In a recurring theme for this Nuggets team of late, this one was over early. I keep thinking that there's nowhere to go but up for this team, but they somehow keep finding new lows.
Brian Shaw is now digging up splinters from the bottom of the barrel looking for answers.
In a play that would be a clear sign of things to come, with 2:45 to play in the first quarter and the team already down by 15, Kenneth Faried provided zero help defense for Quincy Miller, who was backed down in the post by Joe Johnson who converted an and-one to push the Nets' lead to 23-6 (Faried was immediately benched by Shaw). In the first quarter the team shot 3/18 from the floor, including going 0/3 from 3, and committed as many turnovers (8) as they scored points (8). Even as shorthanded as they are, the Nuggets effort tonight was absolutely horrific from the opening tip. At 29-8 after one frame, the Nuggets never really recovered. Denver would not break the double digit barrier until 9:45 in the second quarter on a shot by Timofey Mozgov. The Nets led by as many as 38 in the game on the Nuggets home floor. Absolutely shameful. Tonight, the Nets notched their first win in Denver since Jan. 27th, 2007.
Right now, this team is playing with no passion and no energy. The effort being put forth is embarrassing to us as fans and to the Nuggets organization (especially on a national broadcast), and at this point, there's not much more that Shaw can do. The trade deadline has passed. No additional help is coming to this team for the rest of this season. In February alone, the Nuggets have now lost 4 games by 27 points or more [h/t TNT]. There is zero desire to compete at an NBA level right now from the players on this team. The Nuggets concluded tonight with nearly as many turnovers (24) as made shots (30).
It's astonishing, in a morbidly fascinating way, to watch as the team's collective fire has guttered out in an utter indictment of their own effort, despite the endless injuries. There is only so much Shaw can do to motivate this team to play hard, and he's tried nearly everything. As my esteemed colleague Andrew Feinstein pointed out, tanking doesn't mean no-effort-ing: even though it's likely a good thing in the long run that this team continues to lose for a better shot a potential franchise player in the draft, the players must acknowledge that they are damaging the team culture with games like these. Most of the current Nuggets squad will return next year - it's not as though the team is all on expiring contracts.
The Nuggets lost all three games on their home stand and are now 1-9 in their last 10, continuing their freefall in the Western conference. They'll next take on the Blazers in Portland on Saturday, where the Nuggets will hopefully see Ty Lawson make his return and we'll see a better effort all around - but at this point, I'm not hopeful.