Sunday, November 30, 2008

Game 18: Rockets @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) Tonight's game between the Rockets and Nuggets is going to be more mental than physical. Both teams played, won, and traveled last night, but it's the Rockets who will have to find a way to yet again to compensate for the loss of a star, Tracy McGrady, who will not play in his third straight game.
Advantage - Nuggets.
I'm not sure the Rockets can beat a team of the caliber of the Nuggets without their third prong of the trident. Or, should I say, at least not without a complete team effort like last night's win over the Spurs when seven Rockets scored in double-figures.
However, the recurrence of that is unlikely given the way Coach George Karl was afforded the luxury of resting his starting five and more potent reserves in last night's laugher against the Timberwolves. In fact, only Carmelo Anthony (37) and Nene (34) played more than 28 minutes with notable Nugget reserves J.R Smith, Renaldo Balkman, and Chris Andersen all playing 16 minutes or less.
With both team's recent history laid out there is one area of this game that I feel will be the true storyline in tonight's game: Total points scored. The Rockets are allowing a very stingy 90.2 points per game this season whereas the Nuggets are enjoying the success of scoring 100 points with seven of their eight games hitting the century mark resulting in W's. If the Nuggets can put a 100 points on the board expect a win because Houston has only emerged victorious once this season when a team scores 100 points. But, if Denver struggles to score... Well, we'll just deal with that if it happens.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 30th, and on this day:
'77- Lenny Wilkens replaced Bob Hopkins as coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, who at that time had a 5-17 record. Under Wilkens, the Sonics went 42-18 for the rest of the season and made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost in seven games to the Washington Bullets.

'90- Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird scored his 20,000th career point in the Celtics’ 123-95 win over Washington at the Garden. At the time, Bird became only the fifth player in league history (along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West) to gather 20,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists in his playing career.

'96- Michael Jordan became the 10th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points after scoring 35 in the Bulls 97-88 win at the Spurs. Jordan reached 25,000 in 782 games, faster than any other player but Wilt Chamberlain (691).
Enjoy your day!

Wolves No Match for Nuggets

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Minnesota Timberwolves can not beat the Nuggets sans Kevin Garnett as last night's, 106-97, thumping proved yet again. In fact, it has been since February 14th, 2007 that the T-Wolves haven't chalked up a W against the Nuggets and for those keeping track that's seven straight games Minnesota has been defeated by Denver.
In the first meeting of these two teams this season, Chauncey Billups had his best outing of the season with a game-high 26 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block while only turning the ball over once as the Nuggets defeated Minnesota, 90-84.
I guess some things, against some teams, like to remain the same.
Last night, Chauncey only played in the first three quarters but that was enough burn for him to score another game-high 27 points on 6-9 from the field, including a perfect 12-12 from the free-throw line and 3-5 from downtown, in just 25 minutes of action. Chauncey can also be credited with making sure the Nuggets didn't fall too far behind in the first quarter as Denver allowed Minnesota to jump out to a 9-0 lead before he scored the next eight straight Nuggets points to reel the Wolves back in.
Despite spotting the Wolves the aforementioned nine early points, I felt the first quarter was pretty mechanical. Denver's loose and lively attitude in pregame warm-ups perhaps was to blame for the sluggish start, but Chauncey's lead-by-example showmanship quickly knocked the Nuggets back into stride as they entered the second quarter down by just six, 31-25.
However, in the second... The Nuggets tightened things up defensively to outscore the Wolves, 35-23, and their dominance in the quarter was just a prelude of things to come.
Once the second half started, Denver muzzled the Timberwolf offense to just 16 points as they blew the game wide open after the score tightened, 66-63, by way of a 14-0 run that spanned over six minutes of the third quarter. For the Nuggets, everyone got into the act during this dominating stretch with Billups serving as the ring leader. Carmelo had a jumper and a lay-up, Billups had a short two and a three, and Kenyon Martin and Dahntay Jones were both the beneficiaries of a pair of dazzling Billup's assists leading to rim-shaking dunks as the game got out of hand for Randy Wittman's Wolves.
Denver would proceed to open up their biggest lead of the game, 87-67, after a pair of made free-throws by Nene with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter before most of the starters were pulled so Coach Karl could rest his crew knowing that the Rockets are tomorrow's tail end of back-to-back games and their fourth in five nights.
For the Wolves, they missed yet another chance to win their first consecutive games of the season while dropping to 4-11 overall.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points while recording his third straight double-double, and sixth overall this season, with ten rebounds and a steal. Other Nuggets of note were Linas Kleiza and Anthony Carter. LK scored 15 points, grabbed two rebounds, recorded a steal, an assist, and a block and Carter, who is truly the unsung hero of this team, played extremely pesky defense while scoring 12 points, snaring nine rebounds, dishing four assists, and adding a pair of blocks and steals in a team-high 28 minutes off the bench.
In addition to all the great performances from last night there are a few trends that are starting to emerge about this team. For starters, Denver is 7-1 when scoring at least 100 points, including 10-3 overall since shipping Allen Iverson to Detroit for Chauncey Billups. Carmelo Anthony has also officially broken out of his early season offensive slump by scoring 20-plus points in four of his past five contests, after not doing so in four straight games prior. And finally, Denver is the NBA leader in free-throw attempts per game (32) and was 26-for-33 from the line last night including 18-for-22 in the first half. In any game that the Nuggets can get over 30 free-throw attempts in not only do they win the game over 80% of the time; it keeps the other team out of their offensive rhythm, keeps the Denver turnovers to a minimum while the scoring still soars, all the while keeping the opposition in a halfcourt style of play which greatly benefits the Nuggets.
Now all Denver has to do is turn right around and beat the three headed monster of Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Ron Artest and Rick Adleman's Rockets tonight at the Pepsi Center!
Go Nuggets!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 29th, and on this day:
'97- After 24 seasons at US Airways Arena in Landover, MD, the Washington Wizards played their final game there against the Chicago Bulls, an 88-83 Chicago win.

'99- Tyrone Corbin of the Sacramento Kings accomplished something that Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson never did. He played in his 1,000th regular season NBA game.
Enjoy your day!

Game 17: Nuggets @ Timberwolves

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets head north tonight to take on the league's toughest under achiever, the Minnesota Timberwolves. And I say that with a lot a lot of respect for the T-Wolves because their 4-10 record is due to really only one problem: Closing games out.

The Timberwolves have held fourth quarter leads in eight of their ten losses, including a loss to the Nuggets on November 16th, 90-84 , at the Pepsi Center.

But, since Minnesota's eight game losing skid after a win in their home opener, the Wolves have won three out of their last five games with some very impressive outings. Most notably handing the Detroit Pistons their second loss at the Palace this season.

However, against the Nuggets they're going to have to be great because Denver's had Minnesota's number since they traded Kevin Garnett before the 2007-08 season. Since that trade, the Nuggets have won six straight meetings in this series since losing, 99-94, at Minnesota on Feb. 14, 2007. Furthermore, the Nuggets, who lost on Thanksgiving to the Hornets, are 9-3 since acquiring Chauncey Billups and haven't lost consecutive games with the Denver native either.

With all that said, the T-Wolves are a very good team. They're statistically in the NBA's top five in assists per game (2nd), total turnovers (3rd), opposing offensive rebounding per game(5th), opposing steals per game (1st), and field goals attempted per game (4th), and are right on the cusp of having six players averaging double-digit scoring with Craig Smith now averaging 9.4. ppg after scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds in Friday's win against the Thunder. Plus, they have Al Jefferson. Big Al is having another fantastic season so far with averages of 22.5 points (10th in the NBA) and 10.1 rebounds (7th in the NBA) which puts him in the elite 20/10 category along with only three other All-Stars: Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, and Chris Bosh.

Nene and Al Jefferson is going to be a battle to behold, Carmelo Anthony and Randy Foye are always entertaining, and Mike Miller's hair is always good for a laugh! Be sure to head over to TWolves Blog for everything Timberwolves, and as always...
Go Nuggets!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nuggets Edged by Hornets

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) What started out as a game of runs certainly didn’t end up with one team running away from the other. In fact, it was just the opposite way around in last night’s dramatic finish as the Nuggets lost, 105-101, to the Hornets.

First off, there has finally been some light shed on why J.R. Smith was benched for the Nuggets game against the Clippers. Allegedly, Smith was extremely late for practice earlier this week and his punishment was not playing against the Clippers on Wednesday night. You can take this at face value and move on or you can believe that something more than just being late to practice was reason enough to bench a player, but either way you could tell J.R. Smith was fired up to play against his old coach and team…

In the first quarter, the Nuggets jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead with nine minutes still to play before the Hornets countered with a 18-2 run of their own. And after further expanding their lead to ten points at the quarter’s end, 32-22, the Hornets allowed Denver to go on a 12-2 run of their own largely in part to J.R. Smith’s hot hand accounting for eight of those points to bring the game to a, 34-34, tie with eight minutes to play in the half. Then, in seesaw fashion, the Hornets would once again run out offensively to a six point lead at the half, 52-46.

Despite the hot and cold nature of the offense, I really liked the way the Nuggets were containing Chris Paul defensively in the first 24 minutes of play. Paul finished the half with just two points as the Nuggets were double-teaming him and making him give up the ball before he could penetrate the paint and open up easy lay-up opportunities. For the Nuggets offensively, who doesn’t like J.R. Smith? The well-rested Prodigy torched his old team for 14 first half points and was really busting tail defensively as well. Carmelo Anthony had eight points in the half, but was efficient on 4-6 shooting.

Once the third quarter was underway I was looking forward less schizophrenic stretches of play, but it didn’t take long for the Hornets to pick right back up where they left off by way of a 10-2 run to open the second half before George Karl called timeout.

Two minutes, and three Dahntay Jones fouls later, J.R. Smith re-entered the game and hit five quick points to bring the Nuggets within seven points as the third quarter expired.

Once the final twelve minutes of regulation were put on the clock, Denver jumped all over the Hornets by way of an 11-2 run that gave Denver back the lead, 80-78, with 8:41 to play. Credit J.R. Smith for opening up the throttle with a quick jumper to start the run and Carmelo Anthony, Smith (again), and Linas Kleiza for hitting three three’s within 50 seconds to force Byron Scott to take a full timeout.

Out of the break both teams stumbled to the floor like two heavyweight fighters punch drunk from a slug fest and teetering on the brink of a knockout. And both teams, perhaps worried that the next run might be the one to win or lose the game, traded buckets in dramatic fashion down the stretch before Chris Paul hit a 30-foot three from dead center of the arch to tie the game, 92-92, with just two minutes to play.

The ensuing Nugget possession was a struggle with Kenyon Martin missing a 17-foot bank shot as the time left on the 24-second shot clock faded and on New Orleans’ next time down the floor Peja Stojakovic hit a big triple from the right corner. Down by three, George Karl called timeout and out of frustration, perhaps stemming from missing the J on the other end of the floor, Kenyon Martin kicked the scorers table on his way to the bench drawing a technical foul from referee Bennett Salvatore.

Now down by four with just over a minute to play, the ball went into Carmelo Anthony who drew a shooting foul attacking the rim and made good on two free-throws. In the following defensive stand, Denver was rotating like a carousel in an attempt to challenge all outside shot attempts off of dribble penetration by Chris Paul and after Paul was forced to take a fading 20-footer. David West tipped in what would have been an air ball to once again give the Hornets a four-point lead with just 50 seconds to play.

The Nuggets went right to work down by four and as Carmelo Anthony let a three-point attempt fly he was collided into by James Posey and sent to the line for a set three of free-throws. After making the first two, Carmelo missed the third perfectly to an offensive rebounding Nene who then flipped the ball behind his head to the cutting Anthony for a thunderous two-handed dunk to tie the game with just 37 remaining to play. With the Pepsi Center was raucous, James Posey hit what could have been the backbreaking three with 19 second remaining and after Chauncey Billups missed an attempt to tie it would have seemed like the Nuggets Thanksgiving was ruined by the former Nugget. But, J.R. Smith wasn’t finished with his late game theatrics. Following a pair of free-throws by Stojakovic that gave the Hornets a five-point lead, J.R. Smith connected on a desperation 30-footer to bring the Nuggets back within a deuce with just four seconds remaining. But, Smith's theatrics were too late. The Nuggets had run out of time and after Smith was forced to foul Chris Paul with just two seconds to play Denver could nothing but watch as CP3 connected on the pair of penalty free-throws to ice the game.

But what a return to action it was by Smith. J.R. finished the game with a game and season-high 32 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals; one of which was finished with a soaring slam.

In fact, J.R. was a continuous highlight real in the second half as he scored in nearly everyway possible trying to beat the team that sent him packing three years ago. On one occasion in the fourth quarter, J.R. froze Peja Stojakovic on the baseline before exploding to the rim with two hands and the flush. This kind of athleticism and offensive creativity is why I still can not understand why Smith isn’t starting for this team, but I guess every team needs their scapegoat and, unfortunately, Smith fits that mold for George Karl.

Carmelo broke out of his offensive slump, albeit quietly, with 24 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals on an economical 8-13 shooting. No other Nuggets scored in double-figures, but Chris Andersen did return to action a game earlier than expected to grab eight rebounds, six points, a block, and an assist in 23 minutes off the bench.

Defensively, Denver did a great job on Chris Paul in the first half, but a player of his caliber can only be contained for so long as CP3 scored 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second half to fit nicely with his ten assists and four rebounds. Rasual Butler added 19, Peja Stojakovic 17, David West 15, and James Posey 10 to round out the bulk of New Orleans’ scoring.

The loss puts Denver (10-6) in a three-way tie for first in the Northwest Division with the Portland Trailblazers and Utah Jazz each with six losses. Up next for the Nuggets is a trip to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves tomorrow night.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today is November 28th, and on this day:
'69- The New York Knicks scored six points in the final 16 seconds to defeat the Cincinnati Royals 106-105 to run their winning streak to a then-NBA record of 18 straight games. The Lakers set the current NBA mark of 33 straight wins during the 1971-72 season.

'86- The Celtics downed San Antonio 111-96 at Boston Garden, setting an NBA record with their 38th consecutive home victory.

'92- Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Lenny Wilkens appeared in his 2,500th NBA game (in 29 seasons as a player and coach, in both regular season and playoff games) in the Cavs’ 95-93 road loss at Orlando. Wilkens, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988, joined Don Nelson as the only individuals to appear in 2,500 games. During the 1994-95 season he passed Nelson as the NBA’s all-time leader in game appearances, as a player or coach, with 2,737.

'92- Reggie Miller exploded for 57 points to set an Indiana team record as the Pacers defeated the host Charlotte Hornets 134-122.

'92- The LA. Clippers’ 121-119 road win at Denver gave Clippers’ head coach Larry Brown his 400th career NBA victory.

'97- Chicago's Michael Jordan scored 26 points at Indiana to move past Elvin Hayes (27,313) into fourth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 27,332 points.
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Game 16: Hornets @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) Happy Thanksgiving, Nuggets Nation! Tonight, the Denver Nuggets host the New Orleans Hornets in a late night tryptophan match-up that you may need a Red Bull to stay up for.

The preview I'll set the table with is actually quite simple and it involves, in my opinion, the best player in the league, Chris Paul. Chris "The Triple-Double Machine" Paul is amazing! If the Nuggets are going to win tonight they have to somehow slow the Hornet point guard down as he has recorded his second straight triple-double of the season on Monday against the Clippers. Additionally, CP3 has passed out at least a dozen assists in four of his last five games and has reached double digits in the category in 11 of 13 games so far this season.

Another interesting note about the 8-5 Hornets is they have only won two games this year when they do not score score 100 points or more.

Time to put the D back in Denver.

Slow Paul, slow the Hornets.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 27th, and on this day:

'47- Philadelphia’s Howie Dallmar set an NBA record for the most field goal attempts with none made, 15, against New York. The record was not topped for 44 years, until Tim Hardaway of Golden State shot 0-for-17 on December 27, 1991.

'63- Wilt Chamberlain hit 18 field goals in a row during a 118-89 win over New York to set what was at that time an NBA record.

Enjoy your day!

Clippers Clipped - J.R. Smith Benched

(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

(Boulder-CO) In the spirit of everything I'm thankful for today (the Nuggets, 106-105, win over the Clippers last night being one of them) I'm going to keep all the things that drove me crazy last night like the really bad defense in the second and fourth quarters, the unexplainable benching of J.R. Smith, and all 19 Denver turnovers to a minimum and just focus on the positives of the Nuggets 10th win of the year.

It was really nice to Marcus Camby dishing out hugs to all his old mates and Coach George Karl before the game. Despite being sold garage sale style his summer, I still have a soft spot for The Captain after six years of holding the Nuggets down in the middle.

In the first quarter, the Nuggets looked strong on the offensive revival of Carmelo Anthony. 'Melo scored ten first quarter points and led the way for Denver outscoring L.A. 32-22 in the first, but that's right about when things started to slide for the Nuggets. Once the second period started, Denver completely self-destructed in more ways than one. Defensively, the Nuggets reserves were terrible and, surprisingly, J.R. Smith never took off his warm-ups. I kept waiting and waiting for Karl to look to his best offensive weapon off the bench as the lead was slipping away, but it never happened. And even more aggravating than watching the Nuggets struggle offensively as the Clippers erased the ten-point lead the Denver starters opened up in the first was how the broadcasting crew for Altitude either didn't or wouldn't divulge as to why Smith was banished.

The story was there and no one chose to cover it. Why wasn't J.R. Smith playing? The saga would continue to drive me crazy for the rest of the game as my imagination ran wild with every possible scenario, but for the broadcast crew to completely ignore the story left me with one conclusion: J.R. and the coaching staff must have had an incident. It's too easy to say, “J.R. Smith suffered this or that injury in practice and is questionable for tonight", or , "J.R. Smith has the flu", but because mum was the word something had to have happened and the TV crew must have been told to keep it close to the vest.

More to come on this as I sleuth around the scene...

The Nuggets started the second half up by one a point and with the reserves on the bench which allowed the starters to open up a 13-point lead in thanks to great defense. Denver, led by another seven points by Carmelo Anthony, outscored L.A. 21-9 in the first 11:30 of the quarter before allowing the Clippers to close the third with a 7-2 run in the final 30 seconds of the third.

Enter the fourth quarter.

The same team that just manhandled their opposition 23-16 in the previous 12 minutes was about to have another defensive lapse capped off by the Clippers pulling even at 103 with a 17-7 run capped by Eric Gordon's fourth made trey with 1:35 to play. Perhaps sensing the urgency of the game slipping away, George Karl called timeout and diagramed the ball to go to his star, Carmelo Anthony. 'Melo received the ball on the wing and after a couple of ball fakes let go of a 14-foot jumper that gave the Nuggets the lead, 105-103. With just over a minute to play, Clippers' stand-in Coach Kim Hughes chose not to call timeout to draw up a set play and on the ensuing possession Baron Davis missed a contested lay-up that was rebounded by Anthony Carter. Needing a defensive stop, the Clippers slipped up and fouled Kenyon Martin with Denver in the penalty. Kenyon missed the front end of the one-and-one, but made good on the second to give the Nuggets a three-point lead. At this point, Coach Hughes then decided to draw up a play with 42 second remaining that fruited a Zach Randolph lay-up with 34 ticks still on the game clock and the Clippers down by one.

Clinging to the slimmest of margins, Denver ran off as much of the remaining clock as possible before an Anthony Carter three was put on rim and the carom was snared by our old friend Marcus Camby with just nine seconds to play. The Clippers didn't have anymore timeouts and the ball was quickly put in Baron Davis' hands for a chance to win the game. Davis drove towards the left wing before becoming completely blanketed defensively and dishing to a wide open Marcus Camby at the top of the three-point arch for L.A.'s buzzer beating chance.

With the ball slowly back spinning its way towards the rim I thought to myself, "Marcus Camby is going to hit this shot as some kind of payback for the Nuggets trading him for next to nothing", and to say I was ecstatic when the ball drew iron unkind would be an understatement. Had the attempt been from the top of the key, Marcus' favorite shot, who knows what might have happened, but the extra distance and the unexpected dish from Baron Davis left Marcus a little bit out of his comfort zone and the Nuggets, despite playing poorly for extended stretches, had managed to dodge a bullet and win, 106-105.

The Nuggets were led by Carmelo Anthony breaking out of his recent scoring slump to finish with his third straight double-double of 30 points and eleven boards. An area of note for 'Melo continues to be his efficiency at the free-throw line this season as he is shooting over 80% overall and cashing in 14 of 16 attempts against the Clippers. The Nuggets are also shooting and making the most free-throws league-wide and in tonight's game created a large disparity at the line by finishing 36-43 in comparison to L.A.'s 21-29 at the charity stripe. Four other Nuggets made it to double digits in scoring with Nene and Kenyon Martin each scoring with 17 points, and reserves Linas Kleiza adding 15 and Anthony Carter finishing with 13 points and six assists.

With the win, the Nuggets are now 10-5 overall, 9-2 since acquiring Chauncey Billups, are sitting at the top of the Northwest Division with a half game lead on both Utah and Portland, and that‘s a lot to be thankful for! Up next for the Nuggets is a Thanksgiving match-up tonight with Chris Paul and the Hornets back at the Pepsi Center.

Happy Thanksgiving and Go Nuggets!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 26th, and on this day:
'86- The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Bullets 122-103 to give Don Nelson his 500th career coaching victory. At the time he reached the milestone faster than any coach in NBA history, needing only 817 games. Pat Riley later reached 500 wins in 684 games.

'94- During a 101-87 victory over Golden State at Gund Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers set an NBA record by attempting just two free throws the entire game, breaking the mark of three previously held by the Los Angeles Lakers for 14 years. John “Hot Rod” Williams and Tony Campbell each went 1-for-1 from the line for the Cavs.

'99- A.C. Green of the Los Angeles Lakers played in his professional basketball record 1,042nd consecutive game by appearing in a 103-80 win over New Jersey. Green eclipsed the record of former ABA and NBA star Ron Boone.

'00- John Stockton appeared in his 1,271st NBA game, all in a Utah Jazz uniform, passing previous record-holder John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics for most career games played for one team. “I have such great respect for John Havlicek, I can’t even express it,” said Stockton.
Enjoy your day!

Game 15: Nuggets @ Clippers

(Boulder-CO) Oh Captain, my Captain what has become of you? The Denver Nuggets meet a familiar foe tonight as they have traveled to the city of angels to take on "The Captain", Marcus Camby, and the new look Clippers.
Unfortunately, the new look Clippers are up to their old tricks despite spending big money this off season by acquiring Marcus Camby, Ricky, and Baron Davis. And when I say old tricks, I mean losing! L.A. has lost three straight games and are 2-12 overall while getting out to the franchise's worst start since they opened up the 1998-99 season 0-17. In the Clippers defense, Marcus Camby has not been completely healthy since bruising his heal in preseason and Ricky Davis has not been all he could be with an average stat line of 4.3 points and less than two rebounds and assists each.
But wait, there's still hope in L.A., and I'm not talking about the Lakers! On Friday of last week the Clippers pulled off a trade that sent Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas to New York in return for Zack Randolph and Mardy Collins. That's right, the same Mardy Collins that 'Melo lobbed an open-handed pimp slap to in the, "Little Grapple in the Big Apple" two season's ago. Plus, both Randolph and Collins are slated to make their Clipper debut tonight against the Nuggets.
As for Denver, since destroying the Bulls by 13 points on Sunday the Nuggets have been trying to get Carmelo Anthony better looks at the rim. 'Melo comes into tonight's game averaging his lowest ppg total and field goal shooting percentages of his career (19.8 and 39.1%), but that's not the whole story. Carmelo is proving his value in other areas this year by leading the team in rebounds per game at a career-high clip of 8.7 boards nightly and is handing out a career-high 4.5 assists per game while also playing much improved defense; as is the rest of the team.
'Melo isn't scoring as many points this year and there are two reasons why. Their names are Nene and Chauncey Billups. Nene has greatly improved the Nuggets' toughness inside which is making teams work harder to score on Denver and he is averaging 15.4 points per game or, if you will, a full four points more than Marcus Camby did last year. As for Chauncey Billups, he has changed the whole chemistry of this team for the better. Billups, while also an improvement over Iverson on defense, has taken the, "hurry up and score" attitude and replaced it with a sense of calm and patience on offense that has slowed the Nuggets pace of play, and turnover rate, down dramatically. With these two players combined, the Nuggets have focused more on defense while being more well rounded on offense which has cooled 'Melo's usual torrid pace of putting points in the box score down a smidge, but that's not to say Anthony's in a slump. Rather, I look at it as Carmelo is learning how to play a more team-oriented style of basketball where he doesn't have to be showcased in the same manner offensively as in seasons past for this team to win. A perfect example of this is how Denver is the only team in the league with six players averaging double-digits in scoring and that number could easily be seven soon if Linas Kleiza (9.1 ppg) gets his long range shooting to come back around.
In tonight's game, not only do I expect 'Melo to have another great all-around performance like the 21-point, 13 rebounds, eight assists effort we saw against the Bulls, but I'm looking forward to watching Kenyon Martin and Al Thornton battle in the post. Thornton (averaging 16.1 points and 5.1 rebounds) is a young player with a lot of promise and Kenyon Martin is coming of his best outing so far this season.
I'm not expecting the hapless Clippers to instantly strike gold with the new acquisitions of Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins, so say it with me now...
Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 25th, and on this day:

November 25, 1960 Bailey Howell of Detroit set what was then a Pistons’ home record 19 free throws in a game against Los Angeles, as he finished with 43 points. He also grabbed a Pistons’ home game record 21 rebounds in one half.

Enjoy your day!

Birdman Update

(Boulder-CO) Good news, Nuggets Nation, in the footnotes of Chris Dempsey's article in The Denver Post it is mentioned that Chris Andersen could be back in action by Saturday agaisnt the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Go Nuggets!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 24th, and on this day:
'38- Oscar Robertson is born in Charlotte, Tennessee.

'49- Don Otten of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks set an NBA record by committing eight personal fouls in a 120-113 loss to Sheboygan.

'49- The Syracuse Nationals defeated the Anderson Packers 125-123 in five overtimes, at that time the longest game in NBA history. The record was broken a little over a year later when Rochester and Indianapolis played a six-overtime contest on January 6, 1951.

'60- Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors grabbed an NBA record 55 rebounds in a 132-129 loss to Boston. Chamberlain went on to collect 2,149 rebounds in 79 games during the 1960-61 season, averaging 27.2 rpg, both NBA records that still stand.

'86- Maurice Podoloff, the first chief executive of the NBA, died at the age of 95. Podoloff held the title of NBA President (title changed to Commissioner in 1967) from 1946 through his retirement in 1963.

'96- With a pair of free throws in the third quarter of Houston’s 90-85 road win over the Lakers, Clyde Drexler became the 24th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points.

'99- A.C. Green of the Los Angeles Lakers ties former ABA and NBA star Ron Boone for the longest consecutive games played streak in professional basketball history by playing in his 1,041st game when the Lakers host the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Green became the NBA's all-time iron man when he played his 907th consecutive game while a member of the Dallas Mavericks on November 20, 1997, passing Randy Smith, who played in 906 consecutive games for Buffalo, San Diego, Cleveland and New York.

'99- Pat Riley of the Miami Heat collects his 200th win with the team after a 93-91 win over Atlanta, giving him 200 wins with three teams (Lakers, New York, Miami). He joins Lenny Wilkens and Bill Fitch as the only coaches to accomplish that feat.

'01- With three assists in a 99-94 loss to Minnesota, Terry Porter of the San Antonio Spurs became the only player in NBA history to record 15,000 points, 7,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 three-pointers.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets bounced back like "Magic" against the Chicago Bulls tonight, 114-101, in what was the most balanced effort of the season so far. Led by Kenyon Martin's best performance of the year, the Nuggets are now 9-5 overall with a stretch of well-deserved rest ahead of them before traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers on Wednesday.

At the end of one, the Nuggets had jumped out to an early lead, 27-18, after hunkering down on defense. Unfortunately, the intensity that opened up that nine point lead was short lived as Denver would allow the Bulls to score 36 points in the second quarter on the backs of Ben Gordon (15) and Drew Gooden (12) combining for 27 points. Thankfully, Carmelo Anthony's six first half assists led the way for the Nuggets teaming up for 18 first half dimes and a, 58-54, advantage at the end of two.

The Nuggets were paced at the half by the tag team of Nene's 13 points and four rebounds, and Kenyon Martin's ten points on a perfect 4-4 from the field. The jack of all trades at the break was Carmelo Anthony who had a very well balanced first half consisting of the aforementioned six assists, nine points, and four rebounds while the spark off George Karl's bench was Linas Kleiza's nine points in nine minutes.

Things really didn't get interesting until just 2:40 remained in third quarter after the Chicago Bulls battled their way to an, 83-77, lead by way of a trio of momentum swinging turn of events. A made technical free-throw after Linas Kleiza was whistled for illegal defense, a four-point play by Ben Gordon, and an old fashioned three-point play by Aaron Gray capped off consecutive possessions and an 8-0 Chicago scoring burst to give the Bulls their first lead since the first quarter entering the fourth quarter.

Perhaps sensing the uneasiness of the Pepsi Center faithful, the Nuggets kicked their defense into high gear as Kenyon Martin personally raised his level of intensity to accept the challenge of guarding Ben Gordon in the fourth quarter. Gordon, who up to this point had scored 25 points on the Nuggets, would only score on one more three-point attempt as Kenyon Martin hassled him up and down all 93 feet of hardwood. The result of Kenyon's unbelievable effort was the rest of the Nuggets contagiously following his defensive lead while Denver outscored Chicago 18-5 after the game was tied at 96 with just over six minutes to play.

I truly feel that without Kenyon Martin stepping up to contain Ben Gordon the Nuggets probably lose this game. It was the way K-Mart's play silently screamed to his teammates that this game was not going to be taken from them on their home court at any cost that willed the Nuggets to victory, 114-101.

Martin's team and season-high 26 points on a perfect 10-10 from the field paced all Denver scorers as three other Nuggets (Billups, Anthony, and Nene) each scored 21. Carmelo just missed a triple double by adding 13 rebounds and eight assists, Chauncey dished out eight assists without a single turnover, and Nene's six rebounds and three blocks were huge as the bench (J.R. Smith hitting two free-throws and a jumper by Anthony Carter) only scored four points in the second half.

It should also be noted that the Nuggets shot a season-high 54% from the field with 31 assists on their 40 made field goals.

Go Nuggets!

The 'Melo M5

(Boulder-CO) The Carmelo Anthony line of basketball shoes expanded a couple of days ago when the M5 was released. Many people have recognized their resemblance to the Jordan 23. You be the judge.

Game 14: Bulls @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) The Chicago Bulls are in town tonight to take on the Nuggets and I'm anticipating a huge bounce back after Friday's let down in L.A. In particular, I'm expecting a huge game from Carmelo Anthony.
To say 'Melo has struggled as of late would be an understatement. Anthony is coming off of his lowest point total of the year (10) against the Lakers and is averaging under 20 points per game (19.6) for the first time since probably 5th grade. Additionally, Carmelo is averaging only 16.3 points on 33.7 percent shooting in his last six games despite Denver winning four of the aforementioned contests.
I feel what's plaguing 'Melo is the loss of Allen Iverson. Sure, the Nuggets are winning and I wouldn't undo what has been done, but the loss of AI has put a ton of the offensive onus on Anthony because opposing defenses are aware of Denver's lack of a second go-to scorer and are sending more double-teams 'Melo's way.
And the way I see it... there's two ways to deal with it.
The first way to counteract this is for 'Melo to get aggressive when the ball is in his hands and start to beat the double-team before it comes by taking the ball to the hole. Once 'Melo has established his game going to the rim, defenses will be reluctant to send a double as quickly because it will leave Anthony with too many open teammates to dish off to from penetration.
The second way is Denver has find another player that keeps defenses honest around the perimeter. Chauncey does this if he and Anthony are on the strong side and Billups' man decides to release and double, but when Chauncey's on the weak side and either Dahntay Jones or Anthony Carter are on the perimeter it immediately becomes a double-team on Carmelo because neither poses a legitimate threat. The answer to this is to consistently have either J.R. Smith (preferably) or Linas Kleiza in the game. J.R. is shooting the second highest three-point percentage on this team and is practically unguardable around the rim and LK gives the Nuggets a slashing big man for 'Melo to pass to if indeed the defense does choose to double team him.
As for the Bulls, I'm geeked to see how Derrick Rose matches up with Chauncey Billups. The rookie is averaging 19 points, 5.8 assists, and nearly four rebounds over his last five games which includes a dreadful six-point performance against the Trailblazers. He's the same size as Chauncey, probably quicker at this point, and is a capable finisher around the rim. However, Billups is without question the stronger of the two and will have his way with the rookie down in the blocks. It should be a question of whether seasoned savvy or raw youth gets the upper hand.
Another match-up that should be great is Drew Gooden and Nene. Gooden is a strong lowpost defender and Nene is a jungle cat with his back to the basket. I've also been very surprised with how well Nene has been shooting the mid range jumper and if he can make Gooden respect his shooting ability with a few makes it should open up quick dribble penetration for Big Brazil. On the other side of the floor, Gooden is a crafty offensive player and great offensive rebounder so Nene is going to have to put a body on him when the ball goes to the rim and stay on his feet when Drew starts head faking.
I'm expecting no let downs in front of the Mile High fans tonight, so say it with me now...
Go Nuggets!

Even George Karl Agrees

(Boulder-CO) This quote taken from George Karl on Carmelo Anthony's shot selection in today's ESPN's preview of tonight's game,"Right now we're not getting a lot of opportunities for him. He's taking a lot of tough shots and getting frustrated over the shot selection. I think he's got to be patient and work with us, and we'll figure out how to help him gain more success."
Here's an idea... Put another scorer in your line-up (J.R. Smith) so teams have to respect another threat on the floor! Nobody respects the outside game of Dahntay Jones, hence the all the double teams, and Allen Iverson now plays in Detroit!
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 23rd, and on this day:
'79- Washington’s Elvin Hayes scored 18 points in a 128-108 loss at San Antonio to move ahead of Hal Greer, at that time into seventh place on the NBA all-time scoring list, with 21,587 points.

'91- The Sacramento Kings snapped their NBA record 43-game road losing streak with a 95-93 win over the Magic at the Orlando Arena. Lionel Simmons scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Kings to their first road triumph since November 20, 1990 in Washington.

'94- Jeff Hornacek of Utah set an NBA record by sinking all eight of his three-point field goal attempts during the Jazz’ 113-103 home win over Seattle. Hornacek scored a career-high 40 points and broke the previous mark held by Portland’s Terry Porter (1992) and the Sonics’ Sam Perkins (1993), who both went 7-of-7 from three-point range. Perkins tied Hornacek’s 8-for-8 performance for Seattle against Toronto on January 15, 1997.

'94- Wesley Person hit for 19 points to lead 10 double-figure scorers in Phoenix’s 140-109 home win over the LA Clippers. The Suns became the third team in NBA history to have 10 different players score in double figures in the same game. On March 30, 1980, Seattle defeated Portland 135-104, with Gus Williams’ 23 points leading 10 double-figure scorers for the Sonics. And on April 14, 1994, the Sonics accomplished the feat again, defeating the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 150-101, with Detlef Schrempf’s 21 points leading the way.

'97- Los Angeles Laker head coach Del Harris recorded his 500th career win after a 119-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reality Check Received

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(Boulder-CO) Things weren't completely terrible in the Nuggets, 104-90, loss to the Lakers, but there were three things that really irked me in the first half.

First off, Denver's defense in the first 24 minutes was deplorable. I thought complete defensive lapses like last night's first half were behind this team, but when everybody wants to selfishly shoot jump shots it's hard to really get juiced on defense knowing you're probably not going to see the ball on the other end of the floor.

That concept transitions perfectly into my next area of aggravation: shot selection. Last night, the wrong people were taking the wrong shots at the wrong time and it really put the Nuggets in the tough position of trying to come from so far behind so early in the game.

Finally, it was clear to me that the Nuggets personnel situation has to change for this team to compete with teams of like caliber to the Lakers if the Nuggets are truly going to emerge as a contender in the Western Conference.

Oh, and one more thing... The Lakers are really, really good.

In the first half, there was no D in Denver. The Nuggets allowed nine different Lakers to score at least a bucket while not making any of L.A.'s talented crew work too hard for it. Of the 28 made field goals by L.A. in the first half, 15 were either dunks, lay-ups, or shots from inside the paint resulting in the Lakers shooting a scalding 62% from the field. And to add insult to injury, L.A. had three players in double figures by intermission while enjoying a 20-point lead, 67-47.

The Denver Nugget weren't doing themselves any favors with their shot selection either and Linas Kleiza's nine minute body of work in the first half serves as a prime example as to why. Would someone on the Nuggets coaching staff please tell Linas to stop chucking up three-pointers or tell 'Melo to take the ball to the hole a few times before completely settling for jumpers? In nine minutes, nine-frigid'-minutes, Linas Kleiza shot four three's out of his six attempts total! Who does Kleiza think he is, Dale Ellis? All I know is had it been J.R. Smith with the itchy trigger finger I can only imagine the backlash that would be going on in the comments section because, "He just doesn't get it", but the truth be told J.R.'s the one fighting for light like a fern on the rain forest floor as guys like LK bomb away without any sort of discretion!

And while on the topic of J.R. Smith, why is Dahntay Jones still starting? Someone please tell me one solid reason... I'll wait... because not allowing a player with the ridiculous upside of Smith to run with the starting five (which could only individually benefit him) when he is obviously the one who by playing those minutes it would benefit the team the most is unjustly retarding the overall development beyond what any of us can probably understand. Dahntay Jones is neither the defensive stopper he originally was billed as or a better threat offensively than J.R. is so it's high time to stop kidding ourselves and play the best five on the team.

As for the rest of the game, Denver did show signs that they learned something after playing such a terrible first half by closing L.A.'s lead to just eleven with seven minutes to play in the third. However, their comeback was short-lived as the Lakers finished up by 21 points entering the fourth quarter as the Zen Master meditated his way to a 10-1 record.

Please don't take my tone as disgust, but rather interpret it as disappointment. I really thought Denver would put forth a better effort against one of the NBA's top teams. Plus, watching Kobe Bryant sit on the bench after playing only 13 minutes in the second half and scoring a game-high 29 points makes me sick.

Go Nuggets!

PS - I’ve had it with Blogger and its inconsistency so I’ve decided to join the Bloguin Network of sports writers. There’s already a new and improved Nugg Doctor in the works so get ready!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 22nd, and on this day:
'50- The Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 in Minneapolis in the lowest-scoring game in NBA history.

'61- St. Louis Hawks forward Bob Pettit connected on all 19 of his foul shots in a 141-121 loss at Boston, establishing what was then an NBA record.

'92- Rick Adelman posted the 200th victory of his coaching career as the Blazers beat Detroit, 115-90. At the time, no coach had reached the 200-win milestone that quickly. The win came in his 288th game.

'94- Golden State Coach Don Nelson became the first individual in NBA history to participate in 2,700 career games as a player or coach (both regular season and playoffs), during the Warriors’ 102-98 road setback at Golden State. Later in the 1994-95 season, Nelson was passed in career NBA game appearances, as a player or coach, by Atlanta head coach Lenny Wilkens.
'00- The Philadelphia 76ers lost 88-73 to the Charlotte Hornets, ending their season-opening winning streak at 10 games. The Sixers became the 12th team in NBA history to begin a season with at least 10 consecutive victories.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Game 13: Nuggets @ Lakers

(Boulder-CO) I was hoping last night's Lakers vs. Suns game would go into quadruple overtime so Kobe wouldn't have had the luxury of watching the fourth quarter from the bench. Unfortunately, L.A. blackened out the Suns easily, 105-92.
The Lakers are now 9-1 and can still boast the league's largest positive point differential of +13.9 points per game, or should I say wins? The Lakers can also rub the last eight straight wins over the Nuggets - including three wins during last year's regular season, a four-game sweep in last year's playoffs, and a, 104-97, win already this season - in Denver's eye. But... Can they say they've played these Denver Nuggets? I think not!
Sure, the Lakers are a great team. Bynum is back and is playing like a beast. Kobe Bryant could still be the best overall player in the world. Pau Gasol is averaging a double-double of 16.2 points and ten boards. Lamar Odom may not like coming off the bench, but that's not stopping the 6'10" power-point from giving Phil Jackson solid contributions nightly while Vladimir Radmanovic is quietly shooting 45% from three-point range as a starter. So.... So... So what?
Of the nine wins L.A. has stacked up this season, the Nuggets are one of only four teams (Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago being the others) to keep the Lakers' margin of victory to just seven points. And that first loss to the Lakers was before Chauncey Billups came to town. Since Mr. Big Shot has settled into the Denver landscape, the Nuggets have held opponents to an average of 92.5 points while winning seven of their last eight and defeating the reigning NBA Champion Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs on their home floors. Furthermore, the Nuggets have drastically improved their efficiency offensively by cutting down their turnovers and not relying on the fastbreak as heavily; both of which should improve their chances against the Lakers tonight in L.A. because Kobe and Co. are not prone to turning the ball over or losing the battle of the boards.
Now here are two critical aspects of tonight's game: First, Denver has to get production out of its bench. Before Wednesday's victory over the Spurs when the Nuggets received just 14 points worth of support from its reserves. The Denver bench had been averaging 33.3 points from its subs in the three previous match-ups. Against the well balanced Lakers, who have a combined total of almost 40 points out of their bench players, this is pivotal. The second critical aspect of tonight's game will be field goal percentage. Both teams shoot comparably from the field so my conclusion is, not accounting for any other major development, that the team that shoots the higher percentage tonight will win. Now, I know that's not exactly pin-pointing the exact date of the end of humanity, but believe me when I say that it just might boil down to something that simple tonight when two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference square off.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 21st, and on this day:
'65- Chick Hearn began his streak of broadcasting consecutive Los Angeles Lakers’ games. The last time Hearn missed a Lakers’ broadcast was November 20, 1965, when he worked a college football game in Arkansas the day before and had his flight canceled. By the end of the 2000-01 season, Hearn had broadcast 3,301 consecutive Lakers games, including preseason and playoff games.

'84- The Boston Celtics sank 55-of-81 field goal attempts for a club-record .679 shooting percentage in a 135-91 rout of Golden State.

'90- Atlanta’s Moses Malone became only the seventh player in NBA history to reach the 25,000-point plateau by scoring 22 points in the Hawks’ 105-93 loss to Milwaukee at the Bradley Center.

'96- With the Los Angeles Clippers’ 105-94 loss at Dallas, Bill Fitch became the first NBA coach to record 1,000 career loses.
'01- The Denver Nuggets called up Chris Andersen of the Fayetteville Patriots, who became the first NBDL player to be called up to the NBA.
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Billups is West. Conf. Player of the Week

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets Chauncey Billups has been named the Western Conference Player of the week for games played Monday, Nov.10, through Sunday, Nov. 16. In his first full week with Denver, Billups led the Nuggets to a 3-1 record, including two road wins, averaging 21.5 points and 5.8 assists. Since acquiring Billups, the Nuggets are 7-1, with the point guard averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 assists. Billups has scored at least 10 points in each game with the Nuggets, and has paced the team in scoring three times.
This honor marks the fourth time in Billups' career that he has been named either the Eastern of Western Conference the Player of the Week. He has previously taken home such title three times while a Detroit Piston and now once as a Denver Nugget.
Congratulations, Chauncey!
Go Nuggets!

Still Raising the Bar

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(Boulder-CO) As the Nuggets continue to roll up the victories the bar continues to rise. Just how good did the Nuggets become after trading Allen Iverson to the Pistons for hometown hero, Chauncey Billups? Well, good enough to beat the perennial Western Conference powerhouse San Antonio Spurs last night, 91-81, on their home floor. As for how good they will be? We're going to know on Friday night when Denver takes on the 8-1, best record in the Western Conference, Los Angeles Lakers.

The first quarter in the Alamo City was quite basic. Jacque Vaughn still can't guard Chauncey Billups. Michael Finley can still elevate and shoot. Carmelo Anthony and Bruce Bowen still don't like each other. And Kenyon Martin and Tim Duncan are still a great match-up to watch. Denver played solid defense, per recent expectation, and led 22-21 after twelve minutes of action.

It wasn't until the start of the second quarter that Denver upped the ante defensively to hold the Spurs to just four points in the first six minutes while the offense - led by reserves Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and J.R. Smith - reeled off a dozen points to open up, 34-25, lead. Two back-to-back turnovers by way of Carmelo Anthony trying to push the fast break a touch too hard didn't stop Denver from continuing to win the quarter, 28-19, to enjoy a 50-40 lead at the half.

I've really enjoyed how the Nuggets have sustained their level of defensive intensity in the last few games and the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs is a perfect twelve minute microcosm to serve as to why. I've already detailed how Denver held the Spurs to just four points in the first six minutes of the second half, but when the full quarter is dissected it really was a superb stretch in which the Nuggets did practically everything correct. Denver was active in rotation and didn't allow any uncontested three's. J.R. Smith played excellent one-on-one defense on Roger Mason and Michael Finley. Everyone did a great job playing one pass deny and as a whole Denver just made the Spurs work extremely hard for everything they wanted to execute.

Then as a bonus treat Denver completely suffocated San Antonio in the third period! Now, I understand that San Antonio is without two great offensive players in Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. And I also know how hard it is for a team to operate efficiently without a true point guard, but I haven't seen a beating like the third quarter since someone put a banana in my pants and turned a monkey loose! The Nuggets ended the third with an 11-1 run, including a scoreless final 3:24, after allowing the Spurs a mere 13 points prior to a Bruce Bowen free-throw with six seconds remaining. For the quarter, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony combine for 18 of Denver's 25 points to hold commanding, 75-54, lead entering the fourth quarter.

Once the final twelve started to dwindle Coach Karl put on the cruise control with his reserves. With the Lakers on Friday night, it was nice to see Denver's starting five getting some much deserved rest even if it meant allowing the Spurs to trim back the Denver margin of victory to just ten points.

Pacing the Nuggets was the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Chauncey led all scorers with 22 points, six assists, five rebounds, a steal, and a block and Anthony flirted with a triple-double with 21 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Surprisingly, Denver's bench combined for just 14 points after averaging 33.3 points in the last three games.

Friday is payback time for the Nuggets when they face their second great test of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 20th, and on this day:
'79- Red Holzman won his 500th game at the helm of the New York Knicks following a 130-125 overtime win over Houston at Madison Square Garden. At the time, Holzman was only the second coach--after Red Auerbach--to reach that plateau with one team.

'92- Karl Malone’s game-high 34 points lifted Utah to a 97-95 win over Indiana at Market Square Arena and pushed him past the 15,000 point mark for his career.

'93- Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal scored 24 points, grabbed 28 rebounds and blocked 15 shots (tying Manute Bol for the second-highest total in NBA history) during the Magic’s 87-85 victory over New Jersey at the Meadowlands Arena.

'97- A.C. Green of the Dallas Mavericks set an NBA record by playing in his 907th consecutive game in a matchup against Golden State. Green broke the record of Randy Smith, who played in 906 consecutive games from 1972 to 1983. Green continued to add to the record, playing in 1,192 games through the end of the 2000-01 season.

'99- Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon reached 2,000 career steals after a steal in the second quarter of the Rockets' 110-107 loss to Seattle Saturday night. Olajuwon is the only player in NBA history with 2,000 steals and 2,000 blocks. Steals and blocks have been compiled since the 1973-74 season.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Game 12: Nuggets @ Spurs

(Boulder-CO) The 7-4 Denver Nuggets travel to San Antonio tonight to take on the badly depleted Spurs. San Antonio will be without All-Star guards Manu Ginobili AKA "The Flopper" and Tony Parker. Please, give me a moment while I pity them....
San Antonio has struggled this year since starting the season with four losses in their first five games with their only win coming in overtime over the Timberwolves. Since that rocky start in which they were averaging an allowed 105 points per game, the Spurs have regrouped and focused their efforts defensively to win four out of their last five while allowing a stingy 81.6 points per game.
What intrigues me about tonight's game is whether or not Denver will be able to beat a proven contender on the road. Since acquiring Billups, Denver's only win over a potential playoff team on the road has been against the Celtics. In that win, Denver shot the ball extremely well (39-80 from the field) and won the battle of the boards (43-37), thus prompting me to believe that those two aspects will once again be critical in tonight's game against the Spurs. Also important for the Nuggets will be the bench support. In Denver's last three wins, the Nuggets have been receiving an average of 33.3 points from its reserves.
My last point concerns the venue. In the Alamo Dome, things have not been great for Denver. The Nuggets have only won six of 36 meetings in San Antonio since the start of the 1991-92 season which I'm pretty sure predates Vinny Del Negro.
To win, Denver will have to shake the buzzard's luck in the Alamo Dome, get great support from the bench, and shoot the ball well against a stingy San Antonio defense.
Don't forget the Alamo.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 19th, and on this day:
'77- The New Orleans Jazz set a then NBA record for fewest free throws made in a game--one. Despite 17 fouls by Houston, the Jazz went to the foul line only five times and made just one, yet still managed to defeat the Rockets 103-101. On January 9, 1996, the Toronto Raptors did not make a single free throw in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets, erasing the Jazz’s record of one free throw.
'83- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers became the second player in NBA history to score 30,000 points, joining Wilt Chamberlain at that plateau, as the Lakers won 117-110 at Portland.
Enjoy your day!

Hey Skiles: Stop Foulng!

"No one told me I was going to have to run"
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets demolished the Milwaukee Bucks last night, 114-95, in a basketball game that was basically reduced to a free-throw shooting contest. The foul-happy Bucks committed 36 personal fouls to put Denver on the charity stripe for a season-high 48 attempts of which they made 40 of. Memo to Milwaukee Head Coach Scott Skiles: Stop fouling and play some friggin' defense!

I knew the Bucks were slow, but I didn't know that a three-legged turtle would have given them a run for their money. In the first half, the new-style Denver Nuggets put on a retro night as they put back-to-back 30-point quarters on Skiles' crew. In fact, the Nuggets were so much quicker than the Bucks that they were actually beating Milwaukee to the other end of the floor after made buckets! And one man that was taking full advantage of the speed discrepancy was Carmelo Anthony. On numerous occasions, Anthony would beat his man down the floor in transition to establish ideal position en route to scoring eleven points in the first quarter alone on 7-7 from the free-throw due to his defender having no choice but to foul him.

And just because the Nuggets decided to bring back a retro night offensively doesn't mean that the new-look defense took a night off. In the second quarter, Denver held the Bucks scoreless for over five minutes while they embarked on a 14-0 run to blow the game wide open. By this point, the main character of the storyline had switched from Carmelo Anthony exploiting Milwaukee's lack of foot speed to Linas Kleiza taking cue. LK had already scored four points at the end of the first quarter on a trey and a made free-throw, but after seeing the same thing Anthony did Linas proceeded to add another nine points in the second to help put the Nuggets up by 20, 55-35, with just over four minutes to play in the half. Milwaukee's Charlie Bell did provide some resistance by scoring nine straight Buck points to close out the second quarter, but the damage had already been done as Denver went into the halftime intermission leading, 64-50.

After the break the rest of the game became a formality. Denver continued to abuse Milwaukee in transition on their way to out scoring the Bucks 29-10 in fast break points. In total, Denver finished with all five starters, and reserves Linas Kleiza and Renaldo Balkman, in double-figure scoring in the boxscore. LK led all scorers with a game-high 25 points and three rebounds as George Karl was afforded the luxury of resting his starters knowing that the Nuggets will be taking on the Spurs in San Antonio tonight on the tail end of back-to-back games. In fact, no starter played more than 28 minutes due to the bench, led by Kleiza, holding the proverbial fort. And here's a new stat to keep track of: The Nuggets are 2-0 this season when they get two substitutes to score in double-figures.

One note before this game is permanently forgotten in the archives: This is the type of game that Denver used to build a huge lead in and then allow a team to come back and make it interested in the fourth quarter. Typically, this would happen as the Nuggets abandoned team basketball and played very lazy defense while thinking that the W was in the bag. That kind of let down didn't happen last night against the Bucks despite all of us probably being ready for it. This proves two things to me: The first being that the culture of this ball club has truly changed. No longer are the Nuggets more flash than substance. The Nuggets are playing for each other and as a result the team is flourishing. The second thing last night's game proved to me is that the Nuggets are no longer a one-trick pony. With Chauncey Billups at the helm, Denver is now an adaptable team capable of still putting their opposition's lights out offensively with the fast break while also proving able to play a grinding style of halfcourt offense while making their opponent work for every bucket they score.

Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Game 11: Bucks @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) Although the Milwaukee Bucks are 5-6 overall, they should not be taken lightly. The Bucks have been without their star, Michael Redd, for the last seven games due to an ankle sprain, but have still managed to win three of the seven while missing over 20 points per game. Compounding Milwaukee's struggles have been the loss of Charlie Villanueva. The Bucks starting power forward has also missed the last two games due to a strained hamstring and, unlike Redd, is not expected to play in tonight's match-up.
Either way, I'm not expecting it to matter.
The Denver Nuggets are really coming together nicely since acquiring Chauncey Billups when you've considered the short adjustment period. Chauncey has completely changed the style of play in Denver due to his savvy ability to bring calm to the team. In seasons past, the Nuggets missed that dearly and as a result found themselves struggling to beat teams like the Bucks because of the lack of ability to identify an opponents' weaknesses and exploit them. With Chaunecy, Denver has abandoned the one-trick-pony routine of just trying to outscore their opposition and now can identify how they can win while also being able to execute.
And against the Bucks, I expect the Nuggets to identify early that Milwaukee can't keep up with Denver offensively. We are still yet to see Chauncey have a very efficient night shooting the ball and it's just a matter of time before he comes around on say the likes of Luke Ridnour. Furthermore, with the Nuggets playing a newly found stingy defense, the key to tonight's game will be rebounding the ball and getting the fast break started. Andrew Bogut has a pair of the slowest feet in the league (as do a few other Bucks that shall remain nameless), so don't be surprised if a touch of the old Denver Nuggets surfaces as 'Melo and the boys leave the scoreboard operator gasping for air!
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 18th, and on this day:
'89- For the first time in NBA history, two players from the Soviet Union met on the court. Atlanta’s Alexander Volkov and Golden State’s Sarunas Marciulionis, who were teammates on the Soviet team that won the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in South Korea. On this night, Volkov came out on top, as the Hawks downed the Warriors, 112-96.
Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Birdman Injury Update

(Boulder-CO) Chris Andersen broke a rib last Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies when he was barrelled into trying to draw a charge. The injury is expected to keep the Birdman cooped up for at least three weeks to give the rib ample time to heal, but could keep Andersen on the injured list for longer. The injury is especially nagging due to its painful effect on deep breathing.
Heal strong, Birdman. The Nuggets need your energy as soon as possible.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 17th, and on this day:
'45- Elvin Hayes was born in Rayville, Louisiana.

'59- Connie Dierking of the Syracuse Nationals became the first player to foul out of a game in the first quarter as Syracuse beat Cincinnati at New York, 121-116.

'81- New York Knicks center Bill Cartwright made 19 free throws, missing none, in a game against Kansas City, tying the NBA record set by St. Louis’ Bob Pettit. This record was later tied by Detroit’s Adrian Dantley and broken by Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins, who made 23 consecutive FTs without a miss on Dec. 8, 1992 against Chicago.

'84- Purvis Short scored 59 points, the most by any NBA player since April 9, 1978, but his Golden State Warriors lost to New Jersey 131-114. It was the third time in a week that Short had scored more than 40 points in a game.

'99- NBA Commissioner David Stern announces that Jeffrey Mishkin, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of the NBA for the past seven years, will be returning to private practice as a partner at the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, effective January 1, 2000. As Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Mishkin had overseen every aspect of the NBA's legal affairs, including all litigation, labor relations, commercial transactions, legislation and enforcement of the league's intellectual property rights. During his tenure at the NBA, Mishkin remained an active practitioner, personally arguing the appeals in the NBA's most significant matters, including NBA v. Williams, Chicago Professional Sports and WGN v. NBA, and NBA v. Motorola.

'00- Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers became the 25th player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points as he tallied 30 points in a 92-90 loss to Golden State.

'00- Jason Kidd of the Phoenix Suns tied the NBA record for turnovers in a game when he turned the ball over 14 times in a 90-85 loss to New York. John Drew of the Atlanta Hawks committed 14 turnovers at New Jersey on March 1, 1978.
Enjoy your day!

These AREN'T Your Nuggets of Old

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Boulder-CO) If there was any doubt in my mind about how different this year's Nuggets are from seasons past they are all gone now. In recent years, if Denver didn't score over a hundred points there was a very good chance they would lose the game. As for holding a team under 90 points... Please, I wouldn't have held my breath! But this is a different team, with a different point guard, center, and attitude on defense.
Still not sure?
With last night's, 90-84, victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves the Nuggets have won four out of their last five games by allowing 90 points or less while only going over the century mark once. And what adds to my surprise is Denver, a team historically known for trying to run its opposition out of the gym, for the first time since Carmelo Anthony was freshman at the University of Syracuse is no longer in the top ten teams in points per game. Marking the first time since the 2002-03 season that the Nuggets were not one of the NBA's top ten teams in scoring.
Against Minnesota, it was like the Nuggets were in the shower and someone kept flushing the toilet. One quarter they would be diddling in the mild warmth of the water spouting from the fixture before all of sudden things would get boiling hot. And thankfully for the Pepsi Center patrons... someone kept flushing at all the right times!
In the first quarter, the Nuggets were superlative as Denver scored 27 points off of a combined eight assists while holding Minnesota to just 17 points. The extra pass was being made by everyone and the ball movement was keeping the Timberwolves out of optimal defensive position. This led a few touch lobs for dunks and wide open jump shots for Denver's best perimeter shooters. Unfortunately, things would drastically slow down for the Nuggets in the second quarter as Denver collectively shot 4-18 from the field and uncharacteristically made only five of its nine free-throw attempts. But despite the streak of shaky offense, Denver still held a, 44-40, lead at the half after only scoring 17 points in the second.
More cold shooting persisted in the third quarter as the Nuggets lost their lead entering the fourth. The Nuggets only scored three points in the first five minutes of the second half and it was on a Chauncey Billups three-pointer. In fact, Minnesota took the lead, 55-49, on a 15-5 run before Coach George Karl called a full timeout and changed his line-up at the halfway point in the quarter. From that point on it was Denver's newest Nugget, Chauncey Billups, who took control of the game. Chauncey scored 12 of the next 15 points for Denver as the Nuggets entered the fourth quarter down by a deuce.
Denver once again came out of the gates slow in the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves built a nine point lead with just six and a half minutes left to play prompting George Karl to call a much needed timeout. Now I don't know what was said in that huddle, but whatever it was I hope someone recorded it because the Nuggets, staring defeat in the face, regrouped and absolutely demolished the Timberwolves in the final six minutes. Things immediately heated up as J.R. Smith hit a timely three that cued a 6-0 run right out of the timeout. Minnesota tried countering the inevitable Denver push with timeout but it was too late. The Denver floodgates had been opened and after an Al Jefferson hook put the Wolves back up by five the Nuggets went on an offensive barrage. J.R. Smith hit another three to close the gap to just two and started an 11-0 run to give Denver back the lead for good as the Nuggets held the Timberwolves scoreless for over four of the last five minutes of the game. The late offensive run in combination with the stout Denver D left the Timberwolves stunned as they lost their eighth straight contest and sixth after holding a fourth quarter lead.
Chauncey Billups was everything for the Nuggets in what was his best game since returning to Denver. Mr. Big Shot's namesake was cemented as he connected on all four of his eight attempts from downtown in the second half with two coming at critical junctures of the game. The most clutch being a pull-up trey on a fastbreak from the left wing that sparked the Nuggets turnaround late in the third quarter and was followed by another to long distance bomb just under a minute later. Chauncey finished with a game-high 26 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block while only turning the ball over once.
Carmelo Anthony also had a solid performance despite not shooting the ball very efficiently. 'Melo scored just 14 points, but grabbed 12 rebounds in his second straight double-double performance while also dishing out four assists and recording a steal. He too was smart with the basketball turning it over just once in 37 minutes of action.
And what can be said about J.R. Smith? I'm still not sure why Dahntay Jones is starting for this club when a talent like J.R. Smith is waiting for action on the bench. It's so painfully obvious that J.R. deserves the starting nod from the way he is busting his backside on D to the way he comes up huge at the most opportune times for the Nuggets on O. J.R. played 24 minutes off George Karl's bench en route to 14 points and two steals without a single turnover and I feel the chemistry and coaching between he and Billups is palpable. When these two are on the floor together Chauncey has a way of putting the ball in J.R.'s hands at the right time and in the right spot for him to flourish.
The 6-4 Nuggets will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center and have now pulled even with the Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers in a three-way tie for first place in the Northwest Division. Plus, I have been loving this current Jazz losing streak that has extended to three straight games!
Go Nuggets!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Game 10: Timberwolves @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) In the crazy Denver Nuggets world that we live in it would only make sense for the Nuggets to come off a gutsy road win over the defending NBA champs and struggle tonight against the Timberwolves. Minnesota has not won a game since it's season home opener, has lost their last seven games since then, and that is exactly what has me worried.

The key to beating the Timberwolves is slowing down Al Jefferson. The entire Minnesota offense revolves around the big man who is averaging 22.6 and 10.1 rebounds per game. In fact, there is not another T-Wolf averaging more than 14 points or grabbing at least five rebounds per game. Furthermore, Minnesota is in the bottom five in each of the following categories: Defensive rebounding per game (27th), opposing defensive rebounds per game (25th), steals per game (27th), total turnovers forced (28th), points allowed per game (25th), three-point field goals made per game (28th), three-point field goal percentage (29th), free-throws attempted per game (29th), opposing field goals allowed per game (27th), and opposing field goal percentage (27th).

Don't slip tonight, Denver. The Timberwolves are desperate for a win and would like nothing more than to beat the Nuggets on their home floor for their first road victory of the year. Be sure to check out TWolves Blog for more in depth Minnesota coverage.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is November 16th, and on this day:
'57- Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics snared 32 rebounds in one half in a 111-89 Celtics’ home victory over Philadelphia. Russell’s one half total is an NBA record and he finished the game with 49. Later in his career, Russell grabbed 51 rebounds in a game against Syracuse, on February 5, 1960. Only Wilt Chamberlain ever grabbed more rebounds in a game, with 55.

'61- Connie Hawkins made his professional debut for the Pittsburgh Rens of the ABL at home in a 97-89 loss to the Chicago Majors.

'62- Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors scored 73 points against the New York Knicks, tied for the third-highest single-game point total in NBA history.

'93- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets had his consecutive free throw streak end at 81 in a game against San Antonio. Abdul-Rauf’s streak was the second longest in NBA history, trailing only the record 97 established by Minnesota’s Micheal Williams one week earlier.

'94- With five rejections in New York’s 110-89 road win over the LA Lakers, Patrick Ewing became the ninth NBA player to reach 2,000 career blocks.

'01- NBDL tipped-off its inaugural season when the Greenville Groove hosted the North Charleston Lowgators at the BI-LO Center in Greenville, S.C.
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So Much For Feelings

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Boulder-CO) These Denver Nuggets never cease to amaze me. After playing one of their poorer games so far this season against the Cleveland Cavaliers just 24 hours prior, they marched right into the Boston Garden and stun 19,000 Bean Towners by beating the Celtics, 94-85. The home loss is the first for the Celtics this season and serves as the first true feather in Denver's cap this year.

It must be some kind of hex the Nuggets are fighting because they once again started out another game by spotting the Celtics an 8-0 lead. Hex aside, I thought the Nuggets did a great job of fighting back and it serves as no surprise that it was Denver's calm captain, Chauncey Billups, who rallied the team with seven of Denver's first nine points. Once the initial bleeding was stopped, I feel Denver outplayed Boston overall for the quarter despite still trailing at the end of the period, 29-23.

If the starters played well in the first quarter then the bench played spectacular in the second! Denver's subs scored eleven of the team's 25 points in the quarter, but it was their defensive intensity that really set the tone for the Nuggets taking a, 48-42, halftime advantage. Renaldo Balkman was once again the key to the Nuggets overcoming their first quarter deficit by doing all the little things like boxing out, hounding his man on first pass denial, and making sure that no loose ball wasn't fought for. On one occasion, he not only controlled a tipped pass that would have surely went out of bounds had he not tip-toed the baseline, but also found a way to get the ball to Anthony Carter, who then tapped it to Chauncey Billups, who then spiked it to a streaking Carmelo Anthony for an easy dunk! It was a perfect bump, set, spike that made former Olympic Gold Medal winning Volleyballer, Chris Marlowe proud from his court side seat announcing the game!

All kidding aside, I really do chalk up Denver changing the game's momentum in the second quarter to Renaldo Balkman. His four points on two deep two-point field goals, two offensive and five total rebounds, a steal, a block, and an assist all came in the second quarter and served as the tinder to start the Denver fire. And as a whole, a lot of credit has to be given to the Nuggets' subs who outscored Boston's bench 11-3 in the first half.

Then came the most bizarre third quarter I've seen the Nuggets play since I haven't missed a game dating back six years ago. With a six-point halftime advantage, the Denver Nuggets would extend their lead in the third quarter to 15 points after coming out of the locker room hot and putting an 11-2 run on the Celtics. At this point, Denver had the entire engine firing on all cylinders before a catastrophic breakdown akin to transmission failure struck. With the lead, 59-44, and over eight and half minutes to play in the third, the Nuggets finished the quarter with only five more points as the Celtics regained the lead, 65-64.

At this point I thought to myself the Nuggets had pushed themselves to the limit too soon in the game and would proceed to concede the game to the Celtics in fourth quarter. But I hadn't learned my lesson from the first half, and when the going got tough, George Karl went back to the unit that delivered Denver its original lead in the first half.

It all started with J.R. Smith entering the game with one minute to play in the third quarter. Smith made good on an illegal defense technical free-throw at the end of the third period before scoring another six straight points to start the fourth. His substitute sidekick, Linas Kleiza, added another five straight points before J.R. bookended a 14-5 run to jump start the Nuggets' fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the wing that gave Denver a, 78-70, lead.

The Celtics had one final offensive push in them down the final seven minutes of regulation, but the sound halfcourt offense of the Nuggets held them at bay despite allowing Boston to once again tie the game at 84 with just three minutes to play. And who says their isn't any D in Denver? With the game on the line and the Bean Town faithful making their presence felt in the Garden. Denver shut down the Celtics and closed the game on a 9-1 run after a late Patrick O'Bryant free-throw was made long after Celtics Coach Doc Rivers had waived the white flag of defeat.

The well-balanced boxscore includes six Nuggets reaching double digits in scoring led by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups each with 18 points. 'Melo added a season and game-high 13 rebounds and Mr. Big Shot a game-high seven assists. Kenyon Martin finished with 16 points and four boards despite scaring the bejesus out of me in the second half when he slipped and hit the deck awkwardly in a fall that reminded me of the freak incident when he broke his femur in the Conference USA Championships back in 2000. Luckily, Martin would walk off the scary fall as the Nuggets Nation breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief. Nene added 14 points and seven rebounds while J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza each scored ten off the bench.

Up next for the 5-4 Nuggets is a two-game homestand starting on Sunday with the Minnesota Timberwolves before the Milwaukee Bucks come to town on Tuesday.

Go Nuggets!