The Nuggets were bad in this game. Forget the spirited, Nate Robinson led comeback in the fourth quarter. This game the Nuggets showed all the flaws, all the imperfections, all the "issues" that people thought would be on display all summer. Yes, the team is missing Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Yes, the Nuggets are a better team with them than without them. However a team that was built (for the most part) to be a fast breaking, pace-driven team is looking sludgy and confused.
The confusion is the most alarming part of this scenario. It was as if they played basketball for the very first time. They couldn't run an offense or defense to save their lives. J.J. Hickson, who looked pretty good against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday ... looked as if he left what he accomplished at a Northern California airport. While he wasn't awful, he just was abused by LaMarcus Aldridge who had 25 points and 9 rebounds. Darrell Arthur came in, and was just as ineffective.
Nuggets low spots
Nuggets have a JaVale McGee problem - With two minutes gone in the third quarter, coach Brian Shaw took JaVale McGee out of the game. McGee picked up his fourth foul, and was generally getting abused on the glass by Robin Lopez., That's right, Sideshow Bob was making JaVale look like he couldn't rebound. It's becoming increasingly clear that, if they are committed to JaVale, this will be a long, long painful process to round him into a half court big. While he finished with 6 points and 3 rebounds ... its was almost incidental to the final score.
Nuggets three point defense - Deja-vu? Back to the Future? Not sure which, but the Nuggets three point defense was harkening back to the days of mid-way through last season. Actually, to this very same Portland squad last year. The Blazers were an amazing 14-22 in their three point shots. It was a ludicrous percentage. The Nuggets, at times, gave Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum wide open shots. Even erstwhile rookie of the year Damian Lillard was given free reign to shoot with impunity. This will not win you basketball games no matter what system you play.
Randy Foye - Foye was both Awful and a non factor. How he managed to accomplish this feat is beyond me. He had 6 points on 2-10 shooting and contributed virtually nothing the entire game. In a value-position such as shooting guard, you need to be at least somewhat productive. He contributed nothing and therefore, in the process, contributed to the Nuggets defeat.
What happened to Rocky? - In a scary moment before the game, Super Mascot Rocky was lowered from the rafters at Pepsi Center during pre-game introductions. He was limp and motionless. Everyone thought it was an act until he did not appear again the rest of the game. Something happened. The Nuggets released a statement that Rocky got the "wind" knocked out of him. Hope he is ok. Started the game off on a very bad note.
Nuggets high spots
There are only a few of these
Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson - Ty Lawson continued to be the catalyst for whatever offense Brian Shaw is trying to run (we have yet to determine what exactly it is at this point). He finished with 21 points and 6 assists. What little movement happens in the Nuggets offense occurs when he is, like last year, attacking. He was doing that until the fourth quarter. The reason for THAT is Nate Robinson went all Nate Robinson and almost single handedly brought the Nuggets back into the game with wild three point shots and aggressive play. He lead the team in scoring with 24 points and most of those points were scored in the fourth. it was a spirited effort that we have been looking for and it happened in this game. Too bad it was too little too late.
Kenneth Faried ... with caveat - Kenneth Faried came off the bench and provided great energy to a team that was severely lacking such energy from the very start of the game. While his points don't reflect his output, he was productive and 11 points and 11 rebounds is not half bad at all. Here is the caveat: Kenneth CANNOT play with JaVale McGee. Shaw played both of them together, briefly, in the second quarter. About two minutes. It was utter and complete chaos. McGee and Faried knock each other off of a rebound twice while going for it. Neither can space to save their lives and Faried has no post game. So if you decide to start Faried you almost have to start Timofey Mozgov. Will Brian Shaw make this decision if Faried keeps pressing the issue?
Nuggets of Wisdom
This was a borderline alarming game. Lethargy is one thing, but to be out-efforted on your own home court is something that cannot be accepted in Denver. The Nuggets have the greatest home court advantage in the regular season in the NBA. Tonight they played like it was the Rose Garden in Portland. This was unforgivable. The Nuggets have issues that will take a very, very long time to correct. Their offensive execution is awful and their defensive execution is not much better. It's up to Brian Shaw to find the right combination while Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are out of the lineup.
This may be a long stretch of basketball where the Nuggets struggle to find themselves. Are you ok with that Nuggets fans?