I feel as if I've finally found a common thread for my Denver Nuggets experience this year. This years' Nuggets squad is my "Wait, they what?" team. Wait, they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers at home? Wait, they soundly beat the Golden State Warriors on the road? Four players who score 20+? Three guards who score zero points in over 30 minutes of combined play? J.J. Hickson had 24 boards? Wait... they lost at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers? The 4-and-17-on-the-road Cavaliers? The wrapping-up-a-rough-five-game-road-trip Cavaliers. Wait... they what?!?!?
Yes. The Wait-They-What Denver Nuggets had another frustrating home loss to a team they had every reason to beat, losing with a combination of porous defense, ill-timed shooting slumps, a 23-point-back-in-business Kyrie Irving and no help whatsoever from the men in stripes.
Starting off the game, the Nuggets were slow to the ball, but were still keeping things relatively even against the Cavs for the first quarter of play with the three ball. Tristan Thompson was abusing the Nuggets down low, but several early threes by Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye kept us afloat in the game. The Nuggets found themselves up six with less than a minute to go in the quarter, but relinquished almost all of the lead by giving five points back quickly to nearly end the quarter. Only a sweet putback by Timofey Mozgov on a missed free throw kept the Nuggets up by three to wrap the quarter.
And then Armageddon came. OK, not quite, but the Nuggets gave up a 42-point second quarter to the Cavaliers. I keep going back to my notes to describe what happened in the quarter, but all I see is a lot of cursing and gnashing of teeth. Suffice it to say Enver (spelled purposefully) had zero D in the quarter. Headed in at halftime, the Nuggets found themselves having given up 68 points in a half to a team that averages 96 a game. Inconsistency, poor communication, and lethargy were all apparent across the quarter.
In the second half, Denver made a game of it several times, cutting the lead to single digits repeatedly, but always following those efforts with a boneheaded play. And going across my notes, not a single player was exempt. Not that mistakes can't be made, but most of the errors were of the you-just-weren't-thinking variety. The Cavaliers were given some hope and managed to cling to it through the game.
Calls were not going the Nuggets way tonight either, and I'm admittedly a huge homer, but I'm not crazy either. There was a decided bent to the direction of calls tonight, and someday I'd like to figure out how much of what I see is my Homer-Heart talking, and how much of it is an inequality. Just like licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Ty Lawson was a force to be reckoned with for 95% of his play tonight, slashing through the lanes, dishing some impressive assists, and creating his general havoc. Ty had a nice double double tonight with 19 points and 11 assists to go with only two turnovers. Ty has taken the burden of leading this team on his shoulders, and has played admirably of late. Wilson Chandler had a very solid game with 23 points, four boards and four assists to go along with his mostly-impeccable D. Nate Robinson and Randy Foye contributed 19 and 16 respectively, and Foye also had some impressive hustle plays on the defensive end.
Kenneth Faried had a tough night all around, with 8 points and 6 boards in 22 minutes on the floor. His energy was low, and he hung his head a lot after the first six minutes of the game. J.J. Hickson came close to a double double with 8 points and 10 boards, but needed 32 minutes to do so, and was ineffectual at the most key moments of the game (after his Wait-They-What game against Golden State). Both men were soundly outplayed by Tristan Thompson, who had 20 points, 10 boards, two blocks and a steal. And a partridge in a pear tree.
Aside from all of us wanting Darrell Arthur back TOMORROW, what did you see, Nuggets Nation?