After a tough to swallow 8-game losing streak, the Denver Nuggets have treated their fans to one fine week of basketball. With blowout wins against two teams we love to hate – the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder – it has definitely been a good time to be a Nuggets fan.
The game against the Thunder, in particular, was a great win for a Nuggets team that was mostly beating up on NBA bottom-feeders for their victories. But not last night. Even without Wilson Chandler, the Nuggets forced Kevin Durant to watch the fourth quarter from the bench mired in irrelevance. In one of my favorite Nugget stat lines off all time, Durant went 0-0 in the fourth with a technical foul and a warm seat on the bench as the only proof he was still in the arena. Gotta love it.
Now on to the task at hand: Avoiding a letdown against the Orlando Magic (10-25). Big wins in this league don’t mean a thing if you can’t back them up with good wins, nice wins, should-wins and must-wins. I think a victory against the Magic on Saturday would qualify as all four.
If the Nuggets are to get a win against the Magic, it won’t have anything to do with raw talent. The Nuggets already have that edge. The Magic have the second worst record in the league and simply are just not very good. No disrespect to our old friend, but when Arron Afflalo is the team’s leading scorer you are in some trouble.
Nope, if the Nuggets are to get a win it’s going to be about all the intangibles that a team must have to win consistently in this league. It will be about heart, hustle, desire and maturity. It’s incredibly easy for a young team to lose focus after a big win, especially when your next opponent’s record resembles nothing more than a decent batting average (.268). Denver can’t afford to let that happen.
The Nuggets have a big opportunity in front of them when they play the Magic. They have the opportunity to keep the momentum, extend their winning streak, and most importantly, they have the opportunity to display the intangibles that turn a collection of basketball players into a winning team.