Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nuggets Never Get Started, Deficit Too Deep

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets hosted the Milwaukee Bucks and put out the good china, fine wine, and appetizers. Milwaukee played the roll of ungrateful guest perfectly by coming into the Pepsi Center and putting the Nuggets so far behind by halftime the game was virtually over. I hate having to write these kinds of recaps because there just wasn’t very much positive to focus on. The Nuggets lost 110-89.

The first half of the game was essentially a jailbreak for the Denver Nuggets on defense. The Nuggets were outscored 69-45 at intermission. They were out rebounded, hustled, and scored with ease by the Bucks. The consequences of the lackadaisical defense were three fold. With no identity on the defensive end the Nuggets never got any type of fast break going, were beat up on the offensive glass, and allowed easy ten to twelve foot jump shots for the first 24 minutes. It looked as if the Nuggets were expecting the likes of Michael Redd and rookie Andrew Bogut to shoot 25% collectively. Bogut would finish 8-10 and Redd 7-16 respectively, while the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks followed suit by all shooting a high percentage.

Consequentially for the Nuggets, with no fast break they struggled to get anything going consistently on the offensive end of the floor. The only Nugget to shoot 50% from the floor and score double digits was Marcus Camby. No Nugget snatched double digits in rebounds and Andre Miller had an uncharacteristic night turning the ball over five times while dishing eleven assists. Carmelo Anthony was held to 19 points; nearly seven below his season average and as a team the Nuggets were 1-11 from downtown. As for reasons why Denver was unable to right the ship; Defense creates offensive opportunities; Good offensive opportunities lead to easy scores; Scoring is contagious and all of this was illusive.

There is absolutely no reason to dwell on this game. If you’re George Karl you just have to tell your troops that sometimes this kind of thing happens and to forget about it. The NBA is not an exact science. Now it is more important to figure out a way to slay the looming giant in the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. If the Nugget’s track record is any indication they will bounce right back and rise to the challenge of one the league’s top teams (remember the win against the Mavericks?).
While I was disappointed in tonight’s overall picture, there were some positives that should be given praise. Rueben Patterson came off the bench and added eight points and two steals in 24 minutes. His teammate Reggie Evans grabbed eight boards in 16 minutes. Both men were effective in their debuts and were received with warmth by the home crowd. Resilience will be the key if the Nuggets want to beat Detroit. I know that the aforementioned is a tall order, but I have a hunch (albeit a small one) that we are going to be in for a thriller on Wednesday night. The Nuggets need to reset, regroup, and come out firing. Let’s go Denver, Let’s go!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Carmelo Smooth In Overtime Win

(Fort Collins-CO) The Denver Nuggets won tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves on what could have been Melo’s best game winning shot in his young career. Tightly guarded in the corner, he drained the three and put the Nuggets up by one and for good 102-101 in overtime. Carmelo has taken and made the game winning shot six times total in three years.

The Denver Nuggets shouldn’t have had to take this game to overtime. With a lackadaisical stretch in the fourth quarter that lasted almost seven minutes. The Nuggets could only notch thirteen points. Four Nuggets scored in double figures, including Kenyon Martin coming off the bench and finishing with 18 points and nine boards. Carmelo led all scorers with 30 points and squeezing eight rebounds along the way. Imperative to the Nuggets with Greg Buckner not playing due to a hyper-extended knee was the play of DerMarr Johnson. DerMarr has been a spotty in off and on playing stints, but was a big time contributor tonight with 17 points. The only Nugget to record a double-double was Andre Miller with game high 13 assists and 19 points.

There was so much positive in this game that it was hard to believe that it took overtime to get this road victory. I like the decision to take Kenyon Martin off the bench. He provides a huge lift with his energy and rebounding. With Carmelo scoring basically at will, the other players have to take up the slack and do the intangible things, the details if you will, that get W’s instead of L’s. DerMarr contributing solid offense, Miller efficiently distributing the ball, and Camby blocking three shots all are things that can facilitate praise. Now the key will be eliminating the four to seven minute stretches of uninspired play. If this goal can be achieved the Nuggets have all the components to be a serious contender come post season.

The trade that was made has already had a positive effect on the Nuggets. How you might ask? Even without any of the new players acquired in uniform for the game, Rueben Patterson was extremely candid on the bench. He was seen encouraging Carmelo, meshing with Earl Boykins, and cheering on both his Cincinnati alumni. Patterson seems to be happy here and adjusting quickly. All of these are positives that can be built upon as soon as Patterson is on the floor.

The Nuggets have now won two straight and are looking forward to Milwaukee at home on Monday. They should win three of the next four games. Playing Milwaukee at home, and then having to host the Detroit Pistons makes it imperative that they take care of business against the Bucks. Winning three out of the next four is more than possible and can hopefully ignite this second half of the season.

Nuggets Recall Julius Hodge

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets have recalled 2005 first round pick Julius Hodge from the NBDL. Hodge was assigned to the Austin Toros on February 8th. He averaged 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while in the D-League. Welcome back Julius, and congratulations.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Done Deal: Nuggets Beat Trade Deadline

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets have officially made a three team trade that included Byron Russell, Earl Watson, and Voshon Leonard. Byron Russell and Earl Watson now play for the Seattle Supersonics and Voshon Leonard will join the Portland Trailblazers. The seven player deal included Vitaly Potapenko relocating to Portland from Seattle, the aforementioned Nuggets to their respective new teams and…

Are you ready for this? The Denver Nuggets have now acquired Charles Smith and Rueben Patterson from Portland and Reggie Evans from Seattle. Rueben Patterson will most likely come off the bench to relieve Carmelo Anthony at small forward. Charles Smith will provide shooting guard support from the bench for Greg Buckner. Reggie Evans is a power forward on a team now with enough depth at power forward for two teams. It will surprising to the Nugg Doctor if he sees much playing time this season.

So it is time for my diagnosis of the trade. I am a little bit perplexed by this one, but here we go. I was under the impression that the Nuggets needed help at the two spot. Charles Smith is averaging only 3.8 points a game and not even a whole assist. I was also under the impression that the two spot was a position that required you to score and play defense, much like Greg Buckner showed us on Tuesday. Why he is now with the Nuggets doesn’t seem to fit with what we were shopping for.

Now to dissect Rueben Patterson and his foreseeable role with the Denver Nuggets. With Carmelo Anthony averaging nearly 37 minutes per game, Rueben is going to have to find a way to contribute without the basketball. This scares the Nugg Doctor because while he shoots a good field goal percentage, just a shade below 50%, it is indicative of his shot selection. Patterson is a slasher and banger off the dribble. He likes to get into the key and score. The only problem with this is you need the ball a lot. Two other areas of concern are his dismal three-point shooting and almost as poor performance record at the free-throw line. One thing positive about Patterson that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet is that he’s a gamer and brings intensity every night.

The most confusing component of the trade to me is Reggie Evans. The 6’8” Evans is putting up numbers almost identical to Eduardo Najera. He certainly isn’t going to start over Kenyon Martin when he is healthy, which now that he is going to be with us down the stretch is hoped to be soon, and in no way shape or form gives us the intangibles that Najera gives us either. Thus leads us to believe that when Najera is back Evans will be on the bench for the majority of game action. Especially with Linas Kleiza now vying for minutes.

Mind wrenching I know, but now lets go a step further and play best/worst case scenario with the midseason move. The best-case scenario is that three former University of Cincinnati players will come together and explode with favorable chemistry. Patterson will ignite Martin, and Johnson will follow. Charles Smith could also blossom into a 12-15 points per game scorer; he is averaging 12.62 points per 48 minutes, and would give us a humungous lift in our weakest position. Obviously being optimistic, Reggie Evans would also find ways to become an effective contributor off the bench regardless of the injury situation at the power forward spot. Who knows, he could be a tremendous asset if Kenyon goes lame again, or Najera takes longer than expected. Best part about this trade is our core nucleus remains unmolested.

Now to play spoiler of the optimistic outlook. Rueben Patterson could very well come in to Denver and cause agitation in shot selection and minutes. Charles Smith could provide little assistance in an unfamiliar, fast break oriented offense. Keep in mind that both he and Patterson are coming from the lowest per game scoring team in the entire league. I have already alluded to what could happen to Reggie Evans. He could find himself at the end of the bench lost in the power forward shuffle if he doesn’t find ways to earn George Karl’s good graces and get rewarded with playing time.

Ah, to have a crystal ball would make this so much easier. Unfortunately, the realm of crystal balls, unicorns, and Pegasus doesn’t exist. The reality is that Nuggets fans are going to have to wait at least until Friday’s game against the Timberwolves to see what materializes from all of this shuffling. I expect the chemistry to be slow to begin with, but hopefully it will be in full bloom right around playoff time. Only time will tell…

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Charlotte Only Poses Threat for a Half

(FortColins-CO) Whatever was said at halftime to the Nuggets by Coach George Karl sparked the Nuggets out of a funk and got the team on the right foot. After a dismal second quarter, the Nuggets were being beat at halftime 57-45. The Nuggets had come out firing in the first quarter with a twelve point lead, but found themselves tied going into the second before the aforementioned collapse.

The team was sparked by Francisco Elson recording his second career double-double and by Andre Miller posting a season high 15 assists. Marcus Camby also recorded a double-double with 14 points and twelve rebounds to go with his five swatted shots. Carmelo was Carmelo, scoring 24 points while shooting an even 50% from the field.

Once the third quarter began it was apparent that the Charlotte Bobcats were not going to be able to compete with the Nuggets. Denver came out blistering and scored 30 points in the quarter and held the Bobcats to a stingy 14. The Nuggets kept up the trend of harassing defense through the finish and cranked the defense up another notch only allowing eleven in the fourth quarter.

Kudos to two Denver Nuggets that picked up the intensity of their games in this contest. Greg Buckner recorded what could have been his best game of the entire season. He recorded 19 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Most importantly he gave the Nuggets a defensive identity and 34 solid minutes in the win. In a breakout game, Linas Kleiza contributed 13 points and six rebounds. The Nuggets first year player was tremendous in his allotted minutes and made the most out of his opportunity.

With Eduardo Najera rehabbing his knee, and Kenyon Martin nursing a bruise that dates back before the All-Star break. It was imperative that Kleiza step up and he did. I hope Kenyon Martin gets traded. It is obvious that the Denver Nuggets have enough help at the power forward slot and would be well advised to trade Kenyon for someone who can be a consistent addition to the squad.

The Nuggets are on again at Minnesota to take on the division rival Timberwolves. The second half of the season is going to separate the pretenders from the contenders. The Nuggets need to give us a repeat performance of last season’s second half run. George, whatever you said at halftime seemed to work. Keep these guys motivated down the stretch and we will have to see what this team can do when the pressure is on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Cornelius “The Hawk” Hawkins

(FortCollins-CO) The tread on Connie Hawkins’s high tops has been worn on almost every elite level of basketball in history. No other player is shrouded in more controversy, mystery, player-to-player respect, and acknowledgement. Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins played in the rough and rugged street games of Brooklyn, New York, toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, was a MVP in the brief history of the ABL, MVP winner in the ABA in the same year as winning the ABA championship, and four time NBA All-Star. The Nugg Doctor sees no reason applicable to not dedicate this installment of Historical Glimpses to Hawkins.

The Hawk’s enigmatic history would begin in the bump and shuffle of New York City pick up games. Destiny would give Connie two things in his life. The ability to swoop to the basket while palming the ball with grace and style in both hands, and the perfect last name for his inevitable alias, “The Hawk.” It was on these streets, in these unorganized games, that the legend of Connie Hawkins would be established. Controversy would soon follow him, as he would soon be associated with a college gambling scandal at the University of Iowa (where he never even played!) These allegations, which he would never be convicted of any wrongdoing, would prevent Hawk from entry into the NBA at this point in his career.

The next stop in Connie’s future would be with the owner/founder of the Harlem Globetrotters, Abe Saperstein. Connie toured with the Globetrotters for a couple years during the era where “black-on-black” basketball had a limited audience and outlet. It would be when Saperstein would try to create the American Basketball League in 1961 did Hawkins make his debut in truly organized ball. He did get honored as the League MVP in 1961 while playing for the Pittsburgh Rens, but the league would only last for 19 months total and be dissolved on January 1st, 1963 due to financial disaster.

After a few years away from the game, Connie would write his next chapters of his career with the Pittsburgh and Minnesota Pipers in the newly organized ABA. The Hawk would immediately be regarded as the marquee player in the league in 1967. He would lead the Pipers to the league championship in a grueling seven game series against the New Orleans Buccaneers, win MVP honors, and establish credibility for the ABA as a serious league to be contended with. He would average 26.8 points per game, drop 4.6 assists, and squeeze 13.5 boards. He would trump those numbers next year in Minnesota. Scoring 30.2 points and grabbing 11.4 rebounds Connie would have his best year statistically of his career. Most importantly this would solidify his skills as NBA caliber and the Phoenix Suns would sign Connie the next year.

In the NBA, the Hawk would have four years being elected to the All-Star team, but never win another championship. He played seven years for the Suns and had short stints with the Lakers and Atlanta Hawks. Hawkins’s career NBA numbers are solid (16.5 points per game, eight rebounds, and 4.1 assists) as are his ABA totals (28.2 points, 12.6 boards, and 4.3 assists). It is what this man endured from racial tension in the early sixties, overcoming scandal, and being a true journeyman of the game that makes Connie Hawkins one of the games truly unique stories of triumph. It was only fitting that his last stop be the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. His game will always be remembered for its grace, power, and flare that can only be attributed to his overcoming adversity and superior skills. Regardless of where, when, and who he played with the Hawk was a force to reckoned with.

Monday, February 20, 2006

So Many Memories So Little Time

(FortCollins-CO) This year’s All-Star weekend is branded with so many memories that the Nugg Doctor has decided to recap the weekend with some of his favorite stories, MVP analysis, and most shrouded mysteries of one of the best weekends in sports. The dunk contest was great. Yao Ming doing the wave was hilarious. Lebron winning MVP was special. Tracy McGrady’s personal issues are intriguing. What else do you want from the NBA’s mid season circus?

Lets start with a couple of stories surrounding the All-Star game that you may have missed. With the East squad down by seventeen at half, Flip Saunders reverted back to what has been proven to work. By putting in all four Piston players in at once, the East rallied back. At one point in the third quarter the Pistons had scored 11 straight points. So much for raw unbridled talent. Welcome back chemistry, you’re a beautiful thing. So is watching Ben Wallace run the point and dishing the ball to his teammate Richard Hamilton.

I loved the fact that the league’s best players embrace Yao Ming. Especially when they have enough faith in him to anchor the wave while dancing in pre-game introductions. I only wish that they had shared the ball with the big man. He was merely a spectator in the game. Just once I want to see Shaq and Yao in a one on one, facing the basket, trying to cross each other over. That would be sweet.

Lebron James ended up winning the MVP and became the youngest player ever to do so. He was the scoring anchor to the Piston’s defensive team concept. Scoring 29 points on 21 shots, LBJ stole the show from McGrady down the stretch. He even got away with slapping the hometown favorite on the arm on the last second shot. I guess when you’re the king you deserve special treatment. The Doctor just has one question for his majesty. When are you going to be in the Dunk Contest? We all want to see it, please!! Oh, and one last thing… Bring your friends McGrady, Bryant, and Carter with you too. We need to settle this issue once and for all.

What is going on behind those sleepy eyes of Tracy McGrady? Everyone is speculating as to what the off court problems that have been plaguing him entail. One of the NBA’s brightest stars is being extremely tight lipped about what is bothering him. It has affected his play in the regular season and it was nice to see him a little bit looser for Sunday’s game. The mystery is still out there, but I kind of like the fact that he is keeping his personal life out of the public eye. At the same time, it’s eating me up.

There was one extremely scary moment in the game, which put a lot of high paid men at risk of catastrophic injury. What are you talking about you might ask me? I’m talking about Shaq hanging on the rim after a dunk. I was afraid that the Big Aristotle might have pulled the whole unit off the floor and on to the court. Luckily it didn’t happen, but it made me hold my breath. I love Shaq when he is playing on the crowd. He is such a child trapped in a seven-foot, 350-pound body and always an All-Star game favorite.

The NBA All-Star weekend is a way to connect with the fans worldwide that adore this game. The players, stories, history, and game itself all provide us a chance to watch the world’s greatest athletes relax and have a good time doing what they love. The atmosphere that these charismatic men create when they are all on one floor is simply electrifying. It doesn’t matter who wins the game, or even who wins the MVP, because it’s all about the fans. For one weekend, its not about wins and losses, big money contracts, or trade deadlines. The game is pure, with the purest ingredients making it that much more worthwhile.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Getting Up In a Big Way

(FortCollins-CO) The 2006 Dunk Contest will forever be remembered for numerous different reasons. This year’s highflying act was marked by creativity, originality, fiasco, and dunks so spectacular the Doctor had to watch it twice thanks to Tivo. Despite not having what some people would say are the best dunkers in the league, 2006 did not disappoint.

The crown of the high wire act was sought out by Andre Igoudala, Nate Robinson, Hakim Warrick, and returning champion Josh Smith. The format for this year’s slam off was two rounds. Included in the first round was a component where each dunker had to incorporate a teammate into their second dunk. The second round was a dunk off between the two top scorers from the first round in a two-dunk combination winner takes all. Seems pretty straightforward right, well not exactly.

The first round saw nothing spectacular from Hakim Warrick or Josh Smith. Both men did average dunks and it was obvious that it was going to come down between Robinson and Igoudala. Igoudala’s second dunk in the round got me up and out of my seat. With Allen Iverson tossing the ball for him. The AI tandem did something totally original and incredible. Iverson bounced the ball off the back of the backboard and Igoudala came from out of bounds, exploded from the baseline, caught the ball off the backside of the glass, floated to the side of the goal with the rim, scraped his eyebrow on the backboard, and slammed it down! It was a simply awesome flush.

Not to be upstaged, the 5’9” Robinson came back with two dunks of his own in the first round worthy of many rewinds on the DVR. First, he came out swinging with a teardrop pass off the floor, which he finished by doing a 360 degree-two handed-rim rocking cram. The second dunk was just as spectacular. With Quentin Richardson throwing an underhand pass to the right side of the rim. Robinson corralled the alley-oop, cocked it back, spread his legs, and threw it down over his head. At this point, I felt the little man from the Knicks had it clicking on all cylinders. After regrouping, I realized that there was still the second round to come.

Both men started round two off with a bang. Igoudala would put the ball around his back and slam it home. Evidently, the judges were more impressed than I was because they rewarded Igoudala with a perfect 50. Robinson would call on the best sub six-foot dunker of all-time for incorporation into his act. With Spud coming down from his seat in the stands and putting on one of his old Atlanta Hawks jerseys. Robinson would ask him not only to stand in front of the charge semi-circle, but to also throw him an alley-oop pass. What would happen next was the best yam of the night. Nate came running from the half court line, exploded off the floor, spread his legs, cleared Spud, caught the bounce pass, and brought the house down with a perfect 50 to match Igoudala.

The second dunks of the second round were just as incredible as the first. The men would each do an earth-shattering dunk, but this time the scores would be fixed by the judges and subsequently a dunk-off would ensue. The fiasco included the judges looking at each other to coordinate the matching scores.

Igoudala was out of tricks at this point and possibly a little bit stiff after Nate Robinson would need almost 15 tries for his next dunk. Robinson did a figure eight with the ball between his legs in mid-air, tossed the ball off the glass, and spiked it through the net! The best Igoudala could do was try to match that with a baseline slam where he put the ball through his legs. The between the legs is a little played out after five or six years and numerous stars doing the aforementioned dunk in real games. This allowed the judges to once again collaborate and award the win to Robinson. This judging scandal overshadows what could have been the best contest since the turn of the millennium.

Taking nothing away from Igoudala because he did do the most original dunk of the night. He was just lacking in that special stage presence that Robinson was thriving on. Everything that the little man did was jaw dropping. I felt that he was the best dunker in the show, its just too bad that the judges had to ruin this one with their early 50 mark to Igoudala and then the travesty of fair and unbiased judging that was to follow. Congrats to Nate Robinson and thanks for the show.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Hal Greer

(FortCollins-CO) When you talk about iron men in the NBA a couple of famous names come to mind. Parish, Abdul-Jabbar, Malone, and Stockton, but not enough times does the name Hal Greer get mentioned. That is why the Doctor has chosen Hal Greer, one of the NBA’s greatest players of all time, for this installment of Historical Glimpses.

The West Virginia native was about as solid and fundamentally sound as anyone who ever played the game. At 6’2”, Hal Greer was a machine that wouldn’t break down amongst giants. He attended Marshall University before getting drafted by the Syracuse Nationals with the sixth pick in the second round. The only other pick before Greer that can be recognized today is Elgin Baylor.

The concept of being traded to another team was foreign to Greer. He would play his entire 1,122 game, 15-year career with the Syracuse Nationals, including franchise relocation to Philadelphia in 1963. He was also the backbone to the 1967 NBA championship campaign.

In that campaign coached by Alex Hannum, Greer would average 22.1 points. With the help of Billy “The Kangaroo Kid” Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain, and Chet Walker, Greer would lead the team past the eight-time consecutive NBA champion Boston Celtics in the eastern division finals. It should also be mentioned that until the 1971 Los Angeles Lakers went 69-13 and then the 1996 Chicago Bulls went 72-10, this Philadelphia team would hold the record for best regular season record at 68-13. All with Hal Greer at the point. In the playoffs he raised the scoring bar even higher to a team leading 27.7 points a game. Many NBA aficionados still believe that this was the best team ever assembled.

Hal Greer would end his fabulous career with many accolades. He would be named to the All-NBA second team from 1963 through 1969, was an All-Star ten years in a row from 1961 through 1970 and picking up game MVP in 1968, no one will ever wear number 15 in a Philadelphia jersey ever again, he was named one of the fifty greatest players ever, and was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981. His lifetime averages are impressive to say the least. Greer would average 19.2 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists over a 15 years span. He is also the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring at 21,586 points. Greer had an old workhorse mentality that is not often duplicated. I think that one quote sums it all up perfectly. Greer once said, “Each player should try to improve. Each game, each minute, each time on the floor, you should try to learn something different. That was the way I went about things." Hal Greer is often overlooked when the conversation of NBA greats takes place, but make no mistake, he is one of the greatest small guards to ever play the game.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Historical Glimpses: Elgin Baylor

(FortCollins-CO) True originals are hard to find. In a post-modern era it would seem like everyone is just a charcoal rubbing of someone else’s ideas with a personal flare or tweak. Indeed dying breeds are the innovators and pioneers in all walks of life. That is why the Nugg Doctor has chosen Elgin “The Godfather of High flyers” Baylor for this installment of Historical Glimpses.

Elgin Baylor was to basketball what the Wright brothers were to aviation. He took a totally infantile concept and made it into something that seems second nature now. Baylor can be credited with taking the NBA into the air with his artistic grace, power and knack for mid-air improvisation. This is all from a man who hadn’t even seen basketball on television until the age of 15.

Baylor would attend the University of Seattle and play on their varsity basketball team for only two years. In the two years that he played he averaged 29.7 and 32.5 points a game. He single handedly carried Seattle to the NCAA championship game in 1958, only to be beaten by a perennial powerhouse in Kentucky. Regardless, Baylor would be drafted number one overall that next summer by the Minneapolis Lakers. The Lakers were in desperate need for a showman and main attraction. Elgin was the perfect fit. Elgin would take home rookie of the year, scoring 24.9 points and squeezing 15 rebounds, as if he was the only rookie in the league.

Minneapolis soon moved to Los Angeles and took Baylor’s scoring prowess with them. Once moving to L.A., Baylor would have his best season ever, including some humungous personal records. In the 1960-61 season Elgin’s game was at an all-time peak. He would score at a dizzying 34.8 points a game. He would grab 19.8 boards and hand out 5.1 assists. He also scored a then record of 71 points in a single game. A year to behold in the realm of greatness in the NBA.

A championship ring would just barely elude him throughout his career. He played in eight championship series in total, before retiring just nine games into the ’71 –’72 season. Talk about bad timing, the Lakers would win the NBA crown at the conclusion of that year. Ring or no ring, Elgin Baylor had an impact on the NBA that is still apparent today.

Elgin Baylor was the visionary that paved the way for the likes of Erving, Hawkins, Thompson, and Jordan. His swoops to the basket and mid-flight decision-making will forever mark him as one of the greatest scorers of all-time. He would end his career being a lifetime double-double player. His regular season resume reads like this; 27.4 points a game, 4.3 assists, and an astonishing 13.5 errant shots caromed. He did this in a pre-three point era when scoring was just starting to become an art form. He was All-NBA first team ten times, a NBA All-Star eleven years in a row, holds the record for the most points scored in a Finals game at 61, no one will ever wear 22 in a Lakers jersey again, and he was enshrined to the Hall of Fame in 1976. Elgin, your greatness is still shining through in every game played still today. When you see a spectacular reverse, or a player hanging in mid-air and then some how finding a way to score. Remember Elgin Baylor. The Godfather of High Flyers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nuggets Stall Out Before Break

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets never got it going tonight against the Phoenix Suns. The slow start and going 0-14 from the three point line didn't help matters. Denver is now licking it's proverbial wounds going into the All-Star break after losing to the Suns 116-101. If there is as silver lining, they don't have to worry about anyone else getting hurt through the weekend.

The Phoenix Suns were a blazing hot 14-25 from downtown and just as blistering from the free throw line not missing a single attempt from the charity stripe. Steve Nash was as effective as ever scoring 19 points and sliding 12 assists. He had a ton of help from all the starters scoring in double digits. Shawn Marion contributed 21 points and 12 assists and Boris Diaw also contributed a double-double with 17 points and ten boards.

The Nuggets were led in efforts by Carmelo Anthony who scored 29 points and grabbed four rebounds. With people hurt and recovering the Nuggets were playing personel that haven't seen action in what seems to be a long time. Subsequently, Byron Russell, Linas Kleiza, and DerMarr Johnson all saw action tonight. No Nugget recorded double figures in two categories, and Kenyon Martin left the game after just nine minutes after he came down awkwardly on his right knee.

The Nuggets were outscored in every quarter except the fourth, when it was a too little too late. They were down 94-68 going into the fourth and by that time Phoenix had taken out the majority of its starters.

So what's next for the Nuggets? The Nugg Doctor perscribes some much needed R&R. The Denver Nuggets need to get healthy and re-group for the final 28 games. They are leading the Northwest division and if the playoffs were to start today. The Nuggets would hold the third seed in the western conference. Not bad, all things being considered. Coach George Karl has done a magnificent juggling act with the starting line-up thus far and has the Nuggets in striking range. Get some rest Denver, you are going to need it to keep hold of the position you have. The western conference is stacked, and everyone is cut throat.

Eduardo's Right Knee

(FortCollins-CO) Eduardo Najera had arthoscopic surgery on his ailing right knee on February 13th. Najera is expected to miss two to three weeks due to the mid-season surgery. The surgery couldn’t have been scheduled at a better time with the All-Star break practically upon us. The Nuggets face off against the Phoenix Suns tonight, February 15, 2006.

Frost Bite: Interview with Frostee Rucker

(FortCollins-CO) The Nugg Doctor has recently had the chance to sit down with former University of Southern California defensive end Frostee Rucker for an interview about his days at USC, training for the NFL draft, and where he thinks he fits in at the NFL level.

Frostee Rucker has been a starter on USC’s football team for the last three years. He was part of two national championship teams, three Pac-10 championships, was honored on the All Pac-10 defensive first team in 2005, and is now ready to take his high octane game to Sundays in the NFL. The only question left to answer on Rucker’s resume is what team is going to draft this explosive defensive prospect.

Sitting down with Rucker, we had a chance to reflect on the ending of one chapter in his career and the beginning of another. I asked Frostee what he has been doing to get ready for the upcoming NFL combine since the unfortunate loss to Texas for the national championship. With a short laugh, Rucker replied with, “As soon as the game was over I took a little time off to relax and get my mind right. Soon following that game I went to San Antonio to participate in the East vs. West Shrine Game.” He then stated, “Since then I have been training everyday at USC because I think they have the best training staff.” By the looks of him, he didn’t take too much time getting back to the weight room. He looks as if he was chiseled out of a solid piece of marble.

When asked about playing and practicing against some former first and second round selections (Udeze, Cody, Palmer, and Patterson) over the years Frostee was very animate. He said, “I have been blessed to play in the coliseum the last three years. The last two years we have had record breaking sell out games. Those guys right there (referring to Udeze, Cody, Palmer, and Patterson) say enough. That’s three first-rounders and a second round selection, but the secret is the coaching that we all have been provided.”

According to all the speculating NFL draft prospect websites. Frostee is the epitome of a “tweener.” That refers to guys whom are sometimes too small or too big to play at certain position or another. Some sites speculate that Frostee is too small to play at defensive end and too big to play at linebacker. When asked about this label Frostee had these comparisons. “I think I can do both. If you actually see me, I’m 6'4 265 and I can run. I consider my style similar to Joey Porter, the ex-Colorado State Ram and the current monster on the Steelers defense.” Interesting that Rucker would compare himself to a Colorado State University Ram. Rucker himself was a Ram before transferring to the Trojans. He then added, “We both have a unique style that comes with our game.” Then he added a defensive linemen comparison since we were talking about his in-between stature. Simply stated, Rucker said, “D-linemen, no question about it. I’m like the freak (referring to Jevon Kearse).” Adding this through the laughter, “Those two guys always play at high speeds.”

Rucker was a critical component in the Trojan’s five to ten yard pass defense this past year. I asked him about the hybrid role he assumed and he had a surprising answer. Rucker stated, “I think with coach opening up the defense and allowing me to play like that really helped us out. I have been playing linebacker since I was seven years old and it feels natural.” And what a help he was, recording the second best team tackle total of 56 (35 solo and 21 assisted), first in tackles for a loss (14 for -61 yards), second in sacks (6.5 for -45 yards), forcing two fumbles, recovering one, and recording an interception. Rucker was a very busy man.

I had to ask him how such a friendly and funny guy could become such an animal on the field and if he thought the duality gave him an edge over other players. We laughed and Frostee had this in reply, “I think it’s just my nature. I take football very serious. In fact, it’s life to me. People say they love it, but I don’t believe they do. This is coming from a kid that had to beg my parents to let me play.”

Finally on a serious note, I asked Rucker to give me an open-ended statement to NFL teams around the league. Frostee boldly had this to say. “I’m a hard working football player. I play with passion and respect for all aspects of the game.” His rap-sheet, or should I say sack-sheet, says enough. Despite losing to Texas this past January, Rucker hasn’t let anyone down yet, and if NFL scouts are keeping tabs, I doubt that he will be anytime soon.

Consequentially Fined

(FortCollins-CO) The NBA has officially fined Kenyon Martin $15,000 for his inappropriate conduct and language, including the use of profanities, towards a fan at the home game against Chicago last week.

Surprising to the Nugg Doctor is the fact that no police report has been filed to date and this reprimand is solely the actions of the league. Kenyon Martin has also had run-ins with the local media recently. No actions have been taken in the altercation with the media.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Good News Bad News in Nuggets Win

(FortCollins-CO) The good news for the Denver Nuggets is that they persevered and got the overtime win on the road in Seattle against the Supersonics 120-112. The bad news is Marcus Camby left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained neck.

Examining how the Nuggets earned this win it was apparent that when the Nuggets play as a team, they are much more effective on the offensive end. Four of five starters, excluding Greg Buckner, scored in double figures. Carmelo Anthony did exactly what I said he would do. Anthony came into the game with a chip on his shoulder, even the announcers made a comment, to show up Ray Allen on his home court. ‘Melo ended the game with 33 points and nine rebounds plus his team got the win. The beauty of that is two other Nuggets scored 20, Anthony went 9-21, and was sensational from the charity stripe only missing twice out of 17 attempts.

Andre Miller was just as critical as Carmelo. Miller has been playing great as of late. He routinely backed down Luke Ridnour and scored effectively. No more effective were his seven overtime points which were the difference down the stretch. He added nine assists and three rebounds go nicely with his 21 points. Miller is playing with a confidence that has been touch and go all year, but he is climbing to his apex at a critical time in the season. Kenyon Martin is also playing great. Martin gave 39 solid minutes and recorded a double-double of 22 points and ten boards. If he can resume this kind of play, stay healthy, and just keep his name clean of all media scandal he can be an enormous impact.

The contest was tightly battled all night long. Back and forth each team would only hold the lead momentarily until the Nuggets exploded in overtime and sealed the deal. In the end, Seattle turned the ball over 23 times and was out of gas in overtime. The Nuggets held them to just ten points in the extra period and now have won two straight.

The Nuggets square off against Steve Nash and the Phoenix suns on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center. The Suns will be looking for redemption from the overtime loss they were handed by the Nuggets earlier this year. The Nuggets will then be off for the All-Star break and it will be a much needed rest for the team, especially Marcus Camby. Hopefully the newest injury to Camby can be nursed over this time and he can come back refreshed and ready to go for the last 29 games of the year.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Mr. Big Stuff, Who Do You Think You Are?

(FortCollins-CO) Just who does Kenyon Martin think he is? He walks out early from games, he allegedly can’t handle the territory of the professional athlete to fan relationship, plays when he feels up to it, and doesn’t know how to handle himself with the media. Kenyon Martin is just way out of tune this whole month of February.

The last subject of the aforementioned laundry list of complaints is product of Kenyon Martin’s conduct with a member of the Colorado Associated Press. Dino Costa of the Radio Colorado Network is the most recent person to obviously get Martin’s goat. Costa was trying to get a statement from Martin after he had played great and scored 34 points on Friday in the win over Dallas. What he got was an ill-tempered Martin and a subsequent verbal altercation.

Martin told Costa to get away from his locker while he finished dressing when first approached by the reporter. Costa asked him to repeat what he said and was then subject to Martin’s obscenities. The men then had another altercation after Costa was forced to leave the locker room by Nuggets personnel.

So this journalist wants to know just who do you think you are Kenyon? You play one good game and now you’re not even available for comments or questions. You’re not even the best player on the Nuggets. You should be happy to talk to reporters about your momentary success and treat them with some decency. Martin did add this, with his glamorous repertoire of vocabulary, in a statement regarding the incident with Costa. Martin stated, “That is why I play, so I don’t have to listen to you all’s mouths.” I’m surprised that he didn’t add a typical, “Know whadamean.”

I don’t know if this is the way an under achieving, overpaid, and angry athlete makes his way out of town. But I sure hope it is. We don’t need a guy like this on our team. Between his walking out early of games, sporadic playing schedule, and locker room antics I just don’t see it all adding up to a positive environment for the Nuggets. Does anyone know why Martin needs to personify this bad boy character? I sure do wish I knew the answer. However, there is one answer that I do have. It is trade Kenyon Martin before its too late. Get someone with an ounce of professionalism in here instead of Mr. Tough Guy.

Best of the Best: The Doctor Dissects Who is the Best in NBA

(FortCollins-CO) With the All-Star weekend looming in the near future. The Doctor has taken a close look at the league, its stars, and developed a system to decide who is the best overall player in the league. The answer might surprise you. The Doctor’s system breaks down like this; all statistical categories are rounded up at .5, points per game are worth their value, assists are worth two, and rebounds are worth .5. I will discuss the top three players and what they mean to their teams, and where I evaluate their careers.

The third best player in the NBA, according to the system, is… Kobe Bryant. He checks out at a 46 overall. Bryant is leading the league in scoring at 34.5 points per game, and has recently scored an amazing 81 points in a single game. Second in history only to Wilt Chamberlain’s Herculean effort in Hershey, PA. Kobe is also adding 4.4 assists and 5.5 rebounds. Simply stated, he is producing amazing numbers regardless of era, career numbers, or championships. Kobe Bryant has re-invented himself and is experiencing freedom from Shaq, the pressures of winning another NBA championship, and the salacious public eye that is created out of scandal. Bravo Kobe, Bravo.

Runner-up this year is Lebron James. In only his third NBA season Lebron is the closest thing to Magic Johnson-esque as wearing Converse. Plus, he has a long-range game that commands respect. King James rings in at 48.5. Lebron is averaging 30.9 points per game (third in the league), 6.5 assists, and 7.0 boards. More than the amazing numbers he is constantly lighting scoreboards up with is the character that this young man exudes. He has never been involved with scandal. His marketing potential is through the roof and he always thanks his mother. Move over Grant Hill, Lebron is re-inventing the word “Nice.”

And winning the title of best player in the league, in a split decision over Lebron James, is…drum roll please… Allen Iverson. The Answer also checked in at 48.5, but the decision came down to assist to turnover ratio as a tiebreaker. Lebron clocked out at +2.0, while Iverson edged him out with a +2.3. The Answer is averaging 33.3 points per game (second overall), 7.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. He gets the nod as best player in the league because of his efficiency in the assist to turnover ratio and is coincidentally having his best year in that category. With Larry Brown gone to New York, I think that AI is playing loose and free with artistic cognition. His game is a joy to watch. He is so quick he often times makes his opponent look down right silly and who can argue with numbers? Congrats Mr. Iverson, you are having an All-World year and we are aware of it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Nuggets Snap Longest Winning Streak of NBA Season

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets righted the ship on Friday night by beating the Dallas Mavericks 113-104 at the Pepsi Center. Denver got out to a smart start by creating turnovers, hitting the defensive glass, and running the floor. Getting a shot in the arm from Andre Miller in the first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. Miller had three steals that lead to fast break opportunities. This allowed the Nuggets to share the ball in transition and get everyone involved early. The quick continuity allowed the Nuggets to amount 17 fast break points and close the first quarter with a 34-21 lead.

This favorable beginning was to be the recipe for success as the Nuggets were playing with swagger against the hottest team in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks came into this game allowing a stingy 86 points per game in their previous 13 consecutive wins. A semi-collapse in the second quarter that can be attributed to Jerry Stackhouse, one time NBA scoring champion, coming off the bench and making the game ten points at half was about as close as the Mavericks could muster. Stackhouse ended the game with 20 but was contained by a defensive team effort by the Nuggets. Dirk Nowitzki was also effectively managed to 19 total points, well below his average.

Carmelo Anthony took on a new role of offensive assistance rather than provider by shelling out 10 assists and scoring 24 points. Kenyon Martin had a breakout game by going 14-18 from the field and scoring a game-high 34 when all was said and done. Now I know that I have not been on Martin’s good side, and the Doctor will never flip flop where he stands, but it was nice to see Kenyon step up. Playing with a purpose is nice to see once and awhile, but if you can sit out on Wednesday and score 34 on Friday. How hurt were you? And where was Marcus Camby? Just once the Doctor would like to see the ideal starting five start the game. Maybe after a week off and the All-Star game everyone will be kosher to play.

In hindsight, this game was humungous for the Denver Nuggets. Getting this win and beating one of the hottest and deepest teams in the league should tell the Nuggets that they are capable of being one of the upper echelon teams in the NBA. When the team comes out and produces as a unit they are certainly strong enough to beat anyone. The Nuggets are off today, but are right back in action on Sunday. They need to examine this game film and incorporate the intangibles that got Friday’s win. If they can do that, I see no reason why they shouldn’t start their own winning streak at the cost of Ray Allen and the Supersonics. I expect Carmelo to come out and show the league just how unjust of a decision it was to appoint Allen to the All-Star game instead him. He would never say it, but trust me; it will be on his mind tomorrow night in Key Arena.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Get Martin Out of Here, His Antics Will Not Be Tolerated

(FortCollins-CO) Kenyon Martin has taken another step away from professionalism and one step closer to goonery. Reports of allegations circulating around Kenyon Martin stem from fans that say after heckling Martin, he motioned to friends who then approached the game patrons. Furthermore, the fans say that Martin’s goons threatened them. This all while Martin enjoyed his popcorn and peanuts from the end of the bench in street clothes.

The words exchange are in the realm of this quote taken from Woody Paige on ESPN’s Around The Horn on February 10, 2006. Woody quoted the fans’ statement of saying that the alleged hit men said, “Shut your mouth or we will take you outside and beat you!” Quite the statement of class and Martin’s overall happiness in Denver, don’t you think?

Investigations have speculated that a Denver Police officer also witnessed the alleged altercation. No charges have been filed to date, but I feel that the true colors of Kenyon Martin are really showing through. He has always been a chump in a Denver Nuggets uniform. I say in a Denver uniform because I was a big fan of K-Mart at the University of Cincinnati and in his years with the New Jersey Nets. I was also very happy to see Martin in Denver originally, but he has not worked out for the Nuggets so far and certainly isn’t reflecting of the class organization, which is the Denver Nuggets.

I hate to bring up dark spots in anyone's career, but this incident reminds me of the racial slurs spewed to a fan by the great Dan Issel. And once again I believe that if truth materializes in this story that it should demand a public apology and Martin’s trade papers. If it doesn’t accomplish the latter, I hope it makes K-Mart reflect on the opportunity at hand to be a part of this organization and straightens him out for the remainder of the season.

Be a professional. That fan was letting you know that they care about the team and have loyal support for it. Ultimately they only want to see you win. Regardless of how moronic a fan’s conduct, it is up to authorized security to handle it, not your goons. If you’re being harassed tell a stadium usher or player security. Memorandum to Kenyon Martin: Act like a professional or don’t let the door hit you were the good lord split you.

Shame, Shame Carmelo Snubbed for All-Star Game

(FortCollins-CO) So it is official. Carmelo Anthony has been overlooked in favor of players that play on garbage teams, have been injured, and down right don’t deserve to be there (at least not this year). Who might you ask? Well the Doctor has some good reasoning behind what is about to be said and quite frankly is appalled by some of these approvals for the game. Just goes to show you that the All-Star game is merely a popularity contest, so ‘Melo don’t worry about it too much.

I’ll start out by making my case for Anthony. This is his best year yet in such a young career. Every statistical category is up from last year. Most impressive is how he is doing it with little to no consistent help from a laundry list of injuries to critical players. Furthermore, the Nuggets lead their division. He has played through some nicks all year long and has graced us with one of the leagues most spectacular, in-your-mug, throw downs of the year. Just ask Theo Ratliff. I’ll bet he remembers.

Now, its time for the Doctor to make his case against some of the non-deserving players on the roster that are sitting in ‘Melo’s seat. Let us start by examining the chair held by Tracy McGrady. They are nearly identical in points per game. Carmelo is shooting 46% from the field while T-Mac is shooting 41%. Melo has played in 50 games, McGrady only 36. Carmelo’s team is winning their division and McGrady’s is renting the basement in theirs. Both men have had their center hurt. Melo is winning and his numbers are up. Tracy is losing and his numbers are down. Seems like a no-brainer. Tracy McGrady is an awe-inspiring player, but it wasn’t his turn this year.

Next is Ray Allen. Ray is scoring less and shooting a worse percentage doing it. His team is second to last in the division and I don’t care how silky smooth your jumper is. If it doesn’t go in, it is merely nice to watch while you lose. Now I know that Allen is a guard and ‘Melo technically is a forward, but in this case give me a break. Who would you rather have? I haven’t heard a peep out of Seattle or Allen all season.

Everyone knows that the All-Star game is merely a popularity contest (Yao Ming isn’t that great). The more you’ve been in the spotlight the better chance you have of being voted in. I feel that Anthony has been overlooked because of other player’s media appeal and previous All-Star selections. It’s not a perfect world and not a perfect system. One thing for sure is when Seattle and Houston are watching TV come May, 'Melo will be in the playoffs. Not giving too much thought about mid February’s classic. It’s a shame that some new blood wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt. It sure would seem like he deserved it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Nuggets Desperately Seeking Identity

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets are lacking of a defensive identity. Consequentially, the offense is struggling and the trade rumors are starting to circulate. All of this plus the fact of the matter is, the Nuggets have lost five of the last six games. Tonight they gave a dog of an effort against the 20-27 Chicago Bulls and got beat on their home court to the tune of 110-107.

The Nuggets once again gave up more than 30 in the first quarter. They are just not playing the game as if they are playing to win, but more like merely to compete. The defensive rotation is slow and the weak side boards are atrocious. Need hard evidence? Tyson Chandler had four offensive rebounds, six rebounds total in the first quarter alone. Not to mention numerous good looks at the cup due to Kirk Heinrich penetrating and dishing off. The Bulls also dominated the second chance points stat column 15 to 0. Taking nothing away from Chandler, but the Nuggets did have two seven footers starting this game and should have been able clear the ball.

The second quarter had little more to offer of much difference. Without defensive stops, which lead to fast break opportunities, the Nuggets get caught in a funk offensively that is hard to break out of. The Nuggets need to run. They are currently the sixth best scoring team in the league, and without fast-break scoring opportunities the team dynamic suffers.

After half, the Nuggets once again put up a lack luster effort being outscored 22 to 28 in the third quarter and down 15 going into the fourth. To their credit, the Nuggets did fight back and make it interesting down the stretch. But the problem with this trend is it is in the realm of desperation. If the Nuggets could play like they are down twenty all the time, even when they are up, they could finish teams instead of being in dogfights down to the last five possessions.
So I have two prescriptions for the Denver Nuggets and management. First, it is a crying shame if Carmelo Anthony doesn’t get the coaches’ vote to the All-Star game. He is seventh in league scoring, on a team that is leading their division, with little to no consistent help. Secondly, and more important to the overall picture, Kenyon Martin needs to packaged up in a deal with Voshon Leonard, Earl Watson, Nene, and Greg Buckner in any combination for a complimentary scorer for Anthony. Marbury would allow Miller to become a technician at point guard. Steve Francis would do the same, just wouldn’t contribute quite as well in the assist column. Something has got to change; Martin must think that being a player in the NBA is a part-time job. Your not hurt bad enough if you’re coming back every other game. You’re evidently picking your spots. Kiki, wrap up a deal and shake this team up, maybe they will realize the potential they are squandering.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Broken Wings: The Story of Chris “The Birdman” Andersen

(FortCollins-CO) The story of Chris Andersen is about as murky as Texas swamp water. The ex Denver Nugget has had quite a journey from a small junior college, to the IBA, to the NBDL, and then landing with the Denver Nuggets in 2001. But that is just the clarity of the Birdman’s story. There is so much more to find out about this intriguing player, and so much more that will probably never be known.

Chris Andersen played small time college basketball at Blinn junior college in Texas. After his career there, he played for a while in the IBA for the Fargo-Moorehead Beez. Post IBA, he was drafted to the NBDL Fayetteville Patriots in 2001, number one overall, and was quickly absorbed by the Nuggets in November that same season. It would have seemed that Andersen was finally getting to where he dreamed of being. He had a cult following in Denver. He had received a notorious nickname, “The Birdman”; because of his high-flying tip slams and super high-octane play off the bench. Everything was clicking for Andersen. It seemed like a real Cinderella story.

A little embarrassing was his showing in the 2005 NBA dunk contest when he tried to expose the rest of the league to his dunking specialties. It took Birdman eight attempts to get one flush down. It could have been nerves, or maybe that Chris is just a game time spur of the moment yammer. Who knows? If this were the last of Chris Andersen’s embarrassments it would have been a best-case scenario.

Fast-forward a season. Chris Andersen was still in a New Orleans Hornets jersey and seemed to be adjusting to a new franchise just fine. He was still a fan favorite due to his charismatic play and it seemed like the same reasons the Nuggets utilized him were carrying over to the Hornets. There was only one problem… The Birdman had tested positive for what the NBA calls “drugs for abuse.” The drugs on that list are amphetamine and its analogs, which include methamphetamine; cocaine; LSD; opiates, including heroin, codeine and morphine; and PCP. Because of the leagues collective bargaining agreement, the details of the allegations are classified, but the infamous speculations are real.

The Birdman now becomes the first player since Stanley Roberts in 1999 to be kicked out of the league because of drug abuse. Andersen must wait two years now before he can apply for reinstatement to the NBA. Union spokesman Dan Wasserman had this to say about the matter, “The players' association plans on filing a grievance on Chris Andersen's behalf. Our expectation is that a grievance hearing will take place.” An independent grievance arbitrator will hear that hearing later this year.

For now, the Birdman has plenty of time to think about what led him astray from his basketball dreams. Any speculation on how this will unfold is merely that, speculation. A player like Andersen, who has always been surrounded my mystery, has given us a new fold in the drama. I personally enjoyed the Birdman’s game. Not spectacular, but entertaining. He was a unique NBA personality and I hope for a favorable and speedy conclusion. Best of luck in the future Birdman, best of luck.

Like what you've read? For more current Nuggets coverage go to the new Nugg Doctor for more!

Monday, February 6, 2006

The Doctor is Embarrassed

(FortCollins-CO) I am totally exhausted by watching the Denver Nuggets lose to the Golden State Warriors. There was no team concept in tonight’s performance. The Denver Nuggets played selfishly on both ends of the court and were collectively outplayed by the Warriors.

On defense, the Nuggets allowed offensive rebounds to be cleared because of no fundamental defensive principles. As a group, they pitifully defended the three-point line. They pouted all night because of the refs and constantly felt bad about themselves instead of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and playing basketball. Quite simply, the Nuggets played as if they were standing in the unemployment line waiting for a handout. In this league, it just doesn’t work that way. You have to earn a victory.

Offensively, the Nuggets were effortless until two minutes left in the fourth quarter when a sudden sense of urgency seemed to bring them back to life. Practically coming back from twenty down, the Nuggets got it as close as five with a three pointer and sneaky steal by Carmelo Anthony. Linas Kleiza provided a late surge, but it was too little too late. Even a 41 point fourth quarter couldn’t bring the Nuggets back after a third quarter collapse when they were outscored 35 to 15.
If there was a bright spot in this horrendous showing it was Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets young superstar finished with 34 points, six rebounds, and two assists. If the rest of the Denver Nuggets could play with half the energy that ‘Melo comes with every game they would be better than two games above .500. For now, the Nuggs need to regroup and forget about this one. They have a big game coming up against Chicago on Wednesday. If they don’t want to be embarrassed again they had better muster up some motivation and a purpose. I wouldn’t want to be at George Karl's practice tomorrow.

Historical Glimpses: Oscar Robertson

(FortCollins-CO) There are so few things that are pure anymore. Baseball has the dark cloud of steroids. Football has its problems too. Basketball experienced the Palace brawl last year. All the problems that the post-modern athlete has to deal with, and often times create for themselves has certainly tainted the games we love so much. That is why the Nugg Doctor has chosen such a prolific, moral, elite, and outstanding individual to focus this article on. Who is it you might ask me? No other than the man they called the “The Big O.”

That’s right fans, Oscar “The Big O” Robertson from the University of Cincinnati. Oscar Robertson came into the league in the 1960 season. The Cincinnati Royals in the NBA territorial draft drafted him number one overall. All this after Robertson had to endure threats on his life during his varsity years at the University of Cincinnati.

Forget good, forget great. This guy was special. His game was so fundamentally sound it was ridiculous. He could do things that players today wouldn’t even attempt. Think I am kidding? Oscar could shoot jump shots with either hand! Name one guy in the league that does that. And what a jump shot it was. Robertson would cradle the ball in his right hand, cock it back above his head, and let it go as if a bird was leaping into flight. These are just peeks at his intangibles. Oscar would have an impact on the game that few can challenge.

Physically, Robertson was a brand new concept in the NBA. He was 6’5” and 210 lbs. BIG for a guard back then. He could rebound with forwards and take off with it down the floor on the fast break. He immediately would begin putting up numbers as a rookie that would dominate today’s game. Winning rookie of the year, Robertson averaged 30.5 ppg, 9.7 apg, and 10.1 rpg. It would take Magic Johnson twenty years to come along and even give statisticians a reason to worry if Oscar’s rookie year was to be challenged. His sophomore year, he would do something that hasn’t yet been matched. Oscar Robertson would average a triple-double for the entirety of the ’61-62 season! He scored 30.8 points. Snatched 11.4 rebounds. Dished 12.5 dimes. He did this every time he laced up his sneakers. In my opinion, the single most impressive feat in sports lore to date.

Oscar would captivate the hearts and imaginations of so many of the games legends to come. Over the next thirteen years he would simply put up numbers that today would command shoe deals, endorsements, and paparazzi that few athletes deserve. He would end his career having won a NBA championship with Lew Alcindor, league MVP in ’64, All-NBA first team nine times, All-NBA second team twice, twelve time NBA All-Star, three time All-Star game MVP, Olympic gold medallist in ’60, scoring champion in ’68, led the league in assists eight times, would be enshrined to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in ’79, and named one of the greatest fifty players in history.
Oh Oscar, you taught us so much about what it meant to be pure. This month we will celebrate the current NBA All-Stars. We will debate who should, and shouldn’t be there. Who got snubbed and speculate on who will win MVP before its all said and done. But one thing is for sure. Oscar Robertson taught us what it was to be a NBA All-Star, pure and simple.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Nuggets Flat Line But Resuscitate

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets entered Saturday’s game against the Portland Trailblazers on a four game losing streak. They barely escaped five. With the type of lethargic defense and high shooting percentage they were allowing it’s amazing that they found a way to emerged tonight with the victory.

From the opening tip, the Nuggets were giving up an astoundingly high field goal percentage. In the first and second quarters, the Trailblazers shot 66 and 52 percent from the field. Luckily the Nuggets were taking advantage of soft interior defense by Portland, and found themselves only down two at the half after Sebastian Telfair hit a running 35 footer at the buzzer. The Nuggets were especially fortunate at this point to be only down two. Carmelo Anthony was a mere 7-17 shooting and Camby was effectively contributing. Ending the first half with 13 points and 5 rebounds.

Then the Nuggets opened up the second half and flat lined defensively. Playing without a defensive objective, the Nuggets were backed into a foxhole when the Trailblazers shot another high percentage by exploiting a soft key area and once again posting above 50 percent from the field. 57 percent to be exact. This game was on life support. The Nuggets were twelve down, the momentum was in Portland’s favor, and the Nuggets needed resuscitation going into the fourth.

Call it divine intervention. Call it coaching. I say, call in the Nugg Doctor. The Nuggets were resuscitated by defense, as I prescribed in my last post. By only allowing the Trailblazers to score 20 in the quarter the Nuggets were tied with 1:59 to go. That’s when an errant turnover by the Blazers led to the most impressive dunk in young Carmelo’s career. It started by breaking down Rueben Patterson off the dribble and ended up with ‘Melo eye level with the rim and Theo Ratliff a couple of floors below looking out below as he was infamously slammed on. Zach Randolph provided five points approaching the final seconds before fouling out. With the shot clock overshadowed by four more seconds than on the game clock it happened... Andre miller made the defensive play of the game when he picked the opposing guard’s pocket and scored with a game synching lay up that put the Nuggets ahead by one, 105-104, and for good with four seconds left in the game.

Carmelo Anthony made a statement this game. After struggling the first half and shooting only 7-17. He came back strong and finished with 33 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. The Denver Nuggets have not had an All-Star game starter since Alex English in 1989. Averaging 25.4 points coming into this game, leading the division leaders in scoring. Why isn’t Anthony getting his much deserved respect? He is now, at least from Theo Ratliff. Whether or not he gets the coaches vote for the mid-season classic is yet to be seen.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Let Me Just Call The Perscription In

(Fort Collins-CO) The Denver Nuggets, who had just won seven straight, have now lost four in a row. With that seven game win streak and 39 games left in the NBA season the Nuggets could have been thinking about winning 50 games. They would of only needed to win two-out-of-three, 26-13, to win 50. Isn’t 50 wins what it takes anymore? Now with Marcus Camby back, the Nuggets looked confused. This is where the Dr. comes in…

Let me start off by saying two things I know for sure about basketball. First, when you have a player come back from injury, especially to a team that was starting to mesh, you must work him in gradually. And secondly, you stop scoring points and you lose. Now lets take look at what is ailing us.

Marcus Camby obviously wasn’t ready to come back. With the team winning why not wait and make a full recovery? Instead, he rushed coming back too strong too soon and now is back in the new NBA dress code he was so happy to see enforced. In addition, Camby slows down the game and was disruptive to the budding chemistry the Nuggets were winning with. That is where the next problem stems from. The Nuggets are now moving slowly up court, and watching Marcus Camby up at the top of the key. Consequentially, the scoring has dropped. The Nuggets are a team that is averaging 99.4 ppg on the season. In the last four loses, they have only scored on average 86.

So it boils down to this. The Nuggets need to get back that swagger. Instead of the slow, half court offense that puts them in a position of being in a dogfight in the last eight minutes. Get Boykins in there, get the ball up and down the court, and play some inspired defense. You know, the Najera pester, kind of defense. The name of the game is putting the ball in the basket. It makes you feel good. When you feel good, you play good. When you play good, you win. We will see if the Nuggets are feeling any better on Saturday when they take on a struggling Portland.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Nuggs beaten by Artest in Sac-town

Ron Artest easily handled his defensive duties covering 'melo, as the Nuggs tank it at ARCO arena last night.
As I predicted.