The Denver Nuggets came into the, “City of Angels,” looking to make a statement: that their new formula was working and the panicking fans could ease up a bit. Defeating a solid Clippers team would have been a great way to just that. However, what insured was a disappointing 119-102 loss.
The first two plays of the game were drives that tuned into floaters, in fear of the springy Deandre Jordan in the paint. He didn’t even have to contest the two shots; his highlight reel of ball deflating rejections spoke loud enough to the Denver Nuggets. With the nuggets already weary of getting their shot blocked by the big man, it seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.
What has been revered as our best starting unit, came out a little flat tonight, and that’s going to happen coming off a back to back games against two good opponents. Instead of accepting the Clippers game plan, I believe Nuggets should have gone straight at Deandre trying to force the issue, and get him into foul trouble early allowing us to do what we do best. Gets buckets in the paint off of screens, cuts, backdoors and mismatches that set up our threes to start falling and allow us to control the game.
Instead, they settled for outside jump shots ( jacking up 13 3’s in the first quarter), which enabled the Clippers to not have to do much defensively. Deandre was able to control any traffic in the paint while JJ Redick lit the Nuggets up for 27 points, shooting 7/9 from the three and ending with 62% from the field overall.
Its no secret the nuggets haven’t been able to meet their max potential on the defensive side of things -heck were just now starting to figure things out on the offensive end- but before tonight’s game Denver gave up and average of 113 points from the previous 3 games…that’s not good. When you’re not shooting 50 % or better from the field, games like tonight are only bound to happen. Even when things were starting to turn for the better just a few short games ago, there was a concerning elephant in the room for myself and some of the other crew members here at Dig in Denver: defense.
I personally chalk it up to the same thing that’s been holding up their offense. Not having those consistent rotations with guys being able to play together, learning to trust one another on the defensive end. You have to know that when you rotate over to cover the open man, that your teammate will know his defensive assignment and make sure to execute it so the gaps get covered. Often times the Nuggets main points of defensive struggle are either in transition, off of rolls or during switches. All times when trust, defensive positing and communication are most important, and these rotations are only now being allowed the opportunity to grow together.
Even with tonight’s gut checking, day dream crashing loss, there are a few positives notes to take away. The bench, there’s been some criticism of our bench unit and how Denver often looses its “mojo” if you will, when the second unit starts to rotate in and the starters begin to sit. However the bench came in with a scorching 29 points in the first half and acted as a human tourniquet for a bleeding that was the Nuggets offense and defense.
The positive take away should be that our second unit still posses, the can do, that will really come in handy during close games later on and against upper tier opponents. And that having Faried, and even a recently struggling Barton, will undoubtedly play a huge role moving forward in the season. Hang on Nuggets fans, everyday can’t be the best day. Enjoy the process and continue to back our Nuggets, This is Mile High Basketball , we will only improve. Every loss is an opportunity for growth, and not every loss deserves negative criticism.
“If you live through defeat, you are not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself” – The Rza
What is your biggest take away from tonight’s loss? How can the Nuggets continue to improve and build themselves up from tonight’s lack luster Defensive performance. Email us, or send your thoughts to us on twitter @DiginDenver.