The Nuggets Beat the Hornets

Published: March 13, 2010

The Nuggets came visiting and though the Hornets fought all game long, the Nuggets executed beautifully at the end behind Carmelo and Billups and took the win at the Hive.  The last two minutes of Hornets posessions were a bit frustrating.  They took lots of what I call “Hero Shots” as multiple Hornets took off-balance three pointers instead of chipping away at the Nuggets lead.  They had lots of chances there – but came up empty on all those poor attempts.

Still, I enjoy watching the team playing hard.  It’s why I watch basketball.

Oh, and this was odd . . . the Hornets didn’t seem to miss James Posey much.  Any surprise at this?  No?

David West

For the second time in recent games, I came away very happy with David West’s play.  He seemed really focused and played aggressively.  Against Nene, he drove hard, picking up fouls on help defenders, and against Andersen, he did exactly what you need to do against a lanky shot-blocker – he put his shoulder into his chest, made it near impossible for him to leap quickly, and powered in a shot over his head.  Even defensively West was working hard, talking and switching and doubling on Carmelo hard in the second quarter.  He even led a fast break, taking the middle of the floor with the ball, and then sprinted ahead of the field for a fast break dunk off a turnover he wasn’t even involved in.

Try as I might, I can’t really figure out where this West has been all season.  He looks almost joyful out there at times.  I know its a bit of blasphemy, but sometimes I wonder if Chris Paul’s intensity and continuous barking sometimes wears on his teammates.  I know if a teammate at work kept vocally pointing out my errors, I’d probably accidentally spill coffee all over his or her laptop.  Not that I make errors.  Really.

The Rookies

Collison didn’t really stop Chauncey Billups from doing what he usually does – but he also kept him from running all over him at the same time.  I’m actually pretty impressed by that.  Chauncey’s game is intelligent and savvy – and Collison didn’t get suckered into his pump-fakes, and met him in transition well above the three point line, forcing him to put the ball on the floor more than he’d like to.  The rook is pretty smart.

Marcus Thornton’s numbers would have looked better if he hadn’t indulged in a batch of the Hero Shots I mentioned above at the end of the game.  For the rest of the contest, he was efficient as usual, and even with those bad shots, his line was pretty: 23 points on 18 shots, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 3 turnovers.  I guess he did struggle a little as the backup point guard, not handling the Nuggets defensive pressure that well, but that’s a small quibble.

Other Observations:

  • I could use more of the Julian Wright we saw tonight.  Of course, I’ve said that probably two dozen times over the last two years.  I’ve also said the exact opposite the same amount of times.  Regardless, he played a good all around game, producing what he’d always teased us with: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals.  In particular, he had a bunch of very slick and very entertaining shovel passes, and his defense on Carmelo was energetic and solid. 
  • Speaking of Carmelo – he was a load on the glass.  He outmuscled West and Okafor at the same time for three offensive rebounds.  That  ability on the boards is something he’s developed the last couple years, and it makes him infinitely harder to handle.  Melo also hit a LOT of long jumpers tonight.  He was taking the shots the Hornets wanted him to take, he was just hitting them too.
  • The Nuggets opened the game trying to pressure Collison and force turnovers.  Collison handled that like a champ, getting away from the pressure and hitting the open player, who usually got the ball to Okafor for an easy score.  After about four trips of applying that pressure and it not working, the Nuggets abandoned it for the rest of the game.
  • The Hornets best runs occured with Collison, Thornton and Wright providing energy and transition offense.  It’s what we saw in January when the Hornets went 12-5, and used that as a second unit to wreak havoc.  For Wright to be successful, I think he does have to have a shooting guard next to him who can hit the three.  If the other team can play off the 2-guard(like they can with Peterson) then Julian’s only reliable offensive skill – driving and dishing – becomes much, much harder.
  • It seems I say this a lot about JR, but his game has barely developed at all since when he was a Hornet.  He still makes the same mistakes, and his positive attributes are still more often than not completely lost in all the errors.
  • Okafor was solid and played off Collison well.  Songaila was not, since when he’s missing his mid-range shot, he becomes a liability really fast.  Aaron Gray is not particularly helpful against an aggressive, drive-focused team like Denver.  Too much moving of feet is required.

Next game is Sunday against Phoenix as the Hornets kick off a tough road trip.  Have a good night.

UPDATE: Game highlights from…

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