I'm not sure how to take this loss. It shouldn't have happened, but this is a team that is JUST coming together and it will take time for the "clutch" to come through. There were some very encouraging signs as the game progressed, enough for me to peak my interest in performance.
Danilo Gallinari had one of those games that makes you excited for the future. With a stat line of 30 points 9 rebounds and 2 assists you can see why. What was even more impressive was a dominating third quarter performance where Gallo drove to the hoop repeatedly and either created for his teammates or drew a foul. However, in the spirit of "learning" Gallo missed an important free throw at the end of regulation which would have put the Nuggets up by four before Brandon Roy swished in his game tying three pointer with five seconds remaining. He will get better though, and tonight was one of those games that gives new meaning to the word "hope".
Wilson Chandler is an interesting player. In the time he was in there he played good defense on Nicolas Batum (who finished with only 8 points) and Ill Will finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Along with Gallo, he will be the cornerstone of the Nuggets "future". Chandler is a guy you want on your team. Tough, smart, and willing to get down and dirty on defense.
Raymond Felton had a bad game, come to think of it, so did Ty Lawson. While Felton had 7 points and 6 assists and Ty Lawson finished with 6 points and 6 assists the two point guards never seemed to create within the flow of the offense. Gallinari was far more productive at creating than both, and it was a bit disturbing to see that ridiculous three guard lineup rear it's ugly head again (including Arron Afflalo who had 19 points and some clutch three-point shots) which I will get in to in a bit. As far as point guard production it most definitely needs to improve.
The Nuggets missed Kenyon Martin's toughness tonight. He always plays LaMarcus Aldridge very well (who finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, doubling up Nene with points) and a good intimidation is what was needed to close the deal. I'm aware people don't think as I do that Kmart is the glue that holds this team together, but , if tonight's game isn't enough proof for you I don't know what to say. Those drives to the basket by Rudy Fernandez would not have been as "free" if Kmart was there to "regulate".
Overall, though, the Nuggets defense was again superb. Considering this was a second night of a back to back without Kmart. The third quarter was a thing of beauty, and in the end it took some miracle shots by Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy for the Trail Blazers to beat the Nuggets tonight. The team defense with this squad is very good. Everyone seems to understand help defense very well, and it helps alot when you have Gallo and Chandler helping out with weak side defense. Overall very good, except for one glaring problem the Nuggets need to address...
Nuggets of Wisdom
George Karl wasn't the shining example of exemplary coaching this evening. In fact, you could argue his "small" lineup at the end of regulation went a long way toward this defeat. I hope to never EVER see that ridiculous lineup ever again. What's more is it's very clear Ty and Felton don't mesh like Chauncey and Ty. Putting the two on the court at the same time hurts the team size wise, and does nothing to increase the speed. STOP THIS PLEASE!
I'm not one to beg for Timofey Mozgov to be put in, but Chris Andersen had another sub par game ... his second one in a row. Same thing with Al Harrington. Both look out of shape and injured and I'm getting to the point where I think calling for both to shut it down for the rest of the year to "heal" may not be a bad idea at all. Maybe this will force Karl to play the big Russian, but somehow I doubt it. I'm also hoping for better coaching. So who knows what will happen. The Nuggets don't play again till Monday so they have rest time and practice time. It can only do them good.
Additionally I'd like to thank all those who attended the "Carmelo Anthony Going Away Party" at Jakes Food and Spirits tonight. A couple of surprise guests arrived, and Andrew Feinstein and I got to meet several of you wonderful Stiffs out there. I had a fantastic time and we will definitely be having more of these in the future.