The Denver Nuggets took off to a sizzling start in Portland on Thursday night by putting together an 8-point lead going into halftime. It would have and should have been an 11-point lead—not that it would have really mattered in the end—but J.J. Hickson committed an inexplicably boneheaded play when he committed a foul on a half-court shot as time expired in the first half.
In the end, though, LaMarcus Aldridge’s career night proved to be too much for the Nuggets. He ended with 44 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. The Nuggets simply couldn’t handle the versatile power forward and the Trail Blazers climbed their way back into the game on top of Aldridge’s shoulders. The Trail Blazers took a 110-105 come-from-behind victory at home on Thursday night after trailing for most of the game.
Ty Lawson had an incredible first half performance (13 points, 9 assists), only to completely disappear in the second half. He finished with 13 points, 11 assists, and 2 steals. In similar fashion, Nate Robinson had a fantastic first half that was followed by a dreadful second half, finishing with 13 points and 1 assist on 4-12 shooting. Randy Foye looked like he was going to have another career shooting night—he put up three consecutive three-pointers in a row to start off the second half for the Nuggets—but cooled off significantly as the game wound to a close.
This game marks the continuance of a bizarrely inconsistent season for the Nuggets. They put together an impressive performance last week against the Golden State Warriors on the road, only to follow that up with three consecutive losses in a row. The Nuggets desperately need to figure out what’s working for them and stick to it, as they haven’t been able to avoid long losing streaks throughout this season. Prior to the current 3-game losing streak in which they currently find themselves, the Nuggets suffered an 8-game losing streak that stretched from mid-December to the beginning of January.
Tomorrow, the Nuggets face the scorching-hot Indiana Pacers at home. While the Nuggets will certainly not be the favorites for this game, they have been wildly unpredictable this year and desperately need a win, so don’t be surprised if the Nuggets pull one out tomorrow night. Let’s hope they can figure some things out on defense and come up with a huge win against Indiana, as the Nuggets feel as though they are the brink of a total collapse. This is an especially troubling downward spin considering the recent news that SF Danilo Gallinari will not be returning to the Denver Nuggets this year.
The Nuggets are really hurting with their big-man defense without PF Darrell Arthur. While Arthur has been out for the last five games now with a left groin strain, the Nuggets have gone 4-1 and allowed at least 110 points each game. Although Arthur doesn’t bring a lot to the offensive side of the floor for the Nuggets besides floor spacing from his pick-and-pop game and the occasional mid-range jumper, he (especially when paired with defensive-minded center Timofey Mozgov) has been the Nuggets’ most consistent and capable defender in the post as Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson often look totally lost on the defensive end.