Denver ... and the art of forgetting

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets looked like a throwback team in Portland ... a throwback to November of 2013 when blowouts were common and Kevin Garnett was angry after every game.  The loss to Portland in fact was the worst blowout of the season and one of the worst in team history. Specifically, It was their worst margin of defeat since Dec. 13, 2003, when they lost by 47 to the Memphis Grizzlies, the New York Times reports.

Was it an anomaly or a reversion to the bad old days of 2013.  We'll get our first answer to that question in Denver Thursday night when the Nets face the reeling Nuggets. It;s the next to last stop on the "circus tour" with only the woeful Bucks standing between the Rockies and Brooklyn.

There was little to gain looking at Wednesday's boxscore.  Marcus Thornton show a miserable 1-of-6 but Mirza Teletovic seems to have broken out of his mini-slump.  And if you didn't know it, Mason Plumlee can dunk a bit.

Denver is a mess.  They lost their top player, coach and general manager last summer and it shows. Their rookie coach has been angry a lot with effort, with the now-departed Andre Miller, etc. They've lost eight of their last 10,  three straight, although Brian Shaw did say he liked the effort in the last loss, by five points, to the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night . That's not something Jason Kidd can say this morning.

But the Nuggets are another fast-paced team, even faster than the Trail Blazers and that always seems to give the Nets trouble.  They average nearly 15 points off fast breaks, compared to 11 for Portland. Their bigger issues are holding on the ball and defense.

The season so far

What's the story here? The numbers will help tell the tale:

Metric

Brooklyn

Denver

Record

26-29 25-31

Pace

93.9 99.6

Offensive Efficiency

102.6 102.9

Defensive Efficiency

105.1 104.7

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.1 27.9

Turnover rate

15.2 15.4

Assist rate

16.6 16.2

Rebound rate

47.5 50.8

Free throw rate

23.4 22.9

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.0 49.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.7 49.1

The Nets appeared to be healthy as they left Portland, and Kidd put up the white flag early enough so that the starters played minimal minutes on the front end of another back-to-back.  Joe Johnson played 26 minutes to lead the starters, with Garnett playing only 14 and Shaun Livingston, recovering from his tailbone bruise, played only 12. Marcus Thornton, making his debut, played the longest, at 27 minutes.  Jason Collins played the least at seven minutes.

Denver's injury load has been extraordinary.  Danilo Gallinari and Nate Robinson are done for the year with knee injures. Javale McGee is done after a stress fracture to his left tibia forced knee surgery earlier this month and Darrell Arthur is out with a recurring hip strain.  Ty Lawson is doubtful with a left rib fracture.  So it looks like Denver will have no more than 10 players in uniform with a starting line-up of (Nets killer) Randy Foye, Aaron Brooks, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried.  Second year guard Evan Fournier and J.J. Hickson will be first off the bench and both have played well of late. Hickson had 16 points and a career high 25 rebounds Tuesday while Fournier had 27 points and five assists on Sunday.

Player to Watch: Evan Fournier

Fournier is a 6'6" point guard who plays a bit like Shaun Livingston but with a much better range... and much worse defense.  Only 21, the Frenchman has veered from mediocre to stellar the last couple of weeks.  His 27-point outburst on Sunday was sandwiched between two nine-point efforts. But he also had a 25-point game 10 days ago vs. Phoenix. Over the last month, he's shot 41 percent from deep. He's seen as a building block in Denver.

From the Vault

The classic collapse and upset: the 1994 first round series between the Nuggets and Sonics when Dikembe Mutombo's Denver squad took on the 63-win Seattle squad in a best of five series. The result was one of the most classic images of any NBA playoff series, a jubilant Mutombo on the floor clutching the ball tightly after Game 5.

More reading: Denver Stiffs

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