The first half showcased arguably the two best small forwards in the NBA doing what they do best, score. Carmelo Anthony put on a show by starting the game making eleven for eleven from the field before missing a half court shot at the buzzer of the second quarter. He would finish the first half with 26 points. Paul Pierce was equally impressive by putting up 20 going into intermission. The Nuggets had the lead at this point 58-56.
If there was a telling sign that the Nuggets were in a battle it was that Andre Miller only handed out four assists while turning it over five times. It should also be mentioned that the rest of the Nuggets turned it over 13 times on top of Andre’s misjudgments. With turnovers plaguing the Nuggets, it was hard to get the fast break going with any continuity.
The game was tied at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets were fighting tooth and nail, but were shooting themselves in the foot too often to pull out this win. In the final minutes of the game the Nuggets would squander the fruits of good defense by committing errant passes and not being calm and collected once a stop was produced. More specifically the Nuggets Achilles heel got the best of them.
The Achilles heel that I’m speaking of is Kenyon Martin. While Martin isn’t solely responsible for this loss, no one played perfect; he did have two critical lapses down the stretch that could have dictated a more favorable outcome for the Nuggets. First, after playing good defense in the post he watched a loose ball carom off the rim in front of his face and failed to snatch the board as if his hands were in his pockets. Second, and more devastating to the Nuggets potential victory, he once again played excellent defense, grabbed the rebound, but made a poor decision outleting the ball and threw it away to Boston. The Nuggets were only down by one point when the unfortunate aforementioned happened, and after Paul Pierce banked in a lucky 25 footer the game was sealed.
I’m ok with the loss and knew that the Nuggets weren’t going to win the rest of their games, but this one stings because the Nuggets could have executed down the stretch and potentially won this game. The other detail that bothers me in hindsight is that Reggie Evans only played nine minutes. What a travesty that a guy who has been laying it all on the line and giving the Nuggets everything he’s got can go from major contributor to barely seeing the floor.
I hope that George Karl examines the playing time appropriation and gives Reggie back the minutes that he was getting while Kenyon was sitting. Think I’m just down on Kenyon and should get off his back? Just tell Reggie Evans the reason why he got the bench for a guy that only scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in 25 minutes. I’m sure he will understand… In the mean time, the Nuggets need to do everything possible to make sure that the struggling New York Knicks do not extend this losing trend any further. Bounce back time Denver, show out at Madison Square.