This wasn't quite the homecoming Brian Shaw was hoping for. I probably could have written this recap without having watched one minute of the 119-80 shellacking the Indiana Pacers laid on the Denver Nuggets. Instead, I forced my eyeballs to stay on Altitude, no matter how badly I wanted to switch over to the Olympics. Realistically, this game ended late in the second half of the previous game, when Ty Lawson hobbled off the court with a fractured rib.
Still smarting from their setback yesterday in Orlando as well as their loss in Denver from earlier this year, the Pacers came out aggressive and unrelenting. David West set the tone in the first quarter with 17 points, scoring in a variety of methods while making mincemeat of the Nuggets' "defense." Wilson Chandler had nine points to lead Denver, who trailed 30-21 at the end of one. Though it was only a nine-point deficit, it seemed insurmountable.
Indiana turned it up in the second quarter. The Nuggets started settling for jump shots, which were not dropping at all, and the Pacers seemed to gobble up every rebound. On the other end, Indiana's methodical offense was getting them efficient, easy buckets. You can see why Brian Shaw wanted to incorporate some of the Indiana offense into Denver's, but the system suits the Pacers' personnel so much better. They have bigs with polished offensive moves, whereas Denver's front-court relies more on raw athleticism.
Led by West's 21 points, Indiana took a 61-40 lead into halftime. It could have been much worse if not for nine Pacers turnovers in the first half. Nuggets broadcaster Scott Hastings said it felt like the Pacers were "toying" with Denver, and that certainly appeared to be the case once the third quarter began. The Nuggets played apathetically and the lead soon ballooned to 30. Chandler seemed to be the only Nugget giving any sort of an effort, but his shots weren't falling either. The Nuggets trailed 85-56 going into the third, and it was becoming ever more difficult to not switch the channel.
The fourth quarter was all about garbage time and seeing how large the margin of victory for Indiana would be. It turned out to be 39 points, the worst loss of the season by far for Denver. While nobody really expected the Nuggets to win this game with all their injuries, this was still a pretty disheartening loss. This road trip has turned into an unmitigated disaster, and the All-Star break can't come soon enough. A win in Minnesota on Wednesday could bring some much-needed positive vibes heading into the break, but as this game showed, winning without Lawson is going to be extremely difficult.
Game Observations -
- West led all scorers with 25 points, and all five Pacers starters scored in double figures. Chandler led the Nuggets with 17 points on 6 of 19 shooting, J.J. Hickson had 12 points and Jordan Hamilton was the only other Nugget in double figures with 11.
- Randy Foye struggled offensively (really, all the Nuggets did) in his role as point guard, scoring only nine points on 2 of 13 shooting. He did have 10 assists, however.
- Speaking of struggling, surprise starter Quincy Miller did nothing to suggest he deserved to be in that spot. Miller finished the game with zero points while going 0-5 from the field. He also had one really bad turnover in the beginning of the third quarter where he basically just threw the ball to Paul George.
- Shaw was worried about George before the game, but he had a relatively quiet night with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
- I have to admit, I'm a little perplexed at Shaw's rotations. Darrell Arthur only played 12 minutes tonight, yet Miller played 27. Evan Fournier only played 19. None of the Nuggets had a postive plus-minus, but Arthur's was the best at -5. Seems like he would have been a more capable defender against West, who was absolutely destroying Kenneth Faried. And Fournier is basically one of two players on the team right now capable of bringing the ball up the court. He should have played more, especially in a blowout.
- The Nuggets were outplayed in almost every phase of the game. They were out-shot 58% to 32%, they were out-rebounded 56 to 37, and they gave up 58 points in the paint while scoring 36. I can understand why the offensive numbers would take a hit with Lawson gone, but the defense is inexcusable right now. Denver even tried switching to a zone, but when they did force a miss Indiana would get an offensive rebound.
- The best part of the game was when I browsed Facebook at halftime and found this awesome video somebody posted. So I thought I would share it with you. Also here is LeBron throwing down some seriously nasty dunks during practice, if you need something else to get your mind off the drubbing the Nuggets just suffered.