'Big' expectations aren't panning out

Updated: December 27, 2004, 11:35 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider

What happened to that great Nuggets front line we were raving about in the preseason? Wasn't the combo of Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby and Nene supposed to bash the West?

Not so far. In the past seven games, the Nuggets' front line has been outscored in each, allowing an average of 56 points in the paint per game.

"We've slipped defensively," head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "Our first seven games of the year we weren't very good defensively. Then during the 12-game stretch in which we were 10-2, our defensive numbers were as good as anybody in the league. These last six games have not been very good.

"Teams are getting too many easy points in transition, off penetration and off the offensive glass. In the paint."

Nene's inconsistent performance has been especially troubling. With the exception of an impressive 19-point, 10-rebound performance in Phoenix (perhaps a job audition?) he has struggled to find his groove since returning from an injury mid-month.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer