DENVER, CO - APRIL 23: Head coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets looks on as his team faces the Golden State Warriors during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 131-117. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
DENVER- George Karl will go back and look at film of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors dismantling the Nuggets Tuesday night 131-117, and he rightly should. The longtime head coach may also go into his archives and dust off a tape from June 2nd, 1996.
The Karl-led Seattle Supersonics beat the Utah Jazz 90-86 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. This doesn't sound all that significant or pertinent to Denver does it? But look more closely and you'll find what makes this game so important is what happened just a few days prior.
The Nuggets, like the Supersonics, who went on to the NBA Finals to face the Bulls, were clobbered the last time they took the floor in their playoff series. Seattle was embarrassed worse than even the Nuggets, losing 118-83 in that game. So Karl knows firsthand what the blowout feels like, and more importantly, how to bounce back from such an ordeal.
"I don't recall many series where there isn't at least one blowout game. Unfortunately we'd like to be on the giving side rather than the taking but I told them the story about the year we went to the NBA Finals, in Game 6 we lost by [35 points] I think to Utah. We came back and won Game 7," Karl, as he often does, reminisced about a particular game, this one some 17-years later. "We have a lot of things that we must learn from and I think we have to respect what they do. They are a highly skilled shooting basketball team."
Golden State lit up Denver like they hadn't been all season. Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors put on a clinic as they shot 64.6% from the field and 56.0% from behind the three-point arc.
It wasn't just the Nuggets poor defense, as Karl described a day later that affected them most. Instead it was the repercussion of giving up so many points, as that it actually slowed down Denver's offense.
"We have to trust each other. One frustration of them scoring so many points is offensively we got a little selfish," Karl said. The Nuggets did account for 27 assists, but had 17 turnovers and were out of sync most of the night offensively. "But as poorly as we played, we got it down to [a six point deficit] in the third and under ten once in the fourth. We were doing some things that we could be positive about. Today was more 'What the hell was that?'Tomorrow will be 'We're still okay.'"
They were embarrassed, even noticeably distraught, by their performance on Tuesday night. It was a shock to their system, their first loss at home since mid-January, but Denver is also well aware of what they need to ensure a much different outcome.
"I never thought this was going to be anything except a close series," asserted Karl. "The pendulum, the momentum of the series changes back-and-forth and now it's our turn to get the momentum back when we go to Golden State."
Karl and the Nuggets will undoubtedly regroup and refocus, just like his Supersonics team did some two decades ago, and also hopefully win.
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