Coming home after an 0-2 roadtrip, the Nuggets got to face an easy opponent. A Sixers team that had previously won just 3 of 15 road games this season erased a 82-70 deficit at the 8:11 mark of the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 25-7 run to win it 95-89. The Nuggets blow another big lead and look like a less than average team at the moment.
The Nuggets are now 16-13 on the season. The good news is that, as reader adamlouis points out in this FanPost, the Nuggets have a pretty favorable schedule over the next eight games, but losing to teams like the now 12-18 Sixers isn't very promising. And add to that that Denver suffered yet another injury tonight with Al Harrington dislocating his right thumb (when he had a ball poked away from him on a fastbreak attempt) and things are not looking good for the Nuggs.
The team is hoping to get Carmelo Anthony back for Tuesday's contest against the Blazers, but as most pundits think ... Melo is basically playing on borrowed time in Denver. So, what does the future hold for this team? Well, if the last three games are any indication the future is not bright.
The Nuggets tried to get by tonight on cruise control, but a young Sixers squad refused to go away and eventually were allowed to gain control over the game. After holding Philadelphia to just 13 first quarter points, the Nuggets gave up 30, 23, and 29 points over the next three quarters. I marked down after a timeout that Denver held a 82-72 lead with 7:17 remaining. They actually held a 82-70 lead just moments before the Sixers scored 72 and went on their 25 point run to close out the game. How as a team do you give up 25 points in just over half a quarter to a team that averages just 95.7 points per game?
Philly used an attacking style and took the game right to the teeth of the Nuggets defense. The problem for Denver was that George Karl went to the classic pick-up game lineup where you have four guards and one tall guy. You ask that tall guy (Chris Andersen or Nene) to do all the dirty work by getting rebounds and protecting the rim and in the NBA, you just can't get away with that. Doug Collins got his team attacking and the small Denver lineup was supposed to be able to answer the quicker pace and run Philly out of the gym, but instead they did what they normally do this year ... stood around and hoped to hang on for a win. Didn't happen. Hats off to the Sixers players for not giving up and taking this game away from Denver.
In the preview I pointed to Jodie Meeks' poor recent play and said he's probably have a great game tonight. Meeks was just 3-12 from the field, but managed to get to the foul line at will and was 9-10 from the charity stripe. Meeks finsihed with 17 points, he averages 9.4 ppg, and he hit the nail-in-the-coffin three-pointer with :47 seconds left to give Philly a 92-86 lead ... and he was WIDE open for that attempt as Denver chose to double-team on the baseline.
But Meeks wasn't even the biggest thorn in Denver's side. Those roles would go to Jrue Holiday who scored 22 points (averages 13.4 ppg) and Thaddeus Young who scored 20 points (averages 11.1 ppg). The Nuggets continue to make average players look like stars in the making. At least in Holiday's and Young's cases they actually have tremendous upside.
Denver had plenty of chances to put tonight's game away. After the first quarter Denver was up 25-13, but they couldn't maintain. Denver came out to start the third quarter and looked focused with a 7-2 run to start things off, but they quickly gave up a 8-0 run and saw their 53-45 lead evaporate. To end the third period the Nuggets went on a 10-2 run and had a 71-66 lead, the second unit of Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Gary Forbes and Chris Andersen stayed in the game to start the fourth quarter and they extended Denver's lead. At the 9:44 mark of the fourth, Karl put Billups back into the game with Denver up 76-68 ... things looked safe and it seemed like Denver was going to get a much needed win. Just minutes later everthing changed.
It's frustrating watching Denver blow leads this season. On this three game skid Denver has blown sizable leads against the Spurs, Thunder and now the Sixers. Teams go on losing streaks and have to re-group at various times during the season. The Nuggets haven't had a four game losing streak since 2007 ... the team is on the brink now of facing a four game skid. Can the Nuggets turn things around and preserve their remarkable no four game losing streak stat? We'll find out soon.
- In the last three games Denver has been outscored 84-53 in the fourth quarters.
- The Nuggets had just 12 combined assists tonight. The fewest assists at home this season had been 17 assists in a win versus the L.A. Clippers and the 12 assists tied a season low Denver set in a loss on Nov. 15th in Phoenix.
- The Sixers grabbed 17 offensive rebounds tonight ... that's 30.3% of the total rebounds available on the Nuggets defensive end ... aka not good!
- J.R. was an ice cold 1-9 from downtown tonight ... maybe driving instead of shooting should have been in order? Just a thought.
- Billups, Afflalo, Forbes and Nene combined to shoot 20-34 or 58.8% on the night and combined for 60 of Denver's 89 points.
- K-Mart, J.R., Lawson, Harrington, Birdman and Shelden Williams combined to shoot 10-41 or 24.3% on the night. Which of those two groups should have taken more shots?
- Williams was 0-5 from the floor including four clangs from the baseline in just 7 minutes tonight ... Karl had seen enough and decided to play small instead of replacing the injured Harrington or trying to rest K-Mart with Shelden. That's how you play yourself onto the bench ...
- Denver was 8-27 from downtown and 21-23 from the foul line. The Nuggets average 31 free throw attempts per game and should have been looking to get there more often tonight by pounding the ball inside instead of living and dying on the perimeter.