Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

The frustration of watching the Nuggets

Posted by mizzou1028 on March 11, 2008

At the start of the season it seemed impossible to think that the Denver Nuggets were going to miss the NBA playoffs.  They possess two of the top scorers in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.  They have the reigning defensive player of the year in Marcus Camby.  They have a sharpshooter coming off the bench in J.R. Smith who can provide instant offense.  They’ve even had Eduardo Najera and Linas Kleiza emerge during the course of the season to fill in key roles.  Their record isn’t even that bad, 37-26, which in any other year would put them in easy playoff position.  Heck, if they were playing in the Eastern Conference instead of the West, the Nuggets would be seeded fourth in the playoff bracket if the season ended today.   Because they play out west however, the Nuggets find themselves in the number nine position in the conference, two and a half games out of a playoff spot.  The fact is this year’s playoff race out west is shaping to be more competitive than possibly any other in league history, and the Nuggets are finding themselves on the outside looking in with less than 20 games remaining in the regular season.

It’s easy to use the competitive field as an excuse for the Nuggets being ninth in the conference right now, but the bottom line is a team that talented should not be missing the playoffs, period.  What makes them so frustrating to watch at times is they’ve shown they can beat anybody, they just can’t seem to do it consistently.  Last week they blew out the Phoenix Suns and then overcome a double digit deficit to beat defending champ San Antonio.  Granted, both games were on their home court at the Pepsi Center, but they were great efforts against great teams at the right time of year.  The efforts were essentially rendered moot however, when the Nuggets followed them with a listless performance in a key division game at Utah, getting hammered 132-105.  Last night the Nuggets daunting schedule continued with a visit to San Antonio.  Somewhat surprisingly, the Nuggets held a three point lead at halftime, and led by as many as nine in the third quarter.  Despite losing the lead partly because they lost their composure, with Camby and Anthony each picking up technical fouls for arguing calls,  the Nuggets regrouped and found themselves tied with the Spurs at 100 apiece with two minutes to go.

The rest of the game illustrated much of what has been plaguing the Nuggets all year.  The Nuggets actually toughened up on defense, forcing a missed shot by the Spurs’ Tony Parker.  As has been the case many times this year, the Nuggets stood around and watched the Spurs get the offensive rebound.  Then another shot, another miss, and another offensive rebound.  The Spurs looked discombobulated on offense, and Tim Duncan drove the lane awkwardly.  He threw up a wild shot which was blocked by Kenyon Martin, but Carmelo Anthony fouled Duncan in the process of trying to help out.  For those not keeping track, the Nuggets allowed two offensive rebounds on the biggest possession of the game, and ended up putting Duncan at the foul line.  After Duncan sank the two free throws to put the Spurs up two, Allen Iverson kept the ball on the next possession and threw up a wild fadeaway jumper with a hand in his face.  Not surprisingly the shot missed the Spurs got the rebound.  Mind you there was still more than a minute remaining, so the Nuggets would have had plenty of time to get into their offense and get a good shot.  Instead, Iverson jacked up a fadeaway before even 10 seconds had elapsed off the shot clock.  After the Spurs made two more free throws following a Nuggets foul, J.R. Smith jacked up a wild three before the Nuggets could get into their offense.  The Nuggets ended up losing a game they had a chance to win, and missed a chance to make a statement by beating a top team on the road.

The other underlying theme from last night’s game was the fact that Anthony was essentially absent in the entire fourth quarter.  Looking back at the stats last night, Anthony didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter, and I’m not even sure he got a shot off in the frame.  For all that Iverson has done since coming to Denver, and he has done more than he’s gotten acknowledgement for, Anthony is the leader of the team.  For him to be that unproductive in the fourth quarter of a key game is inexcusable.  There is a reason why he doesn’t get the accolades that fellow draft class members LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have received.  Those two have led their teams to the NBA Finals.  The Nuggets have not made it out of the first round since Anthony’s arrival.  The way they’re headed this season, they could go down as the most talented team ever to miss the playoffs.  They still have 19 games remaining in the regular season, including several coming up against teams they should easily beat.  Will they step up and get it together?  It’s a question of whether we’ll see the team that’s defeated the Suns, Spurs and Celtics in recent weeks, or whether we’ll see the team that blew a 23 point lead to hapless Milwaukee and didn’t show up in Utah.  The Nuggets have the talent to be a playoff team and should be a playoff team.  That is, if they stop getting in their own way while trying to get there. 


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