Nuggets vs Rockets : The Denver Nuggets pay a visit to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on Thursday night.
The Denver Nuggets have been on a tear lately as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and they will be looking to stay hot after sneaking past the Pistons in a 95-92 home win on Tuesday. Jamal Murray led the team with 33 points and five assists, Nikola Jokic added 23 points with 15 rebounds while Paul Millsap chipped in with 10 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. As a team, the Nuggets shot 42 percent from the field and seven of 27 from the 3-point line as
they set the tone with their defense in the first half where they outscored the Pistons by 66-39, but the second half was a totally different story as the Nuggets really had to fight in the fourth quarter as the Pistons looked primed to pull off the major comeback until Murray came through with six points in the final minute. With the win, Denver improved to 50-23 overall and 31-6 at home which is good for second place in the Western Conference standings. After a string of nine-game dominance against the Denver Nuggets, the team from Mile High took down the Houston Rockets in their last meeting, 136-122.
I remember watching that game, and I’m still not sure what happened. Defense was completely optional, which should have favored Houston, who were at the point of the season where they weren’t playing any defense anyway. Houston scored 43 points in the first quarter. Denver scored 48 in the second. Clint Capela was hurt and Nene was also ailing, so Houston’s only defense for Denver’s MVP candidate Nikola Jokic was Kenneth Faried.
It didn’t go well.
Jokic scored 31 points and missed three shots. He grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out nine assists. There’s been times against Houston that Jokic has looked pedestrian. Part of that is due to Capela’s ability to run centers off the court, but Houston also likes to swarm post players in order to get them to give up the ball to 3-point shooters.
Denver shoots a respectable 35.6% from deep. They take around 31 attempts from deep per game, which comes out to 11 makes per night. For comparison, Houston jacks up 45 and makes 16 of those suckers every night to the tune of a similar 35.1% clip.
That night in Denver, the Nuggets hit a bit of an outlier. It’s easy to point to their 73% from 2 and say, “Well Houston’s defense was bad at the time so that makes sense.” And to an extent, sure it does. But look a little deeper. Denver missed two midrange jumpers. They made seven. As you know, that’s exactly the shot Houston wants teams to take.
“Sure, AK. Whatever. They made seven midrange shots. Who cares? Even if they shoot 40% from there (their season average from the midrange), that’s only three extra misses and they still win by eight.”
Stay with me here.
If we remove a 70-foot end-of-quarter heave from Mason Plumlee (and I’m sure he wishes we would), then the Nuggets shot 14-30 from deep. If Denver had shot their normal percentage, they hit 11. Even without removing the Plumlee heave, 11 is their normal number. That’s nine points off the board. Combined with the six midrange points from earlier, that takes 15 points off the board total, and oh look at that suddenly Houston is in front.
Sorry for the rant. I cannot imagine being a Nuggets fan this season and listening to that garbage over and over. I would break my television. They’re so good and no one wants to give them any credit. It’s ridiculous.