The Nuggets started things slow tonight, picked it up and looked like the team we saw at the Pepsi Center for the past three games for a small stretch, but ultimately reverted back to the same road-Nuggets we've seen all season. You know the road team I'm talking about ... the one that looks like a lottery team, at best. Spurs win 110-97.
The Nuggets are now 5-13 on the road and 23-17 on the season.
What can we say about these road-Nuggets that we haven't said yet this season?
How about the team is absolutely doomed even if they somehow keep Carmelo Anthony this season. A team that can't win on the road cannot win in the post-season, wont win in the post-season.
Denver got off to a slow start tonight, down 8-2. The Nuggets quickly amped up the defense and went on a 13-2 run of their own and took a 15-10 lead, turned that into a 32-20 lead and looked like the team we saw for the past few games in Denver. The Nuggets did what they usually do, turned Spurs turnovers and missed shots into fastbreak opportunities and tried to run San Antonio out of their own building. It was looking good too ... and then something changed.
At the 10:32 mark of the second quarter Gregg Popovich called his third timeout of the game with Denver up 29-20. I don't know what he told his squad, but from that point the entire game changed. J.R. Smith hit a three-pointer shortly after the Spurs timeout, but that 12-point lead he helped create would soon evaporate. The Spurs closed out the half from the 9:30 mark of the second-quarter with a 37-13 run.
How do you give up 37 points and only score 13 of your own? Well, because the Nuggets decided instead of defending their hoop that it would be a better idea to let Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker drive right to the rim for lay in after lay in. If you want to beat the Nuggets, just drive to the hoop. Denver will either commit a foul or let you have a nice easy layup. And on the offensive end, instead of continuing with the success of taking the ball to the rim, the Nuggets decided to become a jump shooting team and a one-on-one team that tried to drive the lane where plenty of Spurs were waiting to either block a shot or take a charge (or try to take a charge).
How many times did Manu and Tony get uncontested layup? Too many to count. How many times do the Nuggets get easy looks at the rim in a half court setting versus the Spurs? Rarely. Very rarely. The Spurs had a run in the second quarter where they made 15 shots in a row, but it wasn't like they were just launching difficult shots ... the Nuggets just let them do whatever they wanted. Parker and Ginobili combined for 48 points, 11 assists and 4 steals.
Melo couldn't have had much worse of a game. After he received a technical for arguing calls I was sort of hoping that he'd go ahead and get a second technical so his night would end because like Old Yeller, somebody needed to put him out of his misery. Melo finished the game 5-17 from the field for just 12 points (2-3 from the foul line ... just three attempts), 4 turnovers and 3 fouls.
It will be very interesting to see what the final Nuggets records will be on the road vs. at home. How can a team be so good in one arena and then play soooooooooooooooo bad away from that arena. It makes absolutely no sense. A serious look needs to be made at the coaching staff for failing to get this team to shed its Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act. When will enough be enough?
- At the 2:47 mark of the second quarter the camera showed Doug Moe sitting just behind the Nuggets bench. Always cool to see Moe with the team.
- The Spurs were 23-39 or 59% shooting in the first half. Too many times this season we've seen the Nuggets double-team towards the paint and leave deadly shooters wide open and they always seem to make Denver pay. Seems to me that staying with shooters on the outside should be a priority when you are playing a team that loves to shoot the three. Nice coaching strategy Denver.
- Denver is now 0-3 on the season vs. the Spurs.
- On the Spurs six-game win streak they have yet to give up 100 points or more to an opponent ... pretty impressive.
- The Nuggets didn't have a single player with 20+ points tonight ...
- J.R., Lawson and Harrington all had pretty decent games tonight. J.R. played hard in garbage time and had two highlight-reel dunks late. Something to be said for playing hard and giving effort when the game has been decided. I like to see that effort from Junior.
- At the 10:04 mark of the second quarter there was a double-foul called when Al Harrington took the ball inside and Manu Ginobili tried to flop ... or take a charge. The ref out on the perimeter called a charge and the ref down low called a block. The refs couldn't decide who was correct so they just called a jump ball and chaged both guys with fouls. What in the world?!?!? Neither Popovich or Karl agreed with that idiotic call.