The Nuggets proved once again to a national television audience Tuesday night: they're still just a team long on excuses and IOUs and short on real accomplishment.
The Nuggets gave us yet another Washington Generals performance on the road against the Clippers in Los Angeles Christmas night.
We know, we know: the Nuggets got a raw deal by the NBA schedule-maker in the first third of the season. The poor guys have had to play 20 of their first 29 on the road. They just can't get any consistency because of all that tough travel on tricked-out charter planes and stays at the Four Seasons. They're young, they're still learning, blah blah blah.
Is it time to get the violin out yet? The Nuggets have. They are the Stradivarius of the NBA when it comes to playing sad strings for sympathy.
The Nuggets would have you believe things are going just fine though. See, they've got this little formula, this sabremetric invention of theirs (apparently first started by Doug Moe) that goes like this: A victory on the road, you get a plus-1 and a loss at home, you get a minus-1. So, the Nuggets entered Tuesday night with a "Plus-6" — which put them in the top three in the league in this Rosetta Stone category.
Well, sorry to introduce a little reality here, but the Nuggets' road record is 7-13 and that stinks. That's a bad record.
Good teams find a way to get a winning record on the road. Those that don't come up with excuses, or fall back on dubious, contrived stats like that plus-minus thing.
Oklahoma City is an excellent team. They're 7-4 on the road. The Clippers are excellent. They're 9-3 on the road. San Antonio is 11-6 on the road. Memphis is 6-5 on the road. Golden State is 10-6 on the road. Five teams in the East have winning records on the road.
I highly doubt any of these teams care or even know about the Moe-Nuggets plus-minus contrivance. They are good teams and they find a way to get off those planes and out of those Four Seasons hotel rooms and get more Ws than Ls on the road.
The Nuggets are 8-1 at home, which is a tremendous record. If they can keep that kind of pace going at the Pepsi Center, they'll earn plenty of worthy praise here. But those first nine games had plenty of bunny teams in there, let's face it: Toronto, Charlotte, Detroit, New Orleans.
Wednesday night, they'll host a good team — the Lakers. It'll come less than 24 hours after Tuesday's blowout to the Clippers. Let's hope they're not too tired. Of course, the Lakers played Tuesday too.
The Nuggets like to call themselves a "no-excuses" team. Well, in theory anyway. I like to think of my own sabremetric formula when assessing how good a team is:
You get a plus-1 in the standings for a win, and a minus-1 in the standings for a loss. No matter where the games are played.