Coach Brian Shaw stood against the wall in the Pepsi Center hallway, after his team blew a lead going into the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs, and tried to explain what once again occurred. Already too many post game pressers about a disappointing ending and this time Shaw looked visibly frustrated. In fact, for a man whose calm and cool demeanor comes through every time he talks ... you could tell he was almost at a mini-breaking-point.
He squeezed in amidst all us media hacks and started talking about the fourth quarter. His frustration boiled over while reading aloud statistics about fast-break points, turnovers, and the Nuggets general fourth quarter apathy.
Gesturing to the sheet of paper in hand, Shaw said, "Once again, we couldn't sustain the effort through a complete 48 minutes. We talked about playing a team of the Spurs caliber; they punish you for the mistakes you make. We had  turnovers for 27 points, that tells the story of the game."
Shaw continued on, "Our margin for error is small, like I’ve said all along. If we continue to make these kinds of mistakes, we’re going to have the same results."
Then, as if reading our collective minds about the Nuggets struggles, he spoke of his own. "I’m tired of doing my post-game interview with this result," said Shaw. "I promise it won’t stay that way, but it’s a process."
The Nuggets mantra has been "process". Teaching players who are used to George Karl's system of pace and pressure a completely new system of half court sets and occasionally drawn triangles. Yes, it will take time. However, half court offenses aren't new to any player. In fact, every player coming up has been taught some sort of half court offense in their careers from high school, to college, and in the league. All it takes is players who will listen to what is being taught.
Shaw indicated that he was dissatisfied with the pace. Pointing to the fast-break points and turnovers, the coach seemed to indicate that certain players on the team aren't doing what he wants them to do. Posting up too much in the fourth, going away from whatever they were doing through three quarters. All in all it seemed to suggest that whatever Shaw is preaching could be falling on deaf ears to some players. The question remains, will these players or the team in general ever get it?
We don't know if they will. While it's easy to blame the slow it down, plodding system that Shaw brought in ... it does seem that the coach, at least publicly, is frustrated the Nuggets pace is so slow. Particularly in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets should be wearing people out. Players who are used to running aren't running anymore and it's strange to behold.
"We just kind of lost our minds in the fourth quarter," Shaw said. "I think we were fatigued and didn't have the stamina to sustain it for the complete 48 minutes."
Losing stamina in the fourth quarter, when you are at home, is bizarre for a Nuggets team. There is no reason this should be happening, regardless of system implemented. This Nuggets team was built for stamina, and suddenly they are plodding and have no energy. What does that say about the make up of this roster? Or the character of the players therein?
At one point during the first half, Shaw came out on to the court after calling a time out... yelling and gesticulating at Nate Robinson after a particularly ugly offensive and defensive stretch of basketball. Nate Rob was seen at various points yelling at officials, fellow players, and himself during the game. This is probably a small example of Shaw's frustration with players.
I'm not going to play the Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler card in this column. We all, even the Nuggets, know that they need their two best scorers back very, very badly. However, the Spurs were willing to hand that game up on a silver platter to the team, and for some reason they refused to take it. That's not what good teams do.
Yes ... this is a process. Yes, this will take time. At some point, however, the lightbulb of understanding needs to come on for some players on this Nuggets team. If not, I fear changes would be on the horizon for a select few.