@nuggets pic.twitter.com/iOK6g7Iq3T— Trey Mitchell (@TheTreyinator) February 9, 2016
I mean, much like if a meteorite falls on you from the heavens, sometimes all you can do accept your fate. This is one of those moments
The Denver Nuggets have generally played better as the year has progressed. The team no longer suffers from huge blowouts. The defense has improved dramatically particularly since the 8 game home stand in January. While the scoring totals have been elevated for both the Nuggets and their opponents the defense just looks better and you can tell the communication has improved....
Until the first half of tonight's game.
Giving up 55 to a Nets team that struggles to score 95 a game is never a good situation. The Nuggets struggled to adjust to Thaddeus Young who was a one man wrecking crew inside the paint. Kenneth Faried had difficulty in stopping the beefy power forward who racked up 14 first half points and all but two of them were inside the paint. This lead to a point where the Nuggets were down by 16 in the second quarter and struggling to stop anybody.
Then the Nuggets went small with Kenneth Faried at center and Danilo Gallinari at the four spot and closed the gap in the second quarter to 6 points going in to halftime.
Let me throw these stats at you ...
Danilo Gallinari 24 points, 7 assists, 2 steals
Kenneth Faried 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals
Gary Harris 17 points, 3 steals
In a game where the usually reliable Nikola Jokic was overpowered by the bigger/stronger Brook Lopez (who finished with 16 points to Jokic's 2) and Jusuf Nurkic played well (but also rolled his ankle) the offense was heavily reliant on Gallo, Harris and Faried to get anything done in the Nuggets smallball lineups. And it almost worked ... until the end.
With the game tied at 102, the Nuggets ran down the clock and then the Nets intentionally fouled because they had a foul to give. With four seconds left, this happened. (credit to An Nguyen from BSN Denver)
Curling around Thaddeus Young and driving ON Shane Larkin to fling the shot up there and let it go in. Great play design by Michael Malone. Unfortunately the refs allowed .4 more seconds on the clock, putting it at 1.3 left to go when the Nets received the ball. This is where disaster happened.
Simple play, Joe Johnson (who had done exactly jack squat all game) ran from the paint to the top of the key with Gallo chasing him. Caught the inbound, and while fading to his left with Gallo chasing him heaved up a (albeit clean looking) three point shot that BANKED in.
Sometimes you just make a shot. The Nuggets lost 105-104
Nuggets of Wisdom
Welp. I'm not going to complain about this. The Nuggets fought back, and while the Nets aren't exactly a world beating team you can tell they are at least playing harder for their interim coach. The Nuggets, despite their wretched defense in the first half managed to play much better in the second and had the game won until Johnson's heave with 1.3 seconds left.
Knowing these Nuggets, they will surprise us all and beat the Detroit Pistons for a second time this season on Wednesday. Who knows. This has been a more appealing year and this team itself is responding to Malone's coaching. They don't get down on themselves and don't get blown out anymore. This is the first, long step in the direction home.
We get plays like this now from Garris that lead to Manimal's go ahead basket... The future is bright