The game started at a very favorable pace for the Nuggets with both teams scoring more than 30 points in the first twelve minutes. Carmelo scored ten-first quarter points alone while Allen Iverson added nine and Nene chipped in six respectively. If the Nuggets were able to keep up the high-octane offense they might have been alright, but instead the next three quarters would all include guys shooting jump shot after jump shot. With a lot of guys standing around watching and admiring a lot of the time.
And as a result the team play was horrendous.
The Nuggets shot a dreadful 40% from the field including 22% from downtown while the Sonics enjoyed shooting 54% field and an even 50% from the land of three. In my preview I mentioned that the Sonics were allowing the third worst opposing field goal percentage in the league, but the Nuggets refused to take advantage of the Sonics’ less than stellar interior defense, and as I mentioned before, refused to run much pick and roll acting as if content with the jump shot as the game slowly slipped away.
The overall game was also elusive for Nuggets’ personnel excluding Nene. “Big Brazil”, who Scott Hastings of Altitude Sports and Entertainment called one of the five best true lowpost scorers in the league today, finished tonight’s game with 17 points, 13 rebounds (including six offensive), three steals, two blocks, and an assist. Everyone else did about one thing right. Carmelo scored a team-high 28 points, but only added two rebounds, two assists, and a two steals, Allen Iverson continues to struggle scoring with only 14 points, but was the Nuggets’ team-high assists man with eight dimes, and Linas Kleiza was the top contributor off the bench with 11 points, four assists, three rebounds, and an assist.
Denver’s other main problems besides offensive continuity was finding someone to guard Rashard Lewis, both inside and out, and keeping Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison from dropping in lay-ups and dunks. Lewis torched the Nuggets for a game-high 33 points and ten rebounds. He did it outside with the three ball over the top of shorter defenders, off the dribble against less mobile defenders, and from the charity stripe finishing 8-11 off Denver fouls. Collison and Wilcox did their damage on the inside. Collison pulled a team-high 13 rebounds and finished 7-10 from the field for 16 points while Wilcox poured in 12 points on 6-10 from the field with five boards.
And the road ahead doesn’t get a easier for the Nuggets. They have five games in the next nine days including a three-game road trip, which includes games against the Suns and the Lakers, before hosting the Kings and Mavericks at home. Denver has also revisited the .500 mark and now stands at 35-35 on the season with a mere 12 games remaining to play. Remember Nuggets fans… Last season’s Nuggets finished 44-38 overall while winning the Northwest Division. Obviously winning the division waived goodbye to the Nuggets somewhere around week six, but do you think that they can even match that record at this point?