The Nuggets lost a head scratcher tonight to the Thunder and it was Denver's first loss to Oklahoma City since their relocation from Seattle. I can sympathize with head coach George Karl in the accompanying photo after the 101-84 loss.
Just one night removed from finding out he'd be coaching the Western Conference All-Star team, with his Nuggets riding high on an eight game win streak, coach Karl suffered through one of the more perplexing losses of the season.
I could throw a bunch of stats around with this recap, but I don't want to. Just watching the game one can understand exactly what happened. The Nuggets, for really the first time since he's missed a game, needed Carmelo Anthony tonight and looked like a team searching for their star player.
In Melo's absences this year the Nuggets have played pretty good team basketball. There has been ball movement and we have seen different individuals step up and produce big numbers with #15 on the bench. Tonight, Denver struggled to score and struggled to find quality shots on offense. Instead of working the ball around the floor and getting to the rim Denver settled for shots on the perimeter and didn't find much luck throughout the night with their shooting touch. When the Nuggets did work the ball inside the results were not pretty as time and again the Nuggets were stripped of the ball, not ready to receive an inside pass or just flat out blew the easy bucket.
I don't think anyone expected Denver to continue winning every single game, but I also don't think anyone saw a stink bomb game coming like we witnessed tonight. During Denver's season long win streak we saw a team fueled by defense, effort and heart. Tonight all three things were missing for basically the entire game and especially in the make-or-break third quarter.
The Nuggets kept the game close in the first half and I thought that perhaps coming out of the locker room at the midway point that we'd see the effort put forth in Houston just two nights ago. But there was also something lingering in the air that just didn't quite feel right about the team, you could just feel the lack of effort and Denver was plastered in the third quarter 28-15. Perhaps another element that didn't feel right was the Thunder keeping the pedal to the floor and not breaking from their game plan.
The Rockets found success against Denver by getting their big men open deep under the hoop and the Thunder followed suit. The Rockets went away from their game plan and started or were forced into more of a perimeter game, but the Thunder kept getting buckets all over the floor at will.
When the Nuggets don't take advantage of what wins them games (aggressive defense and very aggressive offense that results in easy baskets and free throw attempts) they struggle to win and tonight Denver just didn't seem interested in doing what they needed to do in order to secure a win.
Shots poured in from the Nuggets in one of two ways ... long jumpers or ugly attempts at the rim. Melo provides his midrange game and his patented drives to the hoop that give him the ability to get to the foul line to slow down the opponent and those elements were sorely missed tonight as the Nuggets finally looked like a team that was in need of its star.
You can't win 'em all, but all we ask for is effort and the Nuggets didn't provide much of it and lost to the Thunder for the first time. Little brother is all grows up.
Views you can use:
- One game after going without his usual headband, Ty Lawson was back rocking the powder blue sweatband tonight.
- The Nuggets were not credited with an offensive rebound until roughly the 2:05 mark of the 3rd Quarter ... there is the lacking in effort sign for you.
- When the 4th Quarter started I saw Malik "Tacos" Allen on the floor and immeditely looked at the scoreboard and realized that Denver needed 40 points to get the fans a taco deal in Denver ... 40 points from Allen in 12 minutes is probably asking too much.
Opposition's Take: Welcome to Loud City
Photo Courtesy of AP Photos: Sue Ogrocki