Despite a good all-around game from Danilo Gallinari (his 2012-13 debut), the Nuggets found that they couldn't overcome a horrible start and leaky defense. Gallo finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, but it wasn't enough. It was a pathetic performance all around for the team as they couldn't seem to get on track on either end of the floor, outside of the third quarter.
A suspicious lineup of Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer began the fourth quarter and promptly gave up any momentum that the Nuggets had when they came back from 21 down at halftime (trailing by 10 entering the fourth). It was a curious lineup to say the least. It was one of those times where you want to throw your shoe at the TV, screaming "EVEN I KNOW THIS IS A TERRIBLE LINEUP!!"
More than that, however, the Nuggets defense was terrible ... particularly in allowing Glen Davis so much free reign with the small lineups (Faried on Davis in the fourth quarter was terrible beyond belief) and Davis finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Just let that stat line sink in a little bit. Also, J.J. Redick finished with 21 points, as the Nuggets couldn't figure out (in the first half) how to cover for his three-point shots or any of his offensive game. The team was never really competitive after the end of the third quarter where Andre Iguodala and Gallo played the entire period.
Either the Orlando Magic are much better than we thought they would be, or there is something seriously wrong with the chemistry of the Nuggets. No flow ... no rhythm ... the offense looks like a confused mess that even the presence of the Nuggets "glue" (Gallo) couldn't mend. While Ty Lawson finished with 12 points and 7 assists, he never seemed to be part of the offense outside of a brief spurt in the third quarter. It was just ... stagnant. Maybe the Nuggets should have worked equally on offense in the preseason as well as the defense, because what went on wasn't and isn't working.
The biggest positive was Gallo. After a sluggish start he played an all-around good game and stepped it up. Getting to the foul line (hitting 11-14) and hitting a couple long range shots (2-9 from three-point range on the night). He seemed to be the only one who was consistently aggressive throughout the game. It has become extremely clear he's the Nuggets best offensive player, and it showed up in spades tonight. Iguodala continues to perplex with his rather (with all do respect to Wilson Chandler) "meh" performances these first two games. He couldn't hit a layup to save his life, and his vaunted defense has been rather lackluster all around. He finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds, but was just a non-factor.
Nate Timmons pointed out to me via text tonight (yes Nate, Andy and I routinely text or call throughout the games) that the lack of legitimate big man is hurting the Nuggets and adding to that is the struggles of Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. Faried seems to be either lost, or in some sort of weird funk. He looks like he's not sure where he should be, and it's telling that the Nuggets most effective lineup tonight consisted of the starters plus Wilson Chandler at the 4-spot. McGee is just a circus side show at this point. There's a distinct lack of ability on his part to adjust to the game, and it won't get better until he "gets" it. Kosta Koufos is just an average center, that's it. Nothing special at all and maybe, just maybe that's an integral part of the problem.
Jordan Hamilton and Evan Fournier saw very little of the court. Despite my reservations about J-Ham's future ability to play within the flow of an offense, tonight he would have come in handy as well as an extended use of Fours. Both could have provided a spark the Nuggets needed. It wasn't to be, however.
Give the Magic credit, they played their asses off, and didn't even get a hefty contribution from Arron Afflalo. It was a good team win for the Magic and they should be commended for it. On the other hand, this is about the Nuggets and there is no excuse to lose to a rebuilding team as badly as they did.
The season is young, but the fear is real. Hopefully the Nuggets can right the ship ... soon. Or it will threaten to swallow them up with all these road games coming up (still 15 road games in the next 21 contests).