In a span of 24 hours, the Denver Nuggets had their best win of the season followed by arguably their worst.
One night after ending the San Antonio Spurs' 11-game winning streak, the Nuggets were manhandled by the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena, 132-105, Saturday night.
The Spurs, winners of three NBA championships in the past five years, have long been envied by other franchises for their supreme half-court execution. But Nuggets star guard Allen Iverson feels Utah is not only the equal of San Antonio. He feels the Jazz are better.
"I don't think there is any comparison," said Iverson when asked how Utah's half-court execution compares with the Spurs'. "I think (Utah) executes better in the half-court than anybody."
That may be a bit of a stretch, but Iverson wasn't the only one singing the praises of Utah's execution.
"They have a great point guard and they have a great offense and they execute the best in basketball," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "And then they had a kid named (Mehmet) Okur, who was making every shot."
Denver, despite the loss, is a dozen games above .500 at 37-25. It's the fourth-best record the Nuggets have ever had at this point of a season. Still, the Nuggets would be sitting out the postseason if the playoffs were to begin right now, as Denver is currently in ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
"Frustrating and disappointing," is how Denver forward Kenyon Martin described the game. "The way the West is, we can't afford a showing like this, but it happened."
Martin wasn't just hurting because of the loss, he was physically in pain after the game with a headache and nausea after suffering a mild concussion in the first half. He didn't return to the game, although he said he thinks he'll be ready to play Monday at San Antonio.
Karl, after the impressive victory over the Spurs on Friday night, felt his team may have just been spent against the Jazz.
"We didn't have any juice," said the Nuggets coach. "We didn't have any energy. We've had two emotional games and played very well and I think we came out a little emotionally flat."
The Jazz led by as many as 37 points in the third quarter. With the outcome already decided, Iverson and star center Marcus Camby didn't play at all in the fourth quarter for the Nuggets, while star forward Carmelo Anthony played just two minutes.
Iverson, a 12-year NBA veteran, knows better than to get too upset by Utah's lopsided victory.
"There are 82 games and you understand that it happens," said Iverson of Friday night's high followed by Saturday's low. "Some nights you play well, some nights you don't. We just came off two good wins and now we just came of a bad loss. It's important for us to take what little positives things we did here to San Antonio and leave the negative here. We've got to concentrate on the next one."
Denver will have another the chance to test their theory that Utah's offensive execution is better than San Antonio's right away, as their next game on Monday night is again against the Spurs in Texas."If we can get one out of two on this road trip, it would be considered a great trip," said Karl. "That's what we've got to do."
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