Some quick thoughts on the game before going to bed. For some games you'll see a score like tonight's and then hear that it wasn't even that close. Well, tonight it was a lot closer that the score would indicate.
The Nuggets peaked at the right time and blew out the Jazz in the final 5-6 minutes of the fourth quarter. Up until that point there was still some hope for the Jazz.
I thought it was telling that Deron continued to struggle in the first half yet the Jazz found themselves down only one. He finally showed up in the third making some of the the non-Chris Farley ninja moves that we've come to know. He started out nailing a mid-range jumper and was consistently getting into the lane. I thought he controlled the game really well.
Everyone else showed up to play tonight. CJ had 17 in the first half including 7-7 from the free-throw line. Unfortunately we didn't see him at all in the second half with foul trouble and after getting the wind knocked out of him.
On offense everything seemed to be clicking. We shot 54%, had 26 assists, and almost had as many free-throw makes (24) as Denver had attempts (25).
The had the game tight going into the fourth quarter which is pretty much all you can ask for at that point.
However, Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith were just too much. I knew this game was coming from Smith. He was 4-10 from deep but had those three to start the fourth quarter that pushed Denver's lead up and took the Nuggets up another level mentally.
Then it was the Melo show. I was talking tonight with prodigal punk about how Carmelo only works from the right corner on the logo. It's either a jumper or a drive from that spot. You'd think you could plan a defense around that a little bit easier since you know what he's going to do. Between CJ and Matthews, I thought they did a pretty good job on him, he just couldn't miss. If you're telling me that he's only going to get 4 FT attempts on the night, the Jazz are going to be in great shape. He had a few open looks but for the most part he had a hand in his face or a body up on him. He just hit everything he threw up.
Nene was also a big factor tonight. He worked well against Millsap and Boozer. With Memo likely out, we're going to be hard pressed to slow him down without getting into foul trouble.
Speaking of Memo, you could tell from when he went down that it wasn't good. It never is when that happens obviously but this isn't going to even be just bad news. This will be a huge blow for the team. This will be significant.
Considering there are no moral victories, especially come playoff time, you have to be optimistic for the fact that the Jazz played really well on the road for 3 1/2 quarters. I was afraid that they would come out and lay an egg in the first quarter. Basically, I thought that the first quarter was going to be like the last 5-6 minutes of the game.
Granted, we're already without AK and we're likely going to be without Memo for the next couple of games minimum, but if the Jazz play with the heart we saw tonight, I think they can, at the least, make this a 7-game series. It's going to be beyond impossible it seems like to knock of Denver on the road.
If you're looking for another silver lining, you have to think that Melo can't shoot that well again. He might make it up on the line on Monday, but hopefully his shots stop falling so frequently. Forget about JR Smith though. He's almost guaranteed to drop another 20, it's just in his blood it seems.
I'm looking forward to Monday night.