Denver embarrassed in 38-point rout
Northwest Division race heating up
I'm not totally sure what to think of this game. The Nuggets tied their season high by losing their third straight game. It was a tall task for the Nuggets to snap their two game losing streak against Boston, but to not even compete was troublesome.
I have to admit that I turned this stinker off when Billups hit his first field goal with 1:34 remaining in the 3rd Quarter and the score being 79-55 Boston. Billups finished the night 1-8 shooting with 3 points, 5 assists, 4 turnovers, and a team high -38 for the night. I guess you can say ... The Honeymoon is Over!
Billups to me looked completely disinterested out on the court and that was pretty much the first time I can say that about him. His assists have been on a pretty steady decline. Billups hasn't topped his season average of 6.1 assists since he recorded 8 assists against the Kings back on January 20th. That sort of shows me that the Nuggets have been lacking ball movement and unselfish play. I don't want to see the one-on-one Nuggets from the Iverson days (ha!) return. The 3 points Billups scored last night were his lowest of the season. Where have you gone Chauncey Billups?
The knock on Billups recently has been that he wears down as the season progresses. Are we seeing that now? Billups averaged just over 30 minutes a game on the roadtrip, which is not a ton for a starting point guard. But perhaps he could use some rest after his performance last night in 34 minutes. Not sure how Karl can go about cutting some of his minutes or if the Nuggets can afford to not have him in the game for extended time.
The Nuggets finished the game shooting 34.7% including a miserable 3-21 from distance (14.3%). Why continue shooting three-pointers at that rate? I think we all know Denver is a much more successful team when they attack the rim and set up their shooting that way ... rather than trying to use the three-pointer to open up the floor. Not having Nene out there last night was a pretty big detriment to the team.
The Nuggets were without Nene who is resting his sore knee.
Nuggets coach George Karl expects to be without forward Nene for a week because of a bone bruise on his right knee.
Tests on Monday showed that his knee has no structural damage. He is listed day to day.
"I haven't gotten a prediction, but I definitely think he's out this week," Karl said before the Nuggets' game against the Celtics on Monday night.
If that timetable proves correct, Nene will miss four games and be back when the Nuggets travel to Detroit on March 3.
I did actually enjoy how Johan Petro played in his 21 minutes of action. Petro replaced Nene in the starting lineup for the night and went 4-7 from the field for 9 points, 10 rebounds, and had 2 pretty nice blocks.
Another bright spot from last night's ugly win was the play of JR Smith. He played 39 minutes and committed a team high (along with Billups) 4 turnovers, BUT he did have his jump shot working and he dished out a team high 5 assists (along with Billups). JR was a bit three-point happy (1-8), but I didn't really feel that those attempts came at the expense of better opportunities.
That was a rough game for Denver. Ray Allen commented after the game that the Celtics were seeking revenge for one of their four home losses suffered at the hands of the Nuggets back on November 14th. Again ... a bit of a positive is that Denver split the season series with Boston 1-1 and got a huge win at the Garden (something only three other teams have done.)
The Nuggets faced a barrage of hot shooters last night. Pierce and Allen combined to go 10-18 from three-point land and Boston as a team finished 14-23 (60.9%) from distance. The Celtics improved to 5-0 this season without Kevin Garnett and didn't miss a beat without him on the floor.
I do wish Denver would have hung on to Leon Powe (16 points off the bench) instead of dealing him to Boston on draft day in 2006. The 6'8'' power forward is a scrappy and athletic bench player the Nuggets could use, especially since Renaldo The Crime Stopper Balkman has pretty much found a permanent home on the Denver bench.
Last night again showed how quick point guards, this time Rajon Rondo, can cause the team fits. Rondo standing about 6'1'' grabbed 8 rebounds, dished out 8 assists and finished with 14 points. These quick guards who constantly attack the rim have been a sore spot for the Nuggets all season. I believe that teams will continue to run the fastbreak against the Nuggets because Denver shows a real lack for transition defense lately and they have been doing a terrible job at stopping the ball and protecting the paint. I still think that if Oklahoma City would have allowed Russell Westbrook to keep attacking the rim that the Nuggets would have lost to the Thunder in OKC back on February 4th.
Denver (37-20) is now tied with the Portland Trail Blazers (35-20) in the loss column and the Nuggets hold a 3 game lead on the Jazz (34-23). With two tough home games this week against the Atlanta Hawks (32-24) and the L.A. Lakers (46-10) ... things will not be getting any easier for the Nuggets.
Views you may not want to use:
- The Celtics recorded 28 assists to Denver's 16
- The 38 point home loss tied for Denver's worst since entering the NBA in 1976
- Melo scored 18 points in the loss ... the rest of Denver's starters scored 20 points combined with Johan Petro (starting for Nene) being the second leading starting scorer with 9 points
I asked myself last night if perhaps the Celtics would be better off if they still had Al Jefferson instead of KG ... youth over age. I found the answer to be an easy NO. KG really transformed this team into one that BATTLES. There were a few times where the Celtics, who were up 25+ points, were upset with officials and let them know about it. They kept working on offense and on defense and I'm not sure the Celtics do that without the KG mentality.
I recall Altitude TV announcer and World Renowned Homer Scott Hastings talking about how KG changed Paul Pierce during a drill. Garnett got on PP for walking off the court instead of sprinting back to the line where the team was. Imagine a veteran yelling at a Franchise player like that as a rookie or young guy. You bet your ass you learn from that type of behavior.