Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 30th, and on this day:
April 30, 1956 The Boston Celtics traded “Easy” Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan to St. Louis for the Hawks’ # 1 draft pick, which they used to select Bill Russell.

April 30, 1971 The Milwaukee Bucks, led by young Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and veteran Oscar Robertson, beat the Baltimore Bullets 118-106 to complete a four-game sweep of the NBA Finals, capturing the franchise’s only NBA Championship.

April 30, 1975 Larry O’Brien was named the third commissioner of the NBA, succeeding J. Walter Kennedy.

April 30, 1988 Sleepy Floyd scored 42 points and Hakeem Olajuwon added 41 as Houston downed Dallas 119-108 in Game 2 of their Western Conference First Round series, marking only the second time in NBA Playoff history that teammates surpassed 40 points in a game.

April 30, 2002 Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton became only the second player in league history to be named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times. Payton joined the Washington Wizards' Michael Jordan as the only nine-time members of the All-Defensive First Team. Jordan was named to the squad nine times as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts on Game 4 and the Future

(Boulder-CO) By now, and after we are all probably a little bit numb to the situation, I don't think a diatribe about who, what, or how the Nuggets could have played better in their series against the Lakers is needed. However, I do have a few thoughts about last night's game (which I attended) and the immediate future for The Nugg Doctor.
In game four, I thought there was a lot of positive points that shined both in retrospect of the season and for the future of the franchise. Here's a quick list:
- J.R. Smith is going to be a tremendous player in this league. Last night's 26-point performance was a team-high and I feel J.R. may have finally turned the corner. He is playing far superior ball in just the last half of this season in compared to his career up to that point and to lose him this off season after the franchise has been through the dark hours with this young ball player would be foolish.
- Marcus Camby's offensive inconsistency is a problem. On O, he's like playing four on five unless he grabs an offensive board. He takes bad shots, despite making a three last night for his only bucket, and is still trying to bring the ball up on the fast break. Reminds me of someone else I know...
- Carmelo Anthony is too 'Melo. I don't know about you, but when Carmelo plays with a chip on his shoulder I like his game a whole lot more. His performance last night may not be in his all-time favorites list, but I would rather see that kind of double-double (21 points- 11 rebounds) effort anytime over a 30-point - lack luster defensive effort - any day.
- AI just doesn't want to play team ball. He is who he is and that is all he will ever be. Nate Archibald was the same way for a few years early in his career, but "Tiny" made the adjustment to win a championship with the Celtics. Leaves me wondering if AI is willing to make that metamorphosis, or if you will, sacrifice.
- LK is a player that I just am not sure of how Denver is going get their full investment from. With Carmelo as the cornerstone of the franchise, I don't think LK is getting the minutes he would garner on another club and that is not only holding the Nuggets back, but LK too. It will be very interesting what happens with Linas this off season.
- Eduardo Najera plays hard, but he just doesn't fit the Nuggets' system. They need either a bigger player who plays more fours and fives, or a small player who can guard big two guards more effectively. I love all the intangibles Eduardo brings, but for the most part, he puts Denver in a tough spot a lot of the time on both offense and defense. However, his three-point shooting has been a pleasant surprise this season.
Other than that, I just have one other afterthought: the Nuggets were out played by not a superior roster, but rather a superior team. And as a result of that one critical aspect that decides who wins and who loses, the Nuggets are the first 50-win team to ever be swept in the NBA postseason. Not exactly something to be proud of, Denver. Although, there were a lot of good things along the way to such a train wreck of an ending.
As for what is next this off season on The Nugg Doctor... Of course I will still be writing op-ed pieces with my two sense on any and all news this summer. In addition, I will be bringing back the Historical Glimpses on a weekly basis. I miss writing those and the feedback from them is a perfect reason to resurrect that feature column. Now, of course I will be still bringing you, "Today's Date in NBA History" as well, but I feel those Glimpses give us all more of a historical context. I will also be working on a few interviews with some pretty big names from the media and former NBA stars, so be sure to stay current with all that goes on around here.
In the immediate future, I will be posting one or two player report cards (similar to last year's) to help us better evaluate how each player progressed, or in some cases, regressed over the course of the year. They should also be a good way to truly reflect on the 2007-08 season. We've had a good run, Nuggets Nation, but not nearly good enough to rest complacently.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 29th, and on this day:
'69- The Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 89-88 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. A combined total of 21 assists were recorded in the game, an all-time NBA low.

'70- Los Angeles Lakers guard Jerry West hit a 60-foot desperation shot at the buzzer to tie Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the New York Knicks. In overtime, however, the Lakers scored just six points and lost 111-108.

'90- The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets 104-100 for Coach Pat Riley’s 100th career playoff victory, breaking Red Auerbach’s record of 99. Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon had 10 blocked shots, tying the NBA Playoff record set by Mark Eaton of Utah on April 26, 1985 against the Rockets.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 28th, and on this day:
'66- Red Auerbach retired as Boston’s coach after guiding the Celtics to a 95-93 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Auerbach coached Boston to nine NBA Championships--including eight straight titles from 1959-66--more than any other coach.

'79- Oscar Robertson became the first Milwaukee Buck to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Robertson, who helped the Bucks to the franchise’s only NBA title in 1971, finished his career with 26,710 points and 9,887 assists.

'90- The Boston Celtics set an NBA single-game Playoff scoring record in beating the New York Knicks 157-128 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series. The Celtics shot .670 from the field (63-of-94 FG attempts), setting another playoff mark.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Playoff Preview Game 4

(Boulder-CO) Who are we kidding here? The Nuggets' season is essentially over and game four is not much more than a crystal ball as to what may happen this offseason. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to whether the Nuggets may show up , save some face, and win or just spontaneously ignite into a fiery ball of who's to blame.
You make the call, Nuggets Nation.
Go Nuggets!

Nuggets in Emergency State

(Boulder-CO) The last 24 hours have been very tumultuous in the Nuggets Nation. Despite being down 3-0 to a far superior Lakers club, the Nuggets are in a very bad place concerning the future of this franchise. Some are questioning 'Melo, others must be writhing from the news that George Karl's job is apparently safe, and the face of the franchise is adamant that he is giving his best effort despite not the best results while questioning the effort his mates.

Today's (and Yesterday's) Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 27th , and on this day (and yesterday's date):
April 26, 1972 The Knicks’ Bill Bradley sank 11 of 12 field goal attempts as New York defeated Los Angeles 114-92 in the opening game of the NBA Finals. It was the Knicks’ only win of the series, however, as the Lakers went on to take the title in five games.

April 26, 1984 The New Jersey Nets surprised the highly favored defending champion Philadelphia 76ers in the First Round of the 1984 NBA Playoffs, winning the deciding Game 5 by a 101-98 score at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. It remains the only playoff series victory in New Jersey’s NBA playoff history.

April 26, 1985 Mark Eaton of Utah blocked a playoff record 10 shots in a 96-94 loss to Houston, a record that would be matched by Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 29, 1990.

April 26, 1988 The NBA added a third referee to the league’s officiating crews for the 1988-89 season.

April 27, 1950 Arnold “Red” Auerbach, 32 years old and a veteran of three seasons of coaching with the Washington Capitols and one with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, was named coach of the Boston Celtics. He would go on to coach nine NBA championship teams in Boston.

April 27, 1983 San Antonio guard Johnny Moore handed out 20 assists, at the time a Playoff record, in the Spurs’ 126-109 win over Denver. Magic Johnson and John Stockton now share the record of 24.

April 27, 1984 Isiah Thomas and Bernard King engaged in a great playoff shoot-out in Game 5 of the 1984 Eastern Conference First Round playoff series won by New York 127-123 in overtime. King scored 12 of his game-high 44 points in the final 5:12 of the fourth quarter but Thomas stole his thunder by tallying Detroit’s final 14 points in a span of just 1:34 to send the game into overtime where each star had four points. “Sometimes Zeke is magical—you saw it tonight,” Pistons Coach Chuck Daly said of Thomas.

April 27, 1994 The NBA Board of Governors granted a franchise to a Vancouver group headed by Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths The Vancouver Grizzlies became the NBA’s 29th franchise, and second located in Canada, joining the Toronto Raptors in entering the league for the 1995-96 season. The franchise moved to Memphis prior to the 2001-02 season.
April 27, 1998 San Antonio's Tim Duncan is named the Schick Rookie of the Year after receiving 113 of a possible 116 votes. Duncan, the first selection in the 1997 NBA Draft, averaged 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.51 blocked shots, while shooting .549 (706-for-1,287) from the field in 39.1 minutes per game.

April 27, 2000 NBA announced that a team representing the NBA’s new developmental league would be one of six teams competing in the 2000 Asian Basketball Association League. The team, called the NBA Ambassadors, would be one of two squads based in Hong Kong slated to compete in a six-week competition (June 8-July 13) against teams from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Enjoy your day!

I've Never Walked Out Early Until...

(Boulder-CO) Those of you who know me, or have gotten to know me, know that I never leave a Nuggets game early. But, after yesterday's piss-poor effort against the Lakers I wasn't even in the Pepsi Center long enough to see the reserves enter the game in the fourth quarter. In fact, the game was still on by the time I sat down for dinner.
That's how disgusted I was with the effort, culture, selfishness, and lack of discipline the Nuggets displayed as they were throttled, 102-84, by a Lakers club that flat-out shamed them.

The Nuggets were in this game in the first half too, and that's what makes the unraveling that occurred in the second half so despicable. Carmelo said in his post game press conference, “Everybody. From the coaches to the players, we quit. And I said it.’’

I'm not breaking down the boxscore because all you need to know is Carmelo led the way with a measly 16 points, Camby led the way in passing and rebounds with a slim four assists and twelve rebounds, and the rest of it is all garbage.

Furthermore, these Nuggets are the most selfish, uncoachable, and undisciplined bunch I have ever seen don the Mile High City's NBA tank-tops and I think totally mutiny is upon the ship.

For instance, in the first half I counted five straight times the ball was brought up the floor and either one or not even a single damn pass was made before the Nuggets hoisted a jumpshot or turned the ball over. FIVE DAMN TIMES! What the hell is that? I can go to a YMCA for five bucks and watch teenagers play that kind of basketball. Let alone have to see a professional basketball team, in the playoffs no less, play streetball. And allow me to answer my own question: That's selfish, and at this point, Nuggets basketball at it's worse.

And in defense of George Karl and his staff (despite the fact that I think he is going to pay for this with his job), they didn't just all of a sudden "get stupid". They know how to play the game of basketball. Their credentials are solid and their experience is second to none. But somewhere along the line here in Denver the players tuned out their management and decided that the inmates were more capable than the guards of running the prison. Leaving a culture on this team where it's everyone for themselves, highlights and stats are the only things that matter, and all fundamental basketball principles are thrown out the window.

Thus leaving Monday night's game surely a spectacle to be seen. I can't imagine anyone in the Nuggets' locker room is all that fond of each other after Carmelo makes a statement like the one he did. The finger pointing has started. The Nuggets are down 3-0 (a deficit no NBA team has ever come back to win a series against). And I don't remember a time, other than in the Bernie Bickerstaff era, that this franchise's morale was ever as low.

And worst of all... The NBA's Grim Reaper just checked into a Denver hotel. This season and series is over. The last thing to do is cut the final thread holding this unraveled mess together.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Playoff Preview Game 3

(Boulder-CO) Home sweet home, but can you hear that sound? It's the Grim Reaper sharpening the sickle if the Nuggets lose today's game. Simply stated: Denver has to win this game to stay in the series. You can count the number of teams that have ever come back from three games to none on one hand, and if the trash talking Nuggets have any resolve they will find a way to take game three. And a good place to start would be to stop talking trash to Kobe Bryant.

Now, I'm going to give Bryant some of his due credit. The man is the best player on the planet as of today. Offensively, there is no way to stop him and the old cliche of just trying to contain him is true. Defensively, he puts the same explosive, quick, and hassling qualities he displays on offense to become a tireless defender. And, as J.R. Smith found out in game two, talking to him is akin to shaking a tree and hoping a leopard doesn't fall out (a classic Kobe Bryant statement) .

But, for the Nuggets to win they need to examine how they have found ways to come back in each of the two previous games after being down by sizable leads and maintain that style of play for longer stretches. The Lakers are beatable. That's right, believe it or not, from what I've seen in games one and two, the Lakers are beatable by the Nuggets. The final box scores are really indicative of the Nuggets unraveling rather then the Lakers just being that dominant. The only problem the Nuggets need to work out is their Swiss cheese defense and how they avoid long durations of playing it. See, for Denver, they can't get anything going off of made baskets because they have very little resemblance to a half court offense. Almost every time L.A. has scored it becomes a one-on-three situation on the other end with Carmelo or Iverson trying to do too much as everyone else just stands around gawking and the Lakers are too smart on defense to let just two opposing players beat them.

So, for the Nuggets to have any chance of winning at the Pepsi Center today they need to first concentrate on playing defense, zone or man, and getting the leather off the iron to try and start their transition game. That means Camby needs to give up the damn ball and stop trying to lead the break, Iverson, Carter, 'Melo, and J.R. Smith need to make smart decisions distributing or finsihing, and the rest of the Nuggets need to run the floor to give the fast break focal point options to use. When Denver runs the floor it almost always leads to assists (ultimately leading towards a TEAM effort offensively), easy buckets, and momentum -three things so far that I feel the Nuggets have failed to maintain for any meaningful stretches of time in this series.

If Denver can get that aspect of their game going first, starting with defense, that is their only way of beating a far more fluid, and team-oriented, Lakers club. And there is one more thing that will play a big role in whether or not the Nuggets can fight their way back into this series.

The Nuggets have to close out quarters, or at bare minimum, not allow the Lakers to cool their steam at the end of each twelve minute period. It seems like all the Nuggets' good runs during this series have fallen smack-dab in the middle of the quarter and every time the Lakers find a way to swing the momentum back into their favor at the quarter's conclusion. In L.A., that was devastating because the Laker faithful were able to get on their feet and carry the team's momentum over into the next quarter as Denver had its heads down in the huddle. However, if the home court Mile High City advantage is going to be able to play a role in today's game the Nuggets have to reverse this trend.

Remember, Denver was a stout 33-8 this year in the Pepsi Center and have historically been a better home ball club. So if the Nuggets are going to avoid the mighty sickle of the dark one they need, scratch that, HAVE TO win game three. Otherwise, pick a plot and let me know what to write on this season's tombstone.

Go Nuggets!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's (and Yesterday's) Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 25th, and on this day (and yesterday's date):
April 24, 1963 Bob Cousy ended his Boston career on a high note as he helped the Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 112-109 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals for the team’s fifth consecutive NBA Championship. It was Cousy’s last game in a Celtics uniform, although he did appear in seven games as player-coach for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1969-70 season.

April 24, 1964 Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors grabbed 38 rebounds against the Boston Celtics and arch-rival Bill Russell, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, a 98-95 Boston win. During the regular season, however, Russell led the league in rebounding with a 24.7 rpg mark to Chamberlain’s 22.3 rpg.

April 24, 1967 The 1967 Philadelphia 76ers, who in 1980 were voted the NBA’s all-time greatest team, beat San Francisco 125-122 in Game 6 of the Finals to win the NBA Championship, ending Boston’s eight-year string of league titles.

April 24, 1988 Milwaukee’s Jack Sikma became the tallest player (7-0) in NBA history to win the NBA free throw title by shooting 92% from the line.

April 24, 1993 The Milwaukee Bucks retired the #33 jersey worn by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for six seasons. Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to the 1971 NBA championship with a sweep of the Baltimore Bullets in the Finals. He had previously had his jersey retired by the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won five NBA titles.

April 24, 1994 David Robinson of San Antonio became just the fourth NBA player to score 70 points in a game, hitting for 71 in the Spurs’ 112-97 road win against the LA Clippers. Robinson finished the 1993-94 season as the NBA’s scoring champion, edging out Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal 29 8 to 29 3 ppg.

April 24, 1994 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of Denver finished the 1993-94 season by hitting 219-of-229 free throw attempts for a 95.6% free throw percentage, the second-highest in NBA history behind Calvin Murphy’s mark of 95.8% in 1980-81.

April 24, 1995 Atlanta Coach Lenny Wilkens, the NBA’s all-time leader in victories with 968 at the close of the 1994-95 season, was named coach of the 1996 United States Olympic Men’s Basketball team.

April 24, 1996 The NBA Board of Governors approved the concept of the Women’s National Basketball Association to begin play as a summer league in 1997.

April 25, 1950 Chuck Cooper of Duquesne became the first black player ever selected (by Boston in the second round) in the NBA Draft.

April 25, 1950 New York purchased the contract of Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton from the Harlem Globetrotters making him the first black player to sign an NBA contract.

April 25, 1968 The nickname “Suns” was chosen as the name of the Phoenix franchise, in a contest sponsored by a local newspaper.

April 25, 1965 Jerry West of Los Angeles averaged 46.3 points per game as the Lakers defeated the Baltimore Bullets in six games in the 1965 Western Division Finals. West scored at least 40 points in every game in posting the highest scoring average for a playoff series in NBA history.

April 25, 1993 Chicago’s Michael Jordan captured his seventh straight NBA scoring title (32.6 ppg), tying Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record. Jordan also led the league in steals (2.83 spg) for the third time in his career, becoming the fourth NBA player to collect 1,800 career thefts.

April 25, 1993 Minnesota’s Micheal Williams, in a 113-111 win over Utah in the season finale, went 10-for-10 from the free throw line, allowing him to finish the 1992-93 season with an NBA record 84 consecutive free throws made. Williams, who stretched the streak to 97 consecutive free throws early in the 1993-94 season before missing, broke Calvin Murphy’s NBA record of 78 consecutive FTs, which had stood since the 1980-81 season.

April 25, 1993 Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to lead the league in field goal percentage (.497), free throw percentage (.802), and three-point field goal percentage (.381). The Cavaliers finished the season with a 54-28 record.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kobe Bryant is a Bad Man

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(Boulder-CO) Kobe Bryant scored 49 points to catapult the Lakers into a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Denver Nuggets by way of this 122-107 loss. Denver once again showed little bend on their way to breaking defensively and allowing 122 points.

The first quarter was a good solid start for the Nuggets offensively. Denver got the fast break going which enabled the Nuggets to score 32 points in total. Linas Kleiza gave the Nuggets a nice boost with six quick points in the early goings, but it was Kobe who trumped all with 20 points in the first twelve minutes to bring the Laker point total to 33 points while falling just two shy of Elgin Baylor’s playoff franchise record of 22 points scored in a quarter back in March of 1962. Marcus Camby made a solid impression on the glass with six rebounds while rejecting two shots, including Jordan Farmar’s last second attempt that was emphatically swatted out of bounds to close out the first quarter.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, George Karl substituted for Eduardo Najera at the end of the quarter causing a mismatch on Kobe Bryant. Karl also inserted Nene which created a bad match-up with the cagey Pau Gasol. So, with the Nugget reserves now in the game the Lakers took quick advantage with a 14-4 start to the second quarter. Kobe would continue his offensive onslaught by connecting on ten consecutive field goal attempts spanning from the first throughout the second quarter as the Laker lead would balloon to eleven points as the Nuggets played with ‘Melo as the only starter in the game through the six minute mark.

However, after trimming the lead down to just five with under two minutes to play, Denver once again failed to close out the quarter and allowed the Lakers to swell their lead to ten going into the half largely in part to Kobe’s 25 in the first 24.

Things weren’t looking good at all for Denver at intermission. The Nuggets had only five total assists in comparison to L.A.’s 17. The Nuggets also turned the ball over seven times resulting in eleven Laker points while only forcing L.A. into three turnovers for the same amount of points in return. And to further illustrate how badly out of sync the Nuggets closed out the first half, Allen Iverson was the only starter in double figures in scoring with twelve points and he was primarily assisted offensively by J.R. Smith who came off the bench with ten points. The Nuggets were also collectively 0-10 from downtown (’Melo was 0-3) while L.A. hit six out of its twelve attempts from long distance.

The Nuggets started slowly in the third, but after Carmelo Anthony hit the team’s first three-pointer and drew a foul after grabbing an offensive board the Nuggets were down by just three with a shade under the seven minute mark to play. Denver made it’s way back into the game by pressing the issue off of Laker misses and, despite not connecting on many buckets in transition, the Nuggets were relentlessly attacking the offensive glass and getting to the free-throw line where Marcus Camby’s two made free throws brought the game within one, 66-67. On the next L.A. possession a steal by Allen Iverson led to an outlet pass to Linas Kleiza for the jam to give the Nuggets their first lead since the first quarter at, 68-67.

Denver switched into their match-up two-three zone for the remainder of the third period, but every time Kobe Bryant would penetrate and dish it would lead to easy scoring opportunities for the Lakers. Made baskets are hard to run off of and with the mismatches created for L.A. by Eduardo Najera’s entrance back into the game the Nuggets found themselves down by eight again with two and a half minutes to play. Najera’s rotations were late, his post defense was porous, his feet slow, and the onus of the disadvantage he puts the Nuggets in on the boards against a big team like the Lakers falls squarely on George Karl. With Kenyon Martin in the game, the Nuggets have toughness and a guy who can realistically, or at least physically, bother Kobe Bryant even the slightest bit. But, with Najera, the Nuggets were exposed as being soft inside and slow afoot on defensive rotation on dribble penetration.

And as quickly as the Nuggets fought their way back into the game, The Lakers’ lead was just as quickly pushed back up to ten by the quarter’s completion. Kobe Bryant slipping backdoor, catching an alley-oop, and proceeding to throw it down on the flat-footed Eduardo Najera and a Sasha Vujacic trey combined to once again leave the Nuggets on the short end of the deal to close out yet another period and back down by ten.

Once in the final quarter, the Nuggets trimmed the Lakers’ lead in half on the back of two consecutive three’s by J.R. Smith early, but the Nuggets’ Swiss cheese defense just wasn’t enough. That in combination with two crooked air balls by Marcus Camby in the quarter’s first three minutes and the Nuggets were clearly going to play the role of their own worst enemy. Bad shots, poor personnel management, silly technical fouls on AI and J.R. Smith, still no commitment to defense, and little sense of urgency before it was too little too late all added up to the sum of the Nuggets dropping their fifth straight game to the Lakers this season by the score of, 122-107 . More importantly the loss brought the series to 2-0 favoring the Lakers heading back to Denver.

Here’s your depressing boxscore. There's plenty in there to point to and hiss at. But if I'll highlight any one aspect of it, it is how George Karl left Edaurdo Najera in the game for that long to guard Kobe Bryant that is truly intolerable. We’ll never know, but even if Karl rolls the dice and tries out Yakhouba Diawara or Steven Hunter for a few possessions just for argument’s sake I don’t think it could have been any worse than the complete and utter dissection of Eduardo Najera that Kobe Bryant orchestrated.

I’m out of things to say and so should be the Nuggets to Kobe Bryant. He has proved to be a bad man and I don‘t think the Nuggets have an answer for him. I went out on a wobbly limb and it broke sending me crashing to the ground. Somebody call for help. Not for me (I’ll be alright) , but for the Nuggets!

'Melo Putting His Life on TV

(Boulder-CO) Tip of the hat over to Will at AOL Fanhouse for the post concerning Carmelo Anthony's new reality television show. Amazing.

Just a Thought!

(Boulder-CO) This is just a thought that popped into my head while thinking about tonight's game and the Nuggets' chances of coming home with the series all tied up. Denver has been a team that all year long has needed to feel some kind of pressure to bring their A-game to the table.
Night-in and night-out I think we can all agree that different Nugget teams would show up depending on the situation at hand and how the previous game played out and how the two usually dictated what kind of an effort we saw.
So, with tonight's game putting a decent amount of pressure on the Nuggets, AI's fourth quarter ejection in game one and the type of game he is known for having after getting handed a tough loss, and the start of Linas Kleiza, one of our hard-er nosed players, I'm going to make the BOLD prediction the Nuggets win game two tonight! Yup, I'm going that far out on the limb. The Lakers are due to lose to the Mile High crew after beating Denver in the last four games they have faced each other and I think the pressure is starting to mount on the Nuggets which hopefully translates into a tremendously gutsy, winning, effort tonight.
Just a thought!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 23rd, and on this day:
'50- The Minneapolis Lakers became the first team to win back-to-back NBA titles when they defeated the Syracuse Nationals 110-95 to win the series four games to two.

'69- Jerry West of Los Angeles scored 53 points as the Lakers edged Boston 120-118 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a series won by the Celtics in seven games. The 53 points by West ranked as the highest-scoring game by a guard in NBA Finals history, before Chicago’s Michael Jordan scored 55 points against Phoenix in Game 4 of the 1993 Finals, a 111-105 Bulls win over the Suns.

'89- Alex English of the Denver Nuggets finished the 1988-89 season with 2,175 points, giving him 2,000 or more points for a then record eight consecutive seasons. Karl Malone later posted 11 consecutive 2,000-point seasons.

'89- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the final game of his NBA-record 1,560-game career, as the Lakers downed Seattle, 121-117. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with an NBA record 38,387 points.

'95- After handing out eight assists in Utah’s 103-97 road win at Houston, John Stockton captured his eighth straight NBA assist title--tying Bob Cousy’s NBA record--after dishing off for 1,011 assists in 82 games for a 12.3 apg average. Stockton broke the tie by leading the NBA in assists for a record ninth straight season in 1995-96.

'95- Steve Kerr of Chicago set the record for the highest three-point field goal percentage in a season at .524.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Put Your Award in the Bag

(Boulder-CO) In a complete robbery, Kevin Garnett has been named the Defensive Player of the Year over Marcus Camby after coming in a distant runner-up in both rebounds and blocked shots. In fact, Marcus Camby grabbed more DEFENSIVE rebounds per game than Garnett averaged in total and nearly tripled his average in blocked shots!

Head-to-head, Marcus Camby's averages of 13.1 rebounds (2nd in NBA), 3.6 blocks (1st in NBA; second consecutive year leading the league), and 1.06 steals (2nd in NBA of centers) seem to trump Kevin Garnett's averages of 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks.

The only logical reason for the snub is Camby plays on the defenseless Nuggets who allowed the second highest point per game average in the league, but then again, wasn't this honor awarded to the individual effort?

Vent here!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 22nd, and on this day:
'47- The Philadelphia Warriors defeated the Chicago Stags 83-80 in Game 5 to take the NBA’s first championship series 4-1.

'87- The NBA granted expansion franchises to Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis and Orlando. The Hornets and Heat joined the league in 1988-89, and the Timberwolves and Magic in 1989-90.

'88- Charles Oakley of the Chicago Bulls grabbed 35 rebounds, the most in one game in the 1980s, in a 107-103 loss to Cleveland.

'89- Utah guard John Stockton won his second straight NBA assist title, picking up a total of 1,118 assists (13.6 apg), becoming the first NBA player to record consecutive seasons of over 1,000 assists. Stockton stretched that 1,000-assist per season streak to a total of five seasons, up through the 1991-92 campaign.

'90- San Antonio defeated Phoenix 108-93 to finish the season at 56-26, the Spurs’ 35-game improvement over the previous season being the greatest one-year jump in NBA history.

'94- New York defeated Milwaukee 125-85 at the Bradley Center, as Pat Riley became the 11th coach in NBA history to compile 700 career victories.

'00- Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone (36 years, 273 days) became the oldest player in NBA history to score 50 points or more in a playoff game when he recorded 50 points in Game 1 of the first round against Seattle.

'00- Miami’s Pat Riley records his 150th career playoff coaching victory after a 95-85 victory over Detroit in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Playoff Preview Game 2

(Boulder-CO) For game two's preview, I have teamed up with Daniel of La Ball Talk to throw down a J.R. Smith-like dunk of an interview to get some hard questions answered. Daniel threw a couple of Pau Gasol-ish questions my way too, and you can read our conversation right here.

Let's get things tipped off with my questions for the man behind L.A. Ball Talk:

ND: Is Kobe Bryant the regular season's MVP? Why should he win the award over Chris Paul?

LA Ball Talk: Kobe Bryant gets my vote for the MVP. Unfortunately, my vote doesn't count, but allow me to defend my claim. Chris Paul has done a superb job in New Orleans. He has led his team to the 2nd best record in the crazy western conference. His leadership cannot be questioned, however a point guard's leadership is rarely questioned in general (unless you're running the triangle offense where the point guard isn't a primary piece of the puzzle). The first argument for Kobe is that his team finished with the #1 overall record. The 2nd argument is that his stats are great in every category finishing 2nd in scoring, and improving his rebound and assist stats by one in each category over his career averages. Here is my main point though: Kobe Bryant has solid players on his team and great role players, but the injuries to this year's team have been devastating. Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, and Jordan Farmar are the only three players that played all 82 games this season. #2 option Andrew Bynum only played 35 games, and Lamar Odom played almost an entire season with 72 games. Trevor Ariza became an important player on this team and only got to start three games before he went down with his broken foot. The other role players missed a total of 35 games (this includes, Radmanovic, Vujacic, Luke Walton, and Ronny Turiaf). Everyones argument has been that Kobe had Pau Gasol in the middle. Did everyone already forget that Pau only played 27 games in a Lakers uniform? Did anyone consider the three weeks that Kobe kept the team above .500 when Bynum went down and Kwame was the only center on the team? What about after they traded Kwame, and Pau went down, and Ronny and DJ Mbenga (who?) were the only centers on this team. The bottom line is that Kobe has had to deal with so many inconsistencies in the roster and starting line-up that to see where this team has gone is incredible. By the way, I haven't even mentioned the most famous pinky injury in the world or Fisher's torn tendon in his foot. Paul was great for the Hornets, but the fact that he had an all star on his team and a near all star in Tyson Chandler for the entire season gave him plenty more opportunities to finish above the Lakers, which they didn't do.

ND: I have my doubts about a city as rich in NBA history as L.A. being impressed by the Lakers winning the Western Conference regular season title, but honestly, is it or is tinsel town merely covering its yawn until things really get heated up?

LA Ball Talk: I think the amazing part of the Lakers achievements this season that they were able to beat the rest of the conference with so many injuries and inconsistencies. The regular season was great, but to me, I don't feel that we've accomplished anything yet. We have home court advantage and now it's up to us to prove that we truly are worth of the #1 spot. I think the city will really start going crazy once we (hopefully) see the Celtics in the Finals. I think it will be great for the NBA in general.

ND: Who has been the unsung hero of the Lakers this season?

LA Ball Talk: Unsung hero? I'm assuming this means name someone important to this team besides the MVP candidate. We have three guys that truly mean a lot to this team. The first is Derek Fisher for his veteran presence. I really think that Fisher has a lot to do with the rapid development of Jordan Farmar. I also think Fisher had a lot to do with Kobe calming down when the season started and staying silent in regards to his trade demand over the summer. The 2nd hero of this team is Lamar Odom. He is the most expensive role player in this league and we didn't realize his potential until he was able to be the third option on the team. He seems to crumble under pressure (free throws in the 4th quarter) but his rebounds and assists have been great. Also, he is probably one of the best players in the league when they have the ball and in position to drive to the basket. The third player is somewhat of a surprise. Most Lakers fans feel that Ronny Turiaf has been a key to this teams happiness as he is truly the teams motivator and cheerleader. He plays well when he's in the game, but when he's on the bench he is just as effective in cheering everyone up and pushing them to continue to work hard.

ND: How has Pau Gasol helped this team in ways that the young Andrew Bynum had yet to?

LA Ball Talk: Pau Gasol has a back to the basket game that Andrew Bynum is yet to develop. The majority of Bynum's points came from alley oops or easy set ups that led to dunks. Gasol is able to post up, take the outside shot, and is just more prepared in the offense. Gasol is definitely lazier on the defensive end than Bynum was, and his rebounding isn't even close the young big mans ability to pick up the boards, but Gasol has a better overall understanding of the game and a higher basketball IQ that gave him the opportunity to thrive in the triangle offense so quickly.

ND: How many games do you see this first round series playing out in?

LA Ball Talk: I predicted before this series started that the Lakers would win in 5. As a fan I obviously cheer for a sweep, but I'm a realistic fan. I understand that in at least one game Iverson or Carmelo will blow up and have huge games to pull out a win. Based on the last few years though, the Lakers have dominated the Nuggets. I'm actually quite stunned at the results because the Nuggets look so impressive on paper. Camby, K-Mart, Iverson, and Carmelo should be good enough for 50 wins, then add 2 win for each solid role player. I'm not sure why this team barely got to 50. The Lakers showed in Game 1 that they have an advantage in almost every position, except when Iverson moves down to the point guard position (since our PG defense sucks). Lakers should be able to carry the home crowd chants to win #2, and I expect the Lakers to win game 5 at Staples Center as well. I think that winning in Denver is very possible, even with the high altitude that so many teams have struggled playing against, but I think this Lakers team just has too many weapons for the Nuggets to win both home games. Perhaps if one of your more beautiful fans is willing to entertain Kobe Bryant late into the evening before the game, Kobe will miss the team bus and get to the arena at halftime when the Nuggets already have a 37 point lead. Just a thought, please don't try this, it might actually work!!! (If you do it, don't sue and ruin next season, please)

Now it's Daniel's turn to try and cross me over!

LA Ball Talk: Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson are both great options. With the game on the line, who has been the more clutch player?

ND: This season it's been AI. Although, Carmelo has been our silent assassin. After having a tremendous amount of success hitting game winners earlier in this career, it seems like Carmelo has defaulted to Iverson since his arrival when the game's outcome is in the balance.

LA Ball Talk: The fight for the eighth seed was intense. The Nuggets were behind by about a game with less than 10 to go, and they worked hard to get to where they are. What was the difference between the Nuggets and the Warriors that allowed you guys to prevail?

ND: In all honesty, and this is taking nothing away from Coach Don Nelson and his crew, but the Nuggets, seemingly, just needed some kind of motivation and the playoff chase being that tight gave them just enough to throw things into gear. It's a problem this underachieving bunch has battled all year long. They just don't play unless something is pinning their backs to the wall.

LA Ball Talk: Follow up to last question: Are the Nuggets better off making the playoffs or getting a crappy lottery pick?

ND: For the Nuggets, making the playoffs means more than a mid-first round pick. Denver has made the playoffs now for the last five seasons, and to have not made the postseason this year would have been a sign of regression. A bad thing if you're the owner of the fourth highest combined salary in the NBA. But, when you consider the lack of PROGRESSION up the seeding ladder, maybe it's just the lesser of two evils.

LA Ball Talk: At this point, the West has become extremely competitive. Do you, and other Nuggets fans truly feel that this team can win a title this year?

ND: Absolutely not. And if any other Nuggets fans tell you they do think this team can win a title they are cockeyed optimists.

LA Ball Talk: The Lakers swept the season series and easily dominated all three games. What are the Nuggets planning on doing to stop/slow down the Lakers?

ND: First of all, if you do your homework and I know the readers of The Nugg Doctor have, you will find that the Nuggets blew some huge leads in those games so I would say the Lakers easily dominating the Nuggets in the three games this regular season is a bit of a stretch. However, to slow down the Lakers you have to slow down Kobe Bryant. And the only way to do that is to collapse on him when he inevitably gets past his defender and rotate quickly to avoid getting burned off of Bryant's passing ability.

LA Ball Talk: How do you rank the Lakers for their accomplishments this season?

ND: Winning the conference's regular season title is a nice accomplishment, but it's nothing to hang a hat on. The Boston Celtics won 66 games this season and I guarantee they aren't content with being the regular season champs. So, if the Lakers actually accomplish something worth ranking, I'll do so at the appropriate time.

Big thanks to Daniel for initiating this interview. I was previously unaware of his great site and am glad to be adding him to the blogroll.

Go Nuggets!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Are the Nuggets Focused?

(Boulder-CO) I ask because after running through the way the Nuggets started and ended on Sunday I'm not sure I can honestly say I believe they are.
To recap:
-The Nuggets' bus caught fire leaving seven Denver Nuggets stranded on the side of the Los Angeles highway for 30 minutes before they eventually arrived, late, to the Staples Center. This could have only been distracting.
- George Karl and his staff are body checking each other in the locker room.
- Three Denver starters barely scratched the box score.
- Denver breaks down defensively and allows 39 points in the second quarter after at one point holding a lead.
- Carmelo Anthony caught a Derek Fisher pass in the kisser (put your hands up).
- Allen Iverson gets himself ejected for jawing with an official up and down the court.
- Denver failed to maintain the game's momentum at any of the four quarter's completion.
Am I looking too far into this or does anyone else think there could be a problem here?
I want comments!

Video from Game One

(Boulder-CO) Here are a few videos from Game One of the Nuggets-Lakers first round series. They range from the bizzare to the hilarious.
Here's George Karl and his staff acting like the locker room is a mosh pit:

Here's Carmelo using his head:

Jordan Farmar beating the buzzer. It was just one of many instances where the Lakers closed out quarters with the momentum in their favor:

Here's highlights and lowlights from the game:

And here is Allen Iverson's post-game press conference:

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 21st, and on this day:
'70- Bob Cousy of Boston and Bob Pettit of St. Louis were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

'91- The Denver Nuggets, following a 131-125 road loss at Houston, set an NBA record for points allowed per game, with an average of 130.8 ppg. That broke the previous mark of 126.0 ppg set by Denver in 1981-82.

'93- Milwaukee’s Moses Malone moved past Paul Silas into fifth place on the NBA’s all-time games played list, with 1,255, during the Bucks’ 119-111 loss to Charlotte.

'96- Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon rejected three shots in the Rockets’ season-ending 118-110 victory over Phoenix to reach 3,190 career blocks, giving him the all-time record and bettering Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previous mark by one.

'96- The Bulls defeated the Bullets 103-93 to finish the season with a 72-10 record and 878 winning percentage, which eclipsed the NBA record set by 1972 Lakers, who went 69-13 for an .841 percentage. The victory over Washington earned Chicago their 33rd road victory, the most ever in a season by an NBA team.

'96- The NBA, boosted by the presence of Canadian expansion franchises in Toronto and Vancouver, sets an all-time attendance record for the 11th time in 13 seasons after drawing 20,513,218 fans to 1,189 games. The average attendance of 17,252 per game also sets a record, with Charlotte’s average of 24,042 fans per game leading the league.

'96- Cleveland, despite an 89-88 road loss at Indiana to close the season, set an NBA record for the fewest points allowed per game (88.5) since the NBA began utilizing the shot clock during the 1954-55 season.

'96- Chicago’s Michael Jordan sets an NBA record by winning his eighth NBA scoring title (breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven) after netting 2,491 points in 82 games for a 30.4 ppg average.

'96- Utah’s John Stockton makes NBA history by earning his ninth consecutive NBA assist title, handing out 916 in 82 games for an 11.2 apg average, breaking Bob Cousy’s previous record run of eight straight titles from 1953-60.

'96- Denver’s Dikembe Mutombo becomes the first player to lead the NBA in blocks for three straight seasons (blocks became an official statistic in 1973-74) after rejecting 332 shots in 74 games for a 4.49 bpg average.

'96- Orlando’s Dennis Scott sets an NBA single-season record for three-point field goals by connecting on 267 three-pointers.

'96- George McCloud of Dallas attempted an NBA record 678 shots from three-point range, making 257 of those shots. 257 made is the second most in NBA history, with Orlando’s Dennis Scott hitting 267 the same season.

'99- Former NBA players Artis Gilmore, Dan Roundfield and Randy Smith tour Italy from April 21-28 to meet with American military personnel stationed in the area. They made several stops within the country, where they also gave brief instructional clinics and a demonstration of basketball skills.

'99- Miami’s Dan Majerle became the 10th player in league history to record 1,100 career three-pointers.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nuggets For a Half - No-Guts Overall

(Boulder-CO) Other than how the Nuggets played in the first half, I’m pretty much disgusted with how Denver looked overall. Poor decision making, poor shot selection, and barely any defense left Denver on the side of the highway as the Lakers. cruised to a, 128-114, win.

In the first half, Denver’s defense was lousy. And what makes things even tougher to swallow was how the first half effort by L.A. was just as bad. The Lakers ran a lay-up drill on the Nuggets and outscored Denver 34-28 in the paint. And if it wasn’t for Linas Kleiza scoring ten straight points in the second quarter to put Denver up by 14 at one juncture, the Nuggets may not have even gone into the second half down by only two. Carmelo refused to attack the rim, (something that would really come back to hurt the Nuggets in the second half) despite shooting 6-13 from the field and scoring 14 first half points and Allen Iverson also added 14 despite going 5-10 from the charity stripe. Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith each added another ten off the bench, but Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, and Anthony Carter were MIA.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol proved to be too much for Denver to handle in the first 24 minutes. Gasol schooled the Nuggets for 18 points, seven rebounds, a block, and five assists in the first half alone. Most of his offense came by way of cruising dunks as not a single Nugget defender could rotate quick enough as he and Lamar Odom butchered the Nuggets interior defense with quick passing. Lamar added nine rebounds and just as many points in the first half while Kobe Bryant fought through foul trouble and a 2-10 start offensively.

Then in the second the Nuggets flat out choked. They had fought hard and to only be down by two in the Lakers’ building put an opportunity in front of Denver, but the Nuggets surrendered 39 points in the third quarter to L.A. while only counterpunching with 22 on the other end.

Opportunity lost.

The 17-point swing was enough to put Denver’s lights out. Hell, Jeff Van Gundy even had time to pronounce Linas Kleiza’s name right in ad-lib color time!

The Nuggets as a team all but disappeared in the second half despite some great individual efforts. Go figure. It’s defensively where this team can’t seem to get it straightened out and the concept that seems to have never sunk in is good defense has to be played as a team.

Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, who was ejected in the fourth quarter, each scored 30 points with ‘Melo snatching 12 rebounds and the Answer dishing seven dimes. Linas Kleiza led the charge off the bench with 23 points and four rebounds, and J.R. Smith totaled 15 points before fouling out. Unfortunately, the three other starters for the Nuggets left a lot to be desired. Anthony Carter and Marcus Camby each only scored four points and Kenyon Martin squeaked out five. Martin was a dreadful 1-7 shooting, Camby was a miserable 2-9 (stop shooting from outside), and A.C. played just 18 minutes in total after proving to have no chance on Kobe Bryant defensively.

For the Lakers, it was all Gasol all the time. The Spaniard finished with a game-high 36 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocks. If George Karl is going to use Kenyon Martin to try and defend on Kobe, (by the way, Kobe scored 28 second half points to finish with 32) then he is going to have to find a way to hide Carmelo’s allergy to playing any defense. Lamar Odom was guarded by Carmelo primarily in the second half and Odom finished with 14 rebounds (eight offensive) and 17 points. Furthermore, the Lakers managed to shoot 50% (46-92) from the field and 84% (27-32) from the free-throw line.
Conversely, the Nuggets shot a lean 43% (21-48) in the second half, and 43-96 overall, while shooting only 62% (23-37) from the charity stripe. AI was the scapegoat for the poor free-throw percentage. The question is how could the Answer miss six of his 13 free-throw opportunities before getting the early shower?

The good news is the opportunity for the Nuggets to take control of this series is still there if they can steal game two in L.A. and take care of business on their home floor. Remember, both L.A. and Denver were phenomenal at home this year and I still believe that the team that fails to take care of business on their own floor is going to be the team on the short end of this series. Meaning all the pressure is on the home team and the Nuggets need to use a different mode of transportation to the arena, come out loose on offense, ready on defense, and get more of a tangible effort out of a few of their starting five to knot things up a one game apiece when the pressure shifts back to the Mile High.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 20th, and on this day:
'86- Chicago guard Michael Jordan scored an NBA Playoff record 63 points, but the Bulls dropped a 135-131 double-overtime decision to the Celtics at Boston Garden in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Jordan shot 22-of-41 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free throw line in his record performance, breaking Elgin Baylor’s previous mark of 61 points in a playoff game, set during the Lakers’ 126-121 road win at Boston in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals. After the game, Boston’s Larry Bird shook his head and proclaimed “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

'99- Washington’s Otis Thorpe became the 16th player in NBA history to compile 15,000 career points and 10,000 career rebounds during the Wizards’ 83-77 loss at Chicago.

'02- Sacramento's triumph over Utah in Game 1 of their first-round playoff matchup marked the first time the Kings franchise had won the opener of a playoff series since 1980-81, when the Kansas City Kings defeated Portland in Game 1 of a best-of-three first-round matchup.
Enjoy your day!

A Blazing Bus Ride

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets may have gotten off to the hottest start in NBA Playoff history. Literally. The first bus en route to the Staples Center broke down in a smokey blaze leaving several Nuggets' players stranded and waiting for the second bus to pick them up (tip of the hat to Her Highness for the comment).

Funny? Yes, even funnier if the Nuggets can steal game one.

Nice touch chanting, "D-U-I", L.A..

"Los Angeles- Where classless happens"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Playoff Preview Game 1

(Boulder-CO) The first place to start for the Nuggets is to evaluate what led to their 0-3 showing against the Lakers in the regular season. Recaps of all three games can be read here, here, and here. But, for the purpose of this first game in the series, I think it would be best to evaluate both teams, in their head-to-head match-ups, by position down to the sixth man. For the Nuggets, that means AI, AC, ‘Melo, K-Mart, the Camby-man, and “The Prodigy” J.R. Smith. For the Lakers, that includes D-Fish, Kobe, Lamar, Vlad-Rad, Pau and Luke Walton.

At the point: Derek Fisher and Anthony Carter are slated to start at the point for their respective teams and I would have to give the edge to Derek Fisher. D-Fish has the rings, playoff experience, buzzer beaters, and the consistent scoring ability to warrant so. Not to take anything away from Carter, who probably is a better defender, but Fisher’s 11.7 points on average includes a three-point percentage of 40% and gives the Lakers a tremendous option when passing out of the double-team. However, Carter does distribute the ball better with an average night consisting of 5.5 assists. For the Nuggets to be successful, Anthony Carter has to be a lightning rod on defense while being as efficient as possible whether shooting the ball or passing it to others on offense.

At the two: Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant combine to form two of the three most exciting players to watch in the entire league (head nod over in LeBron’s direction). With that being said, the edge goes to probable MVP Kobe Bryant, but just barely. Once again, not to take anything away from the exploits of Allen Iverson, but without question Kobe is the most talented individual player in the league. Kobe can individually put a team’s lights out, but what makes him so special is how he has adapted his game to better serve his supporting cast. Bryant comes into the postseason after finishing second only to LBJ in scoring during the regular season with an average of 28.3 points. He also leads the Lakers in assists (5.4 per game), and can be a lock down defender when he puts his mind to it. Iverson leads the Nuggets in scoring, and was the league’s third leading scorer with an average of 26.4 points per game, but is not the defensive stopper Kobe is. However, Iverson hands out 7.1 assists a game which does keep things close when looking head-to-head at these two first ballot Hall of Famers.

On the wing: Carmelo Anthony has an advantage on anyone the Lakers have at the three spot. L.A lists Lamar Odom as their starting three on ESPN’s depth chart, but Odom rarely ever plays that position exclusively. Carmelo finished the regular season as the NBA’s fourth leading scorer at 25.7 points per and has raised his game on the boards to a career-high mark of 7.4 rebounds a game. Lamar Odom, a dominantly left handed player, is not quick enough to handle Carmelo on the perimeter and despite having two inches on ‘Melo is going to be hard pressed to keep Anthony in check down in the post. Other than the obvious offensive edge Anthony gives the Nuggets over anyone L.A. has to play at the three, Carmelo needs to give the Nuggets a shot in the arm on defense. When Carmelo plays better off-ball defense he stays out of bad defensive position and stays out of foul trouble. But, like I said, Lamar Odom is incredibly versatile, so for Carmelo Anthony to give the Nuggets the most out of this match-up he needs to try and match Odom’s versatility in whatever form possible.

At the power spot: The match-up between Kenyon Martin and Vladamir Radmanovic is an area where the Nuggets can really take advantage. Kenyon is far more explosive, scores more, and rebounds better than Radmanovic, but is sometimes his own worst enemy. Martin out scores Radmanovic 12.4 points to 8.4 on any average night, and almost doubles the Lakers’ starting power forward in rebounds 6.5 to 3.3. But, Kenyon can maximize his effect on this series by getting the most out of his defensive presence. This means when K-Mart has to foul he needs to make sure to eliminate any three-point opportunities. He has some of the strongest hands in the league which means a tendency to reach, but that’s a risk that needs to be calculated, and when he does foul, he needs to make sure it’s not ticky-tack. Otherwise, I like Kenyon’s toughness opposed to the finesse game of Vlad-Rad over the duration of the series.

In the middle: Marcus Camby is by far and away the better rebounder and shot blocker in comparison to Pau Gasol, but it’s his inconsistency on offense that gives the Spaniard the edge in this match-up. Pau’s averaging 18.8 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Lakers whereas Camby is checking in with averages of a very inconsistent 9.1 points and a clockwork-like 13.1 rebounds per game. Most of Camby’s blocks come from the weak side and usually off of poor perimeter defense by his teammates. On the other hand, Gasol is as solid and as retro of a center as there is in today’s game. He can work the post with the junior hook with either hand and is not adverse to shooting a mid-range jumper when left unattended. Pau is also a very underrated passes with a season average of 3.5 assists of which he records most of his dimes off passes out of the blocks to open three-point shooters.

The sixth man: Forgetabouit! J.R. Smith is the most explosive player in the league without a single start during the regular season. With 13 20+ point performances (more than any other player without a single start), including a 43-point explosion against the Bulls, a three-point shooting percentage of 40%, and a scoring average of 12.3 points he averages better than three points more than any of the Laker reserves. For the most part, Phil likes to bring Luke Walton off the bench first for his versatility, but Luke is a far cry from his daddy and would be wise to not stand underneath the basket when J.R. comes soaring in! A huge advantage is there for the Nuggets, but it’s a matter of how heady J.R. Smith, sans the headband, plays. When he plays smart, his athletic ability can be something special to watch, but when he tries to hard and relies on his athletic ability while not utilizing his mind and his teammates things can get really ugly quick for George Karl’s favorite whipping post.

Overall, for a 1-8 match-up between a Lakers team that swept the Nuggets 3-0 in the regular season I think we are all in for an incredibly hard-fought series that could go either way. The Lakers may have the best player on the planet in Kobe Bryant, but the Nuggets have a far more balanced attack with their two superstars. Both teams have great role players like Linas Kleiza and Jordan Farmar and both teams were tremendous in their own buildings in the regular season. The Lakers were 30-11 at the Staples Center while the Nuggets were a stout 33-8 at Pepsi Center leaving me with this final insight:

The team that can steal a win in the other team’s building is going to win this series. Denver gets the first crack at taking the home court advantage away from the Lakers and if they are able to do so while defending Pepsi Center there is no doubt in my mind that an upset is not only possible, but rather probable. However, it's also going to be a matter of which Nuggets team shows up to play each night. Denver has proven able to beat ANY team in this league on ANY given night in the regular 82, but unfortunately has also shown capable of losing to ANY team in the league on ANY given night too.

Get it done in L.A., Denver.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 19th, and on this day:
'65- Five members of the Boston Celtics scored 20 or more points in a 129-123 victory over Los Angeles in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. This was the first time in Finals history there were five 20-point scorers on one team, a feat that would be matched twice in the 1987 NBA Finals between the same two teams.

'86- Atlanta guard Spud Webb set an NBA rookie record for assists in a playoff game with 18, as the Hawks defeated Detroit 137-125 at the Omni in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series.
'88- The Philadelphia 76ers honored Julius Erving prior to a home game against the Bucks, retiring his uniform #6 and unveiling a larger-than-life Dr. J statue.

'91- Atlanta’s Moses Malone set an NBA record for playing in the most consecutive games without fouling out in the Hawks’ 126-120 loss to Detroit at the Omni. It was Malone’s 1,046th straight game without a disqualification, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s mark.

'92- Detroit’s Dennis Rodman won his first NBA rebounding title with 1,530 rebounds for an 18.7 rpg average. Those were the highest rebounding marks in the league since the Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain pulled down 1,572 boards for a 19.2 rpg average during the 1971-72 season. Rodman’s total of 1,530 rebounds represented 42.1 percent of the Pistons’ total of 3,63 1 boards, which is the top individual percentage in NBA history. Rodman went on to lead the NBA in rebounding for seven consecutive seasons, an NBA record.

'92- San Antonio’s David Robinson became only the third player in NBA history, along with Larry Bird (1985-86) and Cliff Hagan (1959-60), to rank among the league’s Top 10 in five different statistical categories. Robinson averaged 23.2 ppg (7th); 12.2 rpg (4th); 55.1% field goal percentage (7th); 2.32 spg (5th); and 4.49 bpg (1st).

'98- Karl Malone finished the season with 2,190 points, an NBA record 11th consecutive season he had reached the 2,000 point plateau.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Reebok and Microsoft Partner for Sweet Swag

(Boulder-CO) Are you the biggest AI fan in the world? Prove it! Reebok and Microsoft Zune have paired to release a special, limited edition, Allen Iverson "Answer XI/Zune" sneaker. Here is the low down:

The package will be a limited-edition collection of only 60 pairs.

WHO: Legendary basketball and fashion icon, Nuggets player and Reebok athlete Allen Iverson, aka "The Answer"

WHAT: Reebok and Zune have teamed up for the first time to bring you a limited edition Allen Iverson sneaker - the Answer XI Zune.This partnership between Reebok and Zune brings together two things important to AI in his life - basketball and music.Reebok has produced 60 pairs of a special version of Iverson's latest Reebok signature shoe - the Answer XI. For this limited-edition collection, the Answer XI has been designed featuring the Zune logo. The sneakers will be sold with a customized Zune 8g black digital media player, featuring etched AI graphics on the back that is loaded with special AI content including his Reebok commercials, playlists and interview footage of other Reebok athletes talking about the first time they played against AI in the league. The sneakers and Zune media player will also come in special packaging. The Answer XI Zune collection will retail for $300 and be sold only at select boutique shops in five key markets. Each store will receive only 12 collectible packages, so be sure to be the first one in line at your local store!

WHEN: Coming this June 2008

WHERE: Available only at the following 5 stores:

Complex/Training Day Store (NYC)

Major Commonwealth (DC)

Commonwealth (VA)

Wish (ATL)

The 400 (Denver)

Now that is some seriously exclusive swag!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 18th, and on this day:
'62- The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-107 in overtime in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, despite the 11th straight 30-plus point scoring performance by Lakers’ forward Elgin Baylor, an NBA Playoff record. Bill Russell of Boston tied his own NBA Finals record by grabbing 40 rebounds in the game.

'66- Bill Russell was named player-coach of the Boston Celtics upon Red Auerbach’s retirement. As coach of the Celtics, Russell won two NBA championships in three seasons.

'67- Rick Barry of San Francisco scored 55 points as the Warriors beat Philadelphia 130-124 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, a series Philadelphia eventually won in six games. Barry’s 55 points is tied for the second-highest point total in playoff history and his 22 field goals made tied Elgin Baylor’s NBA Finals record.

'82- Cleveland closed out its season with a 116-113 OT loss to visiting Detroit. It was the Cavaliers’ 19th consecutive loss to close out the season, an NBA record.

'91- Utah guard John Stockton, in a 130-103 Jazz win over Seattle at the Salt Palace, dished out 11 assists to finish the 1990-91 season with 1,164 assists, breaking his own NBA record for assists in a season set the previous year.

'94- Dominique Wilkins of the LA Clippers, who arrived from Atlanta via a trade on February 24, scored 37 points in the Clippers’ 134-131 loss to visiting Golden State, becoming the ninth player in NBA annals to score 24,000 career points.

'96- Orlando’s Dennis Scott set a NBA single-game record by connecting on 11 three-point attempts against Atlanta.

'01- A.C. Green of the Miami Heat played in his 1,192nd straight game, extending his all-time NBA record. The 37-year-old Green completed his 16th NBA season.
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Could the Nuggets Pull an Upset?

(Boulder-CO) What If Sports sure thinks so! I think they have a number crunching monkey over there because it seems that they're right more often then they're wrong when it comes to predicting these kinds of things! Go check it out.
Go Nuggets!

First Time Since 1988

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets beat the Grizzlies didn't change anything in the Western Conference's playoff landscape, but for the city of Denver, the Nuggets, and their fans beating the Memphis Grizzlies for the franchise's fist 50-win season in 20 years is a big deal.
Denver defeated Memphis, 120-111, with a balanced team attack consisting of seven double figure scoring efforts with all twelve suited players scoring. Allen Iverson led the way with 21 points in a quick 20 minutes and 'Melo, fresh of of Monday's DUI charge, scored 17 points in 21 minutes.
But, to no thanks of the New Orleans Hornets who could have beaten the Mavericks and bumped the Nuggets up to the seventh seed, the Nuggets will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1-8 match-up this weekend. The same Lakers that swept the Nuggets during the regular season 3-0.
I'll have Playoff Previews for each game and will be teaming up with other Lakers blogs to comprehensively cover the series. For now, Nuggets Nation, take today and Friday to bask in the warmth of 50 wins. It's the first time the Nuggets have hit that many wins since 1988 for crying out loud! I was six. Fat Lever and Micheal Adams were my favorite players. Good times.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 17th, and on this day:
'66- The Los Angeles Lakers, getting 41 points from Jerry West, came back from a 34-20 deficit after one quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 133-129 in overtime in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Boston, however, won the series in seven games. The Lakers’ comeback from 14 points down in the first quarter of Game 1 is the largest first quarter deficit ever overcome in NBA Finals play.
'77- The Boston Celtics converted 27-of-28 free throws in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Philadelphia, beating the Sixers 113-111.

'82- The Denver Nuggets’ frontcourt of Alex English (25.4 ppg), Dan Issel (22.9 ppg) and Kiki Vandeweghe (21.5 ppg) became the first trio to each average more than 20 ppg since Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan and Clyde Lovellette of St. Louis did so in 1961.

'90- The Minnesota Timberwolves drew 49,551 fans to the Metrodome during a 99-89 loss to Denver. That attendance figure was the third highest total in league history, and it helped the team set an all-time single-season attendance mark, as the Timberwolves drew 1,072,572 fans for 41 games in the Metrodome.

'93- Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins became the 11th player in NBA history to score 22,000 career points, after hitting for 41 in the Hawks’ 110-107 setback against Charlotte.

'95- Buck Williams of Portland grabbed 12 rebounds during the Blazers’ 97-93 road win at Seattle, becoming the eighth NBA player to reach 12,000 rebounds and 15,000 points in a career.

'99- Utah’s John Stockton records his 13,000th career assist when he passed to Karl Malone for a jumper in a 109-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

'Melo is Good at Video Games

(Boulder-CO) A personal account of a video game match-up with Carmelo Anthony is up at The Big Lead. It's a nice change of pace from the latest news on the Nuggets' star.

Go Nuggets!

Nuggets vs. Grizzlies: Game 82 Preview

(Boulder-CO) Well, here we are at the end of the third regular season I have been doing this crazy little thing called The Nugg Doctor and, once again, the Nuggets are playoff bound! With the eighth seed all locked up it may seem like the Nuggets have little to play for and enough distraction to warrant a night off, but in all actuality the Nuggets have a ton on the line tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.

For starters, Denver still has something to play for as far as playoff positioning is concerned. The Nuggets can take over the seventh seed from Dallas if they beat the Grizzlies and the Mavericks lose at home to New Orleans (Go Chris Paul, MVP!). Now, I know some of you have commented that the Lakers are who the Nuggets should want to play in round one, but I have to respectfully disagree. The Hornets are the team the Nuggets want to see in the first round. First of all, not having to see Kobe Bryant is a plus any day. Not to mention how L.A. swept Denver in the regular season 3-0. Then factor in the youth and inexperience of the Hornets and consider how we match-up with them down the roster, and I think you can understand why I feel facing New Orleans is the best first round match-up for the Nuggets.

A win tonight would also give Denver its first 50-win season since the Nuggets set a franchise-record with 54 games in 1987-88.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are trying to avoid their second consecutive 60-loss season. A win in this game would give them one more than they had in 2006-07, when they finished with the worst record in the league.

Friends over at 3 Shades of Blue have a nice player match-up breakdown up and run the best Grizzlies site in the NBA Blogosphere.

Go Nuggets (and Hornets)!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 16th, and on this day:
'47- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born in New York on the same day that the opening game of the first NBA Finals was played--with the Philadelphia Warriors defeating the Chicago Stags 84-71 in Game 1. Abdul-Jabbar went on to play in a record 20 seasons with Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Lakers, setting an NBA record for points scored (38,387) and playing on six NBA Championship teams.

'67- Wilt Chamberlain grabbed an NBA Finals record 26 rebounds in one half as Philadelphia defeated San Francisco 126-95 in Game 2. Also, both teams combined for 169 rebounds, tying an NBA Playoffs record.

'83- In the regular season finale for both teams, San Antonio defeated Dallas at Reunion Arena 132-120. By hitting 53-of-75 shots, the Spurs set an NBA record for FG percentage (.707) in a single game.

'91- The Philadelphia 76ers, in a 108-99 loss to New York at Madison Square Garden, set an NBA record for playing in the most overtime games in a season at 14. The Sixers were 8-6 in those OT games.

'93- Following a 113-110 win over visiting Orlando, Cleveland Coach Lenny Wilkens moved into second place on the NBA all-time wins list (trailing only Red Auerbach) with his 865th career victory. Seven weeks later, Wilkens left the Cavaliers to become coach of the Atlanta Hawks, a franchise he began his NBA playing career with when it was located in St. Louis.

'94- Golden State’s Don Nelson became the seventh coach in NBA history to win 800 career games, following the Warriors’ 109-105 triumph over visiting Utah Nelson reached 800 wins in 1,372 games, the second-fastest coach to reach that mark, trailing only Red Auerbach’s 1,227 games.

'96- The Bulls bettered the 1972 Lakers NBA record of 69 wins in one season with their 86-80 victory at Milwaukee. Chicago finished the season with 72 wins and only 10 losses.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ding-Dong, the 'Dubs are Dead!

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets are in the playoffs! The Golden State Warriors lost last night to the Phoenix Suns, 122-116, and ensured Denver's place as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets do still own the tie-breaker with Dallas and only trail the Mavericks by a single game with one game remaining for each team meaning that if Denver wins (they play the Grizzlies tomorrow night) and Dallas loses (they play the Hornets tomorrow night) then Denver would actually finish with the seventh seed and Dallas with the eighth via the same regular season record (50-32).

Honestly, the only team I don't want to see the Nuggets matched-up with is the Spurs. For some reason, those guys just seem to have the Nuggets' number. But, interestingly enough, if the Mavericks lose to the Hornets on Wednesday and the Nuggets do beat Memphis then Denver would face the Hornets in the 2-7 match-up (a more favorable series for Denver in my opinion) instead of the more probable 1-8 match-up with the Lakers.

But for now, Nuggets Nation, the Nuggets are playoff bound and that's all that matters.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is April 15th, and on this day:
'65- John Havlicek’s steal might be the most famous play in NBA history. It came with five seconds left and the Boston Celtics clinging to a precarious 110-109 lead over the 76ers in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. As Philadelphia’s Hal Greer got set to inbound the ball from the baseline under his own basket, Havlicek peeked over his shoulder. Anticipating a lob pass, Havlicek tipped the ball to teammate Sam Jones, who dribbled out the clock as the fans at Boston Garden—and Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most—went into a frenzy. “Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over! It’s all over!” bellowed Most as the Celtics won en route to their seventh of eight consecutive NBA titles.

'80- A Playoff record crowd of 40,172 turned out at the Kingdome in Seattle only to see the Sonics lose to Milwaukee 108-97 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The attendance record would last eight years, before being surpassed by Detroit at the Pontiac Silverdome on June 16, 1988, when 41,732 fans turned out to watch the Pistons defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 104-94 in Game 5 of the Finals.

'84- John Lucas of San Antonio handed out 14 assists in the second quarter, an NBA record for one period, as the Spurs defeated Denver 157-154. Lucas finished with 24 assists for the game.

'89- Phoenix retired the #44 jersey of Paul Westphal, who averaged 20.6 ppg in six seasons with the Suns. He was named the team’s head coach for the 1992-93 season, leading them into the NBA Finals against Chicago.
'91- By dropping a 112-94 decision to Minnesota at the Target Center, the Sacramento Kings set an NBA record for most consecutive road losses with 35. Losses at Utah and Portland extended the streak to 37 at the conclusion of the 1990-91 season, and the Kings lost six more road games at the start of the 1991-92, season, before the streak ended at 43 games.

'91- Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers handed out 19 assists in a 112-106 win over Dallas at the Great Western Forum, allowing him to move into the top spot on the NBA’s all-time assist list--ahead of Oscar Robertson--with 9,898. John Stockton of Utah eventually surpassed both men to become the NBA’s all-time assists leader.

'92- Atlanta’s Maurice Cheeks collected four steals in the Hawks’ 95-94 win over New York at the Omni, and those four thefts moved him past Julius Erving as the all-time leader (ABA/NBA combined) in steals with 2,274. John Stockton of the Utah Jazz eventually surpassed Cheeks to become the NBA’s all-time steals leader.

'95- Miami’s Glen Rice made 20-of-27 field goal attempts, including seven three-pointers, and finished the game with a franchise-record 56 points, leading the Heat to a 123-117 home win over Orlando.

'95- Tom Chambers of Utah scored 15 points in the Jazz’ 105-83 victory over the visiting LA Clippers, becoming the 20th player in NBA history to surpass 20,000 career points. With teammate Karl Malone having reached the 20,000-point plateau against Cleveland on January 20, 1995, Utah became the first team in NBA history to have two players reach 20,000 career points during the same season.

'01- Eddie Gill of the New Jersey Nets scored the eight millionth point in NBA history when he converted a layup with 10:37 remaining in a 95-88 loss to Boston at the FleetCenter.

'01- Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz played his 1,271st career game, all in a Jazz uniform, to pass John Havlicek and move into second place for the most games played with one team. Malone trailed only teammate John Stockton, who passed Havlicek’s long-standing record earlier in the 2000-01 season.
Enjoy your day!

'Melo Apologizes

(Boulder-CO) What's done is done, and concerning Carmelo's recent arrest for suspicion of drunken driving, there is only one thing for an NBA All-Star to do...


Here is Carmelo's entire apology, word-for-word:

"First of all, everybody knows why I’m in front of you guys today -– for the incident that happened early Monday morning. First of all, I’m just here to truly apologize to my fans, the Denver Nuggets organization, my family and my teammates for the distraction this (brought) them. Hopefully, we can put this behind us, I can put this behind me, but most importantly I’m here to just man up to my mistake and just to let you know that I’m truly sorry about what happened and everything that’s going on.

What happened Monday morning was truly and totally unacceptable. But like I said, I just wanted to let you all know that I apologize, once again, to my fans, to my family, to my teammates for the distraction that I have (brought) to this organization, to this city and to myself.

Once again, I want to thank everybody who’s been with me throughout this whole time, this whole situation. At the same time, truly to let you know that I’m really, really apologetic about the situation. I know that this is uncalled for. Right now it’s kind of bad timing, due to the playoffs, due to our team’s success. For this to happen, like I said, it’s totally unacceptable.
Once again, I just want to apologize and let everybody know – let my fans know, let my family know and to let my teammates know -- that I apologize about the situation and that I’m here to man up to my mistake. Once again, thank you and I appreciate it."

Here is also the video of the press conference.
Now it's time for me to weigh in. There is a lot of speculation swirling around right now concerning preferential treatment, LaLa not willing to come and pick Carmelo up, and the "lift" down to the Ritz Carlton (wouldn't he just want to go home?) 'Melo may have received from a Denver police officer after being booked. But, here's the one and only thing that matters: Carmelo got behind the wheel! With so many different transportation options available to a man like Carmelo (a chauffeur, helicopter, jet, teammates, segway, cab, the bus, hitch hiking, or even calling a tow truck to have the 'Benz towed back to the crib) why he would even make a decision as stupid as driving under any sort of influence, legal or illegal, is just that, stupid.
Ultimately, any consequences from this incident that may or not affect the Nuggets' playoff appearance should be made swiftly and sternly by the league or not made at all. So, other than anything else that may stem from the arrest that directly affects the Nuggets. This is the last time this incident is going to get mentioned here. I feel it's a personal matter and I respect that boundary.
Apology accepted.
Next time, 'Melo, call me if you need a lift.