Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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!

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