Stop me if you've heard this one... The Denver Nuggets had another rough first half tonight, with a slow bleed against the Detroit Pistons in Michigan. The weight of the recent losing streak (11 of their last 12 games) seemed to be literal. Heads hanging low, arms tough to raise, slow to the ball and quiet communication. Detroit was never running away from Denver, but they methodically put more pressure on in the game, and exited the first half with identical 28-21 quarters, leaving the halftime score at 56-42. An especially rough night down low, as Denver allowed the Pistons 36 of those 56 points in the paint.
Those 42 points came via a rough night's shooting in the first half, with only one player shooting 50% from the floor in the half (Wilson Chandler, 3-6), and no one in double digits, with Ty Lawson and Darrell Arthur both having 8 points going into the locker room. All ten players who saw the floor in the first half were in the negative for plus/minus, and four of the five starters made it double digits. (Kenneth Faried: -12, Chandler: -7, Jusuf Nurkic: -12, Ty Lawson: -13, and Arron Afflalo: -12)
The second half started out well, with 3 quick unanswered baskets by Denver cutting the lead to eight. And then...
By the 5:16 mark, a series of turnovers and apathetic play had stretched the Detroit lead to 20. Substitutions didn't seem to get Brian Shaw much of anywhere, as the team seems to be struggling to a man. As hard as it is to watch this team muddle through, it looks exponentially harder on them in the game. Losing the way the Nuggets are losing is sucking the joy and air out of all of these moments for fans, players and coaches alike.
An 18-point deficit gave the Nuggets a little too steep a hill to climb going into the fourth quarter, and the closest Denver could get with their now-usual late run was six points, which happened twice in the last minute of the game. A solid fourth quarter just wasn't enough to make up for losing the first three.
Tough to see tonight:
Jusuf Nurkic had a decent night on the floor in rebounds (13) and defense, but his shooting was amazingly bad, going one for 10 from the floor, including several blown layups under the rim.
Kenneth Faried was getting pushed around all night, with only 10 points and six rebounds in his 25 minutes, and four of those points were in the last few moments of an already-decided game. Between Nurk and Faried, a tough night down low for Denver.
Nice to see tonight:
Not a lot of good to point at, let alone great, but Danilo Gallinari continues to make progress, with 12 points and six boards in extended play (30 minutes), and though there still appears to be some rust, Gallo is finally seeing long stretches on the floor.
Though Ty Lawson didn't have his finest night, he came within a hair of a double-double tonight with 20 points and nine assists.
Now having lost twelve of their last thirteen, what was a positive for you tonight Nuggets Nation? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Or is that just a train barreling down upon us? Final score 98-88, Pistons over your Denver Nuggets.