Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nuggets End the Magic Show

(Boulder-CO) There were no smoke and mirrors, hidden compartments, or trick photography in tonight’s Nuggets victory over the Magic, 111-101. The Nuggets finally found a sense of team chemistry on offense and defense and had six players score in double-digits. The win for Denver means finally back to .500 on the season with record of, 28-28, and more importantly a much needed boost in team morale.

The Nuggets were led tonight by Allen Iverson’s game-high 34 points, seven assists, five steals, and four rebounds in a team-high 46 minutes of play. Carmelo Anthony added 25 points and six rebounds, Eduardo Najera kicked in 17 points and five rebounds, and Linas Kleiza finished with 15 points and three rebounds including three three-pointers.

The most impressive aspect of the game for me was the Nuggets taking care of the basketball and finishing with only 13 turnovers that directly resulted in a meager ten points for the Magic. On the other end of the floor the Nuggets were fantastic at causing the Magic to turn it over. Orlando was anything but magical in their erratic play, and finished tonight with 25 turnovers leading to just as many points for the Nuggets. Kudos to Denver for finally being able to enforce its will on another team.

My final note about this game is that it finished with a sense of accomplishment that far exceeded its actual value. A win is a win, and I’ll gladly take one regardless of its grace, but when the Nuggets won tonight it was almost like a major pressure release occurred. They finally played as a team on offense and on defense. Carmelo and Iverson still combined for their sixty or so points, and a couple of guys are starting to emerge as reliable contributors. I like what I am starting to see materialize, but am still not sure if the Nuggets can get too confident banking on the few things that are starting to click. There is much work to be done, but at least now it seams like the Nuggets are working on it together.

Tomorrow the Nuggets travel before taking on Houston on Friday night. The last two times the Rockets and Nuggets have played they have split. Most recently being the Nuggets overtime victory back on January 20th.

I don’t recall a time that .500 ever felt so good! Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Denver Finds a Way

(Boulder-CO) It wasn’t pretty, but the Nuggets found a way to defeat the Grizzlies, 111-107, despite finding themselves down by as many as six late in the third quarter. In this game we saw the Nuggets limit their turnovers, hit the boards, and share the ball in a tolerable effort against a team they should have beaten a lot worse. A win is a win, however, and I’m sure the Nuggets will take it.

Instead of having just Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony shoulder the offensive burden, Nene decided to get involved and kicked in a career-high-tying 27 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and a block. ‘Melo finished playing a team-high 42 minutes and recorded a game-high 33 points, six rebounds, and three assists. AI did his thing too. The Answer finished the game with 25 points and was much better facilitating the ball ending with nine assists.

The Chairman of the Boards tonight was Marcus Camby. The Captain finished with a game-high 13 rebounds with 12 of the aforementioned coming off the defensive glass. He also gave the Nugget eight points and three blocked shots; all of which were recovered by the Nuggets.

The rest of the Nuggets that scored, (Evans, Blake, Najera, and Klieza), combined for 18 points and four rebounds. Yakhouba Diawara was the only Nugget who played that didn’t put anything in the scoring column.

Mike Miller put the Nuggets’ backs against the wall when he erupted for 13 points in the second half of the third quarter and put his team up, 77-71. Allen Iverson stepped up his game and truly was the Answer for the Nuggets when he hit two counter three pointers and kept the Grizzlies within striking distance going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, Denver did something that they haven’t been doing this season and actually out-played the Grizzlies 29-24 with the game’s outcome in the balance. The Nuggets needed every ounce of effort they gave in their attempt to better the Grizzlies by five-points in the money quarter and as a result won by four. This win put the Nuggets back into the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff picture with the Clippers and New Orleans/ Oklahoma City Hornets tied for the eighth and final spot.

Up next for the Nuggets are the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Denver lost an extremly close game to the Magic earlier in the season and will be looking for redemption come 7 pm MST. Go Nuggets!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Nuggets vs. Grizzlies Preview

(Boulder-CO) When every Nuggets fan heard the news that Allen Iverson was going to come to Denver with his warrior mentality on the hardwood. I think I can speak for all of us when I say optimism was the overall consensus. If you would have told me that the Nuggets would be 2-6 with both Carmelo Anthony and AI on the floor I would have laughed in your face. But now the situation with the Nuggets is anything but a laughing matter. And if the Nuggets continue to lose, often, things around the Mile High City are going to be anything but optimistic.

Entering tonight’s game against the miserable Memphis Grizzlies the Nuggets are on a four-game skid and desperate for a win. Of the fifteen games Memphis has managed to win, one of those games came against the Nuggets. Point being is while all things on paper should indicate a Nuggets victory. Don’t be so sure. Denver has all the excuses needed for this team to slip up and allow a team like Memphis to beat them. I can almost hear the mumbling and grumbling now…

Things are getting serious in the playoff hunt too. The Los Angeles Clippers are now only a half-game back from the Nuggets who have slipped into the eighth and last seed in the Western Conference. And God forbid the Nuggets should lose tonight because the Clip-show are playing the almost-as-bad Bobcats, (another poor team the Nuggets have lost to), and could very well take over that final playoff spot in the event that the Nuggets continue to slide.

Now here are a couple of things that should be eye-opening for everyone in the Nuggets Nation. Since AI has been wearing powder blue Denver’s average scoring per game has slipped nearly a dozen points in this four-game skid. Trouble in paradise? How about the fact that Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson have not only been in a battle for the NBA’s scoring title, but have also been scrapping it out for the turnover crown too! Currently Iverson holds the title belt of sloppiest player in the league with an average of 4.2 giveaways a night, but Anthony isn’t going to let him just run away with it. Carmelo is right on his coattails with the third worst turnover rate of 3.9 miscues a game his own self.

Alright, now that the grim facts have been exposed it is time for an opportunity to be highlighted for one of the Nuggets to seize. With the injury to J.R. Smith it is high-time for DerMarr Johnson to be opportunistic and prove that he can play the point-forward position. Denver NEEDS DerMarr to step-up to the opportunity presenting itself and knock down a couple threes, distribute the ball, and play some suffocating defense. He has all the tools. DJ is 6’9”, lanky, quick, and fully capable of handling the rock. He should be able to post up opposing team’s point guards, while still being quick enough to slash to the basket when overplayed on the perimeter. He also possesses the length to be bothersome on defense, (as Allen Iverson got to experience firsthand last season), and if he will just box out and then hit the boards he will be a breath of fresh air for the Nuggets. So, if DerMarr can just play economic basketball he has the chance to prove he is an invaluable piece for the Nuggets during this stretch of games and that is if he can only find his way into the mix to prove to George Karl that he can be productive. “If” being the biggest pairing of one consonant and a vowel in the entire English dictionary.

Tonight is a real test for the resolve of this team. Win and turn over a new page. Lose and expect the headlines to be ridiculing. Come on now, Nuggets, hunt down the Grizzlies!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another Grotesque Loss

(Boulder-CO) Call it a combination of the NBA’s best team playing a ridiculously disheveled one and you’re bound to end with a sum somewhere between a beating and a trouncing. As I predicted, the Nuggets ran into a buzz saw in the Dallas Mavericks and lost, 115-95. Now Denver is two games below .500 with a record of 26-28, and they have lost eleven of their last fourteen games including their last four straight.

Redundantly, the Nuggets got little to no help offensively from anyone but Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo finished the game’s high-scorer with 34 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, but is still not taking proper care of the basketball as he turned over the rock seven times. Allen Iverson was also having problems making sound decisions with the basketball finishing with 26 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, a block and nine sloppy turnovers. In total the Nuggets coughed up the leather 23 times resulting in 20 Maverick points.

The only other reliable support came from Marcus Camby. The Captain had a nice game tonight with a game-high 17 rebounds, ten points, four steals, two blocks, and seven assists.

As a team it is still defensively where the Nuggets are struggling the worst, and it is no surprise that as they struggle on one end of the floor they can’t get anything going on offense either. Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, and Jerry Stackhouse all had solid games with the trio combining for 74 points on 28 of 55 shooting. Dallas got good looks at the basket, numerous second chances on eleven offensive rebounds, and consequentially shot a smoking 51 percent from the field. Very rarely do the Nuggets turn and box out their man and teams are going to continue to feast on their inability to start their fast break with the simplest execution of fundamental concepts.

On offense, the Nuggets are guilty of standing around and watching AI and ‘Melo, and both AI and ‘Melo are guilty of pounding and suffocating the air out of the ball. Too many times Allen Iverson comes down the floor and dominates the shoot clock dribbling around the perimeter instead of making a quick pass, moving without the ball, and sometimes getting it back in a better position to score off a pass. Because of this I feel that the other Nuggets are not feeling involved in the offense and get caught standing around in observation. ‘Melo too is guilty of receiving the ball on the wing and working too much shot clock jab stepping and ball faking. I would like to see him receive the ball, turn and face, and make his move. If after he takes a quick look at any double team on the way, the defensive position, and his teammates there has to be decision made quicker and with more precision.

The Nuggets are off tomorrow night, but face the struggling Memphis Grizzlies on Monday in what is a must win game. The Grizz are 15-42 on the year despite coming off a win against the Trailblazers on Friday night. Any sort of confidence right now would go a long way for the Nuggets. Even if it is in the form of good practice tomorrow. You have to start somewhere, and after the looks of tonight's loss, square one would probably be a wise place for George Karl and staff to begin.

Nuggets vs. Mavericks Preview

(Boulder-CO) After a long night against the Jazz, Denver’s road doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Dallas to match-up with the streaking Mavs. Dallas has been dominating the entire league after starting the season 0-4 and has since gone on winning streaks of thirteen, eleven, eight, and the current ten-gamer they are on now bringing their overall record to a league best 45-9. And if the Nuggets do not put together a more inspired effort than they have been showing in their last few games this one could get ugly. Real ugly.
The Nuggets have lost the last two match-ups these teams have had this season and to add insult to injury have been the losers of the last 17 of 18 games against Dallas on the Mavs’ turf.

But those types of things always tend to lean towards a team breaking such streaks, right?
After watching the lack of team chemistry, the ole-defensive tactics, and enough stagnation of offense to make me wonder if the TiVo has been paused I would have to say that this game is all but a lock for the Mavs. I would love to be wrong, but that is my honest-gut feeling.

Tip is set for 7 pm MST. Go Nuggets! Try not to become a name on the Mavericks’ hit list.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nuggets are Officially a Losing Team

(Boulder-CO) How does 26-27 sound? How about 14-15 on your home floor? Call me crazy, but this Nuggets team is in serious trouble. After what I saw tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver misses the playoffs. The Nuggets can’t defend, share the ball, or seem to find any chemistry with the plethora of interchangeable players on the roster. If you have been reading my work for any amount of time you will have noticed that I am not one for pessimistic rhetoric, but to be perfectly honest with you, there are so many problems with this team right now that I do not even know where to start. What I can say is that I hate Utah Jazz fans less after tonight’s game due to sitting next to some of the most informed basketball fans ever at the Pepsi Center, not to mention they just hopped a flight from Utah for tonight’s game. More on that later, but now on to the grim reality of Denver’s situation.

The Denver Nuggets were out rebounded, out passed, out stolen, turned the rock over more, and were out played for the majority of tonight’s game; hands down, no questions asked, without a doubt by Jerry Sloan’s ball club. Other than in the fourth quarter the Nuggets were outscored in every single quarter. Once again we all saw the Nuggets score less than twenty points in a quarter, (18 measly points in the second), as they put up an effort not so becoming of an, “offensive juggernaut.”

And once again we saw offensive output from only a couple of Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 36 points and added six assists, four rebounds, a steal, a block, and…sigh… seven turnovers. Allen Iverson was the only other Nugget to score in double figures and finished the game with 33 points, five assists, three assists, and two steals in a game-high 44 minutes of action. As for the rest of the Nuggets, let’s just say that Steve Blake and Nene each had eight points because I do not want to be negative anymore.

As things stand the Nuggets are still in the playoffs. But let me say this; three of the next four games are against serious playoff teams. Dallas is on deck tomorrow, followed by Memphis, (A must win game), before Houston, and the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets who are currently looking in on the playoff situation.

Now back to why I hate Utah Jazz fans way less after tonight’s game. I had the pleasure of sitting next to some extremely heady Jazz, not to mention NBA, fans during the game. Along with testing each other’s NBA IQ we discussed the Adrian Dantley situation, why the Jazz are the best team at running the pick and roll, and the unappreciated game of one Jerry Sloan. For those that don’t know, Jerry Sloan still acts like he is playing the game from his position on the bench as he literally talks his players through nearly every phase of the game. He was one hell of player and is one hell of a coach. The guy from Utah even had an outside source that was trying to find out why Mehmet was not available for action tonight. According to him it was because of back spasms, but before he got such word his speculation was that his wife was in labor which was more insider information than I could gather from any of the sources I consulted before publishing my game preview.

As for the Nuggets, they have one hell of a monkey on their back. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a preview of the Dallas Mavericks, but for now… Say your prayers.

Nuggets vs. Jazz Preview

(Boulder-CO) There is nothing like waking up in the morning knowing you have got killer seats to the game of the team you cover day-in and day-out. The feeling is so sweet and I can not wait to trek to Denver tonight to see the Nuggets square off with the Jazz. And you know what else? Tonight is guys’ night so that means riding the ref a little bit harder, more trash talking to any Jazz fans that are in the proximity, and certainly more boisterous celebrations when the Nuggets put out the funk with the dunk! Plus, the game is on TNT which means that the national spotlight is on Pepsi Center and the Nuggs. What else could a diehard fan want?

Getting serious for a second, the Nuggets need this win like Britney Spears needs a good wig! Ok ok, maybe the last sentence was more humorous that it was serious, but you understand the importance of this game for the Nuggets. Denver is losers of their last two and stand at 26-26 on the season with a home record of 14-14. As I outlined a few articles back, the road to the finish line is going to be a tough one for the Nuggets as they have 17 of their remaining 30 games against playoff bound teams. Not falling below .500 for even a single game is imperative because doing so would be like pouring blood in the water for the Timberwolves, Hornets, and Clippers who are all on the outside looking in to the playoff situation right now with 29 losses a piece. Down the home stretch it is important to keep an eye on the loss column because those games can not be made up. Wins can, but it is the team with the least amount of losses that is ultimately going to slide into the playoffs.

Utah is coming off a tough loss to the Portland Trailblazers after their miracle man Mehmet Okur was not able to grant them another wish at the buzzer. Utah was also without their young star point guard Deron Williams who strained his groin the Rookie/Sophomore game on Friday night of All-Star weekend. With that said, the Nuggets owe the Jazz big time. Utah has won the last five match-ups between these two teams and it is time for the Nuggets to break the streak while at the same time starting a little losing skid for the Jazz.

My keys to tonight’s game are as follows:

-Keep Mehmet within an arms reach on the three-point line. He is shooting a blistering 39.2 percent from the arch and has a way of slipping way from his man for open looks from downtown.

-Capitalize on Carlos Boozer being injured. Take the ball to the rim early and often.

-If Deron Williams does play, Allen Iverson needs to break him off a little slice of the quickness to test his groin and make him work on the defensive end of the floor. AI is due to have a big game.

-Somebody, (DerMarr, Linas, Blake, or even Yakhouba), needs to find the stroke in replacement for J.R. Smith. The Nuggets can not afford to become unable to hit from the perimeter.

-Marcus Camby needs to get back on the boards. In his last two games combined he has grabbed only eleven rebounds. The Captain is averaging better than that many per night.

-And last, but certainly not least, Carmelo Anthony needs to bounce back from his 15-point performance against the Spurs. The Nuggets need at least his 30 point average to have a realistic chance of winning this game.

I’m meeting up with Stumbleweed at halftime for a beer, so if there is anyone else that is going to be in the house tonight that is interested, and of legal age, I invite you to meet us at halftime in front of section 142 for a drink. Go Nuggets, mute the Jazz!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Now Let’s Talk About Practice

(Boulder-CO) I have to admit it was a little bit different than I expected it to be. When I arrived I was greeted by a friendly security officer and had to sign in as a “Guest”. After being cleared I took a short elevator ride up to the practice facility. I had no idea that there was an entirely different gym in the Pepsi Center where the Nuggets practice, (I guess I always suspected they had an off location practice facility), but there certainly is. After stepping out of the elevator I had the opportunity to meet and chat briefly with Mark Kiszla and Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, and Aaron Lopez of the Rocky Mountain News before the final twenty minutes of practice was opened up to media types.

Once inside I got a glimpse of a live practice. AI and DerMarr Johnson were working on their perimeter shot. Each would shoot until they missed as a coach would feed them passes and then switch after a miss. Nene was on a different basket working on his post moves and Yakhouba Diawara and ex-University of Colorado forward Jamahl Mosely, (a player development assistant), were playing a modified game of one-on-one on their own goal. On the opposite end of the gym, Linas Kleiza and Steve Blake were working on their deep ball. I expected to see much more team oriented stuff, but maybe that took place before hand.

As for any commentary… It may seem obvious to say this, but Allen Iverson is serious about his jump shot. After making six, seven, or eight in a row, usually never touching anything but the net, a miss would come off the rim and Iverson would growl in displeasure. I was thinking to myself, “Damn, you just dropped however many straight, take it easy”, but I guess that type of work ethic is why he is going to be considered one of the best players ever to play the game and I’m banging away on a keyboard right now.

His shooting mate DerMarr Johnson was also impressive. DJ’s services are definitely going to be a hot commodity in the next month with J.R. Smith out with the knee injury and I think that Johnson knows it. DJ’s three was dropping consistently from the corner and the top of the arch and if he can translate what I saw today into tomorrow’s game. The Nuggets will feel his much needed relief at the guard position.

As practice ended Marcus Camby and George Karl addressed media, but unfortunately I was not permitted to take a sound byte. My contact felt it would be better for me to just get a feel for my first practice rather than to jump in head first. And due to my journalism ethics, I am not going to paraphrase what was said because I do not have the proof of such statements. I apologize for not doing so, but trust me when I say it is for the best.

As I was leaving I had the chance to be introduced to Assistant Coach Adrian Dantley. I told Dantley about my Historical Glimpse dedicated to him and wished him luck this year with the Hall of Fame. AD is one of my favorite small forwards of all-time so to final meet him, shake his hand, and express my sentiments to him was something that I will always remember.

In a final note, I have to extend a big “Thanks” to Director of Media Relations Eric Sebastian for giving the green light to my contact and allowing me to attend practice. Hopefully I made the professional impression I set out to and said impression will result in further opportunities to get behind the scenes with the team. Until then, Go Nuggets!

My First Inside Look

(Boulder-CO) This afternoon I will get my first inside perspective on the Denver Nuggets. I am excited to announce that arrangements have been made for me to attend the Nuggets practice today at Pepsi Center. I am not exactly sure what all will transpire, but this is definitely a major step in the right direction as for where I eventually hope to be whether it is with this blog or in another journalistic capacity. After today's workout, I will be recounting what occurred and offering some perspective from a vantage point few ever get to see, so be sure to check back later for the goods. This should be very exciting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh Great! Just What this Struggle Needed

(Boulder-CO) At first J.R. Smith was optimistic about his injured knee. Now is reporting that J.R. will miss the next three to four weeks with torn cartilage in his left knee.

With AI seemingly healthy again, ‘Melo playing some of the best basketball of his young career, Nene emerging as a beast in the middle, and Camby finally back this couldn’t have come a worse time. Chemistry problems have been plaguing this team since, well, forever and now Coach George Karl will have another rubics cube for a roster to twist and turn. Only this time, along with all the other puzzles to be solved, he will have to find a perimeter scorer to replace J.R. now that he will miss the next three to four weeks with torn cartilage in his left knee.

Go ahead and let all your expletives out now because this may just be the kind of bad omen that predicates a complete breakdown for the Nuggets. They have all the excuses, (injuries, suspensions, and trade shake-ups) that anyone could have foreseen and if a team is only as good as its last showing… The Nuggets are on a one way ticket to nowhere, FAST!

Is Najera on the Block?

(Boulder-CO) I have been hearing from numerous credible sources that the Dallas Mavericks are interested in Eduardo Najera. The Mavericks are no stranger to Najera’s game because Eduardo spent his first four years in Dallas before being traded to Denver, then to Golden State, and right back to Denver in 2005. The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow, so I would be surprised if anything happens, but nevertheless this rumor should be examined as if it were hotter than it actually is.

After last night’s total embarrassment, let’s assume for a minute that the Nuggets self-destruct in the remainder of this season and do not make the playoffs. That leaves Denver going into the off-season with seven players 6’7” or taller, but none any taller than 6’9”. Obviously, Carmelo Anthony isn’t going anywhere, so let’s call it six players in all actuality. That leaves Diawara, Najera, Evans, Johnson, Kleiza, and Martin in a shuffle of guys competing for one spot on the floor. Keep in mind that Nene is emerging as a legitimate starting power forward with the injured Kenyon Martin somewhere in the rearview mirror.

Carmelo plays at least 35 minutes a night, so with that said, are the Nuggets looking for a guy that can come in and gladly give them 13 minutes of inspired play a game while Denver’s superstar is sipping sports drink and wiping himself down with a towel? Probably not. So, if the Nuggets were to trade Najera to the Mavericks in the next 24 hours who should they get in return?

Much like Chris Marlowe said in our interview, I think that with Marcus Camby’s fragility and age the Nuggets should be looking to get a big body in return for Najera. With my first glance at the Mavericks roster, I like the looks of the seven-foot DJ Mbenga, but he just had ACL surgery and is out for the remainder of the season. With knee issues of their own, the Denver Nuggets would be wise to steer clear of any other leg problems, which hopefully puts DJ out of the picture. With that knowledge, I scroll a little bit further and find that Dallas has no other skyscrapers that would be realistically available. So, it is time to think about our other needs…

The Nuggets need a starting point guard so bad it is frightening. Steve Blake came out hot in his first couple of games with Denver, but has since cooled off significantly. I also think that Iverson is a much better fit with the Nuggets at shooting guard. Now, if Dallas still wants Najera that leaves the Nuggets looking at swapping for Anthony Johnson. The ten-year journeyman has played for seven teams and has never averaged more than four assists in a single season. Not exactly what I would call a real night-in and night-out kind of point guard.

So, essentially, I hopefully have debunked any sort of deal that could be cooking right now, because I just don’t like anything the Mavericks could potentially offer, but hey, stranger things have happened… Let’s just hope that it doesn’t have to happen to the Nuggets. I like Eduardo Najera and it would be a shame to see him go to a team that the Nuggets could potentially be matching up with in the playoffs, assuming for a minute that now we ARE going to make the post season.

I Need Feedback

(Boulder-CO) Well, The Nugg Doctor is changing again and this time it is once again in the logo. Give me your thoughts on the new look in the comments section. Thanks again to Natalie Sitto of for the hardwork and creativity. She really is the Queen of the NBA blogosphere!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ouch! Nuggets Ripped in San Antonio

(Boulder-CO) I don’t know about anyone else, but that was so incredibly painful to watch that I literally cringed a couple of times as the Nuggets were dominated by the Spurs, 95-80. If that wasn’t the absolute worst showing by the Nuggets this season, I don’t want to see anymore. Seriously, ten points in the third quarter after only scoring 17 in the second? Something has got to give with this team in the form of some consistency and I thought it was on the defensive end, but now, it’s not only on defense, but on offense too!

Looking for a silver lining? Don’t waste your time. The Nuggets had no double-doubles and were led in scoring by Carmelo Anthony’s 15 points on 6-15 shooting. Only ‘Melo, Nene, and DerMarr Johnson reached double figures in scoring and J.R. Smith only played eight minutes due to injuring his left knee in the second quarter. As a team the Nuggets turned the ball over 20 times resulting in 17 San Antonio points. The Spurs on the other hand were careful handling their possessions and only turned the ball over an efficient nine times.

After three quarters of NBA basketball the Nuggets found themselves with a measly 48 points. Was it too much partying in Vegas? Is this team disintegrating? Was this just a bad night? You tell me because I am at a loss looking for ways to decipher just how things went so terribly wrong tonight. The box scores are fairly even, so it just doesn’t make any sense to me as to how the Nuggets were down by 31 points going into the fourth quarter.

And you know what the worst part about it all is? There is no replay for me to watch to gain the advantage of a second look at this game! Now the Nuggets are right back at .500 (26-26) and one would have to think that their psychological state is shaky at best. I didn’t want to say this, as I am eternally optimistic, but if the Nuggets do not straighten this tangle out they are in serious danger of missing the playoffs. Of the 30 games remaining, 16 are on the road and 17 of them are against teams bound for the playoffs. Plain and simply stated: It is not going to get any easier as the games get increasingly more critical down the homestretch. And if Denver is going to have anything to build on for next season, they had better devise a plan to save this one.

All-Star Break Interview with Chris Marlowe

(Boulder-CO) If you have been watching Nuggets games on Altitude Sports and Entertainment you have been listening to the play-by-play from Chris “Hollywood” Marlowe. To say that a man who sits courtside and literally talks us all through nearly every game is close to the team would be an understatement and with Chris’s background as a collegiate basketball and volleyball player at San Diego State University his opinion on the Nuggets was taken with an abundance of respect. Some of the questions asked are the same as pitched to Dino Costa, so be on the lookout for differences in opinion. Below is the entire transcript of our conversation that took place today over a couple of salads (gotta get that roughage) and a slice of Godiva chocolate cake. Enjoy.

ND: First and foremost, Chris, I would like to thank you for being available for interview. The readers of The Nugg Doctor also thank you in advance. The Denver Nuggets are a very misunderstood team right now, and I think that with your inside perspective some light can be shed on what this team is all about. Let’s talk about what is working. What is your opinion about the progression of Nene and how that is going to pan out for the Nuggets in the playoffs, assuming that the Nuggets do make the postseason?

CM: I think Nene, if you’re looking at the Nuggets overall, has been the brightest spot of anyone on the team. I think that his progression in the last month has been astounding. He has gone from a 15 minute a game bench player averaging eight points and four rebounds to a prime-time, Carlos Boozer, big-time power forward putting up 18 and nine. So, I think the emergence of Nene has given the Nuggets what they have been lacking for the last four or five years in that solid inside guy that they can go to in the post with a big beefy body. So, I am really pleased with what Nene has been doing. As for the other Nuggets, it is a matter of getting everybody back; getting everybody healthy, and making sure everybody is on the same page. I don’t think that offense is going to be a problem. I think that offensively the Nuggets are going to be just fine. I do, however, think that defense and rebounding are going to be the biggest concerns. Can they make stops, can they play solid defense? If they can improve their defense 25% then I think that they can be a real threat in the playoffs.

ND: Following up on that, do you think it is wise for George Karl to start both Camby and Nene?

CM: You know, I do. I think that you should always start your five best players and you want to play them the most minutes. Now that Nene is healthy, or healthier, he is playing 30-35 five minutes, which I think is really good. I think the Nuggets interior defense is much better when Nene can take the big inside guy and Marcus Camby can come over and block shots. When Nene is not in there, Camby has to do it by himself and when he comes over to block shots someone gets an offensive rebound. But that doesn’t happen when Nene is in there. So, I like playing Camby and Nene together.

ND: Sticking with that theme for a second, I have been calling for what I call the best five for the job to start. My opinion is that AI, J.R., Melo, Nene and Camby should round out the starting five for the Nuggets. If you are the coach of the Nuggets, do you start that five or would you insert Blake into the line-up?

CM: I tell you what, that is a tough call for me. I like what J.R. brings to the table in terms of his scoring. The question is do you need that scoring in the starting five or are you better off having him come off the bench and provide some firepower when he does come into the game? I think that the offense seems to run better when you have Carmelo, Iverson, and Camby, those kinds of players, in when you have a facilitator like Blake mixing it up a little bit better. Iverson is going to play 43 minutes a game when he comes back, so that’s not really a big problem in terms of when to take him out. But I think that the offense seems to run better and more smoothly when Blake is in there. So, I’m ok with starting Blake now, I think you could bring him off the bench, but I like the idea of having a guy come off the bench that can give you 25 points, which Blake usually can’t do.

ND: Ok, switching topics, Carmelo has been playing phenomenal dating back to the FIBA games and his maturation process has been so evident. Do you think that’s going to continue or do you think that this spat has been a just a good period in his career up to this point?

CM: I think that Carmelo is having great season. He’s upped his scoring average, assists, steals and is at a near career-high in rebounds and I think because he is so talented a lot is expected of him. People expect him to be superior in every category, and he’s working on it, and he’s getting a lot better. Where I would like to see him improve, and he has, is rebounding and defense. I think that those two areas are where he can really help the Nuggets. I also think that his passing is really the key to the offense. When he passes the ball it gets everyone involved and it really makes the offense hum. They can’t double-team him, and he seems to score more easily when he is passing the rock around and getting seven to ten assists. So, I look for Carmelo to improve, I see him getting better all the time, I think the sky is the limit and I think that we’re going to continue to see one of the great players in the history of the NBA mature.

ND: Well you’ve touched on it a couple times, and defensively is where the majority of the questions surrounding this team are rooted. With that said, how can the Nuggets toughen up on D with the players that they currently have?

CM: I think that they have to commit to defending the pick and roll. I think that is where, if you’re a basketball purist, the Nuggets have to defend better. And I think that they are starting to get the hang of it. In the last few games they’re committed to a more aggressive style of defending the pick and roll. The guard dribbles around the screen, usually it’s Blake out in front or Iverson, they fight through and the big man comes up and stops the dribble. He hedges or stops the dribble or traps, rather than just soft switch. And I think the Nuggets can do that at the point of attack because once the other team brings the ball across there is only about 16 seconds really to run your play. If you can stop the point of attack at the pick and roll, then they’ve got like eight or nine seconds to get off a good shot and then I think the defense has the advantage. So, I think the Nuggets have to get that pick and roll defense solidified, get their rotations down with everybody healthy, and that’s been one of the concerns with not everybody in the line-up, because not everybody is sure where to go. So, once they get that solidified they will be much better on defense.

ND: Some consistency, I like that.

CM: Yes.

ND: Let’s assume for a second that things continue to go as they have and the Nuggets limp in with the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs. Who would you rather see the Nuggets match-up with, Phoenix or Dallas and why?

CM: I’d rather play Dallas. I think the Nuggets match-up better against Dallas and the free wheeling style of Phoenix is just too much. I think they do what we do just a little bit better and it’s hard to beat a running team that’s got better shooters and better scorers. They just have too many weapons. Dallas can be beaten and we have always played well against Dallas. We’ve got two or three guys that can guard Dirk Nowitzki that know his game. You know, our match-ups are good and I think in a first round match-up we give them a lot of trouble. The key point being we got to be playing our A game when we get to the playoffs. I think that is the goal for the Nuggets now. You know, don’t worry so much about playing Dallas or Phoenix or whoever we get. The Nuggets just need to make sure they are playing at peak basketball when they get to the playoffs. Then I think an upset is realistic.

ND: Control what you can control, I like that.

CM: Yea, you can’t do anything about who you are going to play.

ND: Well, do you feel that the Nuggets are capable of moving up here in the last 31 games to maybe that fifth seed at the highest?

CM: I don’t think they can get to five. They might be able to get to six and six would be a great seed because I think the Nuggets match-up against San Antonio even better than they do against Dallas. I think that of the four teams in the top four the Nuggets best chance would be to play San Antonio. I know they have the experience, I know they have Tim Duncan, but I just don’t feel they have the athleticism and the overall talent they have had in the past. We have been pretty successful against them in the last couple of years. We have had some nice wins, Carmelo has seemed to have figured out Bruce Bowen and now is lighting him up, and I would not mind a 6-3 match-up in San Antonio.

ND: Well, we will certainly get a preview of that tonight. Regardless of how the Nuggets fare this postseason, once again assuming that they do get there, what are some of the moves, especially concerning the log jam at the four spot with Nene, Kenyon Martin, Najera, and Reggie Evans, that you think should be made this off-season?

CM: Well that’s a tough one. I think that we would like to have another center. We need another big man with some beef, and this is my wish list, I don’t know exactly what they want. My wish list would be another big man, another guard that can play the point, and maybe one more shooter. I think that the three needs there would compliment the players that we have now. Another guy that can hit from the perimeter, you know and have a mid-range game, a Raja Bell type guy. We need another two guard that can come off and play well. And I like having more size. We have a lot of players that are 6’8”. We have four or five guys that seem to be 6’8” 235lbs. What we need is a seven footer. We wouldn’t mind having another seven footer at 270lbs. It might not be the most athletic guy, but one who can rebound and play defense.
ND: Some variation of flavors as far as personnel?

CM: Yea exactly, a guy who can team with Camby and Nene and give those guys a break.

ND: Fair enough, last couple of questions, Chris. Any predictions for this year? Do we make it out of the first round? Second round? Where do you see this team finishing?

CM: You know, I don’t want to make any predictions now because I want to see how they blend together in the next ten games.

ND: Sure.

CM: Ask me that question in our next interview ten games from now because Carmelo Anthony and Iverson really haven’t had a chance to blend together and show their skills. They have only played six games together, I believe, and so in the next ten games we will get an idea of where this team can go. I think we have seen glimpses of it, we’ve seen quarters of it, but we have never had all the guys, and I keep saying this, we have never had all the guys with all hands on deck, for this thing. Once we do, we will have a better idea as to how far we can go and what kind of potential this team has. But I still think it’s going to come down to defense. I think we can score enough points to beat any team in the league, but we have to play better defensively if we’re going to upset in the first round and go on in the playoffs. I really think that we can make a deep run in the playoffs, IF, we can get the defense figured out.

ND: Alright, Chris, last one. Do you think that the Nuggets can be a championship caliber team in the next four years?

CM: I think they have a chance. I think management has done a great job of fitting together some of the pieces. Do they need some tweaking? Maybe, but bringing in Iverson has really showed that the Nuggets management and ownership is serious about bringing a championship to Denver and they are not content with being just a .500 team that sneaks into the playoffs. And I think really the sky is the limit, but you know, this has been a crazy year. A lot of turmoil, a lot of drama, and a lot of crazy things going on and hopefully that part of the season is over and the next 30 games the Nuggets really show what they can do.

ND: All shake ups considered I think that things are looking pretty good in the city of Denver. Chris I’d like thank you again for being available and my readers thank you in advance. I’m sure they are going to enjoy our chat and may the Nuggets move on to the second round this year.

CM: We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

ND: Thanks, Chris.

We walked out of lunch together sharing a couple of laughs about some of the finer points regarding this team as we found our cars in the parking lot of the Park Meadows Mall. If you have enjoyed this interview, I encourage you to head over to and read more of Chris Marlowe’s insight on his own personal blog. In the future, I look forward to more opportunities to interview the candid Chris “Hollywood” Marlowe.

Nuggets vs. Spurs Preview

(Boulder-CO) Boy, is it good to be back in the saddle again! The Denver Nuggets will be the first team to face the Spurs in their own building since San Antonio embarked on their annual “Rodeo Road Trip” that started back on January 28th. The Spurs are 16-8 in their friendly confines and the Nuggets will have their work cut out for them if they are going to be successful in ruining San Antonio’s homecoming.

First off is some not-so-good news for the Nuggets. Allen Iverson is reportedly still feeling the effects of a sickness that has been lingering with him since the All-Star weekend. He is in San Antonio right now and did practice with the team yesterday, but it is not certain whether or not he will play in tonight’s game. That being said (and it always seems like there is SOMETHING to say) here is what you need to know about San Antonio.

When you’re talking about the Spurs, you are talking about All-Stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and no slouch in Manu Ginobili. Remember, Manu is one of the few players in basketball history that can say he won a NBA championship in the same year as winning am Olympic gold medal for his native country not being the US of A. Point being, love him or hate him, Manu is one heck of a ball player. The aforementioned trio are the only Spurs averaging double digits in scoring and have been giving opposing defenses fits all season long. Tony Parker is still shooting an insane percentage for a point guard, and Tim Duncan is once again well on his way to averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. Sprinkle in the often questionable defensive practices of one Bruce Bowen and I think I have illustrated quite clearly why the Spurs have been a title contender for the last several years.

But this is the Denver Nuggets…One of the most enigmatic teams in the whole NBA!

They are historically a team that gets fired up to play the best teams in the league while always seeming to struggle with teams that should be confidence building wins and this season has been no different. Denver has beaten the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat twice, and the Raptors, Bulls, Pacers, Wizards, and Cavaliers each once to round out the majority of the East’s playoff bound teams and they just stuck it to the Rockets in overtime a couple of weeks ago. Contrarily to those quality wins, the Nuggets have also incurred bad losses to the Knicks, Bobcats, Trailblazers, and Bucks just to name a few (mind boggling, I know).

And hopefully in this sense history will be repetitive for Denver. With the Spurs being of the caliber they are the Nuggets do not want to let the All-Star hangover and loss to Minnesota get them off on a bad foot in the final 31 games. As important as I felt the Minnesota game was to the momentum the Nuggets were building with that cute three-game winning streak before losing to the T-Wolves was, this game returning to the NBA grind is even more pertinent to how the Nuggets finish the regular season. Potentially, this type of quality win could set the tone for a nice regular season finish. On the other hand however, a poor showing could be just as damaging as a win could be uplifting. So let’s go, Nuggets. Get this party started in San Antonio and start showing us what we have all been expecting now for awhile!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thank You for Your Continued Patience

(Boulder-CO) The posting has been scarce during the All-Star break and after I saw Dwight Howard get robbed in the Dunk Contest I didn't have it in me to write that kind of article. I hope you have had a chance to read my interview with Dino Costa, and as promised, I have another media heavy-weight to interview tomorrow. He is so close to the Nuggets that it excites me to even think that I have the chance to talk Nuggs hoops with him. Expect that interview to be published either sometime tomorrow night, along with a game preview and recap for the Nuggets vs. Spurs, or early the following morning.

Things should be returning back to normal around here and I wanted to take this opportunity to not only tease you with my interview set to take place tomorrow, but also to say "Thanks" for hanging in there with me. So much Nuggets coverage is on the way that it can be really overwhelming, but I promise it is all for your enjoyment. Honestly, I am planning on taking this blog to a whole new level that it even has me giddy... Just you wait and see what tricks I have up my sleeve!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

That’s Why it’s Called the All-Star Game!

(Boulder-CO) It was once again an incredible game consisting of the most amazing athletes on the planet. The Thomas and Mack Center was the stage for this year’s All-Star game and the stars of the NBA did not disappoint. The West was dominant, as was expected, and beat the East, 153-132, falling just one point short of the all-time record for points scored in an All-Star Game (154) which was set back in 1984 by the East led by Dr. J’s 34 points and was once again hit in 1987 by the West led by Tom Chambers’ 34 in both overtime games.
*Correction: The record for All-Star Game points scored is 155 and was set in 2003. The leading scorer in that game was Kevin Garnett who amazingly put up a stat line of 37 points, nine rebounds, five steals, three assists, and a block on his way to the game's MVP! My sincerest apologizes for the misrepresentation, but hey, Tom Chambers needed some publicity.

This All-Star Weekend, much like all the others, was special for numerous different reasons. You had Charles Barkley winning a footrace against Dick Bavetta. Dwight Howard left us with a dunk that will forever be remembered for how confusing it was received and how great it actually was. And Jason Kapono winning the three-point shootout in convincing fashion over Gilbert Arenas and Dirk Nowitzki were just some of the many highlights that the weekend brought to us all.

In the actual game itself Kobe Bryant stole the show and ran away with the MVP. Bryant finished with 31 points, six steals, six assists, and five rebounds. Other West stars included Amare Stoudemire with 29 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and a pair of blocks and Shawn Marion with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

There was also a guy named Carmelo Anthony who made his first All-Star Game appearance in what should be the first of many to come. The Denver Nuggets sole representative to play in the game did not disappoint. ‘Melo finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, a steal, and an assist in a MVP candidate performance. Anthony was an economical 10-15 from the field and finished many assists from Western Conference friends with thunderous dunks. Not bad for a guy the coaches were trying to leave off…

East stars included Lebron James with 28 points, Dwight Howard’s double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds which was the only double-double of the game, and Joe Johnson with 12 points and two assists. Shaq tried to cross-over Mehmet Okur and hit a jumper, but luckily for Memo, was unsuccessful. Could you imagine having to live with that for the rest of your life?

An interesting note about tonight’s game that will become a trivia question in the future will be how many assists were recorded in the All-Star’s Games greatest evening? The answer, Trebek, is 52 assists in the 2007 NBA All-Star game.

A few more days of rest before Tuesday when the Nuggets will be on national TV against the San Antonio Spurs in a real measuring stick for the remaining 31 games of the regular season. The only thing that matters now is Nuggets victories and where they can land in the playoff seeding. In my opinion, the Nuggets need to climb up to the five spot to realistically make any noise in the postseason. Otherwise, they will surely run into a juggernaut of the likes of Phoenix, Dallas, or San Antonio. Viva Las Vegas, baby!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bavetta Loses and Moves in for a Kiss

(Boulder-CO) It saddens me to report that Dick Bavetta lost the race between him and Charles Barkley. The loss surprises me, but you gotta tip your hat to Barkley. Sir Charles was out to such a comfortable lead down the home stretch that he even finished by running backwards and falling on his can! Dick Bavetta finished his heat by diving head first in what I first thought was disaster before replay revealed the light-hearted nature of the belly flop. Good ol’ Dicky B, despite the loss, we still love ya!

What followed the race was just as unexpected as the results (for me at least). Dick Bavetta and Sir Charles embraced and Bavetta clearly went in for the smooch! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but wow, right on the smacker! Talk about love for the game… I’ll bet that somewhere Tim Hardaway feels strange right now.

No James White = All of You are Lucky!

(Boulder-CO) I have been watching James White for the past seven years and all I can say is that every single one of today's Slam Dunk contestants are just lucky he was not invited to this year's event. Notice how his whole entire head is above the rim on the dunk that rolls by at about the two minute mark! 12-foot rim? No problem, let's get it on! Between-the-legs from the free-throw line? I got you, dog! Watch out for R. Kelly jumping out of the closet... Enjoy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

All-Star Break Interview with Dino Costa

(Boulder-CO) Earlier this week I had the chance to interview Dino Costa of Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and the Radio Colorado Network on the topic of the Denver Nuggets (naturally). We had an extended conversation and at my painstaking delight I have transcripted the entire interview for all of you who read The Nugg Doctor. Who loves ya, baby?

-ND: First and foremost, Dino, I would like to thank you for being available for interview. The readers of The Nugg Doctor also thank you in advance. The Denver Nuggets are a very misunderstood team right now, and I think that with your perspective some light can be shed on what this team is all about. Alright, let’s get down to business.

-ND: First off, let’s talk about what is working. What is your opinion about the progression of Nene and how that is going to pan out for the Nuggets in the playoffs, assuming that the Nuggets do make the postseason?

-DC: Well, Earlier in the season he wasn’t impressing me at all. I don’t think he was impressing anyone. I think that his conditioning, and coming off of the knee surgery had a lot to do with it. He wasn’t able to jump and didn’t seem to be very active which I feel was due in large part to coming off the surgery and his continued rehabilitation. But lately, in the last week to ten days, he has seemed to have found himself a little bit and the legs seem to be coming back as he is getting stronger. I like what I am seeing out of Nene. He gives them a very very strong low post option. I don’t think he is a finished player by any means, but I think that he is still a guy that is learning how to play basketball and learning his strengths and his weakness. But, certainly he gives them a guy in the middle that in the event that Marcus Camby goes down for any significant portion of time, Nene should be able to step in there, maybe not to the same degree of success that Marcus has, but he is certainly a different kind of player than Marcus and a guy that is certainly to be reckoned with down low around the basket. And I think that as he continues to get stronger his game is just going to continue to get better. He hasn’t played a lot of basketball in the last few years because he has been banged up and injured, but I think that he’s got a chance to become a very solid NBA player provided he can stay healthy.

I also think that in a lot of the ways I have already talked about he gives them a guy who is not easy to move off the blocks. He is a guy that not a lot of other centers or front court men are going to like to match-up against because he is so strong and he is only going to get stronger. Assuming that he is going to stay healthy from this point forward and until the playoffs in the spring, he is going to be even a more difficult player for any opposition to guard. I like what I am seeing and I hope that he can stay healthy.

-ND: Following up on that, do you think it is wise for the Nuggets to start both Nene and Camby in their front line with Carmelo?

-DC: I think that he gives them an intriguing front court mix. Karl can go with two big guys with Nene and Camby and Carmelo up front and each of those guys brings a different flavor to their game and certainly provides a match-up problem for some opposing front courts. I think that it’s an intriguing line-up and is certainly one that I think that we’ll see more and more of as the season continues to progress forward. And again, this is contingent upon both Marcus and Nene staying healthy.

-ND: Sticking with the topic of starting line-up for a second… I have been calling for what I call the best five for the job to start. My opinion is that AI, J.R., Melo, Nene and Camby should round out the starting five for the Nuggets. If you are the coach of the Nuggets, who do you start and why?

-DC: I like that line-up. I think that the one guy that has had his development retarded a little bit since the arrival of Allen Iverson has been J.R. Smith. He was an eye opener earlier in the season and is still doing some good things. But, I think that’s a line-up there that gives them their best scoring options by getting J.R. in the line-up as often as possible. If you’re going to take J.R. off the bench, I can live with that as well, but I think that what the Nuggets struggle with sometimes is getting off to good starts in the first quarter and then finding themselves later on in the game coming from behind and sometimes this year they have not been able to catch up all the way and go on to win. So if they are not going to start J.R., I would like to see him in earlier in games.

-ND: Carmelo Anthony has been playing the most complete basketball of his young career as of late. Do you feel this trend is a reflection of his maturation process that started this summer in the FIBA games or just a spat of greatness before more one dimensional play resumes?

-DC: No, I give Carmelo the benefit of the doubt, and I don’t think that there is anyone in the Denver sports community that’s been more critical of Carmelo than I’ve been. The reasons why I have been so critical of him in years gone by is I contend that he was not A) a complete basketball player and B) I didn’t see in him the willingness to put in the time, effort, and commitment to become a completely well-rounded basketball player, but I have been very impressed with just about everything that he has done this year. His passing this year has been exceptionable and that is something we didn’t see in his first couple of years in the league. His ability to play unselfish basketball is also something that I have noted. He has also rebounded better this year and he has played more aggressive defense. I think that Carmelo is really pushing himself to get better and better and I am hopeful that we continue to see Carmelo continue on this path because he was a good player before. But he’s got the chance to be a great player and to be a great player you got to be willing to put in the sacrifice to be a great player. I wasn’t so sure that he had that sacrifice in him, but it obvious to me now that he is working on becoming a much more complete basketball player this year.

-ND: Defensively is where the majority of the questions surrounding this team are rooted. With that said, how can the Nuggets toughen up on D with the players that they currently have?

-DC: Listen, I think playing defense is all about the will to want to play defense. My positive commentary about the Nuggets either on the radio or on TV this year have always been after I see the Nuggets play what I consider an aggressive form of defense. They’ve got the players to play defense when they want to play defense. It is just a matter of them committing themselves on the defensive end. I just think that this team needs commit themselves to playing good defense all the time because it has been the initiator and the igniter of everything positive that they have done on the offensive end and if they play consistent defense, if there is a will to play defense and a want to play defense, the Nuggets have enough talent on this team to be a very tough defensively. Certainly I don’t think they are the first, second, or third best team in the Western Conference, but certainly they can be better than the seventh or eight best team in the Western Conference and it’s all in the way they play defense.

-ND: Alright, let’s start talking “what if” with the Denver Nuggets.

-ND: Let’s assume for a second that the Nuggets limp into the playoffs with either the seventh or eighth seed in the West. Who do you think they have a better chance of making noise against, Phoenix or Dallas?

-DC: (Laughs) well, pick your poison ya know? I would probably say that they have a better chance going up against a team like Phoenix, believe it or not. I know they got Amare Stoudemire, but when you have to contend with the inside-outside game of a big man who can run the floor like Dirk Nowitzki that presents them with some problems. Now Phoenix, on the other hand, I’m not convince that the Suns are going to be able to win in the postseason playing the style of basketball that they are playing. They play a style that the Nuggets are more suited for and I think that the Nuggets’ game matches-up better against Phoenix than it does against Dallas. I think that Dallas will give them more problems. Dallas brings up a deeper bench than does Phoenix and listen, they are both going to be tough match-ups and the Nuggets are going to be significant underdogs against either of those teams, but I mean, roll of the dice, if you ask me now which team I think the Nuggets could have more success against it may seem crazy to think so, but I would have to say Phoenix.

-ND: Are the Nuggets capable of moving up any higher in the seeding if they can put all the pieces on the floor in the final thirty games?

-DC: There is a long way to go. It’s not out of the question as I said in my show last night. The Nuggets can go on a significant run here sometime soon, but ultimately it will boil down to if they are healthy post All-Star break and are able to really play their full compliment of players on a consistent basis. I don’t know if they can make it all the way to the five seed, but if they can really go on a tear and hope that some of the other teams drop back a little bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on a tear and win something like 12-15 or 14-18 or something like that because certainly the talent is there. I actually think that this team is going to be a real good team next year with a full season of training camp together under their belt and whatever alterations they may make to their roster during the off-season. I think they are 50 win team next year, and if they are not, there is certainly something very wrong here. However, I know they can be problematic for any team if they can stay together and play together with a full compliment of players and develop some of that cohesion.

-ND: If you had to lay a bet, do the Nuggets make it out of the first round this season, or is it their fourth straight year that they get bounced?

-DC: I think that they are going to get bounced out, I hope I’m wrong, but I think that they are going get bounced out in the first round. Listen, we are assuming that they are going to make the playoffs. And at this point I would be shocked if they didn’t make the post season, but if they didn’t, it would be an utter embarrassment and I think that George Karl should pay for it with his job. Something tells me though that even if they didn’t make the playoffs George Karl would still retain his job, but I guess that is for another conversation (We both laugh).

-ND: Ok Dino, two more and you’re off the hook.

-DC: You got it.

-ND: Regardless of how the Nuggets fare this postseason, once again assuming that they do make it, what are some of the moves, especially concerning the log jam at the four spot with Nene, Kenyon Martin, Najera, and Reggie Evans, that you think should be made this off-season?

-DC: Well, they do have a log jam, as you mentioned, at that position. They can try all that they can do and I don’t think that it’s out of the question that they are done dealing this year. I think that they could make another trade before the trade deadline comes up in a few weeks. They do have a positional problem there because they have so many players that play the position and because of that in a lot of instances the Nuggets are handicapped in their efforts to try and move one of those guys. Other teams know they have got the Nuggets over a barrel in a sense that the Nuggets are wanting to make a trade so bad to free things up in there. I just think that the Nuggets have got to work hard to make prudent basketball decisions that are going to help this team in both the short and long term. It’s not going to be easy, but guys like Mark Warkentien, Rex Chapman, and Brent Bearup get paid big money to make those decisions and that’s why I’m not getting the big money they are.

-ND: Finally, do you believe that with the moves made this season, and with any maneuvering this off-season, that the Nuggets are any closer to winning their first NBA championship than they have been in the past or is this just a high-profile team that lacks the goods to take Denver to the promise land?

-DC: Well, I mean, it all remains to be seen. They have got superstar players on this team. When you say Carmelo, when you say The Answer, those are two high-profile guys and you don’t even have to say their last names and people know who you are talking about. Mark Kiszla, a man’s opinion who I respect greatly, has been around this Nuggets team for twenty-some-odd years and he tells me that this is the most talented team he has seen since the early 1980’s. But, listen, it takes more than just sexy names. It takes a team that is willing to be committed to playing unselfish basketball, to work hard, and to be a team that is well-rounded and well coached. From a player’s stand point they have a job to do, from a coaches’ standpoint George Karl and his staff have a job to do, and I am not certain that this is a finished product. I’m not certain that even with this being the most talented team the Nuggets have had, if you want to say that, that this is a team capable of winning a world title because I think that they need to make a couple of moves in the off-season to continue to strengthen this team. So, are they exciting? Yes. Are they compelling? Yes. Can they beat any team in the league on given night? Yes. Are they capable of sustaining a consistent style of basketball that is going to allow them to move through four rounds of post season and win a world title? It remains to be seen. At this point, I think doubtful, but it sure is going to exciting to see what they can do.

ND: Great stuff Dino, once again thank you on behalf of the Nuggets Nation and the readership of The Nugg Doctor for taking the time to talk Nuggets hoops with me.

DC: Thanks to The Nugg Doctor and to all the readers. I wish them a prosperous 2007 and go Nuggets!

If you have liked this interview and want to know more about all that Dino is involved in I encourage you to go to to get show times, background info, and anything else under the sun that Dino has to offer. It was a pleasure to interview him and I look forward to future meetings with Dino.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Heat Report: Nuggets Still Lukewarm

(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s 99-94 loss to the Timberwolves doesn’t sit very well me for a couple of reasons. First, I do not understand the reasoning behind not having J.R. Smith in the game with fourteen seconds remaining and the Nuggets down by three. ‘Melo’s two before Randy Foye’s two made free-throws gave more than ample opportunity for George Karl to sub him in, but for some reason he was not subbed for until only nine seconds remained with the Nuggets down by four and then five on two more KG freebies. Second is how Denver turned the ball over 17 times, many occasions on the fast break, which led to 19 T-Wolf points.

Do you remember what I mentioned in the game preview? Kevin Garnett dominated the offensive glass on his way to a game-high 17 rebounds including seven off the Nuggets goal. The Big Ticket also kicked in 19 points, three assists, two steals, and a block. Marcus Camby, on the other hand, had a bad night finishing with twelve points and an uncharacteristically low three rebounds.

It can also be said that the Nuggets didn’t finish out any of the four quarters of basketball played in this game. In the last two minutes of the first the Nuggets were outscored 6-3. With two minutes before half the Nuggets were out did 6-2. In the third they lost the final two 6-2, and once again in the fourth Denver had the dagger plunged deep 10-4. That’s 28-11 in the final eight minutes by quarter and is why, plus the other questionable decision making and the dominant showing by Garnett, the Nuggets lost this game.

The highlight reel belongs to Carmelo, Nene, and Steve Blake. ‘Melo finished with 28 points, five boards, and five assists. Nene ended with 18 points, four steals, and two rebounds. And Blake distributed a career-high 18 assists with four points and five rebounds.

Up next for the Nuggets is a five-day lay-off to try and work out the kinks and develop some chemistry before traveling to San Antonio on Wednesday for a real examination of where this team is at. Hopefully AI will be ready to go by then. In the meantime I will be covering the Dunk Contest, All-Star Game, and of course, the Dick Bavetta/Charles Barkley footrace over the weekend. And if you’re good, I might just have something else for you in the mean time…

Nuggets vs. Timberwolves Preview

(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s game is the last game before the Nuggets (except Carmelo) enjoy a five day break from action due to the All-Star break. It means more psychologically for the Nuggets than most games purely because it will be thought about for the next five days, win or lose. The Nuggets are on a three-game winning streak right now and need all the momentum they can gather in hopes of a stretch-run that can get them out of the seventh seed and into a more favorable position come playoff time. I’m thinking that the Nuggets could rise as high as the fifth seed if they can reel off a couple of long winning streaks while keeping the inevitable losses to a bare minimum.

Getting a win on the road at Target Center in Minnesota is never a short order. Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves are 15-9 in the confines of their own house despite being 24-27 overall and are just merely a half game back from the L.A. Clippers for the eighth and final seed in the playoffs. So, with the stage set, don’t expect a ¾ speed game tonight. Both teams are going to be fired up, and if history is any indication, it should be physical and maybe even testy at times.

For Denver to win this game they need to limit Kevin Garnett’s impact on the offensive glass and make other T-Wolves beat them. The Big Ticket leads Minnesota in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocks, and is just a tenth of an assist behind Ricky Davis overall. To say that anyone, any team, or any army is going to stop Kevin Garnett from getting his is just plain asinine, so my prescription is to limit his impact in certain areas and the area that I think is most detrimental to the Nuggets chances of winning this game is the offensive glass.

The Timberwolves are shorthanded when it comes to help for Garnett. Ricky Davis is explosive, but his consistency is down and so are his numbers from a couple of years ago. The only other player that needs to be highlighted is Minnesota’s rookie Randy Foye. He is a great mid-range shooter and can get hot with too many open looks. And evidently, he can get hot off the court too. reports via The Minneapolis Star Tribune that just yesterday Foye was issued a misdemeanor citation for disorderly conduct for his role in an argument between a group of Foye's friends and family at a gas station that needed to be broken up by police.

So, I have said it before and I’ll say it again; this game means much more than just an increase in either the win or loss column. The Nuggets will be thinking about this win or loss for the next week to come and if you consider that there are playoff, and divisional, implications at stake. Tonight’s game is far more than just another game before players on both teams get a little break. Go Nuggets, tame the Timberwolves!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Iverson to Miss All-Star Game; Could Open Door

(Boulder-CO) ESPN2 and NBATV are reporting on their screen tickers that Allen Iverson will miss the All-Star Game this weekend due to his sprained ankle. He has been quoted saying in regards to the All-Star Game that he has, “Been there, done that”, already in his career and that the situation in Denver is more important to him than participating in the midseason classic. This is big news because Steve Nash, who injured his shoulder against the Nuggets on February 5th, will also not participate.

All of this could be good news for the Denver Nuggets’ big man Marcus Camby because he is leading the NBA in blocked shots and is also second in the league in rebounding behind Kevin Garnett (12.5) with an average of 12.1 boards a night. He has led in both categories on and off all season long with the rebounding edge going to KG just recently since Camby missed time due to a pulled groin and the flu.

Marcus will be up against some stiff competition for the final two, and suddenly vacant, All-Star roster slots with Ray Allen, Zach Randolph, Mehmet Okur, and Deron Williams all playing rock-solid basketball right now. With that being said, it should also be taken into account that since the Utah Jazz are now not being represented, since Carlos Boozer is a scratch due to injury, that one of his Jazz teammates is all but a lock to represent that franchise in one of those two vacant spots. Thus, leaving a good chance for Camby to get the late nod for his first NBA All-Star selection.

I like Marcus’s chances of being named a “consolation” All-Star because he has been posting career numbers in rebounds and is also having his best season passing the ball (3.2 assists per game). Currently he is averaging a double-dozen of 12 points, 12.1 rebounds, the aforementioned assists, 3.1 blocks, and a steal.

Here’s to Marcus Camby meeting up with Carmelo Antohny in Las Vegas for the 2007 NBA All-Star Game!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Now We’re Cookin’

(Boulder-CO) There was so much good going on tonight that I honestly don’t even know where to start. I guess a nice place to begin would be with Marcus Camby making his return after a brief stint on the IR with a groin pull and flu-like symptoms. But before I go any further, the Nuggets won big, 123-111, over the Warriors and are currently on a three-game winning streak. Now to let the praising commence.

Carmelo Anthony is playing the best basketball I have seen him play in the last four years. He has scored more points in earlier stretches, but never, ever, has his decision making, passing, or rebounding been better than it is right now. Tonight he finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and a block. ‘Melo surely could have scored more, but found himself on the bench during the majority of the fourth quarter due to the Nuggets enjoying a sizable lead. I would also like to note his total assists are misleading because many of his passes led to teammates getting fouled on point-blank lay-ups. In all honesty, he was probably good for about eight or nine dimes.

In tonight’s game we also saw just how hot J.R. Smith can get. J.R. finished tonight’s game with 28 points and four rebounds, but hit the Warriors with a flurry of three-pointers late in third quarter and to begin the fourth that solidified the game for the Nuggets. In a span of 2:55, J.R. Smith spontaneously combusted for 15 points that included three straight long range bombs! The guy is just instant offense, and as long as it is going through the net, you just have to love what he brings to this team.

On the team note it has to be mentioned that the Nuggets all passed the ball phenomenally. Steve Blake led the way with 13 assists, but the rest of the Nuggets were all flipping the rock to each other like a hot potato. Marcus “Gumby” Camby dished seven assists including a behind the back pass that led to a huge slam by Nene, Linas and DerMarr both had three dimes, and Nene and Najera both chipped in a couple too. As a team the Nuggets out-passed the Warriors 37-29 and no Warrior had double figures in assists. What you have to enjoy about the Nuggets sharing the ball so well is that it gets everyone involved early and it becomes contagious throughout the rest of the game.

In the rebounding department the Nuggets got all they needed out of Reggie Evans. The Joker snagged a team-high eleven boards coming off the bench in 20 minutes of action. As a team the Nuggets dominated the offensive glass 22-9 and finished the game with a twelve board advantage over the Warriors, 46-36. Just like sharing the ball, hitting the glass became addictive for the Nuggets which is always instrumental in starting the Nuggets fast break.

My final individual spotlight belongs to Nene. Big Brazil continues to look like the second coming of Gus Johnson and ended tonight’s game with a stat line of 24 points, six rebounds, and two assists. He was an efficient 10-14 from the field that included this season’s best facial yet! Off a beautifully executed pick and roll between he and J.R. Smith, Nene fielded a bounce pass that split Warrior defenders and finished the play by taking a piece of Andris Biedrins's manhood. Nene had a lot of aggressive dunks tonight, but none were nastier than when he put Biedrins underneath his massive shoulders before tomahawking the leather though the iron! Aside from that play, Nene showed all kinds of variations of a lethal spin move on the baseline and shot a respectable 4-7 from the free-throw line. Having him play at a level anticipated has got to be a relief for Nuggets management after such a devastating injury put a lot of question marks around his career and his huge contract signing this summer. Give credit where credit is due though, because after some frustration early in the season Nene has diligently worked through the excess weight, and the lingering swelling in that knee, and is really shaping into a solidifying piece in the Denver front court.

Up next for the Nuggets is one more game with the Timberwolves before one (’Melo) or two (Iverson) of them bolt for the All-Star Game in Sin City. Minnesota always plays the Nuggets tough, regardless of what their team record says about them, and the Nuggets really need to keep this momentum rolling before the five day rest. Starting the stretch run of the season may not seem different whether or not the Nuggets are winners of four straight, but believe me it matters. The Nuggets will be thinking about what happens against Minnesota during the break and it is far more advantageous to not be dwelling on a game that slipped away.

Congratulations, Again and Again, to Carmelo

(Boulder-CO) It has happened again. No, Britney Spears is still not pregnant... yet, but Carmelo Anthony has been named Western Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season for games played February 5th through the 11th. Carmelo averaged 30.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.8 assists while the Nuggets fared 2-2. He recorded his first triple-double against the Phoenix Suns in a loss, but has given the Nuggets like box scores night in and night out. This marks the sixth time in Carmelo’s four year career that he has been named the Player of the Week in the Western Conference.

And just think… this guy wasn’t even named an All-Star by the NBA’s coaches. Does the word shame come to your mind?

Nuggets vs. Warriors Preview

(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s Nuggets match-up is with the Golden State Warriors, a team that Denver beat in back-to-back games this past November, and should be a good one. The Nuggets are riding the momentum of two, that’s right two, road wins and should be in for a warm welcome home at Pepsi Center. Denver will be going for their third victory this season over the Warriors tonight, and have won the last three regular season match-ups dating back to last season (G-State did win in Monterrey, Mexico this preseason, but who counts preseason anyways?).

I think that it’s safe to say that neither team likes to play much defense. As of this very moment the Nuggets and the Golden State Warriors are tied for points scored per game at 105.5 and in the last two match-ups the Nuggets have exploded for 115 and a season-high 140 points respectively. However, if there is any advantage to be had, statistically speaking, it would have to go to the Nuggets because G-State is currently the worst defensive team in the league due to giving up 107.4 points on average to NBA foes. Another interesting point of note is that Carmelo Anthony is averaging better than 31 ppg against the Warriors this year, and as of the way he has been playing lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if he erupts tonight for a huge game offensively.

In the injury report both teams have significant scratches for tonight’s game. Denver is still waiting on the Camby-man to return and it is being reported that it’s flu-like symptoms that are nagging him now. His status is listed as day-to-day. Allen Iverson on the other hand is most likely not going to play tonight as he is still resting that twisted ankle that was re-aggravated during the overtime loss to the Hornets last Wednesday night. Golden State’s injury list is also long and high-profile. For starters, Jason Richardson is out with a broken hand that is supposed to keep him “business-casual” until after the All-Star break and Baron Davis has missed the last four games with a bruised left knee. Michael Pietrus is also probably a scratch due to a sprained right ankle of his own.

So, in the wake of having their ex-slam dunk champion and B-Diddy on the shelf the Warriors have been seeing a lot of good things out of second year player Monta Ellis and UCLA product Matt Barnes. Ellis is scoring at a nice clip of 17 points per game and Barnes is having career numbers of 10.7 points, five rebounds, and two assists in his fourth year. It should also be noted that Golden State is searching for some chemistry right now after acquiring three Indiana Pacer players in the blockbuster trade that sent Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and others to Indy a couple of weeks ago. Their main pick-ups in that deal were Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson (the gun slinger), but neither man has fully acclimated himself to his new surroundings.

If there is anything that I haven’t covered in this preview, I strongly urge you to head over to to know thy enemy further. The guys over there are running one of the best Warriors sites on the ‘net and know their squad like the back of their hands. Go Nuggets, make the Warriors whimper!
UPDATE: Marcus Camby is suited and expected to start in tonight's game. Major plus for the chances of a win!

Take Me to the Carnival, Please!

(Boulder-CO) It has happened again! No, Britney Spears is not pregnant, but rather the 41st NBA Carnival is posted over at Loy's Place and can be viewed directly by clicking this link. Thanks again, Loy. You did an All-Star job on this edition of the NBA Carnival!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I love Manute Bol

(Boulder-CO) There isn't too much going on today so I was meandering the Internet and found this sweet picture of Manute Bol. Manute was listed as 7'7", but it is rumored that his father, a Dinka tribal chief, was even taller! He is the only player in the NBA to have killed a lion with a spear and to have paid 80 cows for his wife. My favorite aspect of Bol's game wasn't all the blocked shots, but rather how the big man would take it outside and pull a three on ya! Long live Manute!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nuggets Starting to Look Better and Better

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets are now again on a winning streak! Tonight’s 109-102 victory over Milwaukee gives the Nuggets their first consecutive victories since the 14th of January and it was the Denver role players that made the difference against the Bucks. Difference makers like Najera, Nene, and Blake all had great efforts that far exceed the picture painted in the box score. And with a guy like Carmelo, that is all that it takes to find yourself in a position to win.

Carmelo Anthony was nothing short of spectacular tonight in an effort that just barely missed triple-double status. Anthony lit the Milwaukee Bucks up for 29 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals in a game-high tying 44 minutes of ball game. He was dominating from start to finish and these are the types of nights that he is capable of all the time when he puts his mind to it. It all starts with getting his teammates involved early and that is exactly what he did tonight.

Nene is also officially back! I have been reluctant to say anything that binding up to this point, but after the stretch of games that we have all seen him play as of late. I think it is due time to make the announcement. Big Brazil once again looked great on his way to scoring 17 points, clearing 11 rebounds, and swatting a shot. I think that we all kinda forgot how quick this guy was in the low post, and his finish around the basket is coming around so nicely right now. With continued play like this, Nene will make me look like a genius for telling SLAMonline’s Marcel Mutoni and Ryan McNeill at in our preseason pod cast that he would eventually be worth all that money he signed for this past off-season.

With all that said, Eddie Najera was the difference in this game. One play in particular sticks out in my mind and it is was when Eddie made the block in the fourth quarter that more or less sealed the game for the Nuggets. Najera came from the strong side of basket and found a way to make it all the way over to the weak side glass to literally reject the Bucks’ last chance. It was a play that could summarize what Eduardo’s whole game is about. Hustle, never say die, and play full speed till the whistle blows. And you know what else? Najera put up a damn fine box score too. Any game that the Nuggets can get 15 points, eight boards, four steals, and a block out of Najera is a game that they will surely be in a position to win.

Steve Blake was also flat out killer against his old team. The Nuggets heady point guard recorded a double-double tonight of 10 points and 11 assists with an economic two turnovers.

It was also good to see the NBA’s “Mightiest Micro” in action again. Earl Boykins showed Nuggets fans a glimpse of the good old days by being his team’s leading scorer with 26 points and tied Mo Williams for the team-high assist total of six. Anytime you get to watch a man of his size dominate a game in which giants usually dominate in it is a special treat. May the best days for Earl Boykins still be ahead of him regardless of him not being a Nugget anymore.

Notes on the game are pretty simple. Along with all the great individual stat lines, the Nuggets out-rebounded (44-35), out-passed (28-24), out-stole (11-5), and turned the ball over less than the Bucks. Up next are the Golden State Warriors at Pepsi Center on Monday night. No word yet on the return of Marcus Camby, but the Nuggets should be in for a warm welcome home after two successful road stops against Eastern Conference foes. Go Nuggets!

Nuggets vs. Bucks Preview

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets have not won back-to-back games since going on a five-game winning streak that started on January 14th. Tonight presents a chance to at least win two in a row at the cost of the slumping Bucks who have a record 3-16 since the turn of the new year. Battered and bruised, I like our chances of a win tonight.

The Bucks are still without their main offensive weapon, Michael Redd. That leaves Mo Williams as their best scorer and he is coming off a great showing in his last game. Mo-Will scored 38 points with five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in a loss to Miami that dropped the Bucks to 19-31 overall. The other Bucks the Nuggets will have to keep their eyes on will be Charlie Villanueva and the familiar Earl Boykins.

Villanueva is a very active rebounder despite missing some games this year due to injury and was a major pick-up for the Bucks in this past offseason from the Raptors. Earl on the other hand, is the epitome of active. He never stops running, is without a doubt the quickest man on the floor, and can be a very deadly offensive threat if his mid-range jumper is falling. We have all seen nights where Earl went for thirty points for the Nuggets, so Denver will have to make sure that in this reunion he does not get off early or get hot late.

The last thing you have to know when going into a game against the Milwaukee Bucks is that they have absolutely no blocking presence. Not a single player, even the 7’ Andrew Bogut or the 6’11” Dan Gadzuric, averages even a single block per game. The Nuggets would be properly advised to not settle for mid to long range jumpers tonight and to get things going to the goal early and often. Denver has the finishers (‘Melo, Nene, Kleiza, and Smith) that can all penetrate off the dribble and if they focus their offense in a capacity that is rooted around slashing, dishing, and getting to the free-throw line. Denver should be in a position to win this game on the road.

It would seem as if the worst is behind the Nuggets at this point and as the games keep rolling along Denver will only continue to become healthier and more cohesive. Marcus Camby (hand and groin), Nene (lingering effects of season-ending knee surgery from last season), AI (twisted ankle), Steve Blake (who gets my tough guy award for continuing to play through 12 stitches in his lip from a Ron Artest elbow from the top rope), and Carmelo (mangled shooting finger) have all had to deal with nagging injuries so far this year. When this team gets all of its pieces sorted out and put back together I still feel that they can be a dangerous match-up for any NBA team come playoff time, but until then Denver just needs to concentrate on moving up a couple of spots in the seeding to try and gain a more favorable position come late April. Go Nuggets, bag some Bucks!