Let me begin by stating that the Denver Nuggets dominated this game for the first 42 minutes. Unfortunately for the Nuggets is that the NBA doesn’t play 42 minute games because their problems started with about 5:30 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with Denver comfortably in the lead, 97-85. To say that what was to follow is a downright misunderstanding of the situational needs of the game of basketball would be an understatement, but here we go nevertheless. J.R. Smith missed back-to-back 25 footers in the span of nine seconds before getting a thick slice of pine, Steve Blake missed another 26 footer with the Nuggets still in the lead by eight, and then Allen Iverson missed yet another 25 footer with the Nuggets lead dwindling down to six. That’s four 25 foot shots in the span of three minutes with the only Nuggets score in that time lapse coming by way of a Nene dunk…
Anybody that knows anything about basketball will tell you that with a twelve point lead, and only five minutes and change standing in between you and a victory, you do not need 25 foot jumpers with significant time still on the shot clock, but that is exactly what the Nuggets did! This shot selection that I have just illustrated proved to me that either A) George Karl is not communicating to his players just what is supposed to happen in this type of game situation, or B) the Denver Nuggets just flat out lack the understanding of the situation and refused to execute accordingly. There is just not another excuse that you can throw at me right now that would make me feel any differently. If Denver runs time and possession basketball they win this game, but instead they hoist up bad shot after bad shot and allow the Hornets to position themselves to steal the win right from their grasp. Denver showed no killer instinct with the game all but in their hands, and poor understanding of the situational needs of the game put them in a position to be beat. Plain and simple.
The next incident that flat out gets my blood boiling is the final play of regulation. With the game tied at 103, Allen Iverson slowly brought the ball up and dished to Carmelo Anthony on the right wing. Fine. If Carmelo is going to get the final look so be it, but why not take the ball to the basket and look to dish or get fouled rather than throw up an air ball with time still remaining for the Hornets to get a shot up? An aggressively challenged fade-away jumper is not the type of shot you want to work for with 14 seconds remaining and you certainly do not want to even give the opposition a chance to beat you under any circumstances. If that is the shot you settle for your superstar to take, you at least have to stress at nausea during the previous timeout that such a shot is not to be put up unless you know for 100% certain that it is either going to be made or missed with the buzzer sounding as the ball is about half way on its way to the rim. Instead the Nuggets were put into a fire drill with 2.9 seconds remaining and luckily Carmelo blocked Chris Paul’s driving lay-up as regulation ended. One thing that is for sure though, is that is the heady Paul took the ball right to the rim in his opportunity to be the hero. Something that the Nuggets should take careful note of for when this situation presents itself again.
At this point the Nuggets straight-up didn’t deserve to win and the overtime proved just that. Chris Paul hit a three to open up the extra period and despite J.R. Smith hitting a three to tie the game at 112, with 17 seconds remaining, the Nuggets were about to see exactly how a last shot situation is supposed to be played. Chris Paul once again penetrated, but missed a little floater in the lane and the glass-crashing Desmond Mason picked up the pieces and laid the ball in off the window. The reason why the Hornets were able to nab the win was because Paul’s penetration caused Nene to help and left the offensive glass vulnerable. The officiating crew took a second look, but I knew it was a done deal before the air collectively was released from the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets lost a game that they should have won by ten or twelve because they lacked the killer instinct to execute when they were in a situation to do so.
The numbers in the box score are irrelevant, but I will say that Nene looks phenomenal. Big Brazil finished tonight’s game with 18 points, eight boards, three blocks, two assists, and a steal. Iverson re-aggravated his twisted ankle in overtime and this loss drops the Nuggets below .500 for the first time since they lost to the Orlando Magic back on November 15th of 2006. Go Nuggets… I guess.