Say this about the Nuggets. They gave the Rockets their best. They did not give in when it appeared the visitors were going to take control in the fourth quarter. They even took a championship contender to overtime.
At the end, it did not mean anything. The Rockets left the Pepsi Center as winners. They weren’t apologizing for winning it in overtime. For them, a win is a win. The Nuggets wish they are good enough where they can get by with skill like the Rockets.
After the Nuggets taking a 115-111 loss to the Rockets at the Pepsi Center, here’s what the Nuggets should ask: How can they beat an elite team if their best is not good enough? That’s a question management, coaching staff and players should be thinking about. One has to think that’s the case.
The Rockets found a way to stave off the plucky Nuggets because they had a star in James Harden that was able to score points in crunch time down the stretch in overtime.
After Danilo Gallinari shot a three-pointer to give the Nuggets a 104-103 lead in overtime, Harden scored eight points in a row to give the Rockets a 111-108 lead.
When Harden made both of his free throws with 23 seconds to go in overtime, it was good night, Nuggets.
The Nuggets were able to contain the Rockets star by holding him to 10 points in the second half, but sooner or later, he was going to find a way to make shots.
It was hard to believe Harden would score no points in the entire fourth quarter. He would find a way to get it going when he shot a three-pointer to give the Rockets a 98-96 lead with 10 seconds to go. He thought that was a game-winning shot. With him being in the free-throw line, it would be mere formality that the Rockets clinched it. Even by making one of two free throws with six seconds to go, the Rockets got that.
Arron Afflalo had other ideas, though. His three-pointer tied the game at 99, and it went to overtime.
Afflalo’s shot was not going to be a problem for the Rockets. Harden getting hot set the stage for the Rockets to win in overtime.
That’s the problem with the Nuggets. They still don’t have a star that can make shots in crunch time. They haven’t had one since Chauncey Billups was traded to the Knicks.
When looking at this roster, the Nuggets don’t have that guy that can do what Harden did in overtime. Sorry, but Gallinari and Ty Lawson are guys that miss shots too often in crunch time. Kenneth Faried is nothing more than an energy player off the bench.
This shouldn’t be breaking news. Nuggets fans know this. Anyone in the league knows this. Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw and Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly know this, too. Maybe the players know this.
There’s a reason why Nuggets fans were anticipating doom in the fourth quarter. They were waiting for the Rockets to take over. They know the whole deal well. They know the Nuggets don’t have an impact player.
This game should be a reminder to the Nuggets that they are not a playoff team. Not in a conference that feature eight teams having stars that can be game-changers each game. They are 10-15 for a reason.
Yes, the Nuggets can win games with this roster, but that’s only good enough to beat awful to mediocre teams. The objective is to beat great teams and win championships. Sorry, but this Nuggets team is not that team. They don’t have a player that can be a difference maker.
Sooner or later, the Nuggets front office must do something with this roster. This can’t go on. This is an unwatchable team. They are not going anywhere with these players. Time has come for the Nuggets to be so bad where they can get a franchise player in that draft. That should have happened last year when the Nuggets should have tanked by trading their core players.
The Nuggets beat some good teams down the stretch, but that turned out to be fool’s gold at the end. This start reflects that.
There’s nothing Shaw can do if his players are not getting it done. It’s easy to blame the coach when the team is losing. It’s time to stop blaming the coach and start understanding the roster is not good enough.
Something has to change.
The Nuggets can’t keep losing games to elite teams like last night and go on.
Expecting the Nuggets to beat elite teams with this roster would be insanity with the idea of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
It’s not working anymore.
The Nuggets are just not good enough. Their best was not good enough to beat a great team again. They don’t have that star player.
James Harden and the Rockets gave them a reminder when they celebrated their win last night.
Follow or Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter