Just two seasons ago, George Karl's Nuggets won 57 games in the regular season and were one of the most fun teams in the NBA. But ever since a first-round series loss to the up-and-coming Warriors that year, things have gone downhill for the Nuggets. They hit rock bottom in a 130-113 loss to the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night that was even worse than the final score indicated.
Denver gave up a whopping 84 points in the first half, as Portland shot percent 61.2 percent overall and 9-of-15 from three. Here's a shot chart from the first half:
Something tells me that giving up a bunch of threes and shots around the basket isn't a good idea. The 84 points allowed was the most in any half since 2011:
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE:
Portland became first NBA team to score 84 points in any half on the road since Houston scored 94 in 2nd half at Denver on Jan. 10, 1991.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) November 13, 2014
It's worth mentioning that this game was in Denver and the Blazers were on the second night of a back-to-back after a hard-fought victory over the Charlotte Hornets. These types of games used to be hell on Nuggets opponents because of the altitude, but apparently those days are long gone.
Denver has lost six games in a row after winning its first game of the season over Detroit. Those losses include an 11-point loss to a short-handed Thunder squad and a 22-point loss to the Kings that saw Sacramento put up 131 points. The Nuggets have given up 116.5 points per game during the six-game losing streak, which is deplorable.
What's so strange about this is the Nuggets have talent. While not many viewed Denver as a playoff team, they were primed for a bounce-back season after suffering through an injury-plagued 36-46 campaign last year. And if everything went right, perhaps a playoff bid would be in the cards. Ty Lawson is a really good point guard. Kenneth Faried closed last season strong and was excellent with Team USA in the summer. Arron Afflalo was nearly an All-Star last year. There are other nice pieces in place, as well, and while the Nuggets still lack that bona fide star player, there is no reason for them to be this awful.
Now, it's still early in the season and there's time to turn things around. Danilo Gallinari is rusty after missing so much time with a knee injury, and if he can find his game, that will be a huge plus. Afflalo is also really struggling after having a career year last season.
But even if those guys get it going offensively, there's still the matter of the defense. Brian Shaw appears to have his work cut out for him on that end, and if there isn't marked improvement, he might find himself out of a job sooner rather than later. Fans are getting riled up. Stuff like this won't help Shaw's cause:
Brian Shaw leaves postgame news conference without taking questions.— Paul Klee (@bypaulklee) November 13, 2014
The times, they are tough in Denver.
3 other things we learned
The Pacers still give the Heat trouble: The Heat and Pacers built up quite the rivalry over the past few years, but many of the faces were different when the two teams matched up for the first time this season. There is no more Lance Stephenson blowing in LeBron James' ear. Paul George is sidelined for the season with a major leg injury. David West and George Hill are both hurt. But even with so much talent gone or on the bench, Indiana still proved to be a thorn in Miami's side with an ugly 81-75 victory in South Beach. Roy Hibbert got the better of Chris Bosh, putting up 16 points and 15 rebounds to Bosh's nine points and two rebounds. Hibbert also got the better of Luol Deng when the two met at the rim late in the fourth quarter. The Pacers absolutely throttled the Heat on the boards, winning the rebounding battle, 53-28. Indiana might not win a whole bunch of games this season, but this one is sure to feel good.
The Suns' bench is one of the most fun things going: Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA last season, but that didn't stop the Suns from going out and nabbing Isaiah Thomas in free agency. That move has turned out brilliantly thus far. Thomas has arguably been the best out of all three this season. Thomas and Gerald Green have formed one of the most potent bench duos in the league, and the two were at it again in a 112-104 victory over Brooklyn. Thomas and Green scored 27 second-half points (22 in the fourth quarter) to help turn a 14-point halftime deficit into an eight-point win. Green finished with 28 points to lead all scorers, and Thomas added 21. With those two playing so well, it'll be interesting to see how Jeff Hornacek handles his rotation. There are only so many minutes to go around, and somebody will be on the bench down the stretch. That person Wednesday was Bledsoe, who didn't play a single minute in the fourth quarter.
There's no quit in the Thunder: The banged up Thunder entered play Wednesday with a 2-6 overall record and 0-5 record on the road. After going down 15 points midway through the first quarter in Boston, it would have been easy to just pack up for the night. Instead, Oklahoma City crept back into the game and then dominated the second half in a 109-94 victory. Reggie Jackson led the way with 28 points and eight assists, while Anthony Morrow added 28 points off the bench in his second game of the year after returning from injury. Oklahoma City needs to steal as many wins as possible with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the shelf, so responding like this on the road after a dismal start could be huge later in the year.
Play of the Night
The Knicks are 2-7 and awful, but they had a couple cool dunks against the Magic! Iman Shumpert's reverse baseline slam was sweet, but Amar'e Stoudemire earns top honors Wednesday for turning back the clock and smashing a slam on Nikola Vucevic's head.
6 fun things
First it was Andre Drummund. Now it's Paul Milsap. Get your act together, NBA teams.
Amanda Seyfried was at the Knicks-Magic game with Justin Long ... and she might not ever be coming back to The Garden. The Knicks will do that to you, especially when J.R. Smith is bricking potential game-winning shots after looking off Carmelo Anthony.
Wizards 107, Pistons 103 (Bullets Forever recap | Detroit Bad Boys recap)
Thunder 109, Celtics 94 (Welcome to Loud City recap | CelticsBlog recap)
Hawks 100, Jazz 97 (Peachtree Hoops recap | SLC Dunk recap)
Pacers 81, Heat 75 (Indy Cornrows recap | Hot Hot Hoops recap)
Magic 97, Knicks 95 (Orlando Pinstriped Post recap | Posting and Toasting recap)
Pelicans 109, Lakers 102 (The Bird Writes recap | Silver Screen and Roll recap)
Trail Blazers 130, Nuggets 113 (Blazer's Edge recap | Denver Stiffs recap)
Suns 112, Nets 104 (Bright Side Of The Sun recap | NetsDaily recap)
Rockets 113, Timberwolves 101 (The Dream Shake recap | Canis Hoopus recap)