I don't remember the Denver Nuggets ever having an 8 game home stand before. I remember a 6 game home stand a few years ago ... but not 8. It must be strange to be at HOME that much and it not be the offseason. Truth be told the Nuggets did play a ton of road games in November and December though ... still, it's a bit strange.
And this game tonight was strange indeed ... for the Nuggets.
The Miami Heat were banged up. Dwyane Wade had a bad shoulder and didn't play. Goran Dragic went home with a bad calf. They ended up playing heavy doses of Beno Udrih and Tyler Johnson (who is actually good). In the first half it seemed like the Nuggets could get anything they want. Even Emmanuel Muday and Kenneth Faried were hitting shots with ease. Leading to a 62-48 halftime lead.
Things like THIS from Nikola Jokic happened (thanks to An Nguyen of BSN Denver).
Jokic is a special passer. There are very few bigs in the NBA who have his passing and vision. He finished the game with 9 points 6 rebounds and 5 assists in very limited play (only had 17 minutes of playing time).
Then the third quarter. Ugh ... the THIRD EFFING QUARTER!! Well, to put it in a better way, Hassan Whiteside happened who registered 5 blocks in the quarter and the Nuggets large lead became a mere 2 point lead at the end of the quarter. It was deja vu. In the midst of Whiteside's block party the Nuggets managed to get one highlight (again thanks to An Nguyen of BSN Denver)
Whiteside blocked everything which rendered the Nuggets completely ineffective. This is where the recently re-injured Jusuf Nurkic would have come in handy. Whiteside finished with a triple double 19 points 17 rebounds and 11 blocks!!
The teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter ... but you just had a feeling. And the worst feelings ended up happening as the Nuggets couldn't pull out the game at the end and end up losing 98-95.
The team had their chances at the end, but Danilo Gallinari had a very "off" night shooting the ball. He was 2-10, including an attempt at a go-ahead three at the end of the game. He finished with 11 points but didn't have a single shot in the fourth quarter until the very end (granted he sat for half the fourth). Still, the Nuggets in general were put off by the gigantic presence of Hassan Whiteside who quite literally changed the game in the third quarter single handedly. While Chris Bosh had 24 points and a big shot at the end, it was Whiteside ho was responsible for this victory.
On a positive note for the Nuggets, Darrell Arthur continues his great play. He had 18 points and 8 rebounds and hit some very big shots at the end of the game. The Nuggets just couldn't make it over the hump after that big fourth quarter run by the Heat. Nuggets are now 15-25.
Nuggets of Wisdom
There are many ways that you can approach this Nuggets loss. It could be viewed as a continuation of "same old Nuggets" or it can be viewed as a learning experience against a very well coached and excellent defensive team. With the positive vibe of the last few weeks, lets hope this loss doesn't sit well with them. Nurkic definitely could have helped out in this game against Whiteside, but the Nuggets should have and could have won this game.
No excuses. The team played well enough to win in the first half and were out adjusted in the second half and the Nuggets didn't regain footing until it was too late. Shooting woes from their best player (Gallo) and interior dominance from Whiteside all contributed to what we saw. Back to the drawing board and HOPEFULLY this turns into some thing positive.