Fourteen games into the regular season and the Denver Nuggets have surprised the main stream media with an 8-6 record, but the bottom line is the Nuggets have struggled to get to where they are now.
Denver hasn’t been able to pull off a run, winning no more than two wins in a row before they drop another game, to move up to the elite level with the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and the San Antonio Spurs. And the opportunity for the team to get a rhythm begins with the Nuggets’ 5-game home stretch, which stars Friday after the squad gets four days to rest.
Denver has been in each of their six losses, except for the Indiana Pacers game, but in the other five losses the Nuggets lost by six, one, two, six and three. Three of the contests came down to Denver not being able to hit a shot late. But some things to look at in the losses is:
- FOLLOW THE LEADER: It is pretty obvious that how Carmelo Anthony plays dictates the outcome of the game. In victories, Anthony shoots over 48 percent from the field, 47 percent from behind the arc, scores nearly 29 points a game and averages a mere 2.3 turnovers a contest. In the Nuggets six losses, Melo shot under 43 percent from the field, his three-point shooting drops below 30 percent, he averages almost four turnovers a contest.
- FOURTH QUARTER STRUGGLES: In five of the six losses the Nuggets gave up a fourth quarter lead, including the Suns who overcame a seven-point deficit to start the fourth. Denver also nearly lost to the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets after overcame double-digit deficits. However, in big wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors the Nuggets took care of business. And the main player in each of those games was second-year point guard Ty Lawson. He had 11 points and four assists against the Lakers and scored three crucial baskets in the fourth against the Warriors.
- Where’s Mr. Big Shot?: One can point a finger at Billups as the biggest disappointment on the Nuggets this early season. He has struggled to find his shot, shooting on .344 from the field and .316 behind the arc. Maybe it is old age, maybe it is due to him playing so much this summer. But there is no doubt Denver is missing his scoring this year, he has only eclipsed 20 points once this season and that was in the second game. He also has a career high average in turnovers (2.85). However, having nearly a week to rest and find his legs may help Billups get back on track against the Bulls on Friday.