Nuggets unable to follow Billups' march through Mo(mentum)town
Chauncey Billups received a tremendous ovation from the crowd and a very nice introduction from the Pistons' public address announcer John Mason.
Billups followed suit by scoring 13 points in the opening period and took charge of the game. I asked myself the following questions:
- Can Billups keep this blistering pace up?
- Will the rest of the Nuggets follow his lead?
The Answer to the first question? Yes, Billups played 40 minutes and poured in a season-high 34 points and added 4 assists. Billups finished the first half with 21 points and 4 assists.
The answer to the second question is a two parter:
- Billups, Nene, and JR Swish combined to score 70 points on 26-48 shooting, which was good for 54% from the field. A great performance from those three guys.
- The rest of the Nuggets added just 25 points on 11-35 shooting, good for only 31%.
But now to the Nuggets real problems last night ...
I've been considering asking the folks over at Third Quarter Collapse if we can borrow said name for the Nuggets. Or maybe Second Half Collapse since that name hasn't been taken as of yet on SB Nation.
Just as the Nuggets did on January 9th when the Piston were in Denver, the Nuggets gave this f****** game to the Pistons. Denver, just as they were on Jan. 9, was up by 10 points at the half and pushed the lead to 11 at the 8:26 mark after Billups buried a three. That's when things got U.G.L.Y.
From there the Nuggets went to the CHARITY ... CHARITY stripe 8 times in the period. They only converted 3 of those 8 attempts. On the night Denver went 14-22 (63.6%) from the foul line. You are not going to win games when you leave 8 points the other team gives you off the board. It was almost contagious how poor the foul shooting was.
The other aspect Denver had major issues with last night was securing the ball on the defensive glass. The Nuggets couldn't replace Melo's 5.6 defensive rebounds last night (Melo averages 7.4 total rebounds per game including offensive rebounds.)
The Pistons were able to grab 13 of the 33 rebounds on the Nuggets' defensive end. So practically half the time Detroit missed a shot they were likely to get another crack at it and run the clock down. It was very frustrating to watch the second half unfold. I wanted to either throw the remote through the TV or just throw up on myself.
The Pistons starters were very efficient last night as they combined to score 93 points on 33-63 shooting, good for 52.3%. Their bench faltered going 1-9 and scoring 7 points (5-6 free throws from Will Bynum ... who? exactly), but got them just enough for the win.
The Nuggets now are 2-5 in their last seven games. The Nuggets sit currently as the #4 seed in the West as they've fallen behind the Houston Rockets and own a 39-22 record.
Four teams in the Western Conference; the Rockets, Nuggets, Hornets, and Blazers have 22 losses. The #8 seed Dallas Mavericks are only 2 1/2 games behind the Nuggets. Teams are heating up all around the league and the Nuggets are not one of them. Instead of clicking and coming together at just the right time the Nuggets find themselves at a crossroads.
Our star player is at odds again with our coach and was suspended for insubordination. Our enigmatic scoring duo off the bench of JR Smith and Linas Kleiza is a one man band right now with LK looking more like a NBADL player most nights.
There are problems aplenty and not a lot of time to fix them. Denver has 21 games remaining and the Blazers and Jazz come to town for a back-to-back series starting Thursday.
I'm not much of a "Negative Nancy" or a "Debbie Downer" type person. I typically look for the positives within this team and within games ... even losses. I always find it better for my sanity to look forward and not dwell on losses. So I'll get nice and Cheez Whiz cheesy with you all right now.
Here is a great (or cheesy) quote from a favorite movie of mine ... Any Given Sunday ... I've tailored it a bit to fit the Nuggets:
I don’t know what to say, really.
Twenty one games to the biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today, and either, we heal as a team, or we're gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play. Until we're finished. We're in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell... one inch at a time.
Now I can't do it for ya, I'm no good at basketball. I look around, I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I've made every wrong choice a young man can make. I, uh, I've pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who's ever loved me. And lately, I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.
You know, when you get old, in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that's... that's... that's a part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losin' stuff. You find out life's this game of inches, so is basketball. Because in either game - life or bball - the margin for error is so small.
I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that's gonna make the fu**ing difference between winning and losing!
Between living and dying! I'll tell you this, in any fight it's the guy whose willing to die whose gonna win that inch. And I know, if I'm gonna have any life anymore it's because I'm still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that's what living is, the six inches in front of your face.
Now I can't make you do it. You've got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think ya going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. Your gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it your gonna do the same for him. That's a team, gentlemen, and either, we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That's basketball, that's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?
Views you can use:
- Renaldo Balkman recorded 5 offensive rebounds and a +5 on the night in 23 minutes, good things happen when he's in the game
- Balkman, Anderson, and Nene combined for 21 rebounds
- Billups scored 64 points this season in two games against his old mates (30, 34)
- Denver is now 0-13 in Detroit since the 1995-96 season
- Denver finished the season 3-7 versus the Eastern Central Division