The Denver Nuggets came into tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs reeling. Losers of their last three, and quite frankly not looking good in any of them. In their last game against the Golden State Warriors the Nuggets barely put up any fight and lost by 43 points. It wasn't pretty and it was indicative of a team that didn't fight ... nor did they care.
Tonight, the Nuggets definitely put up more fight and showed more spirit. However...they still lost the game 109-99
At some point, I'm not sure when, coach Brian Shaw's fascination with J.J. Hickson will end. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but SOMEday. We can all look forward to that time. In the meantime Hickson racked up the largest +/- of the game with______ and In the time he was on the court the Nuggets went from leading by 5 points to trailing by 8. Ladies and gentlemen ... J.J. Hickson. Good at the stuff you don't care about, bad at the things you need him to be good at.
The Nuggets utterly collapsed in the 4th quarter, and part of that can be understandable. 4th game in 5 nights, second night of a back to back ... it happens. The Nuggets missed 9 free throws and committed 16 turnovers. These were large factors in what happened down the stretch. Yet....there was the J.J. thing. Played almost the entire 3rd quarter the Nuggets lead went from 5 when Nurkic left, to trailing by 8 when Shaw finally subbed Nurkic in for JJ. By that point it didn't matter.
Aside from that, Ty Lawson had one of his worst games of the year ... finishing with 4 points and 8 assists. He looked out of it and lethargic all game. Quite frankly Nurkic played better in the first half. He finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Played a bit better than the previous couple of games, but still rushed shots.
Moral of the story? Nuggets played better ... but still weren't nearly good enough to be a struggling Spurs team. Maybe that's the best point we can make
Before the game, Shaw was asked by Matt Moore of CBS Sports about if he considered starting Darrell Arthur to help the defense. Shaw responded that it would make a really small lineup and the fans wouldn't appreciate it. Then he said he did consider starting a small lineup in place of the "bigs" (Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic, Hickson) but discarded it because he didn't want to be reactionary and the fans would egg him but he did elaborate. Here is the follow up according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post.
Kenneth Faried, helped by Duncan's sitting, at game-high 13 for #Nuggets. Brian Shaw said pre-game he'd have sat Faried if he could. (1/2)— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) January 21, 2015
Said Shaw: "If I took Kenneth out of the starting lineup, I'd probably get egged by all the fans around here." (2/2) #Nuggets— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) January 21, 2015
For Full context here is the video of Shaw's pregame presser. His answer to Matt Moore begins at 6:14
Groke asked the Manimal about Shaw's pregame comments about starting only smaller players in place of the bigs, Faried had this to say:
(Long pause) "Nah, man ... I didn't know that. I didn't hear that. (chuckled) I got no comment on that, I'm sorry"
Uh oh. Faried was clearly surprised by the quote, and actually managed to contain himself. This may be a case where Brian Shaw talked himself in circles again and ended up where he didn't intend. This has happened multiple times since Shaw has been coach, and he really does need an edit button at times. Will it be a big thing? I am doubtful.
All in all this team is still inconsistent and is plagued by poor offensive execution and lineups that kind of beguile the imagination. Will this continue? Will it improve?
These issues have been going on for the better part of a season and a half ... I'm starting to have my doubts.