The Nuggets take the L tonight 92-83 and put forth a very Nugget-esque second half that concluded with a whopping 34 points scored in the last 24 minutes. Denver was winning by one at halftime, but completely collapsed in the second half. Same old story as it always seems. Denver either comes out ready to play four quarters and usually wins or leaves you just knowing that a breakdown is about to happen and it’s not a matter of if, but rather a matter of when.
Allen Iverson had a big game with 33 points and six assists, but didn’t get much support from his fellow starters, which didn’t include J.R. Smith. Smith concluded the night with twelve points, four boards, two assists, and two steals in 33 minutes of action. He was welcomed back with a big ovation, but showed some signs of rust by finishing 5-14 overall and 0-fer from long range in four attempts. Honestly, it was probably to be expected after the extended period of time away from live game action. However, the next four games without Carmelo will be the real tale of the tape on how J.R. reacts to the extra scoring burden.
The rest of the starting five combined for 32 points behind 18 from Earl Boykins and there just isn’t much more to report on the offensive end.
This was a game that the Nuggets really could have won in my assessment. They surprisingly cashed in on a better percentage from long range than the Spurs, shot a better percentage from the free-throw line, and were comparable in the overall field goal numbers too. The real difference ended up being the 17 turnovers that translated into 19 points for the Spurs, who only coughed up the coveted leather eleven times while limiting their damage to ten points off said miscues.
The overall polish of a perennial championship contender out shined a team that is reeling from suspensions and struggling to find roles for their new personnel. Do I think that a future match-up might have a different outcome with the league’s leading scorer suited up for the good guys? You bet your sweet rump padding on it, but tonight it was just not the case. Denver will catch these guys, at full strength, two more times this season and I am very anxious to see what happens in those two games. Not because said two future match-ups are locks for victory by any means, but when you play a team like the Spurs it is a great measuring stick for where your team stands in the grand scheme of things. And as of right now… The Nuggets are currently third in their division because tonight’s loss drops them down into the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference Playoff picture behind the identical win/loss record of the seventh seed holding Minnesota Timberwolves. The time is getting crucial and the return of Carmelo can not come quick enough. The Nuggets need to find a way to survive the next four games. How, I do not know, but the critical nature of the situation is clearly evident in Denver.