As they say: All good things come to an end.
The Nuggets awesome seven-game win streak, which included a 2-0 start to a season long six game roadtrip, has come to an end at the hands of the now 6-12 Cleveland Cavaliers. By just looking at the box score and realizing that Randy Foye's 16 points led the team, you may have known something was wrong with the Nuggets. On the flip-side, Anderson Varejao (18 points, 13 rebounds), Tristan Thompson (17 points, 21 rebounds with 9 offensive), and Andrew Bynum (14 points, 7 rebounds) combined for 49 points and 41 rebounds. Ouch!
This was a classic back-to-back game, but it wasn't the reason the Nuggets lost. Tired legs? Sounds like it and the numbers back that up. Denver shot 46.7% in the first half and just 31.9% in the second half. The Nuggets shot 5-10 from three point land in the first half (50%) and just 1-13 in the second (7%) to finish 6-23 from deep or 26.1%. Denver was out-rebounded 30-22 in the first half and 28-21 in the second half. The killer, the offensive boards: the Cavs got to 42.8% of the offensive boards in the first half of the game with 12 of the possible 28 rebounds available on the Nuggets' defensive end. A stingier defense and some shots falling could have produced a better outcome, even with the team playing poorly.
Another department where you could see Denver's tired legs? The free throw line. Denver was 5-6 from the foul line in the first half and just 5-7 from the foul line in the second half. For a team that averages 25.6 free throw attempts per game to take just 13 foul shots is a bad sign. Did the referees play a hand in that? Not as much as some fans may think. You have to be aggressive and have to attack the rim to get calls. Cleveland was the more aggressive team, all night.
The roughest night among the Nuggets players? Ty Lawson. The speedy point guard was just 1-4 shooting in the first half and he went 0-9 in the second half. Lawson wasn't his usual aggressive self and was passing up shots and doing a little too much dribbling to start the game. He was unable to get into a rhythm and was being torched by Kyrie Irving on the other end. Irving, who was in a shooting slump coming into the game, burst onto the scene to start the game 7-11 from the floor, including 2-2 from deep, for 17 points. He finished with just 23 points, but the damage was done in the first half.
The Nuggets cut the Cavs' 31-24 first quarter lead to just four points by the end of the half: 56-52. But the cold shooting in the second half just doomed Denver. The Nuggets needed a strong second half showing, but could only muster 21 points in the third quarter (their lowest total of the first three quarters) to the Cavs' 23 and just 15 points in the deciding fourth quarter - to the Cavs' 19 points.
There really wasn't a reason to adjust lineups as the Nuggets were forcing teams to match what they have been doing with J.J. Hickson starting at center, but tonight it would have been interesting to see Andrew Bynum match-up against Timofey Mozgov all night. But Bynum got his 14 points on 15 shots (you'll take that every time) and it proved to be Thompson and Varejao who were really doing most of the damage; especially Thompson.
Kenneth Faried obviously relies on his athleticism and heart to out-work guys, but Thompson is a very similar player and he got the best of the match-up in this one. In fact, Tristan dominated so much that Faried was limited to just under 19 minutes of action.
Heck, even Darrell "Automatic" Arthur was just 4-11 shooting ... that pretty much sums up this game. The effort just wasn't there, but there were also a ton of layups that the Nuggets usually make that didn't fall tonight. Layups weren't falling, threes weren't falling, and the Cavs took advantage of the boards.
The streak is over and next up for the Nuggets is a game against the Celtics in Boston (8-12, 4-5 at home) on Friday, Dec. 6th. Time to start a new streak and salvage this roadtrip. The Nuggets are 2-1 thus far and it would be nice to seem them return with a winning road record on this season long trip.
Views you can use:
-The Nuggets are now 0-3 in the second of back-to-backs, with all three being road games. Take solace in my colleague Jeff Morton's tweet about this Cleveland loss.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>If ever there was a "schedule loss" for the Nuggets, it was tonight. Zero energy. Ty looked like a zombie. Faried was just meh</p>— Jeff Morton (@jmorton78) <a href="https://twitter.com/jmorton78/statuses/408428556092313601">December 5, 2013</a></blockquote>
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-The Nuggets have lost to just two teams with sub-.500 records in the Kings and Cavaliers. They are a combined 10-22.
-The Nuggets other five losses have come against the Suns, Blazers, Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder who are a combined 65-24. Four of those five teams should be playoff contenders and the Suns might prove to be, as well (maybe).
Next 5 Games
|@ Boston||Fri 12/06||5:30 PM MST|
|@ Philadelphia||Sat 12/07||5:00 PM MST|
|@ Washington||Mon 12/09||5:00 PM MST|
|Utah||Fri 12/13||7:00 PM MST|
|New Orleans||Sun 12/15||6:00 PM MST|
Last 5 Games
|@ Cleveland||Wed 12/04||L 88 - 98|
|@ Brooklyn||Tue 12/03||W 111 - 87|
|@ Toronto||Sun 12/01||W 112 - 98|
|New York||Fri 11/29||W 97 - 95|
|@ Minnesota||Wed 11/27||W 117 - 110|
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