(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets suffered an opening night loss tonight 96-95 to the Los Angeles Clippers. The officiating played an overbearing role down the stretch, and in my opinion, aided the Clippers at critical junctures of the game. I know, I know… sounds like sour grapes, but hear me out on this one. I think the NBA needs to establish more clear cut rules for this new hair-pinch trigger technical foul policy because tonight it was not clear to me why one technical was called and not another.
Carmelo Anthony was ejected in the third quarter after frustration led him to remove his head band and toss it in front of the bench after being substituted for. The referee took this as disrespect and gave Carmelo his second technical foul of the game. At this point in the game I can understand why Carmelo was tossed. He had been jawing with the referees quite often during the game and had already been issued his first technical shortly beforehand. He gave the official the opportunity to make an example of him and he did. Now on to why I’m griping at nausea.
Late in the fourth quarter the Nuggets found themselves down by one point with about twenty seconds remaining. J.R. Smith and Yakhouba Diawara apply full-court defensive pressure and Sam Cassell coughs up the ball during a spin at about half court. J.R. snatches the loose ball and glides down the lane and puts the Nuggets back up by one with the jam. The Clippers then call timeout and Cassell pleads his case with the ref for a good thirty seconds before having to be wrangled back to the Clipper bench by teammates.
So my question is why wasn’t Cassell issued a technical foul? Under the freshly instated crackdown on complaining and showing up the officials I would have thought that this was grounds for T-time. However, Cassell got corralled and the game went on with the Nuggets eventually losing. Whether or not these events would have dictated a change in the end result for the Nuggets is debatable, but it was blatant to me that the rule was not enforced straight across the board. It’s a shame I know, but hey, that’s life and it should serve as a learning experience for Carmelo. The lesson is simple; do not give the referee an opportunity to determine your own fate.
Now on to the game and some statistical analysis. The aspect of the game in which I think played the most detrimental role in this loss was the Nuggets inability to heat up from three. As a team the Nuggets shot a dismal 4 of 23 from long range and finished with a 38% field goal rate for the game. Bright spots for the Nuggets were the play of Marcus Camby and Nene. Marcus gave the Nuggets 16 points, 18 rebounds, four blocks, four assists, and a steal in a full night worth of action. Nene also looked good in his fifteen minutes of playing time. He gave the Nuggets ten points and seven rebounds in quick contribution.
Fortunately the Nuggets get to erase game one from their memory by hosting the Timberwolves tomorrow night at Pepsi Center. Hopefully they can eliminate some of the unnecessary mistakes of tonight’s game and be victorious on their home floor. Tip-off is set for 7 pm, so keep yourself posted up big at The Nugg Doctor.