Sunday, November 5, 2006

Nuggets Drop Two in a Row

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets have now lost both of their first two games of the season late in the fourth quarter. Tonight’s home loss comes by way of the Timberwolves 112-109. Denver outscored Minnesota in each quarter but the one that matters and is still winless thus far in the 2006-07 season. The effort was there and I think that a breakthrough is coming, but somehow the Nuggets were outfoxed down the stretch once again.

The Nuggets received the bulk of their scoring from a quiet performance by Carmelo Anthony and a dynamic show by Earl Boykins. Both men scored a game high 28 points, but neither man could provide the Nuggets with a bucket in the final two minutes of the game. Andre Miller and Kenyon Martin both recorded double-doubles with Miller’s coming by way of 18 points and 12 assists and Martin’s by means of ten points and ten rebounds. Miller showed resilience by bouncing back from a horrendous 0-11 shooting night against the Clippers, and connected on 8 for 15 from the field while limiting his turnovers to three in tonight’s game.

The most critical stretch of the game where the Nuggets couldn’t find a way to score occurred in the fourth quarter after Andre Miller’s 15 foot jumper made the game 98-92 with nine minutes remaining. The Nuggets then went on a cold streak that lasted more than three minutes, and allowed the Timberwolves to claw back in the game. Denver continued to sputter for the last five minutes of the game, and three Carmelo Anthony three-point attempts in the last 15 seconds all ricocheted off the rim sealing the Nuggets demise.

In this next few days before the Nuggets play again, George Karl has some evaluating and maybe some shuffling to do at the two spot. J.R. Smith played only thirteen minutes and was issued a technical foul before spending the majority of the second half on the bench. J.R. has not shown much desire to play serious defense and his shooting has been lukewarm in two games. His alter-ego Yakhouba Diawara, while defensively solid, was unable to give the Nuggets much on the offensive end finishing with four points in 21 minutes of action.

If there was ever a time when DerMarr Johnson should be salivating at the opportunity to show Coach Karl the desire to play this would be that time. Coach Karl was reluctant to play Linas Kleiza at shooting guard, or much at all tonight, and the iron may be red hot for Johnson to strike. If he can prove to be a healthy combination of both Smith and Diawara, DerMarr may find himself activated sooner than he might have thought.

In the mean time it is back to work for the Nuggets. Denver will try to get the first win of the season when they host the New York Knicks next week on Wednesday night. There is no need to get hysterical because this team is just a few tweaks away from being really good. It is just a matter of how long these adjustments take that could be cause for concern.

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