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Lawson needs rest, team must give better full-game effort against Clippers

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On a three game slide and just 1-7 in their last 8 games, the Nuggets will have to give a complete effort tonight if they hope to win against Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Game 26: 2014-15 NBA Season
@

(18-7, 8-4 away)
Series 0-0
(10-15, 6-6 home)
December 19th, 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Chris Paul
PG Ty Lawson
J.J Redick
SG Arron Afflalo
Matt Barnes
SF Wilson Chandler
Blake Griffin
PF Kenneth Faried
DeAndre Jordan
C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Clips Nation Blogs You're here!
Spencer Hawes (knee, day-to-day)
Injuries JaVale McGee (leg), Randy Foye (quad) are out.
DeAndre Jordan leads the league with 13 rebounds per game
Etc... Ty Lawson is tied with John Wall for 2nd in the NBA with 10.6 assists per game and only behind Rajon Rondo's 10.8 assists per game

Quick, what do the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers have in common?

They all feature some of the NBA's preeminent contemporary actors in Manu Ginobili, James Harden, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

It's time to embrace the flop, folks. It's not like flopping in the league is a new phenomenon, either - long before Ginobili's bright bald spot turned its Sauron-like gaze on the rest of the league, Vlade Divac showed us the light. However, flopping has become an extremely important skill to have in the modern, less-physical NBA, and in this incarnation of the league, teams like the Nuggets suffer without a player skilled in the pratfall. A flop disrupts a team's rhythm, incites the bench, can cause a head coach to get a technical, often results in a turnover, and can be used in a judo-like way against the most physical of opponents. Despite promises by the league to crack down on these acts, flopping is more rampant than ever and only the most egregious instances are actually punished.

Recommended watching:

Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur have had their moments of ... accentuation, but Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler could all learn a thing or two from them. The last three games have shown us how skilled floppers can completely change the course of a contest. Harden and Ginobili have learned that as long as they act as they've contacted a high current electrical arc when barely touched by an opponent, they'll be rewarded: in the last three games against the Nuggets, Harden and Ginobili got trips to the line 37 times (30 by Harden alone) and drew countless fouls on the hapless Nuggets defenders.

At the same time, we must also recognize that the Nuggets are still committing a league-worst 24.8 personal fouls per game and have averaged 30.3 fouls per game in their last three (those three games against the Rockets and Spurs, of course), a full 6.3 more fouls committed in that same three game stretch than the next worst team - the putrid Philadelphia 76ers. While I credit the Nuggets for trying to play physical basketball and get the most out of each player's allotment of 6 fouls, it's hurting them when they don't really have anyone committed to drawing fouls against the other team - hence the need for acting lessons.

After it had finally looked like the Nuggets had gotten back to winning ways and sitting at 9-8 on December 1st, they've gone 1-7 in their last 8 games and are now just 10-15 on the year. Frustratingly, this team is still wildly inconsistent - after losing to the Washington Wizards in a 30 point blowout (with 3 days rest, no less), and taking the Toronto Raptors to OT, the Nuggets turned around and smashed the Miami Heat at home by 20, then followed that up with three more losses. The team still shows flashes of brilliance and fire - like the first half against the Rockets on Wednesday - but repeatedly fails to turn in a complete effort. Despite assistant head coach Melvin Hunt's exhortations at the beginning of the year that the Nuggets are a "defensive team", the Nuggets are just 27th of 30 teams in the league in allowing 105 points per game.

Tonight, they'll need to contend with a Clippers team that is even better than Houston at forcing its opponents into fouling. I recommend taking precautions before watching, like putting on some boxing gloves before hitting the wall in frustration at yet another flop and making sure that the dog has had its anti-anxiety medication before screaming at the universe at the top of your lungs. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are very capable of putting the skills they showed in their State Farm and Kia commercials to work on the court, and they're decent at doing things with the basketball too I guess.

For the Nuggets to win tonight, they'll need to cut down on the silly fouls, keep cool on what will almost assuredly be a series of flagrant superstar calls for Paul and Griffin, and give Ty Lawson some rest, for God's sake. If Nate Robinson can't turn things around in the next few games, Tim Connelly's hand will be forced to deal for a backup PG. Lawson cannot continue to play at this pace through the entire year without risk of serious injury, and it's clear that without Ty's playmaking on the floor the entire team gums up worse than the drill being used for the viaduct project in Seattle.

Here's hoping that the skilled thespians show us how it's done tonight, but are ultimately rendered futile by a Nuggets team looking to avenge a tough overtime loss to the Rockets.