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Denver Nuggets: Hold your head up

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The Nuggets have narrowly found success of late, a vast improvement over a series of spankings prior.

Jameer Nelson holds his head - and part of Ricky Rubio's torso - up. Jameer has shouldered a lot of late.
Jameer Nelson holds his head - and part of Ricky Rubio's torso - up. Jameer has shouldered a lot of late.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

And if it's bad
Don't let it get you down,
You can take it.
And if it hurts
Don't let them see you cry,
You can make it.

Hold your head up (woman)
Hold your head up (woman)
Hold your head up (woman)
Hold your head high.

Though the Argent tune was originally penned to a woman, this song has been running through my head the last few games as I've noticed a resilience in the game-over-game play of your Denver Nuggets.

14 points. The Denver Nuggets have won five of their last six games, and over those six games, Denver has outscored their opponent by a grand total of 14 points - an average of 2.3 per game. There was one double digit win on Tuesday night, when Denver beat the Minnesota Timberwolves by a dozen, but that was almost perfectly offset in that aforementioned (and embarrassing) loss against the Orlando Magic at the Pepsi Center nine days ago, when the Nuggets lost by 11.

Prior to these five wins, Denver had lost eight games in a row, and not by nearly so thin a margin. The Nuggets dropped the octet by a total of 97 points, an average of 12.1 per game, and had formed a scary habit of wilting under pressure in loss after loss. In each defeat, Denver dropped one quarter or more by at least seven points. See the carnage below:

Opponent

Good / bad quarter (point differential)

@ San Antonio

Q1 (-7), Q3 (-7)

Phoenix

Q1 (+12), Q3 (-10), Q4 (-11)

Golden State

Q1 (-11)

L.A. Clippers

Q2 (-7)

San Antonio

Q3 (-7)

@ Dallas

Q3 (-20)*

@ Milwaukee

Q4 (-11)

@ Chicago

Q3 (+9), Q4 (-13)

* in a 25-5 drubbing on the first night of a five-game roadie in Dallas. Coming off a loss the night before. Holy snit.

Two quarters to the positive (+7 or more) in the midst of a lot of minus signs. 12, to be exact. Ugh.

But in the fourth game of that road trip, Denver had a tough fourth quarter, losing by nine points. The Nuggets barely kept their cool enough with the vets on the floor to preserve the 10-point lead they'd built through Q1, and ended that eight-game losing streak at Toronto, narrowly avoiding a ninth against the Raptors, escaping 106-105.

Opponent

Good / bad quarter (point differential)

@ Toronto

Q1 (+10), Q3 (-9)

@ Philadelphia

Q2 (-11), Q4 (+11)

Orlando

Q4 (-12)**

Minnesota

Q2 (-9), Q3 (+10)***

Houston

Q1 (+14), Q2 (-18), Q3 (+10)

@ Minnesota

Q2 (+11)

** The sole loss of the set, and a fourth quarter meltdown to boot.   ***Overtime win.

Six out of 11. That's an improvement. Even in that fourth quarter slide against Toronto, Denver never stopped battling, which seems to have kicked off a pattern of bouncing back from a tough quarter. In each game where the team had a backslide, they came back with a run of their own (excepting the loss).

Resilience seems to be a key for these Nuggets, as they continue to find their way through the difficult moments. Inevitable moments due to a combination of youth, injuries, and sporadic early play from their vets. Lately, your Nuggets have stopped hanging their heads when tough times come, and it's narrowly paying off in dividends. Maybe if they keep holding those heads up, they'll see continued improvements in how many of those bad quarters they have to weather. And...

If they can keep their peepers up another couple weeks, another bit of good news can only help. A lift in the return of super soph Jusuf Nurkic, who should be a great addition in rim protection and defense, even as he shakes off post-surgery rust.

Will there be more losing streaks? Undoubtedly. There are too many things this team has to learn, individually and collectively, to not have more blood lost over the course of an 82-game campaign. What may carry the Nuggets past the next rough patch will be the memory of finding success now simply by learning and improving as they take those lumps. As tough as it is to have rookie Emmanuel Mudiay sitting a few games out to heal a sprained ankle, the team is setting him a fine example of the rewards of resilience and simply keeping your head up, even when the tough moments come. Look no further than the relieved countenance of one Randy Foye, whose teammates cheered him loudly as he buried all five of his three-point attempts in Tuesday night's second quarter.

Denver heads to Utah to play the Jazz tomorrow night, the first of four games before Christmas.**** Though last year's team was similarly positioned 25 games into the season (2015: 11-14; 2014: 10-15), this year has a decidedly different feel to it, does it not? Though our current playoff position posits to be possibly/probably perishable and precarious, have your expectations for the season changed, and if so, to the positive or negative? Has the season got you down, or does this moment of bounce back have you holding your head up?  How ya feeling, Nuggets Nation?

****Christmas on the road, but no Christmas Day game. Bummer.