Streak Snapped, But Nuggets Make Case

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The absence of penetrating point guard Ty Lawson for a third consecutive game finally caught up to the Denver Nuggets and one streak is dead.

While the Miami Heat, surviving now two games without Dwyane Wade thanks to that fella named LeBron James, demolished Orlando for consecutive win No. 27 on Monday, Denver’s franchise-best 15-game win streak came to a miserable end in New Orleans. The Hornets, playing without their two best players, Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon, got hot early and rode it to a 110-86 romp.

Hey, it happens. What it reveals is the importance of the Nuggets’ previously sizzling point guard, who is out with a bruised and tender heel.

Denver squeaked past Philadelphia and Sacramento at home to keep the streak alive without Lawson, but at New Orleans, with little ball movement, the Nuggets shot just 37.9 percent and were outscored in the paint (44-38) for the first time since December. Denver averages 57.6 points in the paint per game, a league best by far.

What the loss should in no way diminish is Denver’s dominant play during the streak — eight wins by double-digit points and eight over current playoff teams — and the very real possibility that this supposedly star-less juggernaut could represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

* Not only streak snapped: The Hornets became the first team to dump Denver since Feb. 22, and is also the first West team to beat the Nuggets since Jan. 16, ending the Nuggets’ 15-game roll against conference foes.

Denver’s more modest six-game road winning streak also came to an end, a run that dates back to Feb. 22 at Washington. For a team that exhausts opponents at home (32-3) but has trouble transferring its up-tempo attack on the road (17-20) — and with homecourt advantage in the first round still up for grabs — the six-pack of road victories should serve as a confidence boost.

As for the Nuggets’ snapped West streak, Oklahoma City had been the last to beat them, which makes sense since the Thunder own a conference-best 34-12 record against West teams. However, did you know that the Nuggets are second-best at 32-12? They’ve also handed the Thunder one-fourth of their conference losses, going 3-1 against the reigning West champs, including last week’s 114-104 runaway at OKC.

* Making case against West’s best: Against the West’s other seven current playoff teams, Denver is 18-6, including 9-4 against San Antonio (1-1) — where the Nuggets play Wednesday night — OKC (3-1), the Clippers (2-1) and Memphis (3-1). The Nuggets are 3-0 against Houston with one to go in Denver (April 6) and 6-2 against the Warriors and Lakers.

* Homing in on homecourt: With 10 games to go, the Nuggets are fourth in the West, essentially tied with the No. 3 Clippers in the standings, but one game back in the loss column. They’re one game ahead off No. 5 Memphis but tied in the loss column. Of their 10 games left, six are at home and five are against current playoff teams. However, Denver must travel to desperate No. 9 Utah (April 3) and has two left against surging No. 10 Dallas — one at home (April 4) and one on the road (April 12).

23 Comments

  1. amlowlife says:

    If Lawson continues to miss games–and it sounds like he might–the Nuggets will slip to 5th in the West. Hopefully, Gasol will miss the first round but, if not, it’s gonna be tough to make it past the Grizz. C’mon, Ty–heal, baby, heel!

  2. Kamote says:

    People fail to see that the Nuggets do have great players, but just chose to play in a team system. Iguodala and A. Miller once led their own teams. Galo and Lawson can be stars to bad teams or 2nd/3rd options to good ones. Faried is just in his second year but his potential is sky-high. JaVale can be a bone-head sometimes, but a great coach can utilize his freakish athleticism. They have good role players in Chandler, Brewer and Koufos.

    The scary part is this is still a young team, where the eldest (next to Miller) is Iguodala at 29. Give a couple more years for these young core to develop and you’d be looking at an elite west team. The good thing is, since no one is considered a “star player”, we just hope that these players won’t be asking for max contracts so that they can keep their core (unlike with OKC) for a long time.

  3. RealityCheck says:

    Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but the Nuggets WILL NOT make it past the second round of the playoffs. They have a 17-20 road record. They are great at home, but come playoff time that advantage goes away. I love watching them play, but predicting them to make it out of the west… I don’t think so.

    • RaMi_33 says:

      That’s funny how you said they will struggle in the road at WC… well as you can see, NUGGETS are now 3rd in the WC ladder and if they stay there or even just go down to fourth, they’ll have homecourt advantage in the first round. Did you also know that NUGGETS has a good record this season vs the other top 7 WC team including 3-1 vs THUNDER, 3-1 vs MEMPHIS, 2-1 vs CLIPPERS and 1-1 vs SPURS meaning we also pretty much got Homecourt advantage for the entire WC playoffs… so I don’t really know what you’re on about here RealityCheck. :O

  4. jonny says:

    Thanks you for finally postintg this article. Yes it might amaze people that the nuggets have beaten the clippers, thunder, grizzlies, golden state, and lakers, and Houston in the season series and hopefully the san Antonio spurs this season. That might be some sort of record actually ha. The spurs and nuggets have had by far the hardest season schedule this season and yet they are both very dominant. I don’t know how it will actually play out but the nuggets and spurs in the west conference finals is what’s meant to be this year. They have both earned it and have the top 2 coaches of the year. I don’t know if the nuggets can pull that one out but I will still be happy to see them get out of the first round this year……which they WILL.

  5. Kobeblackhole says:

    at least the nuggets are better than the lakers who is led by that ballhog kobe hahaha

  6. Fundamentals > Flash says:

    I’m a Spurs fan through and through. But the Nuggets are a great team and are the closest thing to the Spurs style of play. Unselfish, TEAM basketball wins games and that’s what they’re doing. Not to mention they play tough D. I’m still rooting for my Spurs to win it all, but the Nuggets are a great team.

  7. AVAKIL says:

    Any real basketball fan’s got to admire how the Nuggets are playing no matter which team your rooting for…its unselfish, raw, energetic, leave-it-all-out-there team basketball at its best…George Karl’s doing a hell of a job he should definitely be among top 2 for coach of the year

  8. Justin says:

    I’ll just glaze right over that comment by Big Al. I’ve been a life long Nugs fan and season ticket holder. I have so much more confidence in this team to advance all the way to the Finals than I have any year I’ve watched the team. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs though, this team tied a Nuggets record set back in the ABA days of basketball. That alone fact is nothing to idly dismiss.

    My hope is we finish within the top 4. The West is as competitive as its been since I can remember. The Thunder are still the favorite, but I could see any team knocking them off. Particularly the Nuggets.

  9. Sonics 4 Life says:

    NOLA has beat some pretty big competitors so far this season. They’re like the Suns and Cavs, underestimated because they are lottery-bound, but a force to be reckoned with on their home court.

  10. Jim says:

    This coming from a Raptors fan,if the Nuggets are as bad as you say they wouldn’t have won that many games already plain and simpe :)

  11. Big Al says:

    Losing to NOH is just lame, especially for a team that prides to be among the best. They are without Ty Lawson, the closest thing they can get to a superstar, but the Hornets were also without Gordon and Vasquez and the Nuggets still lost. Well, it’s better to end any such hype for Denver. Management doesn’t deserve a title anyway, not after trading Iverson and Nené rather than getting a coach to make those two and Anthony work when they were still together. The crowd doesn’t deserve it, freaking Carmelo ingrates that are good for nothing except boo Kobe.

    • Willis says:

      Haha, You are a FOOL big al. Clearly you have not been following the Nuggets and are a hater on TEAM basketball. Getting rid of Iverson was a god send for the Nugs as it got Chauncey and some quality role players on the roster and took us to the Western Conf, finals in 09. Getting rid of Carmelo was also a god send as he first did not want to play in Denver (which completely negates your “freaking Carmelo ingrates”comment) and also gave the Nuggets a chance to play a new brand of basketball which is quite honestly a breath of fresh air in this league. So why do you just back off the Nuggets and get back to your all star humping as you are clearly a “fan” without any allegiance – the type of person who has all but ruined the game of professional basketball.

    • Mia says:

      R u serious with ur uninformed rant? U can tell u don’t watch many Nuggets games because no person in Denver is upset about Melo, Nene or Allen Iverson being gone. We didn’t like how Melo left not that he left, Nene NEVER played to his potential after being with us for 10 years and I won’t even entertain AI. And on top of all of that we probably will or have best ur team. Be educated before u speak. Thank u

      • Nene_Lover says:

        Hey, now. I agree with everything else, but Nene was just what was needed on the Nuggets when he was there. I don’t think there should be any hard feelings that he left, because that is just how the business works and both parties handled it well, but don’t downtalk the time he had with the Nuggets. That is a disservice to him, the organization, and any other players on that team that did so well during that time and really put fear into other contenders at the time. Additionally, it’s a disservice to the current team you love today, as a huge part of their identity and appeal was created from that youthful and exuberant team, of which Nene’s heart, hustle, and pure strength was a large part of, that revitalized the program before this current incarnation

  12. Nottoobad says:

    Nuggets : What a fun team too watch ~ Cant wait to see the headaches they cause in the Playoffs.