For the "winnable" game of a back to back that includes a date tomorrow in Boston, the Nuggets surely laid an egg in Madison Square Garden tonight. The Denver Nuggets road woes continue.
Riding home in one of the worst spring blizzards I can remember, I was initially going to hold off on listening to the game until I could get home to my trusty DVR and watch the game in its entirety. After the first hour in the blizzard, I caved in and switched on AM 1510 to listen to the live gamecast from Jason Kosmicki.
I almost wish I hadn't.
While I certainly enjoy Kosmicki's enthusiastic broadcasts - and Schemmel will always be missed - the way the game was going I could almost hear the frustration being wrung out of Koz as the Nuggets turned the ball over and over again. In fact, the happiest I heard Koz tonight was when I heard him mention how good the fries smelt from where he was broadcasting in the Garden.
Unable to shake off the malaise from the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nuggets have now lost two straight and have once again slipped below .500 on the road - to the 23-45 New York Knicks. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks have now tied Denver for the 2 seed and the Utah Jazz are now within 1 game (really 2, due to Denver's tiebreaker). Denver must now win against the Boston Celtics tomorrow night to keep from falling to the 3 seed and within a half game of the Jazz.
Through the latter part of the game, it definitely seemed as though there was some particularly egregious officiating, though it certainly didn't and shouldn't have determined the game. The charge initially called on David Lee for his sixth foul was changed to a block on JR, allowing the Knicks to make 1 of 2 at the line instead of an additional Denver possession.
It's hard to look at this game and take anything positive from it. Outside of Carmelo Anthony (14-26, 8-8 FT, 5 reb, 36 pts) and Chauncey Billups (5-13, 14-15 FT, 6 ast, 25 pts), the rest of the Denver Nuggets were listless at best and had no answers for Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari can SHOOT, make no bones about it - he scored 28 points on just 19 shots, hitting 5 of 13 shots from beyond the arc. Nene was bullied all night against a small Knicks lineup and managed just 10 points and seven boards. He should've been able to post Lee all day.
Additionally, the Nuggets once again failed to amass 20 assists (15). The Nuggets could really use Ty Lawson to bring some life back to the Nuggets' passing game, because it is becoming painfully obvious that Chauncey is wearing down. Carter has been playing well, but like Chauncey, he's old, and it's been a long season.
While the Nuggets pulled within 3 late in the 4th quarter, costly turnovers and missed bunnies from Carmelo drove the last nail into the Nuggets' coffin. At one point, JR Smith was 0-9 from the field until he hit some ultimately meaningless 3s to end up 4 of 16 with 4 turnovers. After hitting seven three pointers against the Memphis Grizzlies, JR Smith has shot a horrific 3 of 20 from downtown. It's safe to say that Young Money still hasn't turned the corner this season.
Lastly, let me say that I have to question AD's decision to not play Johan Petro. The young Frenchman has been playing exceptionally well lately, and one has to think his size would have at the very least served as an intimidation factor to an Al Harrington who had his way in the paint all night long.
Lest we all despair, let us remember that the 2008-2009 incarnation of the Denver Nuggets went just 21-20 on the road. At 17-18, the Nuggets need to go 4-2 to match last season's record, though obviously we hope for better. With 11 games left, the Nuggets must go 7-4 to match last season's record of 54-28.
- J.R. Smith. 4 of 16 from the field (2 of 9 from 3), four turnovers, and just 2 assists. 3-20 from three in the last 4 games. Enough said.
- Adrian Dantley. No Lawson, no Petro? Surely you could have found some minutes for Denver's fledgling big. He'll be critical come playoff time playing alongside Nene and bird. Lawson could also have played a few minutes to start getting him back into gameday form.
- The Denver bench: 18 points on 6 of 22 shooting, 2 assists and 6 turnovers. One of the worst nights of the season from Denver's usually capable bench.
- Carmelo Anthony. Once again logging 42 minutes, Carmelo powered his way to 36 points on 26 shots and amassed 5 boards (8-8 from the line). I'm worried about how all the minutes he's logged over the last few games are going to affect him tomorrow night against the Boston Celtics.
- Chauncey Billups. What else can you say? He continues to post career-highs in points (25) and did a reasonably good job dishing the ball with 6 assists. 14-15 from the line isn't too shabby either.
- Tracy McGrady/Danilo Gallinari/Al Harrington/David Lee. Though it pains me to say it, Sleepy went 6-9 from the field to score a very efficient 15 points. Gallinari shot the Nuggets in the heart time and again, scoring 28 points. Al Harrington outscored the Denver bench by himself. David Lee posted a double-double scoring 12 points and scooping up 16 rebounds. All in all, a very efficient night from all of them.
Photo courtesy of AP