The Nuggets lost tonight by 31 points to the Indiana Pacers 144-113. Yes, Denver gave up 144 points to the Pacers, including 54 points in the third quarter. I'll turn to Utah Utes' head football coach Kyle Whittingham to explain this one after the jump.
This past weekend two powerhouse college football teams met when No. 4 Texas Christian University played No. 6 Utah Utes. The final score was 47-7 in favor of TCU and Whittingham had the following to say about the game.
"TCU thoroughly outplayed us today and it was not even close. The score was not indicative of how lopsided this game was. They were better at every phase of the game and credit goes to their team," said Whittingham.
Well, if you substitute Indiana for TCU in the above quote, you get the perfect recap for tonight's Nuggets vs. Pacers contest ... or blowout rather.
The Nuggets gave up scoring quarters of 27 points, 32, 54, and 31 points tonight. The goal is typically 25 points or less or even better 20 points or less. Denver's defense was nonexistent and the Pacers were able to get whatever shots they wanted. At the half Denver trailed by 10 points and heading into the third quarter, the first few minutes would decide the game. Indiana started quick going 8-8 from the floor and extended their lead to 15 points (76-61). I kept waiting to mark down when the Pacers missed their first shot, but it didn't come until the Pacers final shot of the quarter (which was a three-pointer by power forward Josh McRoberts). Indy ended the quarter with 54 points, shooting 20-21 (20-20 until the first brick) and a 113-76 lead (37 points).
Renaldo Balkman walked onto the floor for the fourth quarter, which was George Karl's way of waving the white flag and asking for mercy. Denver received thier first butt-whooping of the season, but I don't think it'll be the last one the Pacers hand out this season. Indiana looked great and if that team is starting to gel they will make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers have a top big man in Roy Hibbert, a quick young scoring point guard in Darren Collison, a sweet shooting guard in Mike Dunleavy, athletic scoring wings with Danny Granger and Brandon Rush, and some bruising and hustling power forwards in Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts. The Pacers might come together quicker rather than later with that squad.
Some nuggets to chew on:
- The Indiana announcers said the 54 point quarter was the most in Pacers history and the 5th most in NBA history (Edit: ESPN noted it was the 4th highest scoring quarter in NBA history). The most points in a third quarter is 57 by the Golden State Warriors vs. the Sacramento Kings back on March 3, 1989. The most points scored in any NBA quarter is 58 by the Buffalo Braves at the Boston Celtics back on October 20, 1972. So, the Pacers were flirting with some major NBA records tonight. Info found on NBA.com.
- Indiana shot 64.4% on the night from the field, including 16-30 from three-point land. Mike Dunleavy and Darren Collison combined to go 10-15 from long range.
- The good news about the blowout ... Ty Lawson got to work on his shot late in the game and finished with 19 points on 8-14 shooting. I'm getting pretty sick of seeing Lawson take the ball all the way to the hoop and kick it out to the three-point line to a teammate for a lower percentage shot. While the game was still a game, in the first half, Lawson wasn't really playing any differently than he did in Chicago. I'm hoping the chance to play free of expectations in the final period will get Lawson's confidence rising again.
Gary Forbes needs more minutes. Forbes finished the night with 16 points on 5-9 shooting (3-4 from deep) and was one of the lone bright spots of the first half. He continues to hit shots and shows he can be part of the regular rotation. I'll continue to be critical of the "Chauncey Billups at shooting guard" experiment because Forbes, Arron Afflalo, and J.R. Smith all need their minutes and Billups needs to sit on the bench when he's not playing point guard. Billups is overmatched against shooting guards and his legs don't need extra minutes. Billups played 24 minutes tonight without playing in the final quarter ... too much!
Melvin Ely might pull off a mask and reveal he's Malik Allen during the Lakers game Thursday night ... oh wait, Tacos Allen actually had some offensive game. There really isn't a better big man on the scrap heap out there?
- The Nuggets were out-rebounded tonight 45-32 ... Indy had a 28-17 advantage on the boards in the first half. Altitude TV's Chris Marlowe keeps reminding us that Carmelo Anthony wants to average 10 rebounds a game ... well maybe Marlowe should remind Melo that 7.7 is not greater than 10. The Nuggets need to get back to team rebounding and I don't think the dip in Shelden Williams' minutes is helping much.
- One thing I've been noticing ... the Nuggets are not getting to the rim as easily as their opponent. It feels like the opposition is able to fly right to the hoop for easy layups, while Denver players are coming into the hoop in more of a horizontal jumping fashion than a vertical one and they are too far away from the hoop to get quality looks and it's resulting in a lot of blocked shots, bricks, and turnovers. It would seem an extra dribble or an extra pass is needed. It's also noticable that Denver's two premier above the rim players are wearing street clothes (get well soon Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin). Williams isn't a quick explosion guy like K-Mart and I'm not even sure that Ely can jump into his bed.
- The Nuggets opponent's this season have a combined record of 27-25 (or if you don't want to count Dallas' 4-2 record twice ... it'd be 23-23). The schedule has been pretty tough thus far, but a 4-4 record isn't exactly a team heading in the right direction. I remember the Denver Broncos starting 6-0 with an unhappy Brandon Marshall, but winning kept him happy. Melo stated recently he was happy because Denver was 4-2 at the time, he said things might be different if the team was 0-6 ... obviously Melo isn't Marshall, but winning cures a lot ... I don't want to see what losing will do. The Nuggets need to get back into the win column.
- The Nuggets are now 0-3 when I'm covering games here for Denver Stiffs ... blah!
- The Utah Jazz picked up a thrilling overtime win over the Miami Heat tonight after being down big in the first half ... always fun to note when Miami loses right? Right?!