With the way the Denver Nuggets have been playing lately, I wasn’t sure which team would show up against the New York Knicks. Denver offensively — especially during the first half — were engaged and played as a cohesive as I’ve seen them this season. However, it would be their lack of defending the pick-and-roll and guarding the paint that cost them the game; 112-106.
During the 4th quarter and post-game as I was sipping my Henny – by the way, I should really stop drinking during games as I become one of THOSE guys — I was irritated at the officiating on BOTH sides — bad calls on Melo, Faried, and Gallo to name a few — I pissed and moaned about this for a while and that wasn’t fair, although it was as obvious as the nose on the ref’s face that officiating was bad. Officiating has been awful across the board this season, but I can not become an hypocritical blogger just because I saw calls I hated. Bad calls happen. Every game. It’s how the team reacts to them that’s important and Denver did other things that impacted it more than poor refereeing.
Denver led 88-80 at one point that to some smart attacks by Corey Brewer( 15 points), but would lose a nice cushion of a lead thanks to the laughable-but-you-want-to-choke-the-life-outta-him decision-making from JaVale McGee. This was the McGee that will take Denver out of games, and that’s precisely what he did. Why in the hell would you shoot a near 20-footer? Pretty sure JaVale was playing for NY that game and it’s because of games like this George Karl hasn’t started him.
Denver turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Knicks’ 9; New York is now 15-2 when they have the same or fewer turnovers than their opponent. Also, remember I stated that a way Denver could negate their piss poor three-point and free-throw shooting , and help them win games, is to limit turnovers. Yeah, well they didn’t employ this strategy this game, just look at their 3p% (29.4%) and FT% (72.4%).
Pick-and-roll defense and defending the paint was horrid. Denver’s had issues with P-N-R defending in the past, but more importantly they’re letting senior citizens abuse them. Also, STOP FALLING FOR THE JASON KIDD PUMP FAKE! Koufos and McGee both were guarding the rim lackadaisicallynd ineffective for stretches.
George Karl was outcoached again; Mike Woodson had some beautiful plays designed for Melo coming out of timeouts. Also, Karl’s ineffective “plays” were rearing their head again, not to mention his small ball lineups. New York uses their small ball lineups effectively and more strategically than Denver and the Nuggets could never really defend them appropriately. With that being said, George Karl showed more passion, zest, and anger against a team with former players he had coached than he had most of this season. Yes, Karl made his mistakes, but this team — including milk carton players — has been anything, but an ideal team for him to work with. So, the #FireGeorgeKarl chants are again proof that some fans just don’t understand how the league operates.
Ty Lawson, although incredibly crafty and awesome during 80% of this game, failed in another clutch moment. Lawson was phenomenal in the first half, but was limited in the second, only taking a handful of shots and, once again, took himself out of the game. Yes, a tremendous amount of credit to the Knicks’ defense on Lawson, but often times he allows opposing defenses to collapse on him by mistakes of his own free will.
Denver’s offense was teh best that I’ve seen this season. They penetrated, had a terrific pace. made three-pointers — despite the poor 3P% — when they needed to, Lawson was aggressive a good portion of the game, and free throws were being made during the first half. They went away from what was working, and one of the worst defensive showings were primary factors for this loss.
Melo did what Melo is awesome at and that’s ISOMelo down the stretch. Melo is one of the most effective shooters — even if he does so by volume — in the league. Despite many fans claiming it’s still the same old Melo, I see a Melo trusting his teammates more — which has been a huge issue in the past — and executes more of an effort on defense.
Instead of listing a bazillion reasons why Denver flubbed this up — as the Miami Heat has done — perhaps the issue is this, NY is really good right now. They are efficient as hell from the perimeter and have five guys that can shoot the three-ball as well as a proficient p-n-r point guard in Raymond Felton who looks improved this season, not to mention the crisp passing that New York is embodying that’s making it hard for teams to defend.
Corey Brewer — as mentioned — was beautiful in this game making the right placement decisions to get the ball to the basket. Danilo Gallinari shooting cooled in the second half, but other parts of his game still impacted the matchup.
Oh, and his flop, too.
If I was a person that enjoyed mortal victories this would be one of those games I would be happy as a whistle. This was the best loss of the season and conventional wisdom dictates they’re on the path of righting their ship.
Well, except, I’m a skeptic as of late and we’ve seen their bi-polar performances.
Fans shouldn’t be angry with their effort on offense, but rather their poor defensive effort and execution.
25% through the season, it’s time for Denver to Nug the fuck up.