Natural progression of the NBA game meant we were always steamrolling to the moment that manifested last night as the Denver Nuggets, trailing by two points in the final seconds, parlayed a four-on-one break into a bizarre triple try, zero points, and a loss. Still, it was jarring to see Facundo Campazzo's brick and the subsequent confusion over what the heck and just happened because many people remember a time in basketball when one, if not three of the guys not named Jamal Murray would have made a move toward the basket as opposed to away from it.
And while there's nothing really to defend here as — clearly — the wrong decision was made, it may be worth adding small wrinkle of observation into the tapestry. First, one thing that's being lost is that a game-tying layup wouldn't have automatically sent the game into overtime. Instead, the Washington Wizards would have called timeout to set up a halfcourt possession with anywhere from 2-3 second remaining — an eternity long enough for both a shot attempt and put back. Converting on such an opportunity is less likely than seeing it go empty, but had the Nuggets gone for the easy two, they still would have white-knuckle it for an opportunity to play five extra minutes.
If there was any value in taking the triple, it lies in the fact that it came with the added bonus of running the clock out. Had Campazzo found the net, he's an immediate hero and the celebration begins in earnest as time dwindles to triple-zero. Essentially, the Nuggets' fate rested on a 37.6 percent three-point shooter with a wide-open look. Not ideal, but also dramatically worse than the odds of getting one more defensive stop and forcing a 50-50 overtime.
Again, the real problem here is that no one had the presence of mind to cut to the hoop to make a two-point shot a viable option. There's no way around that. It does feel, however, that with the passage of time and elimination of immediate emotion, this isn't as horrible a decision as it felt initially. As with so many things, the results dictate how everyone feels about it.
If the shot goes down, there's a contingent praising the Nuggets for making the smart analytic decision, even though the analytics say they didn't. If they take the two and the white hot Wizards hit a game-winner one possession later, there's no debate at all.
Finally, this may be a bit tangential to the issue at hand, but as a fan, aren't you always praying the opposing team decides to go for the tie instead of the win? Doesn't that mean anything? The point is, Washington fans had hearts in throats as the ball was in the air in a demonstrably different way than they would have on a layup.
Perhaps we're collectively hating the final possession too much. Though perhaps someone will convince me we're not hating it enough. That's what happens when you process things. They feel different, depending on the time. So with that in mind, what happened to Denver last night feels wrong, but perhaps not as world-ending as it did in the moment.