Seeing as how it is already 3:00 AM, I am going to go with an abbreviated recap tonight, but I think that will be OK because I am not really sure what I saw.
The Nuggets sent the Nets to their eighth straight loss in a 100-85 game. The thing is I am not sure if the game was closer than the score indicated or not.
New Jersey was absolutely atrocious in the first half. New Jersey did not get into double digits until nine minutes into the game. They then did not score for the next five minutes. Only after Malik Allen hit a three point shot late in the first half did they surpass thirty points.
The Nuggets started off slowly on offense as well, but compared to trickle of points New Jersey was amassing, or failing to amass, the Nuggets looked like they were riding an offensive tsunami.
The Nuggets achieved a double digit lead after their first possession in the first quarter and stretched that advantage to 22 points halfway through the third quarter. At that point I wondered if the Nets might close up shop.
They did not.
Vince Carter scored his first 11 points of the game in the last five minutes of the third quarter and led a comeback that reduced the Nuggets lead to six by the end of the quarter.
It was a game again, but it is rare to see a team comeback from that kind of deficit and continue to keep the game close. The Nuggets reasserted control over the game scoring the first 12 points of the fourth quarter. Once again I wonder if the Nets have had enough and are ready to slink away with their tails between their legs.
They were not.
In a period just over three minutes long the Nets sliced a 16 point Nugget lead down to five. At this point, I do not think any Nugget fan felt very safe. The offense was looking stagnant and no Nugget was hitting his shots.
Somehow, the Nets did not score in the last 3:46.
I believe the Nets are in need of some serious psychiatric help. I believe they are schizophrenic. I have never seen a team look so bad, look so defeated, look ready to quit only to suddenly start playing like a 20 point lead is nothing, start playing with great determination and make a furious run. Then as soon as they make their run to get back in the game the switch is flipped off and they revert back to the team who seems to believe that defeat is inevitable. Then next thing you know, they are back looking like a very good team again and just as you start to think they might pull off a big comeback the life goes out of them and they once again look to be lost and disinterested.
I was impressed with the Nets ability to not give up when they had several opportunities where it would have been difficult to blame them had they done so. This game was so much like the game the night before in Golden State where just when you thought the Nets were going to pull it out, they just fell apart.
Once again the Nuggets did what they had to do to secure a home win. The win may have had as much to do with the visiting team’s first half struggles as anything the Nuggets did, but it is good to see Denver come out ready to play from the opening tip.
Other Observations From Game 42:
- This will sound funny, but I really think the key to the game for the Nuggets was defensive deflections. In the first half it seemed like every other possession the Nuggets were batting a pass away. The deflected pass seems insignificant enough, but teams track them and I would be willing to bet the Nuggets deflected between 25 and 30 passes tonight. When the Nets made their two big second half runs, the Nuggets were not getting their hands on any passes. As soon as they did, they would go on a run of their own to regain control of the game.
- Kleiza was almost invisible in his first stretch on the court, but he definitely made his mark after that. He again did a good job of running the floor and continues to shoot well from downtown. Kleiza recorded his first career double-double and was a key player in staving off the Nets.
- Kenyon Martin is also showing more aggression on the offensive side of the floor with Melo out. He did not take any really bad shots and did a very good job scoring in the paint. He has a really funny shot put/push shot that he is deadly at within eight feet. I would like to see him shoot it frequently even after Melo comes back.
- AI had almost a carbon copy game from the game before where he shot a lot percentage, but killed the other team from the foul line. He only shot 8-21, but he did a very good job of driving to the rim and not settling for jumpers. He had several layups just roll off the rim. It would have been easy for him to jack up shot after shot from the perimeter, but he did not do that. He only had five assists, but he did not hog the ball and that is crucial for the Nuggets offense.
- A big reason why Vince Carter suddenly caught fire in the third quarter was because he was being guarded by Najera. When the Nuggets played man to man defense, they matched up either Kenyon or Najera on Carter. I can see Martin, who did a good job, but Najera has no chance guarding a player like Vince and it almost cost the Nuggets dearly. Diawara played well in the first half and it would have made sense to swap him out for Najera to try to slow Carter down.
- The Nuggets played some of the best zone defense they have all season. They scrambled and helped each other out play after play. The Nets were not shooting well in the first half, but the Nuggets deserve a lot of credit for that fact with their effort on D. Of course, just like against Atlanta, the Nuggets failed to bring the same passion on D and movement on O in the second half.
- Josh Boone is a good player. He fought off Camby, Martin and anyone else who wanted to try to rebound all night. He has a knack for tipping rebounds back towards the basket when he cannot control them. That gives him another chance to gather himself to go back up a second time and it gives the ball another chance to go in the hoop. I think New Jersey will be happy with him for years to come.
- I mentioned on a couple of different occasions that Anthony Carter should be trying to shoot threes on a limited basis and that he seemed to be coming out of a shooting slump. Well, Cater actually took three threes tonight, which is inexcusable (although one was a end of the quarter heave) and he also shot too many long two point shots.
- Karl again gave his detractors more ammo to fire his way as he did not call a timeout in the third quarter to break up a 20-6 Nets run and he did not call a timeout in the middle of the fourth quarter when the Nets cut the lead to five.
Check out Nets Daily for the perspective on tonight’s game from Jersey.