The Nuggets beat the Hornets
Not an easy game for the Hornets. The Nuggets came out with a good defensive game plan and executed it well. With Chris Paul and David West on lockdown, we didn’t have enough weapons to keep the offense going, while the Nuggets were able to keep pouring in points even when their leading scorer was on the bench. Denver gradually wore us down through the first three quarters, but that 14-5 run to start the fourth was the knockout punch. That stretch put us in an 18-point hole and there was no climbing out. 101-88 was the final. A good effort from the Hornets, but the Nuggets had everything clicking.
- Physical game. Might have had something to do with Jerry Springer being in the house. Lots of fouls and free throws. We were 25-of-30 from the line, Nuggets finished 23-of-24. They would have missed more but the Arena folks passed out those Geico caveman heads to the fans behind the basket, which are nowhere near as distracting as the balloons or the Mickey D’s french fries.
- Believe it or not, the first half of the second quarter — when we had mostly reserves in the game — was our best stretch of the game. We outscored the Nuggets 15-7 in those six minutes. Antonio Daniels was making plays, Posey was posting and taking the ball hard to the basket, Hilton was taking charges and holding it down on the glass.
- As mentioned, the Nuggets defense was excellent tonight. They gave CP and West absolutely nothing easy. Chris was being trapped from the start and found the lane crowded whenever he tried to drive. Denver did a good job forcing West to catch the ball far from the basket, and also collapsed on him inside. Because of all that attention, neither of our All-Stars could get a good flow going. We sorely missed Peja to stretch the defense, and Tyson to catch lobs over the top.
- I’m proud of our guys though for constantly pounding the ball inside and getting to the free throw line. For as bad as we got beat, it would have been much worse if we had just settled for long jumpers all evening. If we had managed to make a game of it down the stretch, Denver might have struggled with guys in foul trouble.
- I’m loving the hair, Martine.
- Carmelo rained jumpers on us, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-24 shooting. I can live with that. JuJu and Posey had their turns guarding him, and I believe Rasual got some minutes on him, too. The vast majority of those J’s Carmelo sank were contested. He just knocked them down anyway. He didn’t get to the basket all that much.
- During that key stretch to start the fourth quarter, Denver rolled with a unit consisting of Billups, Anthony Carter, J.R Smith, K-Mart and Birdman. Most of the damage was done by the three guards, swinging the ball around the perimeter and nailing open looks. Byron would bring in Butler for Marks to try match up with them better, but that didn’t help much. Later we went to a zone D with West at center. I wasn’t a big fan of that at all. West isn’t a shot blocker and he doesn’t have quick feet. Recipe for disaster in that situation.
- Byron kept the starters in for most of the fourth, despite the fact that we were trailing by double digits the entire quarter. I agree that you should never give up on the game, but after our big guns gave up that run to start the quarter, their heads were down, they looked tired and defeated. Very little chance they were going to suddenly get energezied, start balling their asses off and overcome the defecit. I would have liked to see some of our hungry bench guys back out there, see if they can make a dent in Denver’s lead, then throw the starters back out with fresh legs if it becomes a game again. Instead we end up with Paul and West playing a combined 82 minutes in a blowout loss.
- Numbers: Denver won the rebounding battle, 39-37. We had 17 turnovers to their 10. Fastbreak points were even at 17, while we led points in the paint, 38-30. 19 points, 13 assists, 6 boards, 6 turnovers for Chris Paul. 18 points for West on 6-of-19 shooting.
- So Ryan Bowen suffered a separated shoulder on Monday but was able to play today. Whatever medication/treatment enabled him to that, we need to try on Peja.
Overall, I can’t be mad about this loss. The Nuggets just had more weapons than us on the night, and they executed well to boot.
In rival action tonight, the Spurs beat the Hawks, the Mavs beat the Warriors, and the Jazz will probably end up beating the Suns. Not a good evening for the Hornets. The brave among you can check the latest standings here.
Next up, the Hornets jet off to NYC for Friday’s showdown with the Knicks. Myself and some buddies have nothing better to do with our lives, so we’ll be there, too. We don’t get to see enough Hornets games in New Orleans after all. I’ll try post some notes and pics from the trip on the Twitter machine.