Game 1 Recap: The Nuggets Beat the Hornets

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Published: April 20, 2009

The Nuggets came out poorly, rushing shots, turning the ball over and generally looking pretty jittery.  If not for Billups having an absolutely crazy game shooting the ball, they would have been down after that first quarter.  The second quarter was about the same . . . and then the wheels fell off.

That third quarter run was pretty demoralizing.  Sadly, you could tell the Hornets got demoralized by it too and the fight went out of everyone not named Paul.  It’s what we’ve seen over the last month or so, but something I didn’t think we’d see with a real game on the line, particularly with Chandler there.  Sadly, it happened again. Paul has to be seething right now.

Observations:

  • Carmelo loved him some jumpers.  From the first posession of the game on, he took them, and took them pretty much exclusively.  Great for us.  Too bad it didn’t matter.
  • I know Billups was blistering from deep, but I give the game ball to Nene.  The Big Brazilian took the ball into the post and punished the Hornets, getting easy shots or fouls or both with a myriad of very nice moves.  His work down low put most the Hornets big men in foul trouble, which in turn made that third quarter run possible.  Never have I seen 12 points matter more in a game.  His boardwork was also stellar.
  • Paul took a bunch of contested threes in the game.  I’m not sure why, since some of them were with more than six or seven seconds on the clock.  He hit a few, but that’s still not the shot I want to see him taking.  He even turned down an open Butler rolling off a curl to take one.  Strange.  The Nuggets didn’t trap that much, but when they did, Paul moved immediately to counter it, splitting or lobbing to Peja.  He got 21 and 11, but missed a lot of easy ten-foot jumpers.
  • The Nuggets were aggressive going to the hole – at least a couple of them were.  As a result, the Nuggets got themselves a ton of free throws from fouls both real and imagined.  Tyson got five, which isn’t that surprising, but Peja and Butler, who usually average 3.2 fouls a game in 72 combined minutes, were called for 9 fouls in 58.
  • I didn’t see Tyson explode to a rebound one time.  I saw Nene beat him three times to rebounds in his own area, something you’d never, ever see last year.  That ankle is in bad shape.
  • West didn’t have an easy time of it.  His fifteen footer wasn’t falling, and when he went into the post Nene and Martin did their usual great job of pushing him off balance and making him take a contested shot.  There was a stretch in the third where he got several straight posessions that ended in tough missed shots and a turnover.  4-16 for 12 points, 6 rebounds and a turnover.
  • Tyson didn’t get a lot of run due to foul trouble.  He was a little overamped, flailing more than he should.  I know when he’s like that he half irritates me.  I can only imagine what the referees feel.
  • Devin Brown made me sad.  Posey made me sadder.
  • Chauncey Billups is great at hitting threes as he approaches the three point line.  Yes, tonight his shooting was completely ridiculous, but really – how about someone try and meet him before he reaches the line.  Maybe?  Anyone?  Can someone please pick him up at half-court?
  • Julian Wright entered the game – and on his first defensive posession over-helped on penetration, leaving Linas Kleiza wide open in the corner for a three pointer.
  • The bench in the second quarter actually did a decent job, keeping the game even until all the starters had checked back in.  They had opportunities to actually improve on the score, but I’m not willing to ask that much of them.  Just keeping it the way it was when they left, I’m fine with that.

Next game is Wednesday.  Maybe we’ll see the guys come out then with some fire in their bellies.

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