The scary thing about tonight’s loss was the total lack of intensity and sense of urgency in the Nugget game plan. The Nuggets were complacent as the Clippers dominated them in the first quarter. The Nuggets only scored 13 points in the first twelve minutes and allowed the Clippers to score 32 points on almost anything they wanted offensively. You could make a strong case that this game was over before it ever really got started. The second quarter was much more of the same. The Nuggets never got any type of fast break offense started and continue to resemble a monkey looking at a math problem in the half court set. The score at halftime was 56-34.
Now after consecutively losing the last six games Denver has really got their back to the wall. If the Clippers can waltz into the Pepsi Center and continue to oppress the Nuggets to the tune of three games to zero it will be time to get the ol’dust pan out of the closet to sweep the Nuggets into the garbage pail. This marks the sixth time in those six loses, surprise surprise, which the Nuggets have failed to score a hundred points in a game.
There is nothing fancy going on in this series. The Clippers are just bullying the Nuggets all over the playground. They are imposing their will on the Nuggets, and as of this point, the Nuggets have no answers and continually fewer and fewer people to turn to on the bench for help. The Clippers once again held the Nuggets to less than ten points on the fast break and Elton Brand continues to be the Nugget killer that I predicted he would be. Brand finished tonight’s game with 19 points on 8-14 from the field, rubbed out three shots, and snatched 11 rebounds to record the double-double, but it continues to be the suffocating team defense that the Clippers employ that is choking out the Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony went just 5 of 15 from the field scoring 16 points, Andre Miller was an unattractive 3 of 11 for 14 points with six turnovers, and Earl Boykins was 5 for 17 scoring 14 points in 33 minutes. As a team the Nuggets shot 34.2% in the game and were without synchronization offensively.
I really thought that the Nuggets would have put on a much more inspired performance tonight. I made bold statements in recognition that the Nuggets whole season’s worth of efforts were essentially riding on this game and I just frankly expected more. Not to take anything away from the Clippers and their success, but the Nuggets are merely acting as if they are content to have made the playoffs. Now with Kenyon Martin most likely out for the rest of the series on that continuously sore reconstructed knee, a gimpy Eduardo Najera, and the obviously still bothersome left hand of Earl Boykins the Nuggets are looking as if any chances of resurrecting this series are slowly blowing out to sea. If there is any remote possibility that the Nuggets can win this series they have to win both games at home. Even if they split the next two, this series is essentially over. The percentage of the time that a team closes out a series with a 3-1 lead is nearly 99%. It is basically that simple. The Nuggets have now put themselves in a position where there is only one way out. Win both games at Pepsi Center by completely forgetting about these last two outings and the aforementioned four loses that concluded the regular season. The Nuggets have to start fresh because anything and everything that they are trying to accomplish right now is just not working.