In the first quarter the Nuggets jumped out to a twelve-point lead, 36-24. They were moving the ball, clearing defensive rebounds, and playing good transition defense. The Nuggets continued this streak of good play up until seven minutes remaining in the second half before the whole thing started to unravel. With 7:15 remaining till intermission, the Nuggets were leading the Suns, 51-33, before the defensive agenda went by the wayside and the Suns came roaring back. Within the next seven minutes the Suns went on a 27-14 scoring run and found themselves down by only five at the half.
Needing to regroup badly, the Nuggets did no such thing.
In the third quarter it would only take the Suns four and a half minutes to erase the Nuggets’ five point lead and before too long, (only another 3:45), the Nuggets found themselves down by ten. For those of you who aren’t so sharp at math that means that this game took a 27-point swing in less than a single quarter! Now let me tell you how it happened.
Leandro Barbosa routinely out ran the Nuggets to their own goal and kept dropping in lay-up after lay-up. Shawn Marion did likewise. The Suns hit 10-20 attempts from three-point land and as a result of all the lay-ups the Suns shot a blistering 55% from the field. And this is just the half of the story of the two halves.
The Nuggets completely stopped playing as a team on offense and went back to rec center basketball as everyone was seemingly out for themselves. Nobody, and I do mean NOBODY, wanted to pass the ball in an attempt to set up their teammates. The Nuggets finished this game with only twelve assists, whereas Steve Nash alone had eleven! Everyone with Denver on their chest also feels that they are some kind of great jump shooter. A little dribble here, a jab step there, and before you knew it another &*^$@%! jump shot was on its way with nobody in position to rebound. As a result of all the selfish basketball the Nuggets only scored 43 points in the second half, while surrendering 65, and the game was signed, sealed, and delivered; The Nuggets lose, again, making this the fifth loss suffered in the last six games.
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points while grabbing ten boards, sliding five dimes, and stealing three balls. In my assessment, it was the first really good game he has played in over a week, but unfortunately he twisted his ankle in the fourth and didn‘t return. Allen Iverson scored 26 points, but did so in a very selfish fashion by only recording one assist. Nene continues to be a dominant force by scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds and Marcus Camby had a nice game, for once, with 14 points and 13 rebounds before leaving the game and not returning with an injury to his leg in the fourth quarter. No word on the injury as of right now, but I’ll keep you posted.
I mentioned before that the Nuggets finished with only twelve assists in this game and you would be privy to know that five of those assists came in the first quarter alone. Pretty embarrassing three quarters of basketball if you ask me…
Now the Nuggets have a day of rest before traveling up north to Seattle on Sunday for a little revenge before back-to-back games with the Lakers and Kings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Losing any of these next three games is not an option if the Nugget would like to stay in the playoff picture with the seventh seed because now the Clippers are just a half game back in the eighth. Golden State is still on the outside looking in, but with seven of their last eleven games remaining on the road my confidence in the Nuggets is starting to waiver. It is too late in the season for excuses. The Nuggets need to buck up and make something happen if this year’s campaign is not to look like a stumbling mistake in comparison to last season’s 44-38 record because at this rate they are going to fall short of that mark and a first round bounce is looking unavoidable once again.