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Alas, back to normal...

Ehhh, who needs to beat their division rival in the heat of a monumentally important playoff race with coaching careers and the reputation of an entire organization on the line anyway?

So much for getting into the playoffs via a division championship.

While as a die-hard Nuggets fan I was devastated watching our team forget how to play basketball against the Utah Jazz in arguably the most important game of the season, as someone advocating for a coaching change I took solace in ending a few debates that have propped up on this site from George Karl defenders, such as...

The Nuggets are exceptionally well-prepared by the coach, but the players just choose to take certain nights off.
-There's no way a well-prepared team - whose roster talent is equal to, if not better than, their opponent's roster altogether - loses by 27 points and gives up 79 points in one half (43 in the second quarter alone) to their lone division rival - a team they've already faced twice this season. Could you imagine a Phil Jackson or a Jerry Sloan or a Larry Brown (unless he's working for Isiah Thomas) coached team, with essentially evenly matched rosters against their opponent, "playing" like the Nuggets did last night? It's completely inconceivable.

All teams struggle on the second of back-to-back nights.
-The Nuggets are 4-11 on the second of back-to-back nights, the Jazz are 9-6. Moreover, other than Utah having home court advantage, both teams played the night before and likely had to travel very late after their respective games. It's not like Utah had any more rest than Denver did.

The Nuggets players fall prey to distractions on the road that are out of the coach's control.
-They played in Salt Lake City last night after getting in at probably 3am from Denver. What could possibly distract them between 3am and game-time in Salt Lake City? Filling out their membership cards at a local bar so they can party next time they're in town?

The Nuggets have been hit by tough injuries this year.
-The Houston Rockets won their 18th straight game last night (beating the 42-20 New Orleans Hornets), their fifth in a row without superstar center Yao Ming. The Rockets are now 22 games over .500, and yet they've been without their other superstar, Tracy McGrady, for 16 total games, Yao for seven total games and they play in the NBA's toughest division. Oh, and Utah played their third straight game last night without starting small forward - and former All-Star - Andrei Kirilenko. (And yes, I know the Nuggets went 3-2 without Carmelo Anthony earlier this year, but those wins were against Atlanta, New Jersey and Memphis).

The Nuggets always get up for games against superior opponents.
-The Nuggets are 8-13 against current Western Conference playoff teams.

My point? Good coaches prepare their teams to - at the very least - play hard in the most important games. They also find ways to squeeze out a few extra tough wins on the second of back-to-back nights, they don't use injuries as an excuse, and shouldn't need a superior opponent to get their players revved up for any given game. Unfortunately, the only good coach in tonight's game was Jerry Sloan, who's been doing it better than anyone not named Phil Jackson for the last 20 years.

Up next? The Spurs get their revenge against the Nuggets on Monday in San Antonio. If it wasn't such bad karma to bet against your own team, I'd bet the house on the Spurs.