Did I get enough "Ds" in the headline? In case anyone in the Hornets organization happens to stumble across this article, I am dropping a hint that defense wins games.
Contrary to popular myth, although the Nuggets bench is far superior to the Hornets, the game was not lost by the bench. The benches for both teams played fairly evenly in offense an defense.
A Hornets bench that usually makes all sorts of mistakes, had zero, count them, zero turnovers. The starters, on the other hand, had 15. Attribute some of that to great defense by the Nuggets, other to flat-out sloppy play by a tired group of players.
That fact that the bench did so well is especially amazing considering that George Karl allowed three of his bench players (Andersen, Smith, and Carter) to log over 20 minutes each, while the only sub that Coach Byron Scott gave significant playing time to was James Posey.
The game, won by the Nuggets 108-93, was a close contest for most of the first half. The Nuggets led by 2, 27-25 at the end of the first quarter. The Nuggets pulled away as the game went on.
The Hornets starters appear to be leg-weary. If you have ever played competitive basketball, you know that when the legs get tired, shooting percentages drop. The Nuggets out-shot the Hornets 50 to 45 percent.
The shooting difference was even worse than the numbers indicate because two players, Rasual Butler and Peja Stojakovic , were each 4-5 from three-point land. This happened mostly in the first half.
If you subtract those numbers from the overall shooting, the rest of the Hornets shot a miserable 40% from the field. Leg-weary shooters.
The other thing that goes when your legs get tired is defense. Players stop moving their feet, get beat off the dribble, and get lazy going out on shooters.
The Hornets got beat off the dribble and the Nuggets had countless open looks. New Orleans had a total of (let me see, I have to get out my calculator for this) one whole steal in the game. The Nuggets, on the other hand, had eight. Leg-weary defenders.
To stay in this series, coach Scott has to find a way to give less minutes early in the game to the David West, Chris Paul, Butler, and Chandler. If nothing else, the Hornets bench needs to come out early, show some energy and start wearing on the Denver starters. Otherwise it is going to be a dreary time for weary Hornets fans.