If you’re a Nuggets fan, this quote should resonate with you—“life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” That’s what watching just about any given Nuggets game is like and tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers was no different—it was unpredictable.
The start of tonight’s game was interesting enough—the first 10 points for Denver that went on the board came from C Nikola Jokic before the other starters began to add to that. The Nuggets were outscored 30-28 in the first but fought back in the second, outscoring Philadelphia 32-30. At the half, the Nuggets and Sixers were tied at 60. At the end of the 3rd, the Sixers powered back against the Nuggets, outscoring them 31-27. The 4th quarter is where things got interesting.
After being down by 10, the Nuggets rallied and were down just one point with 1:43 left in the 4th after Wilson Chandler made a jumper. That’s when T.J. McConnell fired back and hit a 3-pointer (his third of the night), and left a 4 point deficit between the Nuggets and Sixers. From there, Danilo Gallinari was fouled by Joel Embiid and made both shots from the line, leaving the score at 117-115. Fast forward to 49 seconds on the clock when Nikola Jokic was fouled and made both of his shots, tying up the game at 117. Wilson Chandler then turned around and fouled Joel Embiid, who missed the first free throw but made the second, putting the Nuggets down by 1.
Fifteen seconds left on the clock—Gary Harris fouled Joel Embiid once more where Embiid made both free throws, putting the Sixers up 120-117. With 10 seconds left on the clock, Gallo made a driving dunk, putting the Nuggets down by 1 at 120-119.
This is where the controversy comes in. The Dig In team and I spent some time post game discussing our thoughts on this play and the timing of it all.
With 5 seconds on the clock, T.J. McConnell fouled Mudiay who made his first free throw but then purposely missed the second in hopes that the Nuggets would get the rebound, put the shot up, and tie the game up to take us into OT. Instead, Joel Embiid got the defensive rebound where he was fouled by The Joker. Embiid went to the line and made both of his free throws.
Are you still with me at this point? If I lost you, the score at this point is 124-120, the Nuggets trailing by 4.
On the other end of the court, Nikola Jokic went up for the three and was fouled. The Joker made his first two shots and missed the third. Gary Harris got the defensive rebound and missed his short. Kenneth Faried went up for the 3-footer and missed. Finally, Wilson Chandler tried the shot with 1 second left on the clock but missed. The Nuggets lost 124-122.
First and foremost, before you read ahead, understand that all of the Dig In team has basketball experience. With that being said, none of us have been an NBA coach or player so there’s a side of the story that we may not understand—these are just the thoughts of the Dig in Denver team. The first side of the Mudiay missing his second FT controversy begins with the belief that it was too early for Mudiay to miss his free throw; that there was enough time on the clock for Mudiay to have made the free throw and extend the game. The other half is that the decision for Mudiay to miss his FT in an attempt to get the offensive rebound was the right choice and that it was a coaches decision to show his confidence in his players.
The Nuggets continue to lack on the defensive end of the court and, had they actually played defense, they, without a doubt, would have left the Pepsi Center tonight with a W. If the Nuggets had played better defense, Ersan Ilyasova wouldn’t have finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
“Our defense was nonexistant tonight. When you don’t play defense in the NBA, you can lose on any given night.” -Coach Malone, post-game.
This isn’t a game that should have been lost. The 76ers came to Denver on the second night of a back-to-back and the Nuggets should have taken advantage of that. The Sixers lost last night to the Jazz and they should have done the same tonight in the Mile High City.
Tonight, the 76ers shot 43.7% from the field and 48.5% from three-point land. The Sixers had 43 rebounds, 25 assists, and 33 personal fouls. Joel Embiid fouled out in the 4th quarter. The Nuggets shot 46.4% from the field and 40.7% from downtown. The Nuggets had 45 rebounds, 29 assists, and 26 personal fouls. The Joker, Gallo, and Jameer Nelson all ended the game in foul trouble, having 5 a piece. In his 19 minutes, Jusuf Nurkic managed to pick up four fouls. It was not a good night for the Nuggets.
Denver posses the talent to be the 7th or 8th seed but when will they realize that they have to take advantage of that?
January holds a string of difficult opponents that the Nuggets will have to face…will they turn things around in hopes that they can come back and take the 8th seed?
What are your thoughts on tonight’s game? Leave your thoughts below.