Listening to Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe calling the game on Altitude you would have thought that that the Nuggets had actually accomplished something when they cut the Hawks lead down to eight in the last minute and a half.
Frankly, I was hoping to see more.
The Nuggets were faced with adversity and apparently they had some kind of reaction to it. I think it gave Kenyon Martin his staph infection. We all knew the Nuggets would have to play better in Atlanta than they did in Charlotte in order to win.
They had an opportunity to prove their metal. They failed.
The first half was a pathetic display of poor defense and lack of focus. I was glad that I was having problems with my Tivo so I did not have to watch all of it.
Yes they made a comeback. We know that Iverson never gives up, no matter what the score is. Melo played hard on offense and had a tremendous scoring second half. Unfortunately this is not pre-1994 high school girl’s basketball in Iowa. Everyone has to play both ends of the floor. (I had to look that date up, sorry to disappoint you.)
Melo was a beast on the offensive glass grabbing six offensive rebounds, but on defense, which is where the Nuggets lost this game he does not put out nearly the same effort. Then again, none of the Nuggets did tonight.
It may seem like I am picking on him, but he is a supremely talented player and on a night like this when they are shorthanded he needs to step up on both ends of the floor. I was very impressed with the desire he brought on offense, but that desire only proved to exemplify the difference in effort. He picked up the team on offense, but there was no defensive leadership from anyone and that was the side of the floor that cost the Nuggets the game.
Before the season Karl talked about how they failed last year because he focused on offense instead of defense. Karl said this year would be different. They were going to emphasize defense first. Either Karl is an absolutely horrible defensive coach, the Nuggets players are horrible listeners or the players just have rejected the defensive emphasis, which means they have rejected Karl.
Other Observations From Game 37:
- Once again J.R. Smith makes a case for more playing time only to lose it when he flipped out and was tossed after AI was ejected. J.R. had no business throwing a fit. He stormed off throwing his headband and jersey into the stands. Iverson’s eruption was completely justifiable. J.R.’s was just childish. He caught fire to ignite the Nuggets "comeback" and because of his defensive lapses and rage induced departure no one will remember what he did correctly.
- There was a shocking difference in energy on defense between the two teams. The Hawks were aggressively jumping every pick and roll, which I thought Scott Hastings did a good job of pointing out, and it seemed like there were six defenders on the floor from time to time. They were moving with purpose all game long. The Nuggets defense was more like a pair of worn boxers that are so soft you do not even realize they were there. On the bright side, everyone loves those kind of boxers, but they are not the ones that you wear on your wedding night. (If you are confused, please work through the metaphor with a partner between winning a championship and sex.)
- Once again this loss is easy to explain away. I just want to see this team rise up to a challenge and overachieve at some point this season. In my preview I wrote that this was gut check time. The Nuggets proved that they did not want to lose because they did not give up and did make a comeback in the fourth quarter. It is not enough to expose that attitude that late in a game. This team does not hate to lose. Their coach tells them just win ten of your first 17 games, just win nine games in December and just win one of two games when you go to Charlotte and Atlanta.
Maybe Karl knows that nothing good can come from challenging these guys.
I did not try very hard to find a Hawks blog to link to so if you write a Hawks blog and want me to link to you twice a year go ahead and leave a comment or shoot me an email.