Taking the old name of SB Nation’s Orlando Magic blog fits perfectly with tonight’s Nuggets vs. Kings game … Third Quarter Collapse. The Nuggets couldn’t hang on to a 54-43 halftime lead and ultimately lost again in Sacramento where the Kings completed a home sweep of the Nuggets this season.
The Nuggets came out and played well out of the gate. Denver was playing defense, sharing the ball and getting to the rim. Text book Nuggets winning basketball. The second half was a different story … especially out of the gate in the third quarter.
Denver let the Kings go on an 8-0 run to start the third and a 13-2 run before the two teams began trading baskets again. The Kings tied the game with 7:21 left on the clock and got their first lead of the game at the 4:55 mark, 61-60.
Watching Denver turn the ball over a couple times and take nothing but jump shots to start the second half was frustrating. Breaking up some glass and chewing on it sounded better than watching the meltdown at hand. Teams thrive on momentum and the Kings being a young team do not quit. When the Nuggets showed them a window of opportunity to get a win … they took advantage and made a game of it. Sacramento fans should be very excited about the team their front office is putting together. Tyreke Evans is a great offensive player and burned the Nuggets for 27 points, including the game-winning basket while being defended by Kenyon Martin.
Spencer Hawes and Omri Casspi also put on some nice offensive performances. For Denver … Chauncey Billups had a nice game and kept Denver alive along with Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith. Arron Afflalo had yet another tough defensive draw (Evans) and was in foul trouble most of the night, Spellcheck’s fifth foul came with 5:57 left in the third quarter and he was visibly frustrated at times with some of his fouling.
As well as the Nuggets played against the Cavs and as much momentum as they gained … it was all sort of taken away, at least for the fans, tonight. The Nuggets dropped their 8th game to a sub .500 team and still can’t find ways to win consistently on the road.
Defense was one of my keys to tonight’s game and the Nuggets just didn’t play enough of it, but the Kings also shot the ball extremely well and hit shots from about every angle and spot on the floor. I was pretty surprised with Hawes’ offensive moves and shooting touch. Denver once again had some lapses defending the pick-and-roll and allowed the Kings some easy shots at the rim with some blown rotations.
The Nuggets came out with great energy and had their legs going early, but in the second half the Nuggets came out and looked very tired as the Kings started to get a second wind and really just took the flow of the game over.
As things drew tight down the stretch it seemed like one of those close games that Denver would pull out. Denver was up 87-80, but they were outscored 22-13 from that point on. When Billups hit a wild three to tie things up 100-100 it seemed like Denver was going to find a way to win. A great last drive by Evans with 11 seconds left and his turnaround jumper won the game and it was a great shot by the rookie.
Nuggets fans are left scratching their heads and Denver is now 8-11 on the road.
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: