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The Curse of Auburn Hills... (Nuggets/Pistons recap)

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Birdy_mediumThe best thing that could probably happen for the Nuggets in Detroit would be an empty The Palace at Auburn Hills somehow catching fire and burning to the ground. The losing streak continues as Denver falls to Detroit on some very curse like plays.

I want to take a look at this game from each half … so I’m writing this at halftime. The score is 52-50 Pistons. The Nuggets are allowing Detroit to dictate the feel of this game. When Detroit wants to play slow … Denver is playing in a half court set. When Detroit is getting out and running … the Nuggets offense begins to pick up and play quicker, but they are playing sloppy and turning the ball over. I’m not a fan of letting the other team set the pace, especially when the Nuggets are supposed to be the superior squad. Denver should be imposing their will on Detroit, but things are not going that way right now. If I didn’t know any better I would guess that Denver was the team that played last night, not Detroit and that’s a bad sign on the road.

 

Charlie Villanueva has 19 points at the half and Rodney Stuckey has 16. Villanueva may as well cut his left arm off because he’s not going to use it … somebody ought to let the Nuggets defenders know this. The positives for Denver’s offense, Melo has 20 points on 8-13 shooting and J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen have 8 and 7 points respectively off the bench.

 

Billups looked for his shot a little too much in the first half going 1-6 from the floor and notching just 1 assist. The Nuggets tend to let Billups dictate the offense, so if he’s looking for his shot and not looking to set up his teammates the Nuggets take that to sometimes mean that they should shoot the ball every time they touch it.

 

Detroit is winning the rebounding battle right now 21-19. The Nuggets are doing a decent job on the defensive boards, but there are some guys looking to leak out on the break instead of making sure that the ball has been secured. And speaking off ball security, Denver has 8 turnovers in the first half and that has got to change.

Let's see how the second half plays out ...

Probably two of the most frustrating latter quarters of basketball I've ever witnessed.

A sampling of the frustrating plays:

  • Tied at 73-73 J.R. Smith has a fastbreak dunk and his double-clutch effort falls shot and he misses the dunk badly.
  • With just a couple ticks left on the shot clock Charlie Villanueva gets a cross court pass and throws up a prayer three-pointer and sinks it.
  • With the Nuggets down one late Nene secures a rebound and trys to just hand the ball to Billups, Ben Wallace steps in and steals the ball. Detroit hits a layup going up three.
  • Melo heads to the foul line with Detroit up 101-98 ... Melo goes 1-2 from the foul line.
  • With 28.5 seconds on the clock the ball is knocked out of bounds and after a video review Detroit is rewarded the ball.
  • With just 6.1 seconds on the clock ... Billups gets the ball and hesitates to take the three, takes the ball inside and misses the tying basket badly.
  • Nuggets lose their 13th in a row in Detroit 101-99.

This is the kind of loss that just stings. The Nuggets might be one of the best teams at wasting special offensive efforts ... Melo scores 40 points and Denver can't find a way to win.

A 2-2 roadtrip may be called good by some, but Denver should have won this game and if anyone would like to head to Detroit with me, rent a wrecking ball, make sure The Palace is empty and then tear that place down ... email me.

 

Views you can use:

  • The Nuggets are now 0-13 in Detroit since the 1995-96 season (remember we didn't play in Detroit during the strike shortened 1998-99 season or it could be 0-14).
  • Billups, 2 and Lawson, 4 combine for just 6 assists and as a team Denver tallies just 14 assists ... that is not going to cut it on the road.
  • Rodney Stuckey goes for 25 and Charlie Villanueva goes for 27 for Detroit.
  • Nene once again fails to score in double figures with only 8 points on the night.

 

The day after:

After thinking about some things this morning I wanted to add a few thoughts ...

  • Melo's defensive effort throughout the game is back to his old effort levels aka not good. Just noticing a few things like Melo leaking off his man after a shot. The play I'm thinking of in particular is where Melo threw the alley-oop to Joey Graham ... nice play, but if you watch the other end Melo was covering Jerebko and when the shot went up Jerebko went to the rim and Melo went to the half court line. Jerebko barely missed pulling down the board. If we are wondering where all the offensive rebounds are coming from ... this could be one spot to look at.
  • To harp on Melo's defensive effort a little more ... I recall another play where Melo thought he was fouled and instead of hustling back on defense he commented to the refs and then jogged back and pointed to Arron Afflalo to go ahead and cover 6'10'' Jerebko (who was streaking to the bucket) as Melo took the undersized guard who was just crossing midcourt. Jerebko got the ball and scored an easy layup on Afflalo who was scrambling trying to cover Melo's man.
  • Nene has lost a little bit of his aggressiveness going to the rim. And the biggest thing Nene is missing out on are shots themselves. Through Denver's first 20 games Nene failed to score in double figures just twice. In the last three games Nene has not posted double figures and Denver is 1-2. And in those three games Nene is averaging just 5 shots a game. Not having your big man involved in the offense is detrimental for Denver.
  • The Denver backup bigs are not getting the job done. Nene, K-Mart and Bird are all fine. Bird is battling injuries and big men like Bird are never good when they are asked to cover guards out on the perimeter (more on this next bullet). But Joey Graham, Renaldo Balkman, Malik Allen and Johan Petro are not the answer for Denver. Graham has a little offense, but his defense is either over-exaggerated or was never very good to begin with. Balkman doesn't have the size, Allen doesn't have the legs or tenacity to be a rebounder (3 reb. career average) and Petro doesn't have the basketball IQ to get the job done right now. This team was unable to find an adequate big man in the offseason to come in and it's really showing when one of the "Big 3" bigs is unable to go. Denver must address this issue because the depth on the frontline will not get the job done and insurance is always a good idea.
  • Denver's constant switching on pick-and-rolls has got to stop. The book is out on the Nuggets ... pick-and-roll them to death and you will have offensive success because of the mismatches it'll create. Jeremy of Roundball Mining Company has harped on this point for as long as I can remember and he's correct ... Denver must quit all the switching on defense.
  • I love J.R. Smith's unselfishness. Unselfish and J.R. Smith? No, it isn't an oxymoron. When Smith gets the ball you can see him working out in his head what to do with it and you can see that one of his primary thoughts when he gets the ball with a defender on him is ... "I'm not open ... who is open." The more Smith I see the more I like.
  • The Chauncey Billups and Ty Lawson backcourt is not one of my favorites. I like both players, but give Billups his rest. Afflalo and Smith are each too good to be on the bench at the same time and one of them needs to be in the game at all times.

 

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com
Twitter:
Nate_Timmons

 

Photo courtesy AP Photos: Duane Burleson