Well guys, another tough loss against a contender in the bag. One can only shudder at the thought that the Spurs still has to play Boston and Denver on the road. It's difficult to recap a game under such conditions, but I will try my best to be level-headed and all that rational thinking crap. Let's do this.
I'll try to make things brief so that the pain won't be too much. I think I'll load the bullets on this one.
First Half Highlights
- We held the Nuggets to 48% shooting and made our shots for a 52% clip. The scoring was pretty much balanced, as TP and TD carried the starters while Gino and Hill led the BAM.
- After getting blocked on his first two attempts, the basketball gods smiled a bit on DeJuan Blair as he made a crazy score: he lost the ball on a drive attempt (a spin move, if I remember correctly), but the ball hit his freakishly long arms and went in the basket. Unfortunately, that was the only memorable thing for him. He accumulated three fouls in the first quarter, and didn't get to play for most of the game.
- George Hill made a buzzer beating three to end the half. I thought it was a sign of good luck coming into the second. Alas, it wasn't.
- Before he exploded, Melo was shooting 4-11 and had only 12 points. He got the Bogeyman in foul trouble early. Switching to Anthony, RJ did a pretty good job blanketing Melo and making life tough for him.
- JR Smith helped keep the Nuggets close. After getting a tech, I thought he was going to come apart at the seams again but kudos to him, he didn't. He kept on attacking and finished the half with 11 points.
- Turnover story: Spurs 8, Nuggets 7. Just wanted to keep an eye on it.
- TD really did a good job fending off the Nuggets' 3rd quarter assault. He dropped 10 points in the quarter on an assortment of post moves and drives against Nene. He's too good, but he shouldn't be shouldering the load too much.
- Sadly, this is where the defense also let Melo go off. He just abused Bogans. He shot over Keith, went around him, pushed him around and got fouls. Another thing I noticed is that after benching Bogans, Pop put Finley on him instead of RJ. You know how that went. Carmelo finished the 3rd quarter with 14 points, got his mojo going, and the Spurs lead now by only one.
- By the time the fourth came rolling around, Melo was just locked in. You can call out RJ for his timid offense and all, but he was really expending a lot of energy on covering Anthony, which I think Rage did a decent job of. Melo was just on at this point, it's hard to make the guy miss. It doesn't help, too, that he was getting almost all the calls.
- Turnovers story at the end of the game: 19-14, Spurs. From the top of my head, these are the boneheaded plays I can remember: (in no particular order)
- Tim sets a screen, defense comes to trap. Tony tries to split the trap but ends up getting tangled up with Timmy and loses the ball.
- Keith Bogans puts too much mustard on the entry pass to RJ, the ball sails over Jefferson's head.
- Tony gets another screen from Tim, uses it but spins towards the other direction in hopes of faking out his defender. Unfortunately, Tim's man was waiting for him there, Tony fumbles the ball and loses it.
- Manu gets confused with another trap by the Nuggets, and throws the ball away.
- George Hill tries to lob a pass to Timmy but instead throws a fast ball waaay over Duncan's head.
- Several drives by Tony, Manu and RJ where they get stripped.
There are many others but that's been the story so far the past two games. It's uncharacteristic of the Spurs, and I'm pretty sure Pop and his staff will do something about it.
- We got beat on the boards, 31-38. The Nuggets had six offensive rebounds in the second half, most of which were in the fourth where they managed to successfully derail every stop we made just because we couldn't secure the defensive board.
- On the plus side, Tony was really looking for his shot and kept us close in the 4th. If not for him and Timmy's brilliance inside, this would not be as close as the score suggests.
- And yes, we made our free throws. Most of them, anyway. 26-31 for 83%. We even beat out the Nuggs on that one, as they only made 79% of theirs. Yay.
- Matt Bonner's shot was way off tonight, but Pop kept him on the floor mostly because Dice was again ineffective and Matt was hustling. He did secure a couple of offensive boards and kept some possessions going by tapping the ball out.
- Speaking of Matt, he should never again put the ball on the floor. If he does, he shouldn't take it too far off inside the paint. That's just suicide.
- We all know Manu's still not his old self, but each game he gets slightly better. I'll give him that. If the Nuggets try the same trapping defense in our next meeting, he'll be ready, as will the team, too. That I can guarantee.
- FinDog has a sprained ankle. Let's hope he's okay and heals right away. I get nervous when injuries happent to old people.
- RoMaJu got only 2 minutes of burn. Injury bug still bothering him, maybe?
- I like the way we kept on attacking in the first half, and when the lane was filled, we kicked it back out to the shooter. We made SIX threes that way. The second half? Just ONE. We finished 7-21 on threes. You can say we tried to be aggressive still in the second half, but where did the drive-and-kick game go? I think we relied too much on the drive-and-dump game, if you ask me.
- My hope is, Karl will be too dumb to just stick to the same things, and Pop will be too smart. He'll make counters for the Nuggets' defense, and counter-counters, if the Pillsbury Doughboy is smart enough to come up with some. On offense, I hope Melo won't be on fire as much.
- Ty Lawson is fast. Like Mach 5-Speed Racer fast. And he got a lot of calls from the refs. He's a rookie, by the way. Like another version of JJ Barea that will kill us in the future.
- The Nuggets played an 8-man rotation. Karl really treated this like a playoff game and wanted to win badly. He and his team deserved it.
- I was ranting a lot about them during the game threads, so I'll shut up about the refs. They don't deserve a lot more words than this bullet.
- Lastly, I wrote it above but wanted to ask the question again. Is Timmy doing too much, this early? Can't help but feel a little deja vu from last season where he was carrying the team. Tony did his part tonight, and Manu, too in some stretches. RJ was nowhere near helpful on offense, while Dice was the same on both ends. Props to Pop, however, for still keeping Timmy's minutes down - he played 35 this game, near his average of 32.
That's it for now. Wayne will have a full-blown recap, complete with Janie's photos. The tough stretch continues with a trip to Utah and visit our nightmare, the Jazz. We're 0-2 against them so far. A road win should set us on the right track again. As far as I know, I'm not hitting the panic button just yet.