(photo AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)
JJ Barea is only 6'1", but the Minnesota Timberwolves' reserve point guard did not come up short against Denver on Thursday night. He posted 17 clutch points. Rather, it was the home town Nuggets that left their fans wondering how a lesser division team could come into Pepsi Center and deliver a blow to the Blue and Yellow..
For weeks fans have been hearing that January would be Denver's month. After a navigating the NBA's toughest schedule for two months, the Nuggets would get cooking at home and start climbing in the Western Conference rankings. 2013 began with a nice win over the Clippers, winners of 17 straight games coming in, and the hopes of the fans began to swell. Then the Timberwolves came to town and the air escaped from the balloon again.
Thus is the fate of a Nuggets fan. The only thing that can be counted on is that the Nuggets will eventually let you down.
They will have many more impressive wins over the course of this season. They'll have a lot of head-slapping losses, too. We will get up. We will get down. We will get slapped around by our own expectations from this team. In the end, they will be eliminated in the first round, or if we are lucky, the second round of the playoffs...again.
The Lakers era in the Western Conference is waning. But, instead of the Nuggets claiming their rightful place atop the conference - the one that they have been in line for for nearly a decade under George Karl, the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the L.A. Clippers (of all teams) have staked their claim to the throne. Those teams have emerged seemingly out of nowhere over the past few seasons while the Nuggets, a perpetual contender, have failed to take the next step.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Every pre-season they are considered to be a contender. They are always a popular choice to be a team that rises. But they've been in constant flux and never bad enough to hit the lottery in the draft. The Nuggets are trapped in NBA purgatory and there's little chance of that changing so long as they continue to finish amongst the top eight teams in the conference. They're always just good enough that they can't be counted on.