Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Spur in Denver’s Side

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(Boulder-CO) I guess if there is a loss to take, it should be taken with a bunch of new friends. It makes taking it much easier. Same goes for booze, but the Denver Nuggets slipped back yet another game in the playoff hunt by losing to the Spurs, 107-103, in an old fashion chess match. And if there was ever a game that you could take a lot of positives out of, despite losing, this was it. The only problem is I’m just not sure what difference it can make at this stage of the game.

For starters, the Nuggets still can not defend the pick and roll. It’s a play that seemingly is easy to stop, but if the offensive players run it to a T, it’s nearly infallible. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (cringe) did just that against the Nuggets. The Flopper and the Fundamental would run close proximity pick and roll about a thousand times last night and basically made this game a two-on-two match. Countless times Timmy would delay the screen as to trick the Nuggets defenders into switching and would then roll to the basket for the easy deuce. Manu, forced with a decision, would either throw bounce pass to Duncan and record an assist, of which he had game-high 14 of, or he would just take it himself if the post defender stood pat on Duncan. So simple, so fundamental, but yet so aggravating to watch and defend if you are the recipient.

Another area that the Nuggets need to address, especially lately, is the unforced turnovers. Recently, the Nuggets seem to be trying to force the fast break when it’s not there and the results range from passes over the top that nearly always are too long or ineffective to passes that get stolen in traffic. Denver needs to realize that if the ball isn’t cared for with a certain sense of responsibility that ultimately you waste too many precious possessions and you fall short at the end of the game. Against the Spurs, a team that likes to make you wince after a mistake, those turnovers turn into points (like, say, 19 of them) and with 16 miscues, many unforced, the Nuggets are left to only blame themselves.

Those two key points are what I believed swung this game in San Antonio’s favor. In almost all other aspects of the game I think the Nuggets outplayed the Spurs, but yet still took the L.
The positives from this loss are numerous.

Somebody must have told J.R. Smith it’s a contract year. In the last few games, J.R. has been simply electric. He was part of the problem on the pick and roll, but Nuggets fans have to love the way he is taking the ball to the hole. Strong, confident, and when he’s patient, J.R. can finish with the best in the league. Smith is so big and strong that when he takes his time working his way to the hole and then explodes to finish he is almost surely going to at least draw the foul. J.R. shot an efficient 9-13 from the field on his way to scoring 22 points off the bench with three of his four misses coming from long range.

Even with a fractured finger, Allen Iverson still had a great game. The Answer struggled a bit shooting in the first half, but finished the team’s high-scorer with 28 points, four assists, and five rebounds. And like the warrior he is known for being, AI played in a game-high 43 minutes.

Unfortunately, there is one more negative point to discuss and that’s Carmelo Anthony. I’m not sure if this is the case, but ever since being named an All-Star starter it seems like Carmelo is expecting calls around the basket. In the first half of the season Anthony was finishing a lot better, but his frustrations with the officiating crews as of late have seemingly only made matters worse. My experiences with officials have always led me to believe that the more you gripe at a referee, the less likely they are to make a favorable call for you the next time down the floor. Rather, if you diplomatically go about speaking your mind, the next time a situation occurs you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt. But above all, throwing a fit never makes official-player relations improve.

But throwing a fit is exactly what Carmelo did after he was bumped into the backcourt and a violation was called resulting in a quick T and a trashcan getting spiked on the Nuggets bench. Furthermore, the boiling point was seemingly inevitable as Carmelo’s play has recently slumped in his last five games as his points and assists are down from his season averages. In last night’s game, ‘Melo scored only 18 points, but did grab a solid eight rebounds.

Upcoming is a must-win trio of home games starting with the lowly Grizzlies tomorrow night. After these three, there is only six remaining home Nuggets games left on the regular season schedule in comparison to ten roadies. The time is now or never.

Go Nuggets!


ThaAnswer said...

I'm going to try and look past last night's game because it (and the Spurs, and the refs) just makes me angry.

We really need to sweep this homestand, considering we play so poorly on the road. Doing that will give us a chance down the stretch. GS has an easy schedule coming up too so I don't expect we'll gain much ground off the bat.

But check out this stretch coming up for Saintsational NO Hornets... Spurs, Lakers, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Celtics. Followed by a 6 game road trip. Hey, prayers can come from anywhere!

JamesOClark said...

J.R.'s defense was awesome too. He was playing great off-the-ball defense and was hustling for rebounds and getting back on Defense. Hopefully that's a breakout game for J.R.

Now - Melo. He was horrible. For Pete's sake he had Tony Parker fronting him and he couldn't get open, then when they did pass him the ball, he couldn't find the open man when the double team came over.

The Nuggets need to recognize that they cannot run the offense through Melo down the stretch. He can't be the guy with the ball to make decisions. He needs to be the guy getting the ball on the way to the bucket. Much like his role on USA Basketball. He was the leading scorer, but very rarely did he have the ball in his hands. He was getting feed from J. Kidd and others.

Please deliver us a true point guard.

NoYPi said...


sorry i couldn't make your meet, i'm kinda out on a rock in the middle of the ocean thousands miles away.

anyway, why do you think we have such a problem with certain teams like the bulls, lakers, jazz, hornets, (the bulls beat the jazz today by the way =P')

don't you think a big part of it is the matchups? don't you think karl should be using his brain a little more?

i think the starters should be mixed up a little depending on who they are playing. especially so the opponents don't already know what to expect.

for example, wouldn't it be smarter to start a taller defender like JR when playing teams with excellent TALLER shooting guards like Kobe or T-Mac?

what do you think?

Chad said...

I was just looking at the GS schedule and I think the Nuggets can make up some ground between 3/21 and 4/6. GS plays Houston, Lakers back-to-back, Portland, Denver, Dallas, Spurs, Dallas and New Orleans on 4/6. That's not a easy stretch. If Denver can go 4/5 on their East Conf. road trip, they could only be a half game back when they play GS on 3/29.

Go Nuggs!!