Growing up in Denver I was raised a Broncos fan. My fan-hood with the team just happened to coincide with John Elway being the man for the team. I rode the ups-and-downs with the Broncos through the late 1980's and 1990's. I remember the tough loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, the embarrassing Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the times the Broncos missed going to the big game because of tough playoff losses (like the Jacksonville Jaguars game in 1996), and more.
But I was also lucky enough to witness the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Becoming distant memories now, but those two seasons marked the apex of my Broncos fan-hood. Don't get me wrong, I still watch my favorite football team and I'm rooting for them to get back to the big game (hopefully this season). But part of my diehard fan status retired right alongside Elway.
Watching those two Super Bowl seasons, I got to experience all there was to see in an NFL season. My passion for the Broncos somehow transferred to the Nuggets. When I was a kid a Broncos loss would haunt me for the entire week until the boys in orange would march out onto the green grass of Mile High Stadium, once again. Now my passion and my nitpicking has moved to another part of downtown Denver; to the Pepsi Center. While I don't allow losses to stick with me for a week (impossible due to number of games played and also I've matured a bit!), Nuggets losses do sting. Every time.
The Nuggets lost to the now 15-5 Knicks and there were definitely some positives to take away from that game - if you were looking for them. On this five-game road trip the Nuggets have faced three teams that will make the playoffs this season in the Eastern Conference and they've gone 1-2 with all three games being tightly contested.
But moral victories are hard to swallow. Who wants to see the Nuggets take a few steps forward while still getting a "L" in the wrong column? What is the bigger takeaway: That the Nuggets played the Knicks well and had a close road game with the best team in the East (at this point in the season)? Or that Denver was up 88-80 in the fourth quarter and couldn't find a way to put the Knicks away? For me, I can't let go of that eight point lead and the way the Nuggets closed out the game.
The schedule has been brought up so many times (myself included) in these 21 games that nobody wants to hear it anymore. The Nuggets are two games away from completing the, "17 out of 23 on the road" that has been beaten like a dead horse. Out of the 15 road games thus far the Nuggets are just 5-10 - we'd all be feeling a lot better if that mark was 7-8 or even 9-6, but it isn't that way.
Trends have surfaced in this young season with the Nuggets. Too many turnovers, giving up big leads, allowing too many wide open perimeter shots, bad pick-and-roll defense, bad free throw shooting, and a hesitant offense. If the Nuggets were playing at home would these issues be popping up? What does playing on a different court have to do with the list above?
Not all of what is ailing the Nuggets can be fixed by playing at the Pepsi Center. The road schedule will loosen up after the Timberwolves game in Minnesota on Dec. 12th. We will get to see what the Nuggets can do with more home games. We'll have to keep a close eye on the issues this Nuggets team has allowed to surface and see if things get better as this long season marches on.
There are issues facing this Nuggets team that a schedule shouldn't be dictating and we'll get to find out soon enough if the Nuggets can right their wrongs.
Nuggets 10 - 11
To the links ...
Carmelo Anthony dominates fourth quarter as Knicks rally past Nuggets - Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post
Karl's youthful Nuggets outmanned by daunting Knicks team - Paul Forrester, SI.com