Dashing through the Clippers, in a one horse hoopin’ sleigh (see what I did there), O’er the court we run, scoring all the wayyyy…yea, it wasn’t that good, my bad Nuggets Nation. But we love the holidays, and what better way to cap this holiday season than with the Denver Nuggets escaping a slim, 106-102, victory over a crippled Clippers Monday night Los Angeles? A lot actually, we shouldn’t have struggled that much… But hey in the spirit of the holidays, let’s stay optimistic.
With the Nuggets now 14-17 they continue to leave Denver hopefuls that we will be in contention of the 8th spot in the West. Even though the Nuggets played a half dismantled Clippers, who were missing three of their best players’, Griffin (Knee), Paul (hamstring) and Redick (hamstring) this Nuggets win is still key to the outlook of the season. Because what feels like for the first time this season, they looked to be figuring out what having a defensive mindset can help them to accomplish. After starting off a little sluggish and unorganized, the good guys were able to rack up 13 points in the first half whilst in transition, mainly from either forced turnovers, or contested shots. The rotations were on point and fluent, because of that the offense was able to flourish. Good defense leads to high percentage transition points. Especially, when Thrill (Barton) is running lead. With Denver’s’ game plan in full effect (Malone told me this was their game plan) the Nuggets were able to make Clippers Big Man Deandre Jordan almost a nonfactor, who gave the Nuggets an pletora of problems in their last meeting that resulted in a Denver loss. Without him camping in the paint, changing player’s shots, or forcing us to settle for outside shots. The Nuggets found themselves feeling comfortable, and aggressive to the rim thus leading them to the charity line 28 times where they made 82.1 % of those visits.
The Nuggets have now shown consciousness in their most fatal flaw to date, there defense. This should be the turning point for the coaching staff and the rest of the Mile High Basketball club, that Defense: must become a focal point, if they wish to further their playoff efforts and become a legit contender in the West. Combining our potent offense with a nagging defense is the only way Denver can survive against top tier teams. Scoring alone with be ousted by a more complete game.m After all that’s what good teams do, they execute at both sides of the court. Assistant coach Micah Nori even alluded to this truth with Denvers’ noble Ms. Ally Sturm (Hi Ally):
“They hit us in the mouth early, we were a little catawampus defensively, but we squared away defensively, and went on that 22/6 run at the end of the half”
See, they get it. Defense leads to offense… a tale as old as time (Mike Miller for comparison)
The defense wasn’t the only thing gaining traction. Will the “Thrill” Barton seems to be getting back into last season forum, and getting his feet under him after struggling to find his rhythm coming off the injury that sidelined him for a few games early on this season. Barton’s agility, and ability to get out in transition really helped the Denver to find some steam tonight. He was dishing the ball to open cutter when he drove to the lane, got the open three-point shooters the ball, but also finished at the rim, putting up a career high 23 points, and dished out a cool 6 assist. Barton has recently been the source of some trade rumors, and it is nights like tonight that really showcase why people are calling on the talented scorer. With Barton lacking no confidence, look for his rhythm continue and come into his own. This will be key to the Nuggets success later in the season, especially if Denver can keep in the race for the 8th spot in the western conference. Barton wasn’t the only Nugget ballin’ tonight , Denver had 2 player with double-doubles in Galo, and Jokic. Jokic showed out tonight, even though getting in foul trouble again, and ended with 24 points and 10 rebounds outshining Deandre Jordan. Crazy to think what this kid could do if he doesn’t force coaches hand to get him out of the game. Galo was a threat tonight putting up 23 points and 11 rebounds. A mixture of vets and young guys getting in done to outlast the Clippers at the Staples Center.
Nugget of the Night: Will Barton
Bet you didn’t see that one coming…. But truthfully, with all the trade rumors surrounding Barton, his reactions to them, and his recent improvement in the last few games (shooting 54% from the field in the last 6 games) he has been due to go off. Glad to have the Thrill back and producing meaningful minutes.
Your Denver Nugget look to continue the fight for the 8th spot in the west with the Minnesota
Keys to getting the W:
- Nuggets must stop KAT. Denver has struggled to stop the top scorers on the opposing teams, Denver can’t afford to let him get going and get his team in rhythm.
- Jokic HAS TO STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE. The last two games when Jokic is riding the pine due to sloppy fouls, the Nuggets find themselves in a big disadvantage and have to fight back to get into the game.
- Defensive mindset. Denver has to take long hard look at what was working tonight when thyme went on that huge run.
With the Nuggets remaining schedule, do you think this team can berth a playoff spot for the first time in years?
What’s the biggest threat to that goal?
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