2nd Quarter Dooms Nuggets
Nuggets lose 8th game in 11 tries
The only reason this game became interesting (although still disgusting) was the Rockets inability to make free throws. Houston as a team shoots 80.5% from the foul line on the season, but last night they shot just 57.1% or 20-35 from the foul line. Leaving 15 points on the board allowed the Nuggets to again try to rally late after giving the game away early.
Denver came out shooting pretty cold. Nene started the game going 2-8 from the field and missing a variety of layups as Yao Ming standing 7'6'' tall was able to affect Nene's drives to the rim. The Rockets followed suit and we had the makings of a very sloppy game.
Denver was able to shake off some rust after Yao went to the bench by taking the ball to the rim and not having the giant in the paint. Kenyon Martin, who I thought was not going to play, threw down a tremendous two handed signature dunk to give Denver a 20-13 lead.
It's safe to say that I now worry about KMart every time he lands. I watch him run back down the floor and look to see any limp or grimace ... that is not a fun way to watch your team.
The Nuggets looked like they could easily run away with this one as JR Smith buried a 30-foot 3-pointer to end the quarter and give Denver a 27-18 lead. And then I waited for the other shoe to drop.
During the TV timeout my roommate, The Banana Slug and I joked about how quickly Denver would cough up the lead. In just under five minutes of play in the 2nd Quarter the Rockets came all the way back from a 28-18 deficit to tie the game at 30 at the 7:18 mark when Brent Barry buried a 3-ball.
The Banana Slug asked me, "How frustrating would it be to play for the Nuggets knowing that you are going to blow every lead you get?"
All I could do was shake my head in agreement while raising my eyebrows in frustration.
The Rockets made SIX three-pointers in the first half on 13 attempts, 46% ... teams are feasting on the Nuggets poor perimeter defense recently. It's not too hard to make open threes and they obviously add up a lot quicker. DEFEND THE PERIMETER!
The Nuggets found themselves down 45-40 at the half after getting outscored 27-13 in the period. For anyone watching Denver recently, you had to know right there that this game was pretty much over.
As the second half got under way the Rockets went on a 7-2 run and pushed their lead to 52-40 ... I changed the channel. We watched some of Batman Begins and at commercial I turned back to see Denver down 68-51 and I threw up a little in my mouth.
I fielded a couple texts expressing frustration and returned them with equal frustration. I wasn't sure that I could watch another complete meltdown. The problem wasn't solely Denver just chucking up jumpers ... it was Denver MISSING LAYUPS! Watching shots from point blank range roll off the rim was maddening.
After a few minutes of Batman Returns I received a text imploring me to turn the game back on. I followed suit and Denver had made a small rally and was down just 7 points at 76-69.
I watched the rest of the game, but I never got the feeling Denver had a chance. More missed opportunities followed and Denver just could not get over that 5-point hump. There always seems to be a 5-point hump in games. Either you finally cut into it with enough time left to win the game, or you never quite cut into it and you lose in frustrating fashion. This game was of the latter.
I don't even want to get into how frustrating the officials made the game, because Denver never should have been in a position to allow the refs to affect the outcome. I do not think the refs affected the outcome, but the Nuggets' players and fans were doing a lot of complaining at the end of the game.
Had Denver taken care of business early they wouldn't have needed a miracle, that never came, late.
After holding the Rockets to 18 first quarter points Denver gave up: 27, 29, and 23 points in each following quarter. Had the Nuggets not completely melted down in the second period they would have won the game. Until this team puts together a complete game then we can expect the losses to keep on coming.
Final score: Houston 97 - Denver 95, but it was never that close.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets again drove down their team assists on the season (21.67) by only notching 17 against the Rockets
- Nene finished the game 4-15 or 26.6% on the night ... Yao was able to impose his size on the Brazilian
- Nene finished the night -11 ... the lowest +/- on the team
- Denver shot 23-26 or 88.5% from the foul line ... well above their season average of 75.6%
- Billups was once again torched by a quicker point guard: Aaron Brooks turned in 19 points on the night
- The Rockets turned 13 Nuggets turnovers into 23 points
INJURY UPDATES / LINKS:
- Kenyon Martin played 24 minutes last night before leaving the game with 4:18 left to play in the 3rd Quarter due to his back acting up again. Here is what George Karl had to say about Kenyon and back injuries:
"It seems like when he plays and comes out and tries to go back in, it's harder to get it loose," Karl said. "The back is ... I was a bad back guy. It's not fun. You can be in spasms and the doctors can't tell you why. Then the next day you wake up and the chiropractor cracks you and you're fine. The back is not a good injury."
- Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla put in his two cents on the Nuggets' losing ways here. Some good quotes from Melo from the piece about the Nuggets' current situation and the losing:
"It's frustrating. We done came so far and worked so hard to get where we were at, and it's like we're going backwards now," Anthony said Monday night. The Nuggets' eighth loss in 11 games has the team mired in seventh place of the Western Conference.
"It is the NBA; it is a very mean business," said Denver coach George Karl, who detects a slippage in the team's confidence level.
"I don't know if confidence is the word," Anthony said.
"We're out there, we're playing. But whether it's me or it's Chauncey (Billups) or it's Nene, whoever it may be, and something happens, it's like the weight of the world is on us."
The Nuggets are pressing so hard as individuals they have forgotten how to play as a team.
"It's the losing," Anthony said. "Anytime you're losing games, it's like, 'I got to do this right, I've got to make this shot, I've got to make this play.' And if you don't do it, then it's like . . ."
A curse word then snapped off Melo's tongue, putting an exclamation point on his frustration.
"Excuse my language," he said.
- Denver Post Nuggets beat writer Benjamin Hochman has a solid recap here. Hochman tries to console Nuggets faithful with this quote:
Here's the good news: The Nuggets' schedule is pretty favorable for the next week or so, with games against the Thunder, Clippers and Nets.
My issue with this "good news" while Denver is 4-1 against those teams they have used two buzzer beater wins over the Thunder and lost to the Nets by 1,000 points or so it seemed.
Opposition: The Dream Shake
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