In the first half, they were high octane, frenzied, and hitting on all cylinders. They dropped 40 in the first quarter alone, with Carmelo seemingly on his way to another 50 point performance with 19 points in the quarter.
The Nuggets entered halftime with a 14 point lead and seemed to be on cruise control, but that is exactly where their problem always starts and ends.
They started the third quarter with the mindset that they already had the game in hand, and their performance reflected this attitude. They came out lackadaisical and played uninspired basketball allowing the Timberwolves to score the first 14 points of the quarter to tie the game.
The Nuggets were ultimately outscored 31-12 in the third quarter, giving the Timberwolves a five point lead entering the fourth quarter.
This apathetic play has been far too prominent throughout the early part of this season. Usually, it comes earlier in the game, and they bounced back to come out on top, but living dangerously like that will come back to haunt them as the season progresses, as it did last night.
This was by far the most disappointing performance of the season, and arguably in the last two years. The Nuggets are displaying the symptoms of a team without leadership and at times look like they are playing without any heart whatsoever.
Whatever magic Chauncey Billups inspired last year has seemingly lost its novelty and luster on his teammates and the Nuggets often look like they are at a complete loss for leadership on the court.
George Karl could not contain his anger and disappointment during a postgame interview.
'Tell me the five guys I put out there on the court to play hard every possession," said Karl. "Tell me it. I had it last year. I had a play-hard team last year. I don't have a play-hard team this year. And it's making me very angry."
Despite his obvious anger, much of the blame should actually be attributed directly to Karl. During the 14—0 Timberwolves run to start the third quarter, Karl went without a timeout to slow the momentum and kept his inept lineup in the game despite their obvious struggles and lack of effort. He also had Carmelo on the bench nearly the entire second quarter when the Nuggets could have put this game out of reach.
Too often, the Nuggets have relapsed into being the team they were two seasons ago, unmotivated and stagnant on defense. I must have seen Nene single handedly allow 10 baskets without so much as an outstretched hand.
Expectations aren't the same for this Nuggets team as they were two years ago, and this type of performance is no longer acceptable. You might look at their record and think that they have been a better team than they actually are.
Yes—they have three terrible losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves—but there are also countless other games in which they have displayed half—hearted emotion for at least half of the game, and were lucky to come out on top.
So, this my plea to coach Karl, to Chauncey Billups, to Carmelo Anthony to any other Nuggets player with the cojones to show some testicular fortitude. Please, please, please do not allow another subpar effort to damage this team's potential.
You are too good, and our expectations are too high. We will not accept your lack of emotion, or your passive defense. We will not stand for your heartless performances or your apathetic attitude. You have to show some guts and you have to do it now. Losses like this will come back to haunt you, and another disappointment will not be tolerated.
Show Golden State what you are made of. Win by 30. Keep all of your starters in until the buzzer. Let's get our swagger back.