Well, the Nuggets managed to pull-out this victory over the Sacramento Kings, who - let's face it, gave a more spirited effort than our Nuggies did. Still, Denver managed to pull it out in overtime thanks to some miraculous free throws by Arron Afflalo at the end of regulation, and a clutch three-point shot by Ty Lawson to seal the win in overtime.
Nuggets win 119-116.
There was a moment, with :24 seconds in regulation left tonight, where I threw my cell phone down in disgust ... right as my buddy Nate Timmons (heretofore known as Neezy in this recap) was texting me laughing in futility at the Nuggets execution down the stretch. This, in addition to scratching his head (I'm assuming) about the small ball lineup at the end. We will get to that later.
You see, Neezy and I will frequently text back and forth about the game, and share observations about the ebb and flow of said game. Tonight's texts were filled with angst and disgust. Yet, those last :24 seconds were filled with such swings of emotion that I couldn't really adequately respond to Mr. Neezy's texts. So I watched, dumbfounded as with 0.6 seconds remaining ... Marcus Thornton (who had himself a good chucktastic game of 27 points on 6-9 shooting from three-point distance) committed what may go down in history as the dumbest foul ever. As Afflalo (32 points) heaved a desperation three-point shot, Thornton reached up and hit AAA on the arm and Afflalo accentuated the call by falling to the ground. Three - shot - foul. Oh yeah, the Nuggets were down three at the time.
Needless to say, Afflalo hit all three free throws (which was one of the most tense moments I've ever had in my professional blogging career), even being iced on the last one as the Kings took a timeout. After something like that you think to yourself, yeah ... the Nuggets have GOT it from here. The Kings spirit is broken ... and I think Neezy said something to that affect to me right as overtime began. Oh no, no, no, no, no the Nuggets can't get off that easily, not on this night. They proceeded to play overtime like they wanted no part of it - with the same lineup that struggled down the stretch. Until AAA and Lawson (16 points, 13 assists) took over. With :04 seconds left, and the game tied (116-116) after a Tyreke Evans bucket, Ty calmly took the ball down the court and nailed a three point shot (that was called a three, changed to a two, then called a three again by ... Monty McCutcheon). As Jason Kosmiki would say ... "Winner, winner ... chicken dinner". And that was all she wrote and Francisco Garcia missed his desperation shot in front of the Nuggets' bench.
It was encouraging to see both AAA and Lawson step up big time, again. Neezy, shot me a text as the game concluded congratulating Lawson with many exclamation points. Agreed. Yet, let us also not forget the efforts of one Kenneth Faried (20 points, 12 rebounds) who was all over the place (as usual), and played some nice perimeter defense on Evans on several occasions. Also, Chris Andersen played some nice minutes and actually seems to have some chemistry with Andre Miller on his lobs. Birdman had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks while filling in for Timofey Mozgov, who again tweaked his left ankle.
If I am to gripe, and gripe I must. I'd like to give a small memo to coach George Karl. Come close so you can hear me ... it's very important. For the love of basketball, stop riding Al Harrington and Miller like circus elephants down the stretch. Once again, Harrington played most of the fourth quarter, and Andre played from late in the third quarter on. I am begging you Coach, please stop this madness! If you want them there in crunch time, fine, but what purpose does it serve to use them in the fashion you do? Al was basically useless down the stretch (finishing with 14 points and 9 rebounds), again. I'd rather you put in a minute restricted Nene Hilario or Danilo Gallinari for a brief time than just leave Al in there. Also, Andre needed to be spelled midway through the fourth. He was gassed, but I have to tell ya, that charging call he received in overtime (off a made bucket, no less) was so bogus that my head nearly split in two, and fire nearly came out of my eyes. I was speaking in tongues at one point and I distinctly remember calling on the flying spaghetti monster to smite the evil doers. Or I could have just been angry. At any rate ... ladies and gentlemen ... Monty McCutcheon.
Nuggets of Wisdom
Clearly both Nene and Gallo were rusty after having so much time off. Gallo, in particular, seemed to be tentative and unwilling to drive on his recently healed ankle. He will need to regain his aggressiveness as his ankle strengthens. The Nuggets are fortunate to have a series of sub-.500 opponents to play before things get tough again. Time for Gallo to get back into the swing of things.
Nene didn't look bad at all. Obviously he is very minute restricted at this point, playing 16 minutes and putting up 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, and unfortunately 3 turnovers. So, I'm not sure how much we will see of him in these next couple games. Hopefully the minutes increase little by little. When both Gallo and Nene are out you forget what they bring. When Gallo was standing at the three-point line I was half-expecting him to drive relentlessly to the hole like he was before the injury. It may be a while before we see that kind of activity of out the Italian.
Tonight was a close call. Too close. These next games the Nuggets need to buck up and blow out some teams, starting with the Cavaliers Wednesday night. No time like the present to work for your future I say. Neezy, we are going to have to chat over a more relaxing game, eh?
LawsomeDagger (via HardwoodParoxysm09)
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78