Five games ago, the Denver Nuggets would have been happy with a 3-2 record on a road trip.
But after having success in the first three games, the Nuggets reverted back to their old ways and finished the trip 0-2 after starting 3-0. It was definitely a long trip for the Nuggies playing five games in seven nights, including a pair of back-to-backs. But excuses aside, the Nuggets should have at least finished the trip 4-1.
People can point fingers at each individual player, but the truth of the matter is the Nuggets defense was non-existence. Allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to shoot over 55 percent and the New Jersey Nets to make 53 percent of their shots. The Nuggets also gave up 56 second half points to Philadelphia and spotted New Jersey a season-high 63 points in the first half.
It’s hard to highlight an individual player that played consistently well on the trip:
- Arron Afflalo started the trip strong, averaging over 19 points in the first three games but didn’t break double-figures in the final two games.
- Chris Andersen played in one game, but was real productive. He threw an unadvised three-quarter court pass and drew the wrath of George Karl.
- Carmelo Anthony scored 30-plus points against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets, but struggled shooting the ball against Detroit (5-of-16) and Philadelphia (3-12). The game against the Sixers was by far Melo’s worst performance on the trip. He had six turnovers and only grabbed three boards in the contest.
- Chauncey Billups had some off shooting nights, but was on fire from behind the arc. Shooting above 50 percent from behind the arc in every contest and hit 18-35 for the game.
- Nene was nursing a sore calf on the trip and missed one game and played only nine minutes in another. He had a strong first game, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds on 8-9 shooting, but really tallied off in the final two games of the trip. Grabbing only nine boards and hitting only 11-21 from the field, which is low for Nene.
- Ty Lawson had only one bad game on the trip, against Detroit, and wasn’t really needed in the game. He shot the ball well against the Washington Wizards, Cleveland and Philadelphia (17-30), but had a very rare rough game against New Jersey taking care of the ball (three turnovers). Two that were unforced.
- Al Harrington missed the final two games of the trip due plantar fasciitis. He struggled shooting the ball against Detroit and Cleveland (4-18 from field, 2-13 from behind the arc) but was lights out against Washington (21 points, 7-12 and 6-8).
- JR Smith probably had the best trip of all the Nuggets, outside of having to sit out the game against Washington because he was late to shoot around. But he shot the ball well on the trip and really played under control, including probably his best game of the year against Philadelphia (23 points and nine rebounds). He also only attempted one three-pointer.
Tonight the Nuggets will start a two-game home stand, with two very important games against division rivals Portland and Utah. Denver has split the season series with the Blazers, who got a big win over San Antonio Tuesday night behind a big game from LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge scored career best 40 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. He will be matchup with Kenyon Martin to start the game. The Blazers have been snake-bitten with injuries and have been playing without Greg Oden, Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy.
Former Nuggets: Andre Miller and Marcus Camby
Keep An Eye On: Nicolas Batum, who is a player the Nuggets brass have coveted throughout the MeloDrama.
Matchup To Watch I: Miller vs. Billups
Matchup To Watch II: Aldridge vs. Martin