So was that a WIN this Nuggets team managed to get last night? Did my eyes deceive me?
What I did see was an impressive Italian. A 5'9" guard breaking down the defense. And a guard who chucked shots and caused problems. One of these players was not wearing a Nuggets uniform.
Some observations for your staving off elimination afterglow...
1. Danilo Gallinari had his coming out party last night. 18 points (all in the second half) 4 assists and 5 rebounds. What has been the most impressive to me is that Gallo seems to take guarding Kevin Durant seriously. While no one can stop Durant (completely), Gallo certainly bother's KD with his close up defense, and he seems to have the length enough to challenge his shots. Very good. I also noticed that Gallo makes Durant work extra hard on defense by getting overly physical. It's the little things. I have to say that I was probably overly hard on Gallo for his lack of offense, but in hindsight his defense has been more than capable against KD and last night we got the offense to back it up. That dagger three pointer was the Gallo we have been waiting for, and suddenly the future in Denver just got a little brighter. One minor criticism however, Gallo needs to concentrate on making the shot while trying to get fouled, if he did that then I'm sure the refs would take the accentuation more seriously.
2. Ty Lawson had himself a great game. What is so frustrating about Ty is he gets into "passive" mode and it absolutely kills whatever offensive momentum that the Nugget had. Last night we got aggressive Ty and it worked big time. Russell Westbrook had a hard time staying in front of Ty and the penetrating helped neutralize the Thunder's shot blocking ability. The Nuggets will need this BIG TIME on Wednesday night in OKC.
3. Speaking of Westbrook. I cannot fathom what was going through his head. As Scott Hastings said a couple weeks ago, if Westbrook makes his first jumper he will be a ball hog the rest of the game. This couldn't be more clear than last night. Yes, he scored 30 but he took 30 SHOTS to get those points. He was 12-30 and was an awful 0-7 from behind the ark (what was he doing shooting that many three pointers?). Yet, more than that, Westbrook took three of the last four shots. Which when you have Durant on your team (if he's Reggie Miller, which I think he is, he will hit the big shots) you let him take. Westbrook also got into it with KD during a timeout, and also screamed at Serge Ibaka after running into Kenyon Martin. He complained on every offensive possession, every drive, every jumper, every defensive possession. Hell, Westbrook even complained walking from the huddle (seriously). I'm not going to draw some hackneyed equivalence to the Nuggets in order to make it seem like all things are equal. We all know they aren't. Westbrook has been deemed a star and we know that if Nene or J.R. did that, and to that extent, they would have been given two quick technicals. Oh well. As I said in the post game thread, I was having a hard time mustering up enough hate for the Thunder to call them a rival - Westbrook has awoken a very sleepy Nuggets fanbase who have been starving to find a rival outside of Utah. We may have found one. A bad attitude is only forgiven when you win Russell. Trust a Nuggets fan on this one.
Quick note, this win in no way absolves George Karl's interesting decision making regarding rotations. Taking J.R. out could have been a fatal mistake ... while Raymond Felton is a marginally better free throw shooter J.R. was hot and I think riding the hot hand is the better move.
Also, in reality it will be very hard for the Nuggets to win in OKC for Game 5. I'm hopeful but I'm also realistic. The Nuggets showed tons of heart out there. I'm proud of them. It was very negative out here before last night. Now Nuggets fans can lift their heads a little bit higher, and Nuggets players can play with nothing to lost on Wednesday night.
On with the links!
Krieger: True grit gets Nuggets new opportunity - Dave Krieger, Denver Post
Dave Krieger talks about the Nuggets problem on offense when the transition game get's shut down.
Gallinari shows up just in nick of time - Chris Dempsey, Denver Post
Danilo Gallinari had himself quite a second half offensively last night. The Nuggets need more of this if they are to pull off the impossible.
Paige; Nuggets' future? Check back later - Woody Paige, Denver Post
In true Woody Paige style he inserts a bit of nonsense into his column about the Nuggets uncertain future. However, he has a good point buried in there somewhere.
Nuggets stay alive, beat Oklahoma City 104-101 - Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post
Recap for those who can't get enough recap
It doesn't come easy for OKC as Denver wins Game 4, 104-101 - Royce Young, Daily Thunder
From the perspective of the OKC Thunder blog "Daily Thunder". (Note: as of this writing, Dogburt doesn't have the recap up for Welcome to Loud City yet. I encourage stiffs to check it out today...man has a good blog)
BY GEORGE!! - James Merilatt, Mile High Sports.com
A great analysis of these playoffs by James Merilatt at Mile High Sports, specifically Coach George Karl.
Stadium Reviews: Pepsi Center - Rich Kurtzman, Stadium Journey.com
Rich Kurtzman reviews the amenities of our own Pepsi Center. Gives it an overall good grade (although I'd be a bit more severe on the in-game entertainment)
Have a great morning everyone.