Holidays not so jolly for Nuggets
Nuggets fans, do you want the good news or the bad news first? After a discouraging loss to the Grizzlies, the Nuggets found themselves face to face with a soaring Atlanta Hawks team, second to Orlando in the southeast division. With injuries seeping into the locker room, Denver would have to dig deep into the bench to find hope, his name was Smith, J.R. Smith.
The Good News:
Last Wednesday, December 23rd, the Nuggets were without Chauncey Billups (groin) so rookie Lawson and the rediculous Smith were handed the keys and let loose in the Pepsi Center. Who knew that night would result in a bench domination over ATL’s finest. Melo quietly filled the basket with 24 points,Â andÂ the newly nabbed Tar Heel, Ty Lawson,Â dropped 16. But the lights and the night belonged to the one J.R. Smith, who wentÂ batty on the Hawks, seemingly lapping defenders around the court to find space with the rock. Teammates, feeling the heat coming off J.R.’s fingers gave up some good looks out of respect to the hot handed Smith who finshished the Hawks and the game with 41 points as Denver dropped the Hawks 124-104.
The Bad News:
On Friday, December 25th,Â the Nuggets celebrated Christmas in the grand city of Portland; however,Â Denver would regret ever stepping foot into the Rose Garden Arena. Chauncey returned to the lineup for Denver, contributing 10 points and 5 assists before sitting the second half for precautionary reasons, leaving an injured Billups to watch his team get torched by a motivated Blazer squad. The Blazer Brandon Roy took charge scoring 41 points, supported by ex-Nuggets point guardsÂ Steve Blake with 17 and Andre Miller’s 14. Carmelo did his best to recover the Nuggets early lead fumble adding 32 points, and J.R. Smith continued his hot hand with 20, but the lack of defensive consistency from Denver allowed Portland to pull away as Steve Blake dropped 3 from beyond the arch in the final 4 minutes. Denver left Portland in a not so jolly mood, losing 107-96.
More Bad News:
On Sunday, December 27th,Â after shaking off the ash left over from Portland, the leagues best home team in Denver would try their hand against the struggling Mavericks. Before stating the outcome, what do you as a fan think would be the outcome if I stated the following statistics for the night: 7 Mavs score in the double digits; Melo scores 16; Mavs Drew Gooden grabs 19 boards (8 more than the leading Nuggets rebounder); Kenyon Martin leads the Nuggets in scoring with 18. I’ll tell you what that sounds like, it sounds like a home town train wreck, and it was. Denver was once again without team leader Chauncey Billups, and once again they never seemed to keep a defensive or offensive rythm. Despite the horrific stats, Denver kept themselves in the game, but the clutch shooting Nowitzki kicked the comebackÂ the ladder aside with a late 4th quarter 3 pointer as the Mavericks outÂ gunned and outmanned the Nuggets 104-96.
Even More Bad News:
And finally, last night, December 28th, the Denver Nuggets found hope to discontinue their recent losing habit, meeting the young and frail Sacramento Kings. The game started as expected by NBA enthusiasts, as the Nuggets bruised the Kings early ending the first quarter ahead by 6. Now was the time for Denver to unleash their frustrations and roll-up the Kings to help put aside the last two defeats, now was the time to show that Denver can bounce back from adversity…dang it! Why couldn’t the Kings just go away? Sacramento came out in the second quarter alive and agile, unwilling to accept defeat as the team compiled 3 pointer after 3 pointer. Andres Nocioni scored his season high with 21 points, hitting 4 from beyond the arch and helped spoil a Denver revival game, as they conquered the Denver Nuggets 106-101.
I understand the ratio of good to bad news is not appealing, but the Nuggets performance as of late has been nothing short of shoddy. How and when will they find a foothold and regain a dominant stance in the West and once again strike fear into opponents who dare to enter the Pepsi Center, home of Melo, Mr. Big Shot and the Brazilian? When will the Nuggets overcome injuries to hold off the opposition? Hopefully some time soon. A few bright lights ahead are Chauncey’s return to full strength on Saturday, the ever increasingly confident Nene and the rise of J.R. Smith as he once again takes us on the ramp of his abilities.
Luckily Denver has a 4 day break before ringing in the New Year and riding the slopes to Utah on Saturday, then headingÂ back over the mountains home to match up with the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.