver grabbed more offensive boards than the Mavs: 12-8).
- The Nuggets collected 20 assists on the night and whenever they shared the ball it typically resulted in a wide open dunk or shot. One-on-one basketball is the key to losing.
- The Nuggets colleted 11 steals to the Mavs 5, but the Mavs turned the ball over just one more time than the Nuggets: 14-13.
- Melo fouled out, but collected a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
- Dirk Nowitski's elbow pad looks disgusting. I would not want to guard him and have that thing touch me ... no wonder he wears it.
Photo Courtesy of AP Photos: David Zalubowski