I was hopeful, even on the second leg of a back-to-back, that the Denver Nuggets would be able to edge a win in Utah, but unfortunately a combination visible (read: bad) officiating, missed free throws, an ejection, poor decision-making, and the stomach flu propelled Utah to a 105-103 win over Denver.
I’m going to get this out-of-the-way, but Andre Iguodala’s ejection was one of the worst ejections I’ve seen in the past season or so. Players trash talking during games is a part of it all, and the fact Iguodala — arguably Denver’s best player — was ejected because of this was asinine. This isn’t an emotional fan feeling, but a feeling that was felt by level-headed fans and critics on both sides. It put Denver at a clear disadvantage, but the loss is less telling about Denver because even though their second half production was dismal, Utah barely beat them.
That’s a positive take away in my book; one could even suggest Denver gave this game away with their horrid free throw shooting, 56.3%, and that’s why Denver fans shouldn’t be too hard on the officials — besides that Iguodala call — but rather Denver set themselves up to take a loss.
Danilo Gallinari was extremely ineffective in the second half, but he was battling the stomach flu, which is as a good of a reason as any not to have the best second half performance. Kenneth Faried, despite being overpowered by Utah’s bigs for being undersized, was as good as he can be and one of the few players who was effective, 5-of-6 from the FT line.
Ty Lawson was aggressive during the first half, and had a few important shots in the second half, but when Denver needed him the most — during the last play — and failed to get a shot off with three seconds remaining. During that last play, and plays leading up to that, Milk Carton Lawson reared his head and froze on open looks. The fact that Denver didn’t even get a shot off was disappointing. Dre Miller looked tired down the stretch and the fact he was the one to shoot a potential game-winning three-pointer was just horrible to watch.
Once again, the bigs of the opposing team had a highlight night thanks to the lackadaisical one-on-one defense demonstrated by Denver’s bigs. This wasn’t the first game it has happened, and it won’t be the last.
In the first half, Denver was able to control the paint and I believe had 26 paint points in the first quarter alone, but the second half a mixture of fatigue and bad execution was a huge reason why Denver couldn’t pull out a win.
The biggest takeaway from this game is Denver’s ongoing struggle in close games is terms of their production from the charity stripe; obviously they need FT shooting practice in the future.
With that being said, Utah should have easily beat Denver by 10 points plus with their best player ejected, the other player being ill, and Denver;s lazy perimeter defense and offense. That’s a moral victory, but a true one.
Denver had a bad game, but these types of games are bound to happen and it’s more indicative of the opponent than Denver.
Hey! It could be worse. Denver could have lost this game by nearly 50 points.
Paging Charlotte Bobcats.