The only thing more predictable than the Nuggets loss last night (and, it was predictable) was the utter hysteria I heard from Nuggets fans (in every forum, twitter, Stiffs, texts, phone calls) that I read, saw or heard. Could you call it a bad loss? Absolutely ... you should never lose to a terrible team at home. Yet, it was one of those scenario's you could see coming from ten miles away.
In a perfect storm, the Nuggets were coming off three straight wins against good (Rockets, Trail Blazers) to GREAT (Spurs) competition. Then they come home to face three awful teams in a row (Kings, Cavs, Hornets) and with a team as young as this one there was bound to be a letdown. Combine that with Nene Hilario and Danilo Gallinari coming back from injury (and being extremely rusty) you have the perfect storm. This was entirely predictable.
The wake-up call was the Cavs game. Those who say the Kings game should have been a wake up call don't understand that it's much easier to learn from a loss than it is a miracle win. So now, going forward what are the things the team needs to do to improve from here?
1. Gallo and Nene shaking off the rust - Both players have looked rusty the last couple games, particularly Gallo (although, watching the replay last night it seemed like for long stretches Gallo was the only Nugget playing any defense) who's offensive game needs time to come back. Any time you incorporate two players who have been out for a month, there's going to be a readjustment period. They will get there, it just takes time.
2. From Clutch to blowout - Now that the Nuggets have understood they are capable of winning games in the clutch (aside from Ty Lawson last night) they need to remember it's far easier to blow teams out. That requires mental commitment through the whole game. This is why this homestand comes at a perfect time...allows them to practice more and focus on their commitment.
3. Defense - As I stated above, there were long stretches of last night's game where it appeared to be Gallo was the only Nuggets playing defense (his perimeter defense on Antwan Jamison was quite good - when he was guarding him) Last night showed that Kenneth Faried still has a long way to go on defense. While his energy isn't in question, his one on one defense was just about awful last night. Need to keep improving in that area. The Nuggets commitment to defense needs to keep improving if they are to make a run in the playoffs.
4. George Karl's end of game coaching - I'm not going to harp on this, but Karl MUST improve his end of game rotations and set some consistency. He can't fly by the seat of his pant's anymore, nor can he just plug Al Harrington in there and play him for 18 straight minutes. While Al was the best offense the Nuggets had last night, he was (again) tired by the end of the game. George is improving, and he's trying to be more consistent, but it needs to get better. Last night's loss was by NO MEANS on Karl, but he needs to keep up his consistency.
Lastly, I liked the angry reaction to last night's loss by Karl and all the players interviewed. That showed that they aren't going to take this lying down. Good for them. Now learn from it. Go out and wipe the floor with the Hornets and come back on Sunday and do the same to the Grizzlies. That will show us you learned.
Nuggets will be fine.
Al Harrington: Nuggets' forward out to prove a point - The Denver Post
In the latest edition of Fan Mail on the Denver Post site, Al Harrington talks about recommitting to this season, and proving his doubters wrong. You don't have to prove me wrong Al, as long as you don't play the last 20 minutes of game time.
Nuggets suffer last-second home loss to Cavaliers - Benjamin Hochman, The Denver Post
For those that enjoy panic and depression, here's another recap of last night's loss!
Danilo Gallinari redefines transition defense in one single play - Ballin' Europe
I love Gallo, but this is a funny bit of video from last night. Way to improvise Rooster!
Carmelo Anthony trade gets a (David) Stern review - The Denver Post
Ummmm ... the title is self explanatory. Oh Denver Post, you yucksters....
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