Box Score

Let me apologize for not getting a game preview up prior to tonight’s conflagration between the Grizzlies and Nuggets.  We had some massive issues at work that not only absorbed my entire day, but kept me there late too.  

One of the rules of being a good blogger is not to let work get in the way of blogging so I will try to keep this from happening again.  To top things off no matter how many times I told my wife that what went wrong was not my fault she kept asking me if it was my fault.  Behind every great man is a great woman and behind every loser is a woman who is convinced he is a schlub.

Enough of that, as far as the game I am watching the rebroadcast as I type.  I missed the part of the game I wanted to see the most which was the part the Nuggets fell behind Memphis 10-0 on their own floor.

It is obvious the Nuggets did not believe they had to put forth a consistent effort in order to win this game.  Fortunately for them the Grizzlies are bad enough that they were right.  Even only playing hard in small spurts they manhandled the Grizzlies rather easily.

More than anything that happened in the game I am more concerned about the Nuggets approach to these next three games.  We as fans have taken the position that these three games should be a three game winning streak to build some confidence.  

That is a fine way to look at it as fans, but the team needs to look at it as preparation for another very difficult stretch.  They should be using these games to sharpen and refine themselves.  The pre end of half time interview with Adrian Dantley was disconcerting as he basically said that Denver is looking to build some confidence over these next three games before their tough stretch next week.

That means the Nuggets players have already put these three games in the win column.  I watched Toronto play at Golden State tonight and if the Nuggets do not show up for that game they will lose.  Toronto is exactly the type of team that can give Denver problems as they space the floor with shooters, especially if the Nuggets think they can just show up and win because they are the Nuggets.

For tonight though, Memphis is bad enough that a Nuggets team that is simply present can pull off a 22 point win.

Other Observations From Game 64:

  • Late in the first quarter Melo reached in on a pass to Darko in front of the basket so badly for a split second I thought he was trying to foul on purpose.  Then he pulled his arm back and then slapped Darko on the arm again.  When the referee called it Melo threw a semi tantrum.  I am really worried about his head if he is arguing over obvious calls like that.  You cannot complain after every call and expect the refs to pay attention to anything you say.  
  • AI had a poor shooting night, hopefully it was just a poor shooting night and not an indication of the finger bothering him, but only time will tell.
  • George Karl has said that they are shooting for 50 wins.  Once again, way to aim high George.  I do not think 50 wins will get Denver in the playoffs, but do I think George wants 50 wins because he sees that as job security.  Even if the Nuggets miss the playoffs if he can say that they won 50 games and only the extreme coincidence that eight teams in the conference all won more than 50 games kept them out of the playoffs.
  • I was very interested to see if J.R. Smith could put together another impressive performance.  His numbers were not significant, but I thought he played pretty well.  He was not as aggressive with the ball, but he certainly did not show regression tonight.  
  • Chucky Atkins is playing himself back into shape as he had a nice all around game.  I have scoffed at the notion that he could be a huge contributor and his return would trigger a Nuggets Renaissance, but he can pass the ball and run the offense.  If he can hit open shots and get into the lane (both things he claims he can do) he will help the Nuggets down the stretch.
  • Kleiza’s ankle must be feeling better because he was running the floor and finishing in traffic pretty well.  With J.R. and Najera playing well Kleiza’s return to health and Atkins coming back gives the Nuggets a solid nine man rotation.
  • AI only played 31 minutes and I heard Karl say that he though AI was tired towards the end of the game at San Antonio.  Obviously AI only played 31 minutes because the game was a blowout, but I think the Nuggets would be better off playing AI 37-38 minutes a game so that he does not get so run down.  

Opponent Watch:
As I wrote previously, Golden State won at home against Toronto tonight.  Toronto played hard and shot themselves back into the game in the second half actually taking a lead at one point, but Baron Davis took over down the stretch and knocked them out.  Utah showed why they are different (better) than Denver again.  They had a very similar game in Milwaukee as Denver did.  You will remember Denver had the 23 point first half lead and completely collapsed from that point on to lose.  Tonight Utah jumped out to a 16 point first quarter lead, but fell behind by 11 with 4:45 left in the game.  Toss out one 22-7 run and you get a 114-110 Utah victory.  

Denver is still two and a half games behind Golden State and four behind Utah.

Check out Three Shades of Blue for some great Memphis coverage.