(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets were completely humiliated tonight at the Staples Center, 127-99. There’s no sugar coating a loss like this because Denver is a team in a rapidly accelerating downward spiral that is the direct result of some very serious problems.
The first half was cruising along nicely until the Nuggets completely abandoned the defensive intensity that at one point had them up by as many as 17. From there all their transition offense dried up, the ball stopped being shared in half court sets, and the assists all but ceased as all the Nuggets problems were seemingly put under the national microscope that is the NBA on TNT. And those problems, in no particular order, are no structured offense, no clear-cut on floor leadership, a coach that seemingly doesn’t coach, obvious selfish individual agendas, no consistent bench rotation, and an apparent lack of trust between teammates. Furthermore, I’m so disgusted right now with the kind of basketball the Nuggets are playing that I’m going to go into extreme detail of each and every pitiful aspect I just mentioned.
Right off the bat I have to question if the Nugget even have any offensive sets. It seems like every damn time they come down the floor they either watch AI dribble out the majority of the shot clock before taking some off-balance shot attempt or they pass the ball to Carmelo on the wing before complete inertia sets in as they gawk at Anthony. Seriously, I started counting the number of times one of the aforementioned two scenarios played out in the first half and into the second, and was asked to stop by the other people I was watching the game with because around the 15th time down the floor they felt I was jinxing it. The Nuggets don’t even seem to run a basic pick and roll that you can find at any local high school game with regularity at this point and that segways perfectly into my next point.
The Nuggets have absolutely no on-floor leadership.
Anthony Carter is such a far cry from the kind of floor general this team needs it’s comical. In fact, it’s so funny that he might as well have the last name “Dangerfield” on the back of his uniform because he gets absolutely no respect. Most times he might as well just bring the ball up to half court and then take a seat because the other Nuggets don’t listen or react to anything he says or does. It’s just thank you very much for dribbling the first 40 feet of the hardwood for us and now it’s time for you to get out of the way! Oh no, we don’t need you to set a pick or, God forbid, set up a play for us, but maybe you could go wake George Karl up as we blow this lead and while you’re over there see if Von Wafer is thirsty. Plus, this way you’ll already be back on the defensive end of the floor when the opposition gets the rebound and starts running it down our throats while we cry, complain, and pout to the officiating crew.
Honestly, I know I’m not the only one watching these games with a surround sound system and if I have to hear Carmelo yell out, “Ohhhhh” one more time as he blows a lay-up expecting a call from the refs I’m going to be sicker than I was this whole last week.
The next aspect of this team that is enraging me right now is how George Karl never gets up off the bench. Just once I would like to see Karl get up and throw a clipboard or something to prove to me that he actually is an active part of the game and this team. He never works the officiating crew, never directly calls out an offensive or defensive command, and never serves as the eyes in the back of his players’ heads on defense (a trait that the once fiery Doug Moe and, more recently, Avery Johnson are famous for). And without a floor general, Karl’s laissez faire style leaves the Nuggets like a small ship without an engine in the middle of the artic ocean as the storm of the century is barreling down on them with each crashing wave of their opposition’s will power being slammed into their port and starboard sides.
Moving right along, we come to an even more aggravating trend that I’m starting to see more and more of. It seems to me that there are players on this team that have blatant selfish individual agendas. I’m going to use AI as an example, but by no means is he the only one that is guilty. At least three separate times on fast break opportunities AI had a clear passing lane that would have resulted in a for sure basket, but instead he tried to do it all himself and failed to deliver. A couple of times he did get to the free-throw line, but in some kind of sick and twisted NBA version of Murphy’s law he would miss one of the free-throws as a subtle reminder that the correct play wasn’t made. Now I’m sure that there are a million excuses as to why he, and others, didn’t make the obvious fundamental play at the obviously fundamental instance, but none of them are going to satisfy me or provide any justice to the continuously disappointing results the Nuggets are producing in their last five games of which they have lost four of. Additionally, tonight the Nuggets only finished with 18 assists, and if that doesn’t illustrate my point that guys are playing selfishly I just don’t know how else to paint a clearer picture for you. Oh wait, on second thought, yes I do! The other night against the Rockets the Nuggets only recorded eight assists! Do you need any more proof or is that tasty pudding enough for you?
Next on the laundry list of problems the Nuggets are going through right now is absolutely no solid bench rotation or contribution. Sometimes J.R. Smith is the first off the pine, while other times it is Linas Kleiza or Eduardo Najera. Believe it or not, we are now almost a quarter of the way through the season and there is still no solid rotation of reserves which translates into no established and reliable minutes for the sixth, seventh, and eighth man on the roster; meaning unclear roles for all of the aforementioned. In tonight’s game, the Lakers bench badly out produced the Nuggets reserves, 63-37, and to compound things related to this team’s obvious lack of chemistry even further, the Nuggets are going to have an even bigger playing time quagmire to figure out when guys like Nene, Chucky Atkins, and Steven Hunter are once again available to play!
Then you add in the fact that the Nuggets have only won one game against a team with a winning record and that Carmelo was ejected in the third quarter when he tried to put a frustration fueled choke hold on Sasha Vujacic and I hope you can resonate with some of my sentiments. Hopefully, ‘Melo will not face further punishment for this latest episode because with the way Denver is playing right now I don’t even want to think about what could be a very grim reality against the Clippers tomorrow night at home.
Good grief and good night, Nuggets Nation!