Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moving Day!

(Boulder-CO) 2009 is going to bring in some changes for all of us, but for starters I'm moving from Blogger to Bloguin effective as of today! Update your favorites and be sure to read the welcome post at The New Nugg Doctor! There are a lot of great features with the new site and I hope everyone makes a user name and gets in on the new and improved action!

Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All-Star Balloting Second Returns

(Boulder-CO) Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Eastern Conference, while Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets top the Western Conference after the second returns of 2009 NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile. Howard, the reigning Sprite Slam Dunk champion, is the overall leader with 1,421,882 votes.
The rest of the voting tabulations are as follows:


Forwards: LeBron James (Clev) 1,259,764; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 905,506; Yi Jianlian (NJ) 762,162; Chris Bosh (Tor) 500,700; Paul Pierce (Bos) 313,474; Shawn Marion (Mia) 210,040; Hedo Turkoglu (Orl) 137,035; Danny Granger (Ind) 116,238; Josh Smith (Atl) 110,186; Michael Beasley (Mia) 100,257; Tayshaun Prince (Det) 98,262.

Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 1,229,858; Allen Iverson (Det) 858,469; Vince Carter (NJ) 600,087; Ray Allen (Bos) 354,642; Devin Harris (NJ) 267,504; Gilbert Arenas (Wash) 205,223; Derrick Rose (Chi) 203,687; Luke Ridnour (Mil) 197,933; Jose Calderon (Tor) 193,715; Jameer Nelson (Orl) 174,081; Joe Johnson (Atl) 162,772.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 1,421,882; Samuel Dalembert (Phi) 232,733; Rasheed Wallace (Det) 163,279; Jermaine O’Neal (Tor) 147,534; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 112,708; Al Horford (Atl) 107,118; Ben Wallace (Clev) 89,809; Emeka Okafor (Char) 69,015; Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas (Cle) 60,970; Kendrick Perkins (Bos) 54,772; Brendan Haywood (Wash) 28,182.


Forwards: Tim Duncan (SA) 903,311; Amar’e Stoudemire (Pho) 626,796; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 602,457; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 553,611; Ron Artest (Hou) 509,717; Pau Gasol (LAL) 424,135; Shane Battier (Hou) 292,287; Bruce Bowen (SA) 286,923; Josh Howard (Dal) 209,802; Luis Scola (Hou) 181,253; LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 145,857.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,280,912; Tracy McGrady (746,098); Chris Paul (NO) 725,251; Manu Ginobili (SA) 386,846; Tony Parker (SA) 358,107; Jason Kidd (Dal) 299,107; Steve Nash (Pho) 281,909; Jason Terry (Dal) 226,754; Rafer Alston (Hou) 211,017; Brandon Roy (Por) 174,244; Chauncey Billups (Den) 170,645.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 1,114,709; Shaquille O’Neal (Pho) 546,583; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 259,331; Mehmet Okur (Utah) 235,292; Greg Oden (Por) 144,650; Andris Biedrins (GS) 101,115; Al Jefferson (Minn) 86,296; Tyson Chandler (NO) 85,452; Nick Collison (OKC) 67,338; Marcus Camby (LAC) 49,235; Chris Kaman (LAC) 19,415.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 30th, and on this day:
'61- Wilt Chamberlain scored 42 points in a 116-111 loss to Boston, the 14th straight game in which he scored at least 40 points, an NBA record.

'71- The Los Angeles Lakers posted a 122-106 victory at Seattle, giving them a perfect 16-0 record for December, the best monthly record in NBA history. It was the Lakers’ second consecutive undefeated month, as they also posted a 14-0 mark in November, during their NBA record 33-game winning streak.

'90- Orlando’s Scott Skiles dished off an NBA record 30 assists as the Magic defeated Denver 155-116 at Orlando Arena. Skiles surpassed previous record holder Kevin Porter of New Jersey, who handed out 29 assists in the Nets’ 126-112 win over Houston on February 24, 1978.

'92- The Phoenix Suns defeated Houston 133-110 to finish December with a 14-0 record, tying for the third-best month in NBA history. The Lakers set the NBA record by going 16-0 in December 1971.

'96- New York became the fourth NBA franchise to reach 2,000 victories, following a 98-96 home win over New Jersey. The other three NBA teams that had surpassed 2,000 victories are the Celtics, Lakers and 76ers.

'97- Chicago's Michael Jordan scored 33 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 787 consecutive games with at least 10 points.

'97- San Antonio's David Robinson recorded five blocked shots to move into eighth place on the all-time chart ahead of George T. Johnson (2,082).
Enjoy your day!

Selfish, Selfish, Selfish

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(Boulder-CO) After hanging tough with the Atlanta Hawks for a half, the Denver Nuggets decided to play pick-up style basketball and as a result were embarrassed in the dirty dirty, 109-91. For some reason, this team forgets how to play as a team from time to time and the results are never favorable. Against the Hawks in the second half, Denver only accumulated seven assists as they were outscored, 55-38.

Things weren't all that bad in the first half despite the news that Nene would not play due to a sore neck stemming from the previous game in New York. Regardless, the Nuggets traded baskets with the Hawks in what was a very uptempo feel to an otherwise great first 24 minutes of action.

The Nuggets problems started in the third quarter when the ball stopped moving and the jumpers wouldn't cease. It also didn't help that every time the Nuggets would put together a solid defensive stand the Hawks would connect on a three from the club level. And as demoralizing as playing good defense is just to have the opposition hit a Hail Mary from deep, the Nuggets didn't do themselves any favors in pick and roll situations. The big men on this team just don't hedge strong enough and the result last night was Hawks shooting a combined 12-23 from the three-point line and 38-78 from the field overall.

And to be honest with you...

I really have a hard time watching this team when they stop sharing the ball. I channel surfed the latter half of the third period and throughout the fourth checking in on other games from around the league (God, I love League Pass) because it's so frustrating to watch a team so good collectively abandon fundamental team concepts. Maybe my patience is waning as I get older or perhaps it's just because I have such lofty expectations of this team, but either way, watching this team play a modified playground style is like sticking a pencil in my hand while trying to tell myself it doesn't hurt.

The results were, shall we say, less than favorable for the Nuggets. Carmelo was an ill 4-17 from the field for only 16 points while grabbing four measly rebounds and handing out three assists. Chauncey Billups had a less than efficient night offensively too. Billups finished with eleven points on 5-11 shooting, but handed out just five assists. Chauncey's long distance stroke has also been off lately as he has connected on just six of his last 30 attempts from downtown, including just 1-4 against the Hawks.

About the only Nugget who played well on the offensive end was Kenyon Martin. K-Mart scored eleven of his team-high 19 points in the second half with most of those buckets coming by way of aggressive moves towards the basket. Unfortunately, scoring was the only aspect of Kenyon's game that showed up as he grabbed just three rebounds and didn't block a shot.

Collectively, the Nuggets cleared just 18 defensive boards and 27 rebounds total in comparison to the Hawks 15 offensive rebounds which were instrumental in Atlanta dominating the glass, 44-27. And to depict the rebounding disparity even further, Chris Andersen led the Nuggets with just six boards in his first start of the year.

Up next for the Nuggets is somewhat of a trap game tomorrow night against the Raptors in Toronto. The last time these two teams faced each other, Toronto was embarrassed by Denver at the Pepsi Center in a game that prompted the firing of Sam Mitchell. There's no doubt in my mind that Toronto hasn't forgotten that game and will be loaded for bear and looking for revenge this time around. And without Nene, who's status is still up in the air, the chances of a Nuggets victory get that much slimmer. One thing is for sure though, Nene or not, if the Nuggets do not share the ball they will almost certainly lose.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Game 32: Nuggets @ Hawks

(Boulder-CO) The Mile High crew is down in the dirty south tonight to take on the dirty birds. The Atlanta Hawks are a solid team, led by an amazing player, of which the Nuggets should not take lightly.
The Hawks are currently riding a four-game win streak after once again falling short against their Eastern Conference nemesis, Boston Celtics. Individually, Atlanta's Joe Johnson is playing fantastic basketball with a triple-double and a season-high 41 points in his last two games. Johnson is averaging 23.2 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds so far this season and is shooting better than 45% from the field doing so.
Tonight's game also concludes an eight-game homestand for the Hawks where they are a very stout 13-2 on the year. Atlanta is 6-1 so far during this stretch which includes impressive wins over the Cavaliers, Pistons, and Bulls.
The starting five for the Hawks has been just as impressive as their 19-10 record. All five average double-digits in scoring, but it's the balance they provide that makes this team so talented. Mike Bibby comes into tonight's game averaging 16 points, 5.1 assists, and better than three rebounds, but it's his career-high +3.5 assist to turnover ratio that fuels the Hawks. Power forward Marvin Williams is also a big reason for the Hawks success. Williams is averaging career-highs of 6.4 rebounds and minutes per game while averaging just a shade under 14 points. His continued development is adding merit to the Hawks drafting the one-year Tarheel second overall in the 2005 NBA Draft.
The young Hawks are also seeing big things out of their undersized big man, Al Horford. The 6'10" second-year pro is averaging 10.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a career-high 2.8 assists while his shooting percentage is up above 50%, and his block average has nearly doubled since his rookie year. For the Nuggets to be successful, Nene needs to tutor this young big man down in the blocks in an attempt to lure him into foul trouble early as the Hawks are not deep on big men.
At small forward, we are in for a treat tonight as two of the most exciting players at the position face off. Josh Howard and Carmelo Anthony seem to relish in the opportunity to face one another. 'Melo has enjoyed more overall success against Smith and the Hawks averaging 25.9 points in nine career games against Atlanta, including putting up 31.0 in two meetings with the dirty birds last season. But, Smith is a defensive player and that's what makes this match-up exciting. Josh Smith is leading the team in blocks at 1.8 rejections nightly and is second on the team in rebounding behind Al Horford. And look out below when Smith takes flight around the hoop because the former Slam Dunk Champ has some serious hangtime!
I'm excited about tonight's game because I think the Hawks are the Nuggets of the East; a team on the rise with a lot to prove.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 29th, and on this day:
'79- Houston’s Rick Barry scored 19 points in a 104-100 victory over Philadelphia, becoming only the 15th player at the time to surpass 18,000 career points.

'97- Dallas' Bubba Wells recorded six fouls in three minutes of a 111-105 loss to Chicago. He broke the 41-year-old NBA record of five minutes set by Dick Farley of the Syracuse Nationals.

'99- The late Wilt Chamberlain became the first player to have his number retired by three teams when the Golden State Warriors retired his #13 jersey at halftime of their game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The No. 13 jersey was presented to Barbara Lewis and Yvonne Chamberlain, Wilt's sisters, and Oliver Chamberlain, his brother. Chamberlain's number had already been retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was part of the 1967 NBA championship team, and the Los Angeles Lakers, where he was part of the 1972 title team. Chamberlain spent six years with the Warriors organization, averaging 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds in 429 games.

'99- Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown became the 11th coach in NBA history to reach the 700-victory plateau when the 76ers defeated Golden State 97-94 in Oakland.

'01- Don Nelson became the third coach in league annals to win 1,000 games as his Dallas Mavericks defeated Atlanta 113-97, and Jerry Sloan became the 10th coach in NBA lore to win 800 games when his Utah Jazz downed Philadelphia 89-81. Nelson joined Lenny Wilkens and Pat Riley in the 1,000-victory club.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's Nice to Have 'Melo Back

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets won consecutive games for the first time since mid December by downing the Knicks, 117-110, in Carmelo Anthony's first game back since missing three straight with a sore elbow. As for how the elbow is feeling with a week of rest... I think 32 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and a steal means Carmelo's elbow is just fine!

The Nuggets allowed too many points in the first quarter, but thanks to New York's extremely soft interior defense Denver managed play the Knicks even after one, 27-27. Oh, and you gotta get up to get down as evident by Dahntay Jones supplying the altitude on Tim Thomas.

It wasn't until the second half of the second quarter that the Nuggets started to pull away from the Knicks with their full offensive barrage. The Denver charge was started by reserves Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith doing what they do best. LK drove the lane and laid in a duece before J.R. hit a long three-pointer in rhythm on the fast break and put the moves on Chris Duhon as he pulled up and hit a ten footer. Carmelo Anthony added 13 of his 17 points at the half in the second and Kenyon another five as the Nuggets finished out the quarter with five free-throws and Renaldo Balkman sticking it to his old team with a steal on the last second inbounds pass to put the Nuggets up by ten, 66-56, at the break.

The Nuggets scored 39 points in the second quarter and for the half scored 42 of their 54 points by field goals in the paint. And it's no surprise when you get that many lay-ups that Denver shot 60.5% from the field in the first half. On the other side of Madison Square Garden, the Knicks made only 5-18 three-point attempts in the first half.

So much for shot selection... I'm all for an offense that likes to get up and down the floor in the way that Mike D'Antoni's clubs have done in the past, but it seemed to me that everyone on the Knicks has the green light to pull the three and it just doesn't work like that it if you want to be successful in the NBA. There has to be some descression used by certain players that just shouldn't have that kind of freedom. However, that's not our problem in Denver; sustaining a certain level of intensity is and in the third quarter the Nuggets really displayed just that.

The third was a bit of a disappointment for me. I felt the Nuggets were a little bit too loose on defense and the extra slack they allowed the Knicks on offense gave New York just the room they needed to start hitting some shots. As a result, New York's five three's in the quarter, including Nate Robinson's go-ahead trey with 1:05 remaining, gave the Knicks new life heading into the fourth down by only four, 93-89. What bothers me about quarters like the third is how the Nuggets play at times as if they can just coast through sections of the game in hopes that when times get tight they will be able to pull it together and put a team away. Today it didn't burn them, but against a more disciplined team than the Knicks Denver may not be so lucky and it's bad habit to have.
Thank goodness for J.R. Smith's buzzer beater from 27 feet because without that shot the Nuggets wouldn't have had any resistence against the New York momentum going into the fourth quarter. The Knicks scored the first eight points in the fourth to take a four-point lead with under nine minutes remaining before consecutive three's by Linas Kleiza and Carmelo Anthony tied the game at, 99-99, with 6:56 remaining in regulation. LK's three was the first Denver field goal in the quarter, but the well-rested Carmelo Anthony had enough left in the tank down the stretch to score another eight of the Nuggets' final 18 points as Denver was able to hold on and win, 117-110.

Six Nuggets scored in double figures including all five starters and J.R. Smith. 'Melo's 32 led the charge followed by J.R.'s 16 off the bench. The Knicks were led by Nate Robinson's 20 points off the bench, but as a team shot 35 three-point attempts and only connected on twelve.

Up next for the Nuggets are the dirty birds in the dirty south tomorrow night. Denver is 3-4 on the second night of back-to-back games so far this season.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 28th, and on this day:
'50- Dolph Schayes of Syracuse pulled down 35 rebounds, at the time an NBA record in the new statistical category, in a game at Philadelphia against the Warriors.

'95- Dick Motta of Dallas became the third NBA coach to win 900 games when the Mavericks beat the Grizzlies, 103-101 in double-overtime. He joined Red Auerbach (938) and Lenny Wilkens (then with 1,014).
Enjoy your day!

Game 31: Nuggets @ Knicks

(Boulder-CO) With the return of Carmelo Anthony expected today for the Denver star's homecoming his timing couldn't be better. The Nuggets start a four-game road trip today that starts in New York before stops at Atlanta, Toronto, and Oklahoma City and despite the Nuggets 2-1 record without their leading scorer, Denver has missed him sorely.

If history is any indication of what we might expect from Carmelo his return should be a good one. Of all the 29 teams Carmelo has faced in his career, it's the Knicks that he loves to play the most. Anthony is averaging 27.4 points in 10 contests against the Knicks, including when "Feelings Hardened at the Garden". And that's a good thing because this year's New York Knicks have not had a problem putting the ball in the basket. Currently, New York and Denver are averaging 104.5 (NY) and 102.2 (DEN) points per game.
If you haven't been paying much attention to the Knicks (except for maybe in the sports tabloids) there is a good possibility their new compliment of players may come as a surprise. For starters, here are the starters:
G- Chris Duhon- 11.7 points, 8.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds- career-highs in both points and assists.
G- Quentin Richardson (returning from ankle sprain)- 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists
SF- Wilson Chandler- 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists
PF- Al Harrington- 22.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists
C- David Lee- 14.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists- career-highs in both points and rebounds.
For the Nuggets, their starting five should return to normal with Dahntay Jones and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt, and Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Nene filling out the bigs.
Both teams do one thing extremely well. The Knicks are currently the NBA's leading three-point shooting team by volume. New York hoists 29.6 three's per game and connect on more per game (10.6) than any other team. Similarly, the Nuggets are currently the NBA's leading free-throw shooting team by volume. Denver gets to free-throw line an average of 29.8 times per game and connect on a league-high 22.8 of those attempts.
However, the Knicks have not played much defense as of late and as a result have lost their last five games while allowing 115.2 points on average. Additionally, New York's opposition have been enjoying the Knicks rather porous defense as they have shot a combined 41.1% from long distance and over 50% from the field; a deadly combination against Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
So, keep Nate Robinson away from J.R. Smith and feed Carmelo the rock! 'Melo loves to give the New York fans a reason to cheer and with D'Antoni's reluctancy to play defense today's Sunday matinee should be a entertaining one to say the least.
Go Nuggets!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 27th, and on this day:
'56- Bill Sharman’s consecutive free throw streak ended at 55, an NBA record that lasted for 19 years. Houston’s Calvin Murphy broke the record with 58 consecutive free throws during the 1975-76 season. The current record is 97 by Micheal Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, set in 1993 over two seasons.

'64- Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati had 16 free throw attempts in one quarter of the Royals’ game at Baltimore, the most free throw attempts in one quarter in NBA history. The mark has been matched by five players in 36 years, including Michael Jordan in 1992, but it has never been surpassed.

'67- The New York Knicks named Red Holzman head coach, replacing Dick McGuire. Holzman went on to lead the Knicks to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973, utilizing several players recommended by McGuire, who became the team’s chief scout.
'78- Seattle’s Paul Silas played in his 1,123rd regular season game, at that time trailing only John Havlicek’s 1,270. Robert Parish now holds the record for the most games played in an NBA career, with 1,560.

'80- Calvin Murphy of the Houston Rockets began a streak of 78 consecutive free throws made in a game against Washington. It was the first of 16 games Murphy would need for his then NBA record FT streak.

'91- Tim Hardaway of Golden State set an NBA record for most field goals attempted with none made in a game when he shot 0-for-17 in the Warriors’ 106-102 OT win at Minnesota.
Enjoy your day!

How the Nuggets Saved Christmas

(Boulder-CO) The video highlights of how the Nuggets saved Christmas!

Go Nuggets!

Bombs Away!

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets never cease to amaze me. On some nights they just won't share the ball; on others sharing is all that matters. And then there is last night's 15-three "feel good" performance in a grinch of a win over the 76ers, 105-101.
In the first half it was basically a one-man show. J.R. Smith, coming off a dismal six point performance against the Blazers, scored 15 first half points in 16 minutes of burn. He only turned the ball over once, handed out an assist, recorded a steal, and grabbed a rebound as he was the pulse of the Nuggets through two quarters. Also on the EKG were Chauncey Billups and Dahntay Jones, each with nine points, but it was Smith's three-point shooting that was keeping the Nuggets in the game and it would be the Denver three-point shooting that would eventually spoil Philadelphia's trip to the Mile High City.
After trailing by only three at the half, the Nuggets completely came out and stunk up the Pepsi Center through the first eight minutes of the third quarter. Denver fell behind, 74-57, after the 76ers blew the game wide open with a 22-8 run to start the second half before seven straight Chauncey Billups points brought the game back within a manageable margin, 79-68, entering the fourth quarter.
Tired, disinterested, and all but ready to concede are the adjectives I would use to describe the overall feeling being non-verbally communicated by the Denver Nuggets entering the fourth quarter. Chauncey had cut Philly's lead to under ten points close to the end of the third, but after Marreese Speights' dunk with 26 seconds remaining before the fourth was flushed through the net it seemed like the Nuggets were right about to have their Christmas spoiled.
But wait... Denver found that last gift hiding under the tree!
One, two, three-three's a plenty! Four, five, six-three's a party! The Denver Nuggets connected on six three-pointers broken up by two Nene free-throws to open up the fourth quarter and trimmed the 76er lead to just four points, 92-88, with five minutes remaining! Then, while the Pepsi Center held its collective breath, J.R. Smith connected on his seventh three of the game to put the Nuggets in the lead, 96-95, with only 2:38 on the game clock. Seven lead changes later, Kenyon Martin received a Chauncey Billups pass at the top of the key and blasted off for the go-ahead dunk on Samuel Dalembert that had the Nuggets Nation rejoicing in glee. Andre Miller, perhaps a touch bah humbug, was hit with a technical foul for a Denver free-throw which Chauncey Billups redeemed like a gift card, and after Chucky Atkins cashed in on two free-throws Christmas was saved in the final moments in Denver akin to the way the Grinch saved it for all those who live in Whoville!
J.R. Smith's performance was truly a gift. The Prodigy scored a game-high 27 points, including seven three-pointers, on 10-20 from the field. Without his special touch from long distance there is no way the Nuggets start to believe that they could have won this game, let alone following in his footsteps to actually do so. With his example to follow, Chauncey Billups added 26 points, including a perfect 14-14 from the charity stripe, and ten assists to keep the Nuggets an unblemished 7-0 when he reaches double figure assists and Nene's 13 points, including 7-8 from the stripe, and twelve rebounds were instrumental in the Denver victory.
Chucky Atkins and Linas Kleiza also got into the three-point festivities with two trey's apiece.
The Nuggets were also an unheard of 24-25 from the free-throw line while making a season-high 15 three-point field goals.
The four game outlook for the 19-11 Nuggets starts with a Sunday morning game in the Mecca of basketball, New York City, when Denver takes on the Knicks. Carmelo is supposed to play (never one to miss the big stage of Madison Square Garden) before the Nuggets play three more road games at Atlanta, Toronto, and Oklahoma City. The Nuggets now hold a one-game lead over the Portland Trailblazers for the top spot in the Northwest Division with the Utah Jazz still lurking just a half game back.
Go Nuggets!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 26th, and on this day:
'76- Larry Kenon of San Antonio set an NBA record with 11 steals in the Spurs’ 110-105 victory over Kansas City. Kendall Gill of the New Jersey Nets tied Kenon’s mark more than 22 years later when he recorded 11 steals against Miami on April 3, 1999.

'95- The NBA Jam Session presented by Fleer, the league’s interactive basketball attraction, opens at the annual Barcelona Children’s Festival in Spain, the first time that Jam Session ventured onto European soil.

'97- San Antonio's David Robinson scored 24 points to pass the 15,000-point plateau for his career.

'00- Don Nelson of the Dallas Mavericks notched his 945th head coaching win when Dallas defeated Seattle 114-93, moving ahead of Bill Fitch (944) and into third place in all-time NBA coaching victories.

'01- Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown became the ninth coach in NBA history to reach 800 victories in the league after the Sixers' 100-86 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Enjoy your day!

Game 30: 76ers @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) Thank God Christmas is over! If you're anything like me you are trying to resume a normal existence as we all overload the trash and start cleaning out the fridge. And what better way for things to get back to protocol than the Nuggets winning tonight at the Pepsi Center against the 76ers?
When Philly comes to town tonight they are certainly going to see a very different Nuggets without Carmelo Anthony. 'Melo will miss his third of three "expected" games tonight with a sore elbow as the Nugges are 1-2 without their leading scorer in the line-up.
Things have not been clicking lately for Denver offensively. In their last five games, the Nuggets have only been able to average 94.8 points, which is down considerably since output was at its highest mark of over 110 points per game in their eight games prior. The main reason for the Nuggets offensive struggles have been the lack of Holiday spirit. Everyone seemed to forget that during this season it's always better to give than receive as we have seen the Nuggets hand out 20 or fewer assists in four out their last five games, all losses, including two stingy 15 dime nights against the Suns and Trailblazers. So, for Denver to regain it's winning ways they need to make sharing the ball priority number one.
However, the one Nugget that has really picked his play in Carmelo's absence has been Nene. In his last three games since only scoring one point and grabbing three rebounds against the Cavs, Big Brazil is averaging 19.3 points and 13 rebounds while shooting a combined 21-29 from the field and a respectable 14-17 from the free-throw line. In tonight's match-up with the 76ers slender Samuel Dalembert it will be important for the Nuggets to establish their control of the paint on the offensive end by getting Nene a lion's share of the early touches. This should get Nene off to a great start in the box score and with any luck also put Philly behind the eight ball with their starting center in foul trouble.
And here's one more thing to think about when watching this team sans Carmelo Anthony. Chauncey Billups has been trying to compensate for Anthony's absence offensively with more scoring, but since his shot attempts have skyrocketed his assists on a nightly basis have become inconsistent and the same kind of shoot-first mentality has been contagious with the other players. In wins, Billups is averaging 7.5 assists compared to just 5.5 in losses and much like his predecessor at the point, it's painfully obvious by Denver's undefeated 6-0 record when Chauncey reaches double figures in assists that the Nuggets' engine runs on Billups getting everyone else involved.
I'm hoping for one last Christmas present tonight in the form of a win over old friend Andre Miller and the 76ers. If you're under the boards and feel a little tug from behind it's probably just Reggie Evans...
Go Nuggets!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 24th, and on this day:
'60- Boston pulled down 109 rebounds in a game against Detroit to establish an NBA record as the Celtics beat the Pistons 150-106.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets Shoot Themselves in Foot

(Boulder-CO) I said it before, and I'll say it again: Nothing about the Portland Trailblazers impresses me. The Denver Nuggets flat out beat themselves last night by abandoning everything that is holy to them offensively and even if you didn't have the chance to watch last night's agonizing loss the box score serves as the best evidence to support my claim. So, if you will, allow me to cry over all the spilt milk of last night's, 101-92, loss to the Blazers.
The main hurdle that stumbled the Nuggets last night was shot selection and it was fueled by the fool's gold shooting in the first quarter. Despite playing the Blazers even, 25-25, through twelve minutes, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups, and J.R. Smith were all playing outside their available means. Kenyon especially needed to check his outside shot with his warm-ups as the 6'10" power forward kept catapulting long range jumpers after he was fortunate enough to make his first 20+ foot jump shots. Chauncey Billups was also shooting shots that were out of his normal repertoire on his way to 1-7 start in the first half and his reluctancy to get others involved became contagious as the Nuggets handed out a measly eight assists in the first half on a combined 14-35 shooting. And to compound the frigid shooting and lack of ball movement, the Nuggets added ten first half turnovers to the already disappointing box score as they found themselves trailing at the half, 47-42.
An interesting side note in the second quarter was Carmelo Anthony taking a seat with the broadcast crew with about eight minutes to play before the break. Now, I'm not against star players stopping by the game table for a few comments now and then to add some insight to their team, but it seemed like the entire game stopped for the Nuggets when Carmelo got on the headset. From the time he put on the cans until the time he retreated back to the bench over five scoreless minutes went by where the Nuggets played like a junior varsity. The Trailblazers took full advantage of this miserable stretch and pasted Denver with a 15-0 run and I had to look away because the play was absolutely hideous. No resemblance to an NBA offense was run, Denver turned the ball over three times, Chucky Atkins played far too many minutes (where was Renaldo Balkman?), and the shot selection continued to be horrendous. Denver should have felt lucky to only be down by five heading into intermission after that debacle that I have no problem calling it their worst five-minute stretch of the season.
Once the second half got underway there seemed to be a revival of quality Nuggets basketball as the Nuggets regained their role assignments and started taking the ball to the basket and hitting the boards. In fact, the Nuggets scored eight of their first 15 points in the second half on free-throws en route to tying the game, 58-58, with 4:20 still remaining in the third period. Furthermore, the Nuggets actually took the lead twice, momentarily, 64-63, after Kleiza hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Anthony Carter connected on a long jumper, 66-65, before Anthony Carter fouled Rudy Fernandez with the shot clock winding down to grant Fernandez two free-throws and the Traiblazers regained the lead entering the fourth, 67-66.
Brandon Roy took over in the fourth scoring 12 of his 19 points as the Denver defense allowed Portland 34 points in the final quarter. The complete breakdown defensively was weathered well by the Nuggets until the Trailblazers made it into the penalty at the five minute mark as the final 19 points scored by Portland came by way of 12 Blazer free-throws.
So here's the real truth about how the Nuggets lost this game: Denver stopped passing the ball. The Nuggets only recorded 15 assists in this contests because everyone wanted to shoot the jumper. Kenyon Martin is not an outside shooter and all I want for Christmas is for him to stop shooting from anywhere outside 15 feet. Martin was 5-15 from the field, Chauncey was 4-12 from the field, and J.R. Smith was 0-5 from downtown and 2-8 overall with a team-high four turnovers. And here's something we probably will not see in the remaining 53 games of the season: Chucky Atkins led the team with four assists! Sometimes the Nuggets can be so selfish offensively that it really makes it hard for me to fathom what is going on internally with this team when it's so obvious that when they don't share the ball they will almost surely lose against most teams in this league. Is it too many egos and not enough we-gos? Is it a sense of role misidentification? Is it a sense by the players that if they don't individually produce that their playing time might get trimmed in the same manner as Renaldo Balkman's has? Take your pick, but it's certainly making this team hard to watch on night's like this when the problem seems to be pretty obvious.
Moving on, the one thing I have noticed about J.R. Smith is the only person who can stop him is J.R. Smith. When he penetrates it's a coin flip as to whether we are going to be treated to a breathtaking dunk or finger roll, or an out of control turnover. Rarely ever does the defender stop him; it's always a turnover by bad pass or lost dribble. Last night, Smith looked out of synch while tryign to force the offensive issue instead of just letting the game come to him.
The only Nuggets who I felt played THEIR game were Linas Kleiza and Nene. LK scored 20 points on an efficient 6-10 from the field, including a red-hot 5-7 from beyond the three-point line. He also didn't turn the ball over and snagged four rebounds while not taking any "hero shots" and playing solid defense. Nene played 39 minutes of controlled cerebral basketball on both ends of the floor finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals as he once again completely dominated Greg Oden. Big Brazil managed to stick four out of Oden's five fouls on him in just eight minutes of burn as Portland's next Sam Bowie was held to just two rebounds.
The loss brings the Trailblazers back into a tie with the Nuggets for first place in the Northwest Division with an indentical 18-11 overall record. The Nuggets did not fare well in this brutal stretch of six games in nine nights with a W-L record of 2-4 and will not have Carmelo Anthony back for their game on Friday against the 76ers at the Pepsi Center.
Until then, Happy Holidays, Nuggets Nation!
Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Game 29: Nuggets @ Trailblazers

(Boulder-CO) My prescription for another win against the Trailblazers is the same as before, only this time the task of containing Brandon Roy is going to be much tougher. In last night's game, Roy was held to just eight points partially due to foul trouble, but he still played over 30 minutes so that's not to take anything away from the great job defensively by the Nuggets.
The bad news is Roy has been even tougher to contain on his home floor. Roy is averaging 27.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists while shooting 49.7 percent at the Rose Garden in comparison to 20.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists on 44.4 percent shooting on the road.
And to compound the degree of difficulty of tonight's match-up...
The Trailblazers are a stout 9-2 in Portland where their only two losses have come at the hands of the Orland Magic and grossly under achieving Los Angeles Clippers.
Now, here's where I weigh in...
I wasn't impressed with anything the Portland Trailblazers did last night. They are a jump shooting team that lives and dies by the perimeter percentage they shoot because of the lack of an inside scoring option and the absence of a fast break. In addition, Steve Blake is only as good per as wide open as you leave him and I'll be very surprised if he connects on four treys again. Furthermore, and as long as the Nuggets dominate the rebounding facet of the game again, Denver should enjoy a large margin of points scored by way of the fast break. So, as long as Denver gets another great effort by everyone involved, runs the break, and doesn't allow Brandon Roy to explode offensively expect another win by Mile High crew tonight.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 23rd, and on this day:
'90- In a game that took 26 days to decide, the Boston Celtics downed the Atlanta Hawks 132-104 at the Garden. The game was originally scheduled to be played on November 28, but a wet playing surface, caused by condensation from the ice underneath the parquet floor, forced postponement of the game 90 seconds into the second quarter and the Celtics ahead 37-22.

'92- Michael Jordan scored 57 points to lead Chicago over Washington 107-98, giving Bulls Coach Phil Jackson his 200th career victory, in an NBA record 270 games.

'94- Dana Barros of Philadelphia began a streak of 58 games in which he sank at least one three-point field goal, breaking the NBA record for a single season previously held by Michael Adams at 43.

'97- Hall of Famer Les Harrison, who led the Rochester Royals to the NBA Championship in 1951 as owner, general manager and coach, died at the age of 93.

'97- Chicago's Phil Jackson recorded his 500th victory as an NBA coach, reaching the mark in his 682nd game, faster than any other coach in NBA history.

'99- The Philadelphia 76ers are selected to host NBA All-Star 2002, the NBA announced. NBA All-Star 2002 will include the 51st NBA All-Star Game, the events of NBA All-Star Saturday, the NBA TeamUp Celebration and the NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by Fleer. NBA All-Star 2002 will be held February 8-10, 2002. The First Union Center, which opened during the 1996-97 season, will host the NBA All-Star Game and the events of NBA All-Star Saturday, while the Pennsylvania Convention Center will play host to the NBA All-Star Jam Session. The city of Philadelphia and the 76ers were originally scheduled to host the 1999 NBA All-Star Weekend, which was cancelled due to a league work stoppage. This will mark the fourth time the NBA All-Star Game will be held in the city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Warriors hosted the game in 1960 at Convention Hall, where 10,421 turned out to see the East top the West, 125-115, behind 25 points from Wilt Chamberlain.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Denver D Blazes Blazers

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) When the Denver Nuggets needed to step up the most they found a way to do so. On the heel of news that Carmelo Anthony is being placed on the injured list for a sore right elbow earlier in the day Denver didn't use losing their primary scoring option as an excuse to lose to the Trailblazers; rather just a reason for everyone to step up their game to preserve first place in the division and beat Portland in front of the Mile High home crowd, 97-89.
J.R. Smith was bumped into the starting line-up for the first time this season due to Carmelo's injury status and he didn't take long to get things started for the Nuggets. After springing free the opening tap won by Greg Oden, J.R. hit a twelve foot jumper from the left side before putting the spin cycle on Nicolas Batum for a beautiful lay in from the right. I absolutely love the way J.R. Smith's electricity sparks the Nuggets and at this point there is no such thing as too much J.R.. He simply gives the Nuggets another go-to scoring option because he can create for himself off the dribble or catch and shoot, and his defense is no longer the liability it used to be. Other Nuggets who jumped out to a good start were Chauncey Billups with eight first quarter points in addition to J.R.'s six as the Nuggets led after one, 29-27.
In the second quarter, the second unit joined up with J.R. and they didn't disappoint. Chris Andersen swatted five first half shot attempts and altered numerous others in what I felt was his best half of the year so far. The Birdman is another player that I do not view as a down grade when he enters the game. Sure, Kenyon Martin and Nene may be better offensive players, but I truly do feel that Andersen's defense is on par or even better than either of his starting counterparts. And he, like J.R., is constantly in motion. Whether it's on the glass after free-throws or help and recover defense, the Bird is always flocking to the action and rarely ever lets a shot attempt or rebound go without an attempt to make a play.

But, on that note, Nene played a great first half. Big Brazil scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds through two quarters, did an excellent job of limiting Greg Oden to just one rebound in the first half, and put the Portland big man in foul trouble early with his quickness.
The Nuggets also did a tremendous job of keeping the Trailblazers out of the paint in the first half as they outscored Portland 26-16 in points in key. Granted, Portland is probably one of the most perimeter based offenses in the league with jump shooters like LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, but the Denver interior D was superlative nevertheless. They held the Blazers to just 38% shooting in the first half and only created eight free-throw attempts for Portland as they led, 53-47, going into the break.
In the third quarter, Denver relinquished their lead at the 7:22 mark after Steve Blake hit his fourth three of the game. Blake has obviously put in some serious work on his outside shooting since leaving the Nuggets after the 2006-07 season and has blossomed into a true starting point guard for the Blazers. Kudos to Steve, but he is still not the caliber player Chauncey Billups is and after Denver lost its lead Mr. Big Shot took over. Billups set up J.R. Smith for a lay-up to regain the lead and followed up the heady dime to Smith with a three of his own to put the Nuggets back in command, 64-62, with under six to play in the third.
The scrappy Blazers just wouldn't go away as they took the lead on two more separate occasions and it wasn't until Linas Kleiza's three with under a second to play in the third that the Nuggets took the lead for good, 78-75, entering the fourth quarter.
Once the final twelve minutes were put on the game clock, the Denver D dominated the fourth quarter by allowing only 14 Portland points. Not to say that the Nuggets were firing on all cylinders offensively, but LK scoring ten of his 17 points in the quarter, which included Denver's first five, were enough for Denver to win the quarter, 19-14, and the game.
Offensively, the Nuggets balanced the absence of Carmelo Anthony with five different players reaching double figures led by Chauncey Billups and Nene each with 19 points. Nene added eleven rebounds for his second consecutive double-double and seventh on the year while Chauncey returned to economical form with ten assists and not a single turnover. Nene also did a great job attacking Greg Oden and as a result fouled out the second-year rookie for only the second time this season. J.R. Smith chalked up 15 points and seven rebounds in his first start of the year.
It was also nice to Linas Kleiza AKA "The Forgotten Nugget" and Chris "Birdman" Andersen have a great games. LK finished with 17 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes of burn off the bench. Andersen, in addition to the five first half blocks, tied a season-high scoring effort with eleven points and three rebounds while finishing the game with six rejections. Kenyon Martin also joined the block party with three swats as the Nuggets turned away ten Portland shot attempts in total.
But the underlying story in this game was the Denver defense. Denver swarmed Brandon Roy all night allowing him to notch just eight points total. Portland was led offensively by LeMarcus Aldridge's 20 points on mostly 17 foot jumpers; or as I like to call them, "necessary evils".
An interesting note brought up by Nuggets play-by-play man, Chris Marlowe is how the Nuggets are still undefeated (14-0 and tops in the NBA) when entering the fourth quarter with the lead. And with the win, the Nuggets are now once again in sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division, but rest not, Nuggets Nation. Our boys traveled up to Portland last night to face the same Trailblazers tonight. Talk about déjà vu, my only hope is the defensive effort on Brandon Roy wasn't an anomaly and the Nuggets can defeat the Blazers again only this time on their home floor.
Go Nuggets!

Carmelo a Scratch

(Boulder-CO) Just reported - Carmelo Anthony will not play either tonight or tomorrow night against the Trailblazers citing a sore right elbow as the reason. Now the Nuggets are really going to need great performances out of their supporting cast to maintain atop the Northwest Division standings.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 22nd, and on this day:
'49- In his 13th game as a Celtic, Tony Lavelli scored 26 points as Boston beat the Minneapolis Lakers, who were on their way to a second straight NBA title. At halftime, the versatile Lavelli treated the 5,206 fans at Boston Garden to an accordion mini-concert, one of about two dozen performances he gave around the league for which he was paid $125 per concert by the NBA.

'56- Bill Russell made his debut for the Boston Celtics at home against the St. Louis Hawks. The Celtics won 95-93. Russell scored six points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

'62- The NBA’s 1,000,000th point was scored in either the Detroit-Chicago, New York-Boston or Syracuse-San Francisco game.

'96- By pulling down 12 rebounds in Utah’s 100-94 setback at Cleveland, Karl Malone became the 11th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 and 10,000 rebounds in a season.
Enjoy your day!

Game 28: Trailblazers @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) There is no question about how big tonight's and tomorrow night's games are with the Portland Trailblazers. The Nuggets and Blazers are currently tied for Northwest Division supremacy with identical 17-10 records, but it's the Blazers who come into Denver tonight with more momentum after winning their last two games. The Nuggets on the other hand are just trying to not lose four straight games for the first time since February, 2007.
For the Nuggets to win it basically boils down to three key points:
Plain and simply stated, Carmelo Anthony has got to step up his game tonight against the Blazers. 'Melo is averaging just 15 points per game and only grabbed five rebounds combined in the last three Nugget losses. Anthony hasn't been getting it done and the Nuggets desperately need him to return to previous form. A good place for him to start would be getting to the free-throw line where he has only shot seven attempts over the same stretch of disappointing losses.
Chauncey Billups has to start shooting the same high-percentage from the field as he was before the Nuggets started this stretch of six games in nine days. In the last three losses, Chauncey is a combined 14-38 from the field. The Nuggets are truly at their best when Billups is shooting over 40% and his recent troubles from the field have left the team scratching their heads offensively.
The final point for tonight's game has to be sharing the basketball. The Nuggets are currently averaging the third highest mark of assists in the league at 22.8 dimes per game, but in all three of their consecutive losses have failed to reach that average, including a putrid 15-assist performance against the Suns. This is a result of too many jump shots and not enough penetration and dish. Chauncey and Carmelo especially need to lead by example in this regard with Billups, perhaps, leaving the pull-up trey alone tonight in an attempt to attack the defense and hopefully find open slashers for easy lay-ups while 'Melo abandons the jab-step and pop for putting his head down, in control mind you, and getting to the rim.
Those three things have been plaguing the Nuggets and if they can execute the way they were before this three game slide there is no reason why they can't take back sole possession of the Northwest Division lead with a win tonight.
Go Nuggets!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 21st, and on this day:
'80- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became only the fifth player in NBA history to notch 25,000 points as he scored a season-high 42 points in the Lakers’ 135-102 win over San Antonio.

'01- With 16 points in a 100-94 victory over New Jersey, Indiana's Reggie Miller improved his career scoring total to 21,801 points and moved past Larry Bird into 19th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Enjoy your day!

3 Straight Losses Have Me Worried

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(Boulder-CO) For the first time this season, the Nuggets are losers of three straight games. Carmelo continues to slump offensively, the Nuggets can't defend against true size in the middle, and for the third straight game Denver has not been able to eclipse the 20 assist mark.
And can someone please tell me why J.R. Smith can't get a start?
Against the Suns in the first half three things became more apparent to me than ever before about the Nuggets current state of affairs. For starters, Carmelo Anthony has become lazy on offense. He's rarely attacking the basket anymore off the dribble and the results are defenders laying off of him and then closing quickly to bother his jumper. His lack of aggression in the last three games has also taken a toll on his free-throw attempts and against the Suns he shot just four attempts from the charity stripe en route to a ten-point, one rebound, and two assist night. Yuck!
The second thing that has really been highlighted in the last three games is Denver's inability to defend opposing centers of any true size. The Suns big tandem of Amar'e Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal, much like Yao Ming and Ilgauskas, both had great performances against the Nuggets. Amar'e double-double of 27 points, ten rebounds, two assists, and two blocks was more than Nene could handle and when combined with Shaq's 19 points and nine rebounds the Suns dominated the points in the paint as they combined to shoot 18-31 from the field. But in all fairness, Nene did have a good game consisting of 20 points and 15 rebounds.
The final thing that has me bah humbug is J.R. Smith not starting. I've laid off the topic for awhile now, but it's performances like last night's team-high 23 points (18 in the first half alone) that make me wonder what George Karl is thinking still starting Dahntay Jones. And let me say that I'm not knocking Dahntay Jones because I do think he is a valuable asset to this team, but J.R. Smith typically having to play the role of one-man comeback isn't helping his game the way playing with the first unit on a more consistent basis would.
With all that said, the Nuggets really let a golden chance to beat a very good Phoenix team on the home floor slip away. The Suns' lead was just three points as the fourth quarter started and the Nuggets immediately took control of the game with a 7-0 run in the first three and a half minutes of play. Two ties, and a Grant Hill lay-up later and the Suns had regained the lead for the final time as the Nuggets could only muster five points in the final five minutes of the game. And what made things worse has how frazzled the Nuggets looked offensively with the game's outcome in the balance as the best shots the Nuggets could get were all perimeter jumpers.
Chauncey Billups scored 18 points and handed out eight assists, but his uncharacteristic seven turnovers and only three free-throw attempts made Steve Nash's eleven assists and only three turnovers that much harder to swallow.
Now the Nuggets have a real challenge of ahead of them as they will face the Trailblazers, who are now tied with the Nuggets for the lead in the Northwest Division, on back-to-back nights starting tomorrow at home before traveling to Portland on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Game 27: Nuggets @ Suns

(Boulder-CO) Tonight, the Nuggets look to bounce back after consecutive losses to the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers. The order is a tall one, but I think Denver has shown us resolve after coming off of tough losses this year and what a better time to break out of their losing ways than beating the Suns on their home floor. However, you should know that the Nuggets haven't been able to steal a win in Phoenix in over three years and Denver hasn't lost three straight games yet this season so let's hope both streaks end tonight.
It's been made painfully apparent in the last two games against teams with the size of Yao Ming and Zydrunas Ilgauskas that the smaller front line of the Nuggets is a real liability defensively. This has me worried going into tonight because the Suns have the rather large duo of Amar'e Stoudemire and Shaq. The pair are averaging a combined 38.2 points per game and better than 16 rebounds which could be a stat line Denver could live with seeing as they allowed Yao 32 points when he is averaging just 20 on the year and 23 points to Ilgauskas when he is typically in the mid-teens every night.
As for how the Nuggets and Suns match-up by the numbers...
Let's just say they're pretty even. The Suns are 15-11 while the Nuggets are 17-9, Denver is 4th in the league in scoring per game while Phoenix is 5th, and both teams average more than 20 turnovers a game.
However, the Suns are a team in evolution since trading for Jason Richardson from the Bobcats and with the toughness and speed of Matt Barnes the Suns aren't looking to hold up the game for Shaq to make it down the floor. This has resurrected the fast break ghosts of former coach Mike D'Antoni and as a result the pace of Phoenix's play has increased dramatically and their defense has struggled. In their last eleven games, the Suns have given up at least 100 points including two games in their last five of which they allowed more than 120. Meanwhile, the Nuggets (a team that used to be synonymous with scoring) haven't scored more than 98 points in their last three games and have looked confused against the top echelon defenses of the Rockets and Cleveland.
So, tonight I think the Nuggets could desperately use to get out on the fast break and run when at all possible. Carmelo needs a big game offensively to boost his confidence and it wouldn't hurt he and Chauncey to get to the free-throw line for more than 10 attempts each. The Suns are more than willing to try and outscore their opposition, but Denver has to find a way to regain their defensive strength in the paint to find themselves on the right side of the score when this game is over.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 20th, and on this day:
'66- Seattle was named the 11th franchise city in the NBA. Approximately one month later the team was named the SuperSonics, the result of a local contest won by Howard E. Schmidt.

'92- Buck Williams becomes only the 20th player in NBA history to collect 10,000 rebounds in his career as Portland defeats Golden State, 130-114.

'97- New York's Patrick Ewing suffered a Lunate dislocation and torn ligaments in right wrist in game vs. Milwaukee Bucks and was declared out for the remainder of the season following surgery.

'01- Chick Hearn, the Lakers' play-by-play announcer, was not be behind the microphone for the Lakers-Rockets game as he recovered from heart surgery to replace a blocked aortic valve, bringing to end an astonishing streak, one that lasted more than 36 years and 3,338 games.
Enjoy your day!

Add the Cavs to the List

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) There just seems to be a few teams that have the Nuggets number. The Lakers, Jazz, and now add the Cavaliers to that list. Denver lost last their first pair of consecutive games since acquiring Chauncey Billups last night to Cleveland, 105-88, but what was alarming about the second loss this season to the Cavs was the way Denver played in front of their home crowd.

All eye's were on Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in the first quarter. Carmelo opened up things with a three to draw first blood for Denver and LeBron quickly answered with a long jumper , but after Denver relinquished a, 7-6, lead to a King James dunk the Nuggets faded fast. The NBA's top ranked defensive team proved that their early season success was not fool's gold by controlling the Nuggets to just 21 points through one. LeBron scored 14 first quarter points alone and things were out of hand as the Nuggets trailed, 37-21, through twelve minutes.

The Nuggets gained a little traction by way of Anthony Carter accumulating ten of his team-high twelve first half points in the second quarter. Denver buckled down defensively, albeit momentarily, to hold the Cavs to 27 while exploding offensively for 32 to head into halftime trailing, 64-53.

Typically, we have seen the Nuggets regroup defensively at halftime after either allowing too many points in poorly played first halves or refocus offensively and come back out and paste teams with 30+ points in the third, but neither happened against the Cav's. Cleveland completely masked the fact that they only scored 20 points in the third by holding the Nuggets to a season-low single quarter point total of a mere 12 points while extending their lead. I mentioned that it was alarming to see Denver play such futile basketball in front of their home crowd and what I think left such a sour taste in my mouth was after coming into the second half down by only eleven and to cut Cleveland's lead to nine with still 10:30 second to play the Nuggets completely flat lined. Denver went the next 4:50 second without a score as Cleveland methodically re-extended their lead to, 74-57, and the rest of the game was a wash.
The Cavs were content to just exchange buckets with the Nuggets in the fourth, a luxury you have when you play tremendous defense and you've built a lead, to hold on and win, 105-88.

The boxscore is a grim sight for Nuggets fans. Not a single Nugget reached 20 points, not a single starter grabbed double-figures in rebounds, and not a single Nugget handed out more than four assists as the team turned the ball over a combined 19 times. Chauncey Billups scored a team-high 16 points and Chris Andersen grabbed a game-high tying ten rebounds. For the Cavaliers, things were a bit more celebratory. LeBron James played a tremendous all-around game scoring a game-high 33 points while just missing a triple-double with ten rebounds and eight assists. Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas added 23 points and six rebounds on 9-14 shooting and Delonte West finished with 22 points and two steals.

The Nuggets are now 1-2 in this six games in nine night stretch and things aren't about to get any easier. Denver is now in the desert of Phoenix tonight on the tail-end of back-to-back games to face the Suns before a back-to-back set with the surging Trailblazers who could very well be tied with Nuggets for first place in the division when the two teams meet on Monday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 19th, and on this day:
'56- Upon his return from Melbourne, Australia, where he led the U.S. Basketball squad to an Olympic gold medal, Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Boston Celtics.

'68- The Detroit Pistons traded Dave DeBusschere to the New York Knicks for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives. The acquisition of DeBusschere is often credited as providing the last piece to the Knicks’ championship teams of 1970 and 1973. The midseason trade also allowed Bellamy to play in an NBA record 88 games that season with New York and Detroit.

'90- Boston’s Kevin McHale scored 23 points in 29 minutes of play, helping the Celtics down Philadelphia 115-105 while reaching the 15,000 point mark for his career.

'92- New York’s 91-87 win over Miami at Madison Square Garden gave Knicks Coach Pat Riley his 600th career victory, the 12th coach in NBA history to reach that mark.
Enjoy your day!

Game 26: Cavaliers @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) It saddens me to say that I'm on my way to a wedding and the best I can do is to point you in this direction for a preview of tonight's game. Also, be sure to check out how these teams match-up head-to-head statistically.
Go Nuggets!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 18th, and on this day:
'84- The Washington Bullets beat the New Jersey Nets 104-95 to give Gene Shue his 700th NBA career coaching victory. Shue became only the third coach to reach that plateau at the time, joining Red Auerbach and Jack Ramsay.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 17th, and on this day:
'76- The Philadelphia 76ers retired Billy Cunningham’s uniform #32. He scored 13,626 points in just nine seasons with the Sixers and was a member of the 1967 NBA Championship team.

'91- Cleveland, which had eight different players score in double figures, defeated Miami 148-80 at Richfield Coliseum. The 68-point margin of victory set an NBA record, shattering the previous mark of 63 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 162-99 win over Golden State on March 19, 1972.

'96- Atlanta set an NBA record by making 19 three-point field goals (in 27 attempts) during a 109-73 victory at Dallas. Mookie Blaylock led the Hawks’ barrage from downtown, hitting 7-of-10 attempts.

'96- As part of the NBA’s 50th anniversary season, the Top Ten Coaches in NBA History were announced. The list included Red Auerbach, Chuck Daly, Bill Fitch, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, John Kundla, Don Nelson, Jack Ramsay, Pat Riley and Lenny Wilkens.
Enjoy your day!

Nene Poster Featuring Yao Ming

(Boulder-CO) The video evidence on this one speaks for itself. Don't stand underneath the basket if you're not going to jump!

Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rockets Blast the Nuggets with Defense

(AP Photo)

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets ran out of gas tonight in Houston, 108-96, as the Rockets were well rested and their boosters filled with black powder-performances from their three-headed monster of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Ron Artest.

What I loved about the first quarter was irregardless of how flat the Nuggets came out of the gates, Denver fought through the bad start and didn't lay down. In years past, if the Nuggets fell behind, 13-2, right from the tip I would know that things were probably about to get ugly. However, this team has more resolve than that and after Carmelo hit two big three's, J.R. Smith took the rock right at Yao for a statement lay-up, and Chris Andersen followed up a missed J.R. free-throw at the end of the quarter with a huge put-back slam the Houston lead was cut to only five, 30-25, entering round two.
In fact, I can't sing the praises of the Birdman and the Prodigy enough for the way they finished up what was otherwise a pretty lousy first quarter overall. After Carmelo hit the aforementioned back-to-back treys, J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen scored the final eleven points in the quarter.
Linas Kleiza and Chauncey Billups got the Nuggets within two after LK connected on a three from the left corner and Chauncey hit his patented pull-up three from the right wing with ten minutes still to play in the half. Then, Nene gave Yao Ming a facial to tie the game and more solid Nuggets defense on Yao in the post fruited a steal and the outlet pass hit LK for a fastbreak dunk to give the Nuggets their first lead of the game, 35-33. At this point in the game, the Nuggets were just out working the Rockets in all facets of play and after a few more great hustle plays and a big three-pointer from Anthony Carter Denver was in command, 42-38.

Something has to be said about the Denver bench in the first half because I don't think the Nuggets would have been leading at half, 61-56 , without the overall effort from the reserves. I've already given J.R. and the Birdman their due, but Linas Kleiza and Anthony Carter also played fantastic in the second quarter. Combined, J.R. Smith (12), Linas Kleiza (10), Chris Andersen (8), and Anthony Carter (3) outscored the starters 33-28 and Smith's three to close out the half cooled the Rockets' jets after Houston went on a 9-2 scoring run to cut the Denver lead to just two with under a minute until intermission.

Once the second half was underway, the Rockets physicality wore the Nuggets down and Denver couldn't maintain offensively on mere jump shots alone. Maybe the Nuggets were tired on the tail-end of back-to-back games against two very good teams, maybe the Rockets are finally getting their pieces back together, but the Nuggets only scored 35 points in the second half (compared to 36 in the second quarter alone) and eventually ran out of gas, 108-96.

The Rockets deserve a lot of credit for completely dominating the Nuggets in the second half defensively. Their size and toughness deterred the Nuggets from attacking the rim and as a result Denver shot just seven free-throws in the half as they connected on just 14-42 field goal attempts. Offensively, Yao Ming led the way with a game-high 32 points and seven rebounds, but the big story was Tracy McGrady's fifth career triple-double of 20 points, 14 rebounds, and ten assists in just his third game back from injury. Ron Artest chipped in 20 points and four rebounds, and did a great job holding 'Melo to just ten points in the second half and 22 points overall.
For the Nuggets, the lack of free-throws really disrupted the tempo of which I believe they are at their best. Denver needs Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to shoot around 8-10 free-throws per game to really get the most out of their top offensive duo and it also seems like Denver needs those moments between free-throw attempts to get their defensive assignments squared away before hunkering down on the other end. Tonight those meetings were on the fly and 'Melo and Chauncey shot a combined ten attempts from the charity strip. As a result, Yao Ming was consistently open on pick and roll because the Nuggets were never able to figure out who was rotating where and an abundance of wide open three's of which the Rockets shot 45% on 11-24 from behind the arch. Yao would also roll off of setting the screen and the ball would go into the corner giving him just enough to time to get such deep position off of that pass to the corner that it was all but a function for him to lay things to bed.

So, the 17-8 Nuggets lose and their season-high matching win streak of four games is over, but in my eyes there's really no harm done. The Nuggets have until Friday to prepare for LeBron James and the Cavaliers to come to town and, remember, Denver is still yet to lose consecutive games since acquiring Chauncey Billups...
Hey, it makes for a good storyline, doesn't it?

Go Nuggets!

Game 25: Nuggets @ Rockets

(Boulder-CO) The streaking Mile High crew is in Houston tonight to try and win another game against the three-headed monster of Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Ron Artest. The first time these two teams met Denver won by ten, 104-94, in Denver where the Nuggets haven proven themselves nine out of twelve times. However, tonight the Nuggets are down south and unlike in the first contest, Tracy McGrady is set to play.
The Rockets have been playing very well since Tracy's return despite McGrady's very average outing in his second game back as the team lost a perplexing game to the L.A. Clippers on Saturday night. Winners of five of their last eight, Houston has quality to wins over San Antonio, Atlanta, and a pair over Golden State, but this team can be hit or miss from night-to-night with losses to the Grizzlies and the aforementioned 6-17 Clippers.
But if memory serves me correct, wasn't it the last time these two teams played when Carmelo's elbow limited him to just two points and broke his league-high streak of consecutive games in double-digit scoring?
Yea, that's right, it sure was!
Knowing that, and the fact the Carmelo Anthony has long since passed up the "two-time" scoring champion, Tracy McGrady, and how he is known for getting hurt and staying that way, I feel pretty strong about tonight's outcome. Nene is playing great offensively, Kenyon Martin's defense is as good as it's ever been, Carmelo is putting points in the boxscore at a dizzying pace, and J.R. Smith is like instant points anytime George Karl plays him.
Hell, even the Birdman is near the top of the NBA in blocked shots per game!
Denver has the defensive specialties of Renaldo Balkman and Dahntay Jones to make sure neither Ron Artest or McGrady get to carried away with the ball which is even more reason why I feel the Nuggets are going to be able to win tonight. And, when Yao is forced to be the focal point of the offense, the Rockets really struggle.
Let's face it, Nuggets Nation, these Nuggets are as good as any from yesteryear and we are entitled to a cocky feeling now and then.
Tonight is one of those times. Can you dig it like "Maxi" the Miner?
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 16th, and on this day:
'61- Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors began a streak of seven consecutive games in which he scored 50 points or more, another of Chamberlain’s many NBA records.

'93- Patrick Ewing moved past Walt Frazier to become New York’s all-time leading scorer, with 14,618 career points, after hitting a second-quarter jumper during the Knicks’ 108-85 win over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

'97- Houston's Clyde Drexler had five steals to give him a career total of 2,115 and move him into fourth place on the all-time steals list.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dallas Kicks the Bucket

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets just continue to roll as they matched their season-high for consecutive wins with a, 98-88, win over the Mavericks to extend their current win streak to four games.

In the first quarter, the Nuggets were very aggressive attacking the basket early, which was good, but they built their twelve point lead going into the second off of torrid shooting from the three-point arch and great defensive rebounding. Carmelo, Kenyon, and Chauncey all hit treys in the first quarter and Nene was doing a great job putting a body on Eric Dampier on his way to five first quarter boards. Defensively, I especially like the effort by the Nuggets on the perimeter as they held the Mavericks to just 25% shooting on 6-24 attempts through twelve minutes. Also, and because it's not going to show up in the boxscore, I thought Kenyon Martin did a fantastic job on Dirk defensively in the sense that he aggressively challenged all five of Nowitzki's shot attempts while only sending Dirk Nowitzki to the free-throw line once for a pair of free-throws.

The second quarter brought in the second unit plus 'Melo for the Nuggets and the energy they brought kept the Mavericks at bay, 40-29, through the first six minutes of the quarter. The Birdman made his presence felt by blocking a Jose Barea shot attempt on a drive, J.R. Smith provided a quick six points, and Linas Kleiza's defense was solid despite LK still slumping offensively.

Unfortunately, the burst that the second unit brought in the first six minutes of the second quickly faded as Chris Andersen picked up his third foul and Linas was pulled after only scoring one point on a single made free-throw. With the Nuggets going a little stale, Dallas was able to whiddle the lead down to five as Denver's starters re-entered the game. But, once Kenyon Martin, Nene, and Chauncey were on the floor with J.R. Smith the Nuggets quickly re-established a nine-point lead after Carmelo was the beneficiary of back-to-back Billups' dimes.

Then Dallas coach Rick Carlisle made the grave mistake of leaving Eric Dampier out of the game when Nene returned and the Big Brazilian quickly took advantage of the undersized Dallas frontline, and Brandon Bass more specifically, for five quick points within a span of 26 seconds to maintain Denver's nine point lead before Kenyon Martin hit his second three of the half followed by a spectacular tip by J.R. Smith to give the Nuggets a, 56-43, advantage at intermission.

The true story behind the Denver lead at the half wasn't the hot three-point shooting or Carmelo's 20 first half points, but rather the tremendous job the Nuggets were doing on the defensive end. Kenyon Martin did about as good of a job as you can do on a pure scorer like Dirk by limiting Nowitzki to just nine points on 3-9 shooting while collectively the Mavericks shot just 28.9% from the field for the half. And Kenyon wasn't acting alone as the only Maverick to reach double figures in scoring was Jose Barea with ten points off of mostly long contested jump shots. Furthermore, the end result of Denver's pesky defense also gave them a 16-7 advantage in fastbreak points with nine of those points coming by way of the Nuggets forcing nine Dallas turnovers.

Often times you will hear that the first five minutes of the second half hold the outcome of the game and after Dirk Nowitzki opened up the third with ten straight points it was clear the Mavericks weren't going to just lay down on the home floor. What was once a 13 point lead at the half quickly became just three with under eight minutes still to play in the third as the Nuggets offense completely stalled. The jump shots that were falling in the first half stopped connecting, the number of cuts through the lane screeched to a halt, and defensively the Nuggets stalled when the ball stopped moving on the other end of the floor.

The game tied at 65 a piece before Carmelo put the Nuggets back on top with a three from the right corner with just under four minutes and the energy implemented by George Karl going to Chris Andersen, Anthony Carter, and Linas Kleiza was palpable as Denver surged ahead to enter the fourth quarter leading by four, 75-71.

Once the fourth quarter started, the stale air that engulfed the Nuggets in the third quickly evaporated. Linas Kleiza picked up right where his three in the closing seconds of the third left off with a junior hook in the lane, J.R. Smith hit a long jumper and a three on back-to-back possessions, and Anthony Carter connected on a field goal to give the Nuggets a 13-point lead, 84-71, after just over a two minutes of play in the quarter.

At this point, the Mavericks were on the ropes and after J.R. drew a charge on Dirk, a call that caused Nowitzki to say something to an offical and land a technical foul, Smith was at the line making good on a technical free-throw, followed by another jumper, and a drive right around Nowitzki to cap off a 14-2 run to give Denver an, 89-73, lead. Jason Terry counter punched with back-to-back three's to bring the Denver lead back down to ten with over seven minutes to play, but both teams struggled to score over the next three minutes before Jason Kidd finally etched his name in the boxscore with two free-throws. The next time down the floor Nene drew a foul maneuvering to the basket on Jason Kidd to earn and make two from the charity tripe to put the Nuggets back up by ten and after J.R. Smith nailed his second three of the fourth quarter the white flag of surrender was shimmied up the pole in front of the American Airlines Arena.

J.R. Smith's performance in the second half was just as good as Carmelo's in the first. 'Melo poured in the aforementioned 20 points in the first, but it was J.R.'s 17 points in the second, many in clutch situations, that preserved the W for Denver. Without his spark of ten of the 14 points to jumpstart the fourth quarter this game could have easily been far more difficult for the Nuggets to win after Dirk pumped new life into the Mavs in the third quarter. However, J.R. was just the shot in the arm the Nuggets needed to hold the Mavericks down and his 25 points and five rebounds were invaluable.

Carmelo added the big three in the third to break the game's only tie at 65 all, but they were his only points in the second half. Anthony finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.
The Denver Nuggets are now 17-7 overall, 16-4 since acquiring Chauncey Billups, and this win gives Denver their fourth-straight win on the road and extends their current win streak to four games marking the second time this season they have won four in a row. Up next is the heal click of this Texas two-step when Denver travels to Houston to take on the Rockets tomorrow night at the Toyota Center.

Go Nuggets!

Game 24: Nuggets @ Mavericks

(Boulder-CO) Tonight the Nuggets travel to Dallas to meet with the Mavs for their second game of the season. The first time the Nuggets and Mavericks faced-off it was Chauncey's Denver homecoming and the Nuggets won, 108-105. However, this time the Mavs have three players averaging 20+ points per game, but will be one short tonight due to Josh Howard's mysterious ankle injury. Regardless, the Nuggets will need a better effort than in the first two meetings of these teams to win their fourth straight game.
The Mavericks, since starting the season 2-7, have won eleven out of their last 13 games largely in part to the tremendous play of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry with either member of the Mavericks one-to-two punch has led the team in scoring in all 13 of their last games. Furthermore, Dirk is coming off a season-high 46 points against the Thunder and is averaging 32.7 points during the Mavericks current seven-game homestand.
As I eluded to, the Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard all averaging over 20 points per game, but from their things really tail off. Jason Kidd is Dallas' next highest scoring threat at 9.7 ppg and better than eight assists a night before seven players pick up the crumbs. To me, that means the Nuggets should defensively key those three players in an attempt to make the rest of the Mavs try and beat them. Hopefully, guys like Brandon Bass, Eric Dampier, and Gerald Green will be unfamiliar with the role of go-to scorer to the effect that Denver will not have to struggle down the stretch to get the W.
In a perfect world things would be that easy, but against the Mavs in Dallas I'm not betting on it.
The Nuggets have been historically hard pressed to leave the city of Dallas with W's. Denver has just three victories in the last 24 visits to the Big D despite six victories in the last seven games against the Mavericks overall.
I'm especially excited for tonight's match-up between Eric Dampier and Nene. Dampier, who is often times the brunt of hip-hip punchlines, is far too slow to handle Nene face-up and the pure amount raw power between both of these men in the low blocks is going to be tremendous. Defensively, Nene will really have to concentrate on finding Dampier and putting a body on him when the ball gets put on rim because Dampier is the Mavericks leading offensive rebounder and is known to use all of his 265 lbs to position himself for offensive boards and easy put backs.
Historically, Chauncey Billups has his way with Jason Kidd defensively so I'm not so worried about J-Kidd getting things going on the offensive end, but he is streaky and when left alone to shoot a quasi-set shot Kidd has been known to get hot from three. Also, I happen to know from international competition that Carmelo loves to use his speed against Dirk so look for 'Melo to lure Nowitzki out with the dribble and then to penetrate. Plus, any foul trouble 'Melo can get Dirk into directly benefits the Nuggets by eliminating Dallas' main option.
Tonight sets the tone for the rest of this six-game, nine-night adventure the Nuggets are now on. Take care of business tonight and ride the bull of a four-game winning steak into Houston tomorrow is the prescription.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 15th, and on this day:
'84- Gus Williams of the Washington Bullets recorded his 1,404th steal during a 109-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers to become, at the time, the NBA’s all-time leader in that category.

'94- Recognizing that three-point field goals were becoming more frequent at a shorter distance, the NBA announced that it was changing the statistical minimum, from 50 to 82, of three-point baskets needed in order for a player to qualify for the three-point field goal percentage title.

'95- Toronto’s Alvin Robertson picks up three steals in the Raptors’ 122-103 loss at Boston, becoming the third NBA player to move past 2,000 career steals.

'97- Chicago plays Phoenix in front of their 500th consecutive home sellout. At the time, it was the longest active streak and third-longest in NBA history. Portland had 814 and Boston is next on the list with 662.
Enjoy your day!