Nuggets keep Grizzlies in hibernation

Last night was one of those games that makes you wish you could stuff your head in a microwave and scramble the ole brain a bit, but alas the unit wont turn on without the door latched shut.

Denver was able to run away with the game late 100-85, but handing Memphis their 10th straight loss was no easy feat. Memphis and Denver combined for 53 turnovers (26 and 27 respectively) and they were very noticeable turnovers. It seemed like almost every other trip down the floor for Denver an entry pass into the post sailed wildly out of bounds or a no-look pass was thrown to nobody.

It probably didn’t help last night that an ice storm blew into town and the game was played in front of about 12 people (11,338 was the announced crowd). You could literally hear each sneaker squeak and listen to the players yelling about calls through your television. It was pretty tough for the Nuggets to muster much energy from the crowd when there basically was no crowd.

Chauncey Billups took over the game in the third quarter scoring 16 of his team high 29 points in the period on 5-9 shooting as Denver opened up a 75-68 lead. Without Billups’ performance last night I think Denver loses this game.

JR Smith led the team in the plus/minus category notching a +28 when he was on the floor. Although he was only credited with two assists, I could have sworn he should have had a few more. JR had a couple acrobatic passes in the lane that were flushed home by Kenyon Martin and Linas Kleiza. It was nice to see him setting up his teammates while on his way to a 20-point night.

I thought the key for Denver last night was going to be Nene, who was matched up with Marc Gasol. But Nene got into early foul trouble and scored 10 points to go along with team high 8 turnovers and 4 personal fouls. After having such a brilliant game versus the Jazz it was tough watching him struggle against what I thought was a favorable matchup against Gasol (who looks like a piece of dry wall in the home white uniform, but probably moves a bit slower than the wall).

The tale of the evening though was the turnovers and Denver’s lack of ball movement (probably due to throwing the ball away so many times). Denver committed a combined 28 turnovers versus the Kings and Jazz. Against the Grizzlies the Nuggets committed 27 turnovers, which led to 20-points for Memphis. Denver committed 11 in the first half, 8 in the third quarter and 9 more in the fourth.

The Nuggets also combined for 14 assists, which tells me that there were too many isolations and guys not sharing the ball. But I really think the assists were down because of all the turnovers – so many times when Nuggets players were looking to dish the ball the passes were not crisp or just flew out of bounds.

After watching two pretty nice wins this sloppy game came out of nowhere and you can only hope Denver will get back on track tonight versus the Hornets – not really a team you hope to get back on track against!

The Grizzlies were able to hang with Denver early thanks to O.J. Mayo’s hot hand (12 points in the first quarter), but Mayo would cool off and finish the game with 19-points after sitting out much of the second quarter with foul trouble.

But the story of the night for Memphis to me was Darius Miles. On two occasions in the second quarter Miles was able to body around Chris Anderson for two easy buckets. Miles turned in a season high with 19 minutes to go along with matching his season high with 13-points. Both Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe of Altitude TV commented on how Miles was a much different player now after his leg injuries and no longer a high flier. When Miles was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2004-2005 season he scored a career high against the Nuggets (47-points) on 19-33 shooting and if I remember correctly those 19 makes were probably mostly drives to the rim. It was good to see Miles out on the court again and having some success with his new game.

As George Karl would probably say, this was a good-bad-win for Denver. They played ugly and let Memphis hang around, but came out with the victory. The best part about this game was the final buzzer.

Views you can use:

  • Chauncey Billups scored his 12,000th career point on a free throw in the 2nd quarter
  • Kenyon Martin recorded his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds
  • Denver improved to 8-4 in Game One of back-to-backs

Chris Anderson turned in 7-points and 5-blocks off the bench in 26 minutes