Denver Nuggets lose home opener vs LaMarcus Aldridge and Portland Trailblazers
The Denver Nuggets home opener was Friday night. There is no doubt that the Nuggets looked forward to playing in Denver as they had the best home-court-advantage last season in the NBA going 38-3 at Pepsi Center. Friday night it looked pretty clear that the Nuggets would not have the same dominance in Denver this season as they lost to the Portland Trailblazers in the Denver Nuggets home opener, 113-98.
After a new introductory video, the Nuggets took the floor and Ty Lawson went on a tear, scoring 7 points in the first quarter, keeping the score within reach as the period ended with Portland up 24-23. JaVale McGee was replaced by Timofey Mozgov five and a half minutes into the first quarter as Brian Shaw continues to play with lineups and rotations throughout the game to find the best combinations. The insertion of Mozgov proved to be the right one as he looked better than McGee early on, with a block and a powerful dunk in his first minute of playing time.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, Randy Foye is nowhere near the defender that Andre Iguodala was and Denver was torched by Nicolas Batum for 15 points in the first quarter. Denver gave up a lot of open threes to the Trailblazers throughout the course of the game and that was one of the nails in the coffin for this game. On the flip side, the Nuggets shooting guards were not productive at all on Friday night with Foye going 2-10 from the field and Evan Fournier finishing 0-6.
Denver was down by as many as 16 in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 64-50 at halftime. The fans at Pepsi Center were hoping that Shaw would motivate his players at half and get them fired up to get their first win of the season for the hometown fans. Unfortunately, that would not materialize in the third quarter as the hole grew larger for the Nuggets as Wesley Matthews picked up where Batum left off, scoring 14 in the third. They were down to the Blazers 91-71 going into the final period.
The Nuggets finally came to life in the fourth quarter thanks to Nate Robinson‘s 16 points in the period. Denver was able to cut the Portland lead, which was once 26 points, down to 7. But, LaMarcus Aldridge powered the Blazers to victory with 9 points of his own in the fourth. Denver’s bigs had no answer for Aldridge at all in this game and he consistently outplayed Faried and JJ Hickson.
Shaw’s system continues to look shaky for the players that are currently on this roster. Despite tallying 21 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, Lawson continues to look lost in the halfcourt offense and seems to go off-script by running iso-plays and slashing his way to the hoop instead of finding the open man. One thing that was very noticeable was the Nuggets reliance on a guard-heavy lineup due to the injuries to Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Shaw had Lawson-Robinson-Foye, Lawson-Andre Miller-Foye and Miller-Robinson-Foye combinations for good chunks of the game. These three-guard lineups are proving to be ineffective thus far but Shaw was clearly trying to get something going since Anthony Randolph was not productive as a small forward on Friday.
The rookie coach is still trying to figure out his lineups and that has some players frustrated. Faried’s frustrations of being removed from the starting lineup spilled over in the post-game press interviews.
Faried cont’d… “I can’t really take much blame for that because I’m not starting. Some of the starters have to step up.” #Nuggets
— Raj Sharan (@Raj_Sharan) November 2, 2013
“I’m ready whenever he’s [Shaw] ready. I was ready game 1. I’m always ready.” Faried on returning to the starting lineup. #Nuggets
— Raj Sharan (@Raj_Sharan) November 2, 2013
The question of whether or not Faried will be traded has already been talked about at length this season and it seems that Faried already has the sense that he is not going to be one of Shaw’s guys. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the course of the season.
McGee only played 2:45 in the second half, all coming in the 3rd quarter
Lawson was 7-16, while the other starters were just 9-35
Portland snapped a losing streak in Denver that went back to 12/16/2007
The Blazers also snapped a regular season home winning streak the Nuggets had going since 1/18/2013
Pepsi Center’s new HD scoreboard is MASSIVE, bright and seems to constantly show advertising
The official attendance was listed at 19,155 – but only about 70% of the seats were filled with fans
The fans that were actually there seem to have embraced Robinson already
Portland finished 14-22 or 63.6% from 3-point-land despite finishing 42.7% overall
The Trailblazers look much improved and could end up a playoff team this season
In the two games this season Mozgov and Darrell Arthur look to be Denver’s best big men in Shaw’s system
Supermascot Rocky gave the fans a scare as his limp body was lowered from the rafters before the game and he did not return to entertain the crowd.
Next up for the Nuggets are the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night, November 5 at Pepsi Center at 7pm (MST).
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