How many licks does it take to get to the suddenly-soft center of your Denver Nuggets? I’ll let someone wiser than me do the counting…

OK, so maybe I was the sucker last night, believing that your Denver Nuggets might have learned from a few licks of their own this season. The Nuggets have fallen into the disturbing habit of playing to the level of their competition, and a few disheartening trends are emerging in trios along the way…

Three… losses in a row, a first for this season’s Nuggets squad. The loss at Golden State was understandable, given the recent return of Steph Curry, and a Warriors squad wanting a little revenge for the home loss the Nuggets handed them not so long ago. But the other two (Sacramento away and Atlanta at home) were foul enough to look like games this team could deeply regret by season’s end. Speaking of…

Three… losses that could have been avoided, in their last six games. In addition to the Sacto and Hotlanta stumbles, the Nuggets had the suddenly-middling Sixers at home last week without their star, Joel Embiid. Inconsistent play and a lack of enthusiasm at several key moments were hallmarks of all three losses. Had Denver dug down enough to win those games, they’d own a 24-17 record, and be 8-2 in their last 10. Instead, they not only find themselves at 5-5 in their last 10, but 2-2 in their last four home games.

Three… pointers. The Nuggets were abominable from beyond the arc last night, save Gary Harris, who went two for three. Denver finished the night with a 24.3% shooting percentage from deep, a number that would have been 20.6% without Harris’ efforts. The worst offender was shockingly Nikola Jokic, who ended up 0-for-8 on the night from long distance, a part of a 4-for-21 night overall. Everyone has their tough nights, but this one may have been the Joker’s low point in Denver. On the upside, now we’re (hopefully) past the low point, and Jokic has been primarily impressive again this year.

Three… rhymes with free. As in throws. But your Nuggets were thinking throes, and ended up 12 of 20 from the stripe. Not a single player was perfect from the line, and seven guys got to try.

Three… gets seven. Games, that is. Super Sub Torrey Craig (who wears jersey number three) has a very few games remaining before the Nuggets have some decisions to make, as pointed out by Super Stiff Zach Threekash. Er, Mikash.

Three… games this next week, including a back-to-back starting in two nights that has the Nuggets facing a figuring-it-out Grizzlies squad before heading to San Antonio for a game they’d better bring their very best for. Then only two more nights off before another back-to-back begins in Denver against the Mavericks. Those Memphis and Dallas home games ought to be easy wins, right? Not so fast, given the path the team is currently taking. Oh, and 13-27 Memphis? 4-6 in their last 10. The 15-28 Mavs? 6-4. It will be interesting to see if the Nuggets find any of that fire soon. Last night’s tough pill to swallow wasn’t the shooting slump. Every team misses a ton of shots sometimes. It happens to even the best teams a few times a season. But the Nuggets lack of concern over the multiple mistakes was disheartening.

Three… times four. Coach Michael Malone was searching so hard for anyone scoring besides Harris that he had twelve guys on the floor. Though to be fair, Richard Jefferson saw less than a minute to wrap up the game. But it fit this ridiculous premise.

Three… Zero Three. Home cooking is suddenly not. Denver needs to win it’s home court back pronto.

Three… games. It’s only three games. Or ten. Whatever. But it’s not the end of the world. This is still the best record this team has had at this point in the season in a while. But it won’t be much longer if they keep this up.

Three… seasons. Each, give or take, for Nikola Jokic (2.5), Gary Harris (3.5), and Trey Lyles (2.5), all guys who make sense (to me, anyway) as part of a long term core, and who are flirting with consistency. Primarily to the positive, with some hiccups along the way. Whether or not they find that consistency may be the key to this team’s fortunes in the next several years.

Three… months left to go. That’s it. Well, three months and a day, to be exact. It’s the second half of the season starting on Friday night, dear Nuggets. You finished just above .500 with a bit of a slide at the end. Could I make a suggestion? Instead of these three turds, might you consider… (NSFW, headline explains why you should click at your own curse-ory risk)

Was three a charm, Nuggets Nation? Been quite a ride through the first half, no?

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