There’s no use crying over spilled milk. Carmelo Anthony is gone and he’s never coming back. The void opened by his departure from the Denver Nuggets remains, however. Coach George Karl still seems to have no idea who should fill Carmelo’s previous role in clutch time.
The “depth” mentality with which post-Carmelo Nuggets teams, including the current rendition, have been constructed works fabulously for the first 57 minutes of a typical game. When it comes down to crunch time, however, Denver shrivels. There simply is no player on the squad willing to put the team on his back. The suggestion that the Nuggets have no “closer” is a cliché, but it remains an remains insightful one. Their struggles at the end of games is well documented and was on display yet again last night as the team failed to launch a shot in the closing seconds for the second straight game.
Andre Iguodala appears to be the Nuggets’ best bet to drain a clinching jump shot when they need one. That was never the plan for him. Instead, Iguodala was meant to provide some defensive punch and put team mates, like the very well paid Ty Lawson, in position to put games away. The way things are shaping up this season, however, the Nuggets seem to need a huge lead heading into the fourth quarter in order to hold on for a win. The one thing Nuggets fans can count on is that their team is going to fade down the stretch.
They aren’t “clutch”. Instead, the Nuggets are grasping. George Karl has looked inept in drawing up game-closing inbounds plays over the past two games, but in both instances a dominant NBA player could have converted. Karl draws up plays assuming that the guys on the floor have the courage to find their shot. They don’t. Ty Lawson is far too tentative and lacks courage. Andre Miller has been too sloppy, Gallinari too erratic. Nobody in powder blue has shown the kind of killer instinct that breeds confidence.
The Nuggets are a good team. They’re not going to be much more than that this season if they don’t find their answer late in games. They’re dreadful at playing head-to-head half-court basketball. They’re more dreadful, even, than Golden State. The Warriors’ David Lee provided just the kind of penetration for his team that the Nuggets lacked down the stretch.
Andre Iguodala drained what could have been a game-winning three point shot as time expired last night. Sadly, time had expired and the shot didn’t count. Still, it’s reasonable to wonder if he is the man George Karl needs to turn to. He wasn’t brought to Denver to be a closer, but he’s the one guy who might have enough star power to bail his team out with a critical last-second shot. He might be Denver's "Mr. Clutch".