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So what have we learned about the Nuggets?...

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Don't quote me on this, but I believe it was Jon Barry who - while calling the Nuggets last game in February, against the Clippers on ESPN - said something like "we're going to learn a lot about the Denver Nuggets over the next five games." Barry was referring to the Nuggets upcoming five games at Houston, home vs. Phoenix and San Antonio, and finally at Utah and San Antonio. (By the way, Jon Barry as a coaching candidate? Sounds good, huh? Anyone? Anyone? We'll get to that another day).

So what have we learned after going 2-3 on this stretch, with no road wins, culminating with tonight's tough loss to Los Spurs? I offer the following observations, excluding the obvious critiques that fans and the media have called out all season (like inability to commit on defense, inconsistent effort from one night to the next, etc)...

-The Nuggets can't win a road game against a well-coached team (i.e. Houston, Utah and San Antonio). In fact, the Nuggets are 2-10 on the road against Western Conference Playoff teams. One of their big road wins? At Dallas against Avery Johnson. Exactly.

-After two years with essentially the same set of players, they're still incapable of running any plays in a half court set down the stretch (as evident in tonight's loss when the Spurs went on an 11-2 scoring run at the tail end of the fourth quarter while putting the clamps on the Nuggets offense). Given that this was one of the main problems against the Spurs in the playoffs last year, you'd think after 10 months the coach would figure it out...or at least try to.

-J.R. Smith should have been getting significant minutes all season, and by not doing so may have cost the Nuggets a few games. He's admittedly a wild card, but so is Stephen Jackson (without whom the Warriors are 2-7).

-George Karl doesn't work the refs throughout the game, even though this could help in getting a tough call the Nuggets way down the stretch. Tonight's game against the Spurs was a perfect example of this as the late-in-the-game, close calls all went the Spurs way.

-Rocky doesn't always shoot his behind-the-back-half court shot between the third and fourth quarter, he sometimes performs this amazing feat between the first and second quarter.

-Most depressingly, we're probably not making the playoffs. Check out ESPN.com's Marc Stein's breakdown of the remaining schedules for the West's top nine teams if you want to gauge the Nuggets chances vs. their competitors. Ugh.

And even worse yet, we're in danger of becoming the New York Knicks of the West (ridiculously high payroll, talented individual players, lack of chemistry, questionable coaching and suspect management strategy, etc). I know this may sound a bit extreme, but we as Nuggets fans must demand accountability from top to bottom of the organization. There's just something awry. Something doesn't feel right. How can a team look so good against Phoenix and San Antonio (twice), and yet fail to show up against Houston and Utah, in the most important game of the season? Certainly Coach Karl deserves - as I argue - a great deal of the blame, but as I've said from day one there's more to the story here.

Is it all on Karl? Or the players? Or management? Or past management? I will spend the remainder of the regular season proposing and answering these questions as objectively (and sarcastically) as possible, and will inject Nuggets nostalgia whenever appropriate.

On a positive note, Rocky is leading in our coaching replacement poll. I can't wait to watch Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony run the trampoline dunk play in November!