Denver did give it a run late in the fourth quarter as they came within three points after Steve Blake and J.R. Smith hit back-to-back threes, but too many turnovers (22 leading to 25 Sacramento points) and a poor shooting night (38% from the field and 13-20 from the bump line) were too much to overcome.
Good news to speak of is the play of Nene. The big fella has lost a couple of pounds and is really showing some bounce since moving into the starting lineup. He had a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds and added a block and two assists for good measure. What I like is that the old chip on his shoulder (otherwise known as confidence) is coming back and he is making quick basketball moves on that knee. As he is able to continue stringing together nice games his stock will continue to rise for the Nuggets which will mean more minutes and a larger role in the offense because the Nuggets are in dire need of a low post presence. Camby’s offense is much more suited for dragging slower centers out of the paint and working for jump shots or slashes to the basket.
In addition to what Nene is looking capable of, you also have to tip your hat to Steve Blake. Here is a guy that had his lip split wide open by a flying Ron Artest elbow from the top rope, was immediately taken back to the locker room to be stitched up, and still had himself a nice game with thirteen points and seven assists. He definitely gets the tough-guy award for the night.
Other than that it was just a campy feeling loss. Trading baskets was fun and all, but there was no level of intensity to speak of. Denver played just well enough to keep it respectable, but their play looked as if they were tired. And you know what? The good news is that they are somewhat consistent! Denver remains winless when not able to reach a hundred points and without Allen Iverson due to his ankle sprain and reports of the flu plus Carmelo having a bad night meant there was just too much slack to drag. Up next is the Phoenix Suns and this one could get really ugly and leave you with a sore neck. I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 270 points scored in total. For the inevitable sore neck I recommend shiatsu massage and laying off chewy foods. Soup is good!