Sunday, April 30, 2006

The End is Near For Nuggets

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets played pitiful, lackadaisical, uninspired, deplorable, and unacceptable in a game that should have been the most intense, urgent, imperative, and vital of the entire season. This loss basically marks the bitter end of the 2005-2006 season as surely the Clippers are going to be able to win one more game of the remaining three. Seeing how they have two of the aforementioned at home in LA. The score may say 100-86, but trust me, it was a lot more ugly than 14 points.

The Denver Nuggets were toyed with like a brand new tennis ball being launched for the family Labrador in the back yard. Every time that the ball would be launched into the backyard, the Clippers would bring it back with just a little bit more drool on it. Eventually, the Nuggets fell behind by ten and never had what it took to get the lead down to single digits again. In the closing quarter of the game, the lead ballooned to more than twenty points and the Nuggets were left out in the yard, drool soaked, felt torn, and punctured just waiting for the lawn mower to inflict the final blow. That blow is coming, the tennis ball that is this franchise is going to be shredded by the lawn mower that is this off-season, and who is going to be returning next year is the question Nuggets fans are beginning to think about.

Why the pessimism? Because, 153 times out of 160 that a team has fallen behind 3-1 in a series, that team has gone on to lose. Need another grim statistic that is killing the Nuggets? Carmelo Anthony has performed a David Copperfield-esque disappearing act in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets superstar is a mere 3-17 in all the shots he has taken during the fourth quarter of this series. Carmelo fouled out of this game after scoring 17 points on 5 of 17 shooting, turning the ball over four times, and grabbing eight boards.

My only question about this game had to do with personnel coming off the bench. Why did Reggie Evans and Rueben Patterson only play 19 minutes collectively? Eduardo Najera and Francisco Elson weren’t playing that great. What made George Karl give these guys 40 minutes of combined playing time in a game where he should have been looking for a spark from literally anyone?

Ahhhhhh, it doesn’t matter at this point anyway. The noose is around Denver’s neck and the only thing left to do is kick the box out from under our feet. With all the distraction revolving around the Kenyon Martin fiasco, the he said she said going on in the local press, and rumors circulating about Kiki’s days in Denver being numbered. I’m surprised that the Nuggets even squeaked out one.

The Denver Nuggets are yet to score over a hundred points in this series, yet to run the Clippers ragged with the fast break, and now yet another second round appearance is going elude Denver since the unforgettable scene where Dikembe Mutombo lay on the court clutching the ball in elation from the game seven victory over the Karl led Supersonics back in 1994. When the Nuggets eventually meet their demise, we fans will begin to reminisce about Carmelo’s game winners, the most grotesque face-pummeling dunk he had on Theo Ratliff, and all the good times we had along the way. Wipe a tear from my eye, I know it’s getting sappy on The Nugg Doctor, but this season’s campaign is all but over.

Friday, April 28, 2006

New Trade Rumors Circulating Around K-Mart

FortCollins-CO) Let the bidding begin for Kenyon Martin. Do I hear any bidders? Ah ha, New York, and what are you willing to give us for Mr. Martin? Well if there is any legitimacy to a rumor circulating on, the Knicks could be interested, again, in making a deal for two of their expiring contracts, (Potentially Jalen Rose and Maurice Taylor or possibly Channing Frye), for the remaining four years and 54 million dollars left on Kenyon Martin’s contract. Larry Brown is also rumored to be pressuring Isiah Thomas to land aging defensive giant Alonzo Mourning.

I think that the Nuggets need to be patient when dealing Kenyon Martin this off-season. Jumping the gun and taking the first trade that gets presented would be foolish. The Nuggets need to figure out what they are going to do with Nene and critically evaluate their needs for a shooting guard. In regards to the two expiring contracts and pair of players that would be potentially traded to New York for Kenyon Martin, I only like the deal with Frye. Jalen Rose is far over the hill and Maurice Taylor would have a hard time finding minutes with Reggie Evans and Nene next year. The most appetizing morsel of either of these potential deals would be Frye. He is definitely blossoming into a big time center and reminds me of a very young Marcus Camby. Gotta think about the future…

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It Wasn’t Pretty, But Mission Accomplished

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets saddled up and handled business tonight regardless of how sloppy this game was. Denver missed 13 free throws, turned the ball over 15 times, and missed all eleven three point shot attempts taken. Fortunately, they hounded the Los Angeles Clippers and caused 23 turnovers that fruited 27 points. Also critical to the win was the Nuggets effort on the offensive glass. Denver out rebounded the Clippers on the offensive end 13 to five, and 39 to 37 in the game’s entirety. This game lacked artistic flare, but the Nuggets were able to persevere and win, 94-87, in a game that might have just saved their season.

Carmelo Anthony wasn’t spectacular shooting the ball tonight, a mere 6-17, but found his way to the free throw line and made good on 12 of 18 from the charity stripe. The majority of his made jumpers came from the right side of the floor and were off quick moves before the double team arrived. ‘Melo was also brilliant in other areas besides scoring. He had arguably his most complete playoff game of his young career, despite not shooting a high percentage, by recording seven rebounds and four assists. The Nuggets other biggest assets on offense were Earl Boykins and Andre Miller. Earl came off the bench and contributed 27 solid minutes with only one turnover, pitched in 13 points, and five assists. Miller was also efficient. The Nuggets point guard scored 14 points, snared three rebounds, and passed out seven assists while only coughing it up twice. The Nuggets finally got out and ran the floor, even though they didn’t quite hit the century mark, and the pace of this game was favorable.

All of these are good things for Nuggets fans, but there was one performance that I felt really pushed the Nuggets over the hump. That performance was from Rueben Patterson. Rueben didn’t light up the box score in points or play spectacular defense, but what Rueben did do was find three offensive rebounds in critical points in the game where the Nuggets were looking like they were slipping into a funk. These three offensive rebounds may not seem like much, but they were at crucial junctures in this game and made a monumental difference.

The Nuggets were also wise to continually attack the bucket, which put both Elton Brand and Chris “The Neanderthal” Kaman in serious foul trouble. Brand would foul out of the game late in the fourth quarter, and Kaman would finish the game with two points and five fouls. The figurative schmorgisborg of second chance points that these two fed on in game one and two was just not there tonight. Largely in part to Marcus Camby recording 13 rebounds and scoring twelve points in a solid double-double performance that included drawing a critical charge in the wee minutes of the game.

The order is still tall for the Nuggets. I still believe that their only chance to win this series still wavers on a game four victory. If they can knot this series at deuces, it is literally up for grabs. The Mile High City is going to be rockin’ on Saturday night and the Nuggets need to restore faith in the Denver faithful. Tonight’s effort and resolve was a good start. The Nuggets need to trim back to rough edges, execute more efficiently, shoot a better percentage from the free throw line, and keep attacking the basket to win game four. A lot to ask, I know, but you could be right back in this one Nuggies! Take care of business and square this series up a two a piece!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dont Let the Door Hit You Where the Good Lord Split You!

(FortCollins-CO) The latest fiasco in the never-ever ending saga that is Keyon Martin will probably keep him out of the rest of this season. The Nuggets have suspended him indefinately for what they call conduct detrimental to the team. The team is being very hush hush and says they will keep the matter within the clubhouse. More pleased, I could not be! Its been a long time coming.
UPDATE: Stephen A. Smith of ESPN has reported that the reason for Kenyon Martin's suspension is the direct repremand of a temper tantrum filled with profanities aimed at coach George Karl during halftime of the loss to the Clippers on Monday night. How long he will sit is still yet to be determined.
UPDATE 4-26-06: Kenyon Martin publicaly apologizes with this statement, “First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates and coaching staff for my actions on Monday night. There is nothing more important to me than being a good teammate and giving 110% effort each and every day. Nothing will ever change that. I sincerely regret if this situation has been a distraction for the team, Mr. Kroenke and the Denver Nuggets organization. I take the responsibility of representing the Denver Nuggets very seriously and I truly hope that Nuggets fans understand that. I support the team fully and can’t wait to rejoin them on the court as soon as possible. Right now, the focus should be on the playoffs and getting a Game 3 victory.”
Can we believe this guy?
George Karl is quoted saying this in the Denver Post, "He just doesn't practice very often,he just wants to play in the games. That, philosophically, just doesn't make any sense to me. I (still) think he has a big-time heart and I think he's a big-time competitor."
George Karl has no reason to lie about a man's work ethic. He is an old school guy out of North Carolina with 18 years coaching experience. He is well respected around the league. This whole situation is completely out of control and regardless of fault, or player statements, the Nuggets had no choice but to suspend Kenyon Martin.
UPDATE 4-28-06: Kenyon Martin is going to file a grievance with the NBA. I assume that he is going to try and say that the Nuggets team doctor misdiagnosed the progress of his knee. So he would come back and play prematurely. Funny how this grievance wasn't filed before the suspension. Gee, I wonder why?
Well, I have a few grievances to get off my chest too. Kenyon, you don't get to play when you want, curse out your teammates, throw a temper tantrum because you don't play the minutes you 'think' you deserve, rarely practice, second guess your coach, put up sorry numbers, and pout at the end of the bench when you play poorly!
Get real! You're not worth even half your enormous salary and you're a distraction for this team. Plus the Nuggets do not need you to win. One more thing... As far as I am concerned, you've been a cancer on this team since you got here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Denver Sputters Again, Make it Six Straight Losses

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets are in critical condition right now after another embarrassing loss to the Clippers 98-87. In a game that I expected at least an intense effort and a close contest the Nuggets played as if there was nothing at stake. Well here is something that the Nuggets should be aware of. Their post-season aspirations of advancing to the second round are now almost mathematically unattainable. The team that jumps out to a two to zero series lead has gone on to win the series 176 times out of 186, or roughly 95% of the time.

The scary thing about tonight’s loss was the total lack of intensity and sense of urgency in the Nugget game plan. The Nuggets were complacent as the Clippers dominated them in the first quarter. The Nuggets only scored 13 points in the first twelve minutes and allowed the Clippers to score 32 points on almost anything they wanted offensively. You could make a strong case that this game was over before it ever really got started. The second quarter was much more of the same. The Nuggets never got any type of fast break offense started and continue to resemble a monkey looking at a math problem in the half court set. The score at halftime was 56-34.

Now after consecutively losing the last six games Denver has really got their back to the wall. If the Clippers can waltz into the Pepsi Center and continue to oppress the Nuggets to the tune of three games to zero it will be time to get the ol’dust pan out of the closet to sweep the Nuggets into the garbage pail. This marks the sixth time in those six loses, surprise surprise, which the Nuggets have failed to score a hundred points in a game.

There is nothing fancy going on in this series. The Clippers are just bullying the Nuggets all over the playground. They are imposing their will on the Nuggets, and as of this point, the Nuggets have no answers and continually fewer and fewer people to turn to on the bench for help. The Clippers once again held the Nuggets to less than ten points on the fast break and Elton Brand continues to be the Nugget killer that I predicted he would be. Brand finished tonight’s game with 19 points on 8-14 from the field, rubbed out three shots, and snatched 11 rebounds to record the double-double, but it continues to be the suffocating team defense that the Clippers employ that is choking out the Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony went just 5 of 15 from the field scoring 16 points, Andre Miller was an unattractive 3 of 11 for 14 points with six turnovers, and Earl Boykins was 5 for 17 scoring 14 points in 33 minutes. As a team the Nuggets shot 34.2% in the game and were without synchronization offensively.

I really thought that the Nuggets would have put on a much more inspired performance tonight. I made bold statements in recognition that the Nuggets whole season’s worth of efforts were essentially riding on this game and I just frankly expected more. Not to take anything away from the Clippers and their success, but the Nuggets are merely acting as if they are content to have made the playoffs. Now with Kenyon Martin most likely out for the rest of the series on that continuously sore reconstructed knee, a gimpy Eduardo Najera, and the obviously still bothersome left hand of Earl Boykins the Nuggets are looking as if any chances of resurrecting this series are slowly blowing out to sea. If there is any remote possibility that the Nuggets can win this series they have to win both games at home. Even if they split the next two, this series is essentially over. The percentage of the time that a team closes out a series with a 3-1 lead is nearly 99%. It is basically that simple. The Nuggets have now put themselves in a position where there is only one way out. Win both games at Pepsi Center by completely forgetting about these last two outings and the aforementioned four loses that concluded the regular season. The Nuggets have to start fresh because anything and everything that they are trying to accomplish right now is just not working.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Now The Nuggets Are Ready To Play

(FortCollins-CO) I knew from the way that the game started that the Nuggets were not going to win. Hell, I knew after losing four straight that they were not going to be ready for game one. Why you might ask? My reply is that you just can't flip intensity on and off like a light switch. Momentum is as sticky as molasses and most often times dictates how you start something after finishing another. The Nuggets came out flat and found themselves down by nine going into half time. Not an insurmountable lead by any means, even though it would balloon up to 16 at one point in the second half, but it was clear indication that the Nuggets put 85 octane in the tank to finish the regular season when they should have been refueling with 93. So now after a 89-87 loss, and allowing the Clippers to win their first playoff game in nine years, the Nuggets are finally getting all that cheap gas out of their engine and are going to be ready with a full tank of premium for game two. Bet on it, the Nuggets are going win on Monday night. Here’s why.

Carmelo Anthony had a terrible shooting night, as well as the rest of the Nuggets, and only scored 25 points on 9-26 from the floor. Anytime that a player scores less points than the number of attempts they shoot you know that they had a tough night. The Nuggets as a team only shot 38.5%. His only other offensive support was from Andre Miller who scored 25 points in symmetry with ‘Melo and passed out six dimes. The rest of the team only accounted for 37 points. A gruesome and telling statistic that proves that the Nuggets were the victims of a very lack luster offensive performance. All things considered, the Nuggets will have an improved offensive showing in game two. Expect them to score 100 or more on Monday in a fury of fast break explosions that leave the Clip-show out of breath and out of reach of game two. In this game, the Nuggets only scored four fast break points in the second half and looked like a fish out of water. One positive point to mention was that Denver only turned the ball over seven times while only allowing the Clippers to capitalize for eight points.

The Nuggets did fight back with valiant defensive efforts to keep this one within striking range with a couple of big-time ten or more to zero scoring surges, but in the end it was too little too late. The consistent intensity and defensive cockiness was elusive through various stretches of the game and with the game on the line in the final minute, the Nuggets were out of gas. Carmelo had a chance to tie up the game, but threw up an air ball on his first chance to be the hero. The ball was tipped out of bounds to Denver and Carmelo had been given a mulligan. Unfortunately the second chance at redemption was also not to be.

One stat that I did take from the game was that the Clippers were the best team in the league at shutting down the fast break in the regular season. I did not know this going into game one. The Nuggets are the best fast break team in the league. I did know this, and this shows that the Clippers exercised their will on the Nuggets, thus materializing the win. Expect this to change dramatically in game two.

So why do I believe so strongly that the Nuggets will snatch game two? Because they were close enough to sniff victory this time and are probably getting tired of hearing all the buzz about how ‘Lucky’ they are to be where they are. The Nuggets are going to come out of the locker room on Monday with a sour taste on their palate and a swagger that is comparable to the second match up between Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang. Already have being blasted in the lips once, now the Nuggets are going to be ready to play. I don’t know why this team needs this type of pressure, but they relish it. It is sometimes the only thing that can get them appropriately juiced up to win games.

There are no statistics to point to, no deep analysis, and certainly no finger pointing in this one. The Nuggets as a TEAM need to step up to the call of duty and get game two. With a game two win, the Nuggets have a chance at winning this series. Without it, well there is no point in speculating without it because they are going to be ready. Get your Journey’s Greatest Hits album out, because it’s going to be “Eye of the Tiger” time on Monday night.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Another Loss: No Momentum Going Into Playoffs

(FortCollins-CO) So I had to let the loss to Seattle sit for a minute or two before I got back on the keyboard. Why you might ask? Because, I predicted to Nuggets to lose and brought my six game prediction record to 4-2 (check my archives from about ten days ago), but there is a main reason that I am seriously concerned about the Nuggets playoff chances. In my assessment, they are looking bleak. Sorry to have to say that, but come on, sometimes as a doctor you have to give it to people straight. With the 109-98 loss to Seattle the Nuggets have now lost eight of their last twelve games. I’m not some cockeyed optimist that just puts on a Nuggets jersey and goes wild. I see grave danger lying ahead for the Nuggets. A possible first round bounce is very likely.

The main storyline for the regular season finale was all about Seattle. Ray Allen set the new NBA record for three pointers made in a season by edging out Dennis Scott, and are now owners of the longest winning home record streak in the league at 17 years straight. If there was any positive aspect of the game for the Nuggets. It was that they didn’t score less than 20 points in a quarter in the outing (yippee, while I twirl my finger around in a circle).

Management finally made a wise decision and sat Carmelo, Marcus, and Kenyon. With absolutely nothing to play for, it was about time that two of our three big guns got a rest. Andre Miller did start the game to preserve the games played streak, but only played 18 minutes.

I know what you thinking, “Enough already with the Seattle game, give us something in foresight for the Clippers,” so here it goes.

The Nuggets are going to have serious problems containing Elton Brand. In a season that the Clipper power forward is a legitimate MVP candidate, I don’t see anyone at the four spot on the Nuggets that can put up a fight. Let’s run down the list of Nugget options and why they will struggle. First, let’s look at Francisco Elson’s chances. Its real simple, ‘Cisco is too weak in the blocks, and doesn’t rebound like a seven footer. Offensively the Nuggets will be lucky to get ten points out of Elson on the other end. Next up is Kenyon Martin. Martin couldn’t stop Brand in his prime, what on earth could make me think that he is up to the challenge now? Not much, but maybe he can score a few more buckets than Francisco. Eddie Najera is about 70% healthy. Even if he can slow Brand down on defense, Najera is little to no offensive threat. Reggie Evans is the Nuggets best chance on the defensive end because of his commitment to the glass, but once again, I don’t see much offensive threat except for a few bunnies off the offensive boards. Marcus Camby is going to be guarding Petro and Kaman. Hopefully he can be assistance on the weak side help with some soaring shot blocking, but unless he swats about ten shots, expect Brand to average 22-26 points in this series.

That is the only glimpse that I can give my readers right now. I know it is the most obvious match-up that the Nuggets have to key on, but look at the box scores from the last three meetings between these two teams. As Brand goes, so do the Clippers. Stop Brand and the Nuggets have a chance. Easier said than done, but it is the only way.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ridiculous Loss for Sliding Nuggets

(FortCollins-CO) More embarrassed I could not be. The Denver Nuggets lost tonight to the Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming-less Rockets in a game that was so strongly in hand for the majority of the contest. It took an 18 to two run down the final five minute stretch for the Nuggets to get booed off the court after losing 86-83 to a team that had previously lost seven of its last eight games. The Nuggets have now lost three straight to rub some more salt in already gaping wounds.

Denver was winning the game convincingly at halftime 51-35 largely in part to a great overall defensive energy and crisp ball movement. The defensive effort was leading to a lot of up-tempo basketball and the Nuggets were running the floor and capitalizing. With what seemed to be a positive energy in a game that all starters played significant minutes. It would have appeared the Nuggets were after a victory. So far so good right? Wrong! This was merely the crescendo to a pitifully tragic collapse of a basketball game that would be only fitting for the Nuggets to perform.

The second half effort was grotesquely different than the first. The Nuggets only scored 32 points in the final 24 minutes, and with about five minutes in the game were STILL ahead by thirteen. DerMarr Johnson made good on two free throws and they would be the last the Nuggets scored in retaliation to an 18-point onslaught brought on by the Rockets. What’s even more pitiful was the fact that the Nuggets were STILL leading the game with twenty seconds left by one point before back-up point guard Howard Eisley got stripped of the rock and gave up a lay-up on the press break!

Now with only about 15 seconds remaining the Nuggets have been sitting Carmelo Anthony the entirety of the fourth quarter and you need a game winning shot. Are you going to put ‘Melo in to pull the trigger? Nah, in a game that the Nuggets played all their big guns in what would have resembled an attempt to win, Karl decided to go with a pick and roll with a dish to Marcus Camby in the corner from 18 feet.

Needless to say at this point, the ball caromed off the side of the iron and the Rockets rebounded. A quick foul and two free throws later and you have one of the most embarrassing losses I have had to watch first hand in a long time. No need to report who scored what and grabbed which rebounds. The Nuggets lost. I repeat, more embarrassed I could not be…

The Dangerfield of the Western Conference

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets are the Rodney Dangerfields of the Western Conference Playoff picture. The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers are wet on the chops to potentially host Denver even though they will be the lower seeded team. No one in sports media is even giving the Nuggets an ounce of a chance to emerge from the first round. They are even going as far as overlooking the Nuggets and starting to predict what will happen in the second round to either of the aforementioned teams. But I have some research that might be more insightful than the average sports commentator reading cue cards, and may just be the reasons to believe that the Nuggets are capable of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

Knowing that the Nuggets are going to play the Grizzlies or the Clippers I am going to flip flop from both respective teams and tell you why I think that the Nuggets are going to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

First, the Nuggets are currently the fifth highest point scoring team per game in the NBA. They average 100.6 points per game. This stat is indicative of the tempo and style of basketball that the Nuggets are comfortable playing. With this knowledge, and Assistant Coach Doug “The Master of the Run & Gun” Moe on the bench, every game needs to be a race to 100. The Clippers are currently 15th in the league in per game scoring and only average 97 points. Even more favorable for the Nuggets is the style of game that Memphis is prone to playing. Memphis is 27th in the league in scoring per game, and only averages 91.9 points per outing.

So what does this mean? It means that with an even remotely healthy Marcus Camby the Nuggets should be able to contain Pau Gasol in the half court set, and should have major advantages with fast break opportunities that will be the result of defensive rebounding and quick outlet passes. As long as you keep a hand in Mike Miller’s face on the perimeter, the Nuggets should be able to get the Grizzlies in a rhythm that is favorable.

Against the Clippers, this task is going to be much more complicated, but still within the Nuggets means of accomplishment. LA has a much better inside game with Elton Brand. Not only is he a more efficient scorer, but he is also a better rebounder. The Clippers also have more guys that can hurt you from downtown. Sam Cassell relishes in beating the Nuggets (remember the battles that the Nuggets had when he was in Minnesota?). Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette are also legitimate three point shooters. Guys like Greg Buckner and DerMarr Johnson are going to have to play solid minutes if the Nuggets are going win a potential series with the Clippers. Along with solid defense, the Nuggets have to control the tempo of the game by running the break EVERYTIME the opportunity is there. If they do this, they should be able to beat either team in six games.

The second statistical category that I feel needs to be examined is team assists. The Nuggets are currently the third best passing team in the NBA. The Clippers are 11th and Memphis is 23rd. This means that the Nuggets are at their best when they are moving the ball on offense with dribble penetration and shooter relocation. The Nuggets can ill-afford to stand around and watch each other try to score off the dribble. When Carmelo or Andre Miller drive to the basket the other Nuggets need to get to spots in the collapsing defense so the attacker has places to pass the ball, preferably for open shots. Carmelo Anthony is the only Nugget that can really create for himself face-up with a defender. Andre Miller is effective in the post, but needs people to pass to when the double team slides over. The Nuggets need quick continuity to defeat either team.

The final area for concern for Nuggets fans is turnovers. The Memphis Grizzlies are the fifth best team in the league about not turning the ball over. The Nuggets are a bottom tier team when it comes to turning the ball over at 23rd overall. Denver is averaging nearly 15 turnovers a game and often times have been bitten in the rump by poor decision-making in critical moments (remember the Celtics game in Boston?). If the Nuggets can limit the amount of senseless turnovers that lead to easy scores for the opposition, in my opinion, they can alleviate nearly ten points scored against them. Turnovers are going to happen, but it will be limiting their effect on the game that will be paramount for the Nuggets. Memphis isn’t going to turn it over, mainly because they spend so much time in the half court set. So the Nuggets need to be conscience of the amount of risky endeavors they chose to embark on when handling the basketball. Memphis or LA isn’t going to give them many points off turnovers back, so it will be up to the Nuggets to control how many they give the opposition.
So my recipe for success in the post season is this; Control the tempo of the game with the fast break, a no brainer really for anyone who has watched the Nuggets, pass the ball effectively in the half court set off dribble penetration, and do not fall apart turning the ball over and letting the other team cash in on easy scores. If the Nuggets can execute in these three critical areas it doesn’t matter whom they end up with in the first round. The rest of the game will come easy for Denver if they take care of these three bulleted, italicized, highlighted, and emphasized points. I say, “Bring it on!” The Nuggets are going to make a lot of people eat their words! Earn that respect that nobody is willing to give you and leave sports journalists with their feet in their mouths.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Nuggets Play Possum in Loss to Sacramento

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets were outplayed in every facet of Saturday night’s game against the Kings. The Kings came into Pepsi Center with an appetite for victory, whereas the Nuggets looked bloated and lackadaisical. Denver was out shot, rebounded, hustled, passed, and foxed in an embarrassing outing. The Kings won 100-82 in a game that the Denver Nuggets only scored more than 20 points in one of four quarters.

Carmelo Anthony looked tired and uninterested from the opening tip. He only scored 15 points in 29 minutes. Rueben Patterson was the Nuggets best offensive threat. He logged 20 points on 9-16 shooting and pulled four rebounds. Marcus Camby was the only other bright spot for the Nuggets. The Nuggets center had ten points, 17 rebounds, and rejected two shots. As a team, the Nuggets only shot 40% from the field, and 20% from behind the three-point arch. The tempo was slow and there wasn’t much fast break. Andre Miller only handed out one assist.

For lack of better words, the Nuggets really mailed this one in. They were only down seven at halftime, but at that point the Nuggets had thrown in the towel. The second half collapse only fruited 37 points and saw the Nuggets ending up playing eleven deep. My question is this; If your going to tank the final two games, why not just sit every starter except Andre Miller, (because of the consecutive game streak), in hopes of coming out fresh for the playoffs? The Nuggets have made no attempt to compete in the last two games since winning the Northwest Division, and now have two games that have little to no playoff implications left. Any chances of securing home court advantage have escaped, and now the Nuggets are just waiting to see who lands in the sixth seed.

The thing that has me most paranoid about the way the Nuggets are playing right now is the potential negative momentum they are compiling with the big show about to begin. Either they are giving us an Oscar worthy performance of playing possum, or are legitimately trying to win these last few games and can’t figure out a way to get fired up. In any possible scenario, the Nuggets are going to need to flip the rhetorical switch in about a week because I predict that starters are going to be sat against the Rockets and Sonics. Luckily, the Rockets will be without Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming when the Nuggets host their last home game of the regular season. So maybe Denver’s reserves can outplay Houston’s bench in a game that should resemble an inspired practice scrimmage. With no incentives to actually win either of the last two, why would the Nuggets play with any sense of urgency now? They will be watching Memphis and the Clippers and altering their game plan accordingly.
I’m trying to stay positive knowing that the Nuggets have little to no motivation right now to win games. George Karl will find a way to get the Nuggets adrenaline pumping when they travel to who ever is unlucky enough to host them in the playoffs. Hopefully some lift can be found by then, because right now, the Nuggets are playing dead and hoping that their attackers will walk away. Possum is an interesting charade to play with the playoffs looming in the future; The Nuggets better know what they are doing.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wanna Chance to Go 1 on 1 With 'Melo?

-- Fans Have a Chance to go 1on1 with Carmelo Anthony, Marc Ecko or Jermaine Dupri --
(FortCollins-CO) Toyota and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have teamed up to give fans the chance to go one-on-one with icons in the sports, fashion or music world by placing a vote for the best NBA play of the week.One Grand Prize winner will have the opportunity to “Get Game” with Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, “Get Style” with fashion and media icon Marc Ecko, or “Get Beats” with music mogul Jermaine Dupri.To participate in the contest fans log on to to vote for one of three video clips showing the best plays of the week from NBA action. Votes can be cast every day via the website or by text messaging PLAY to t1on1 on a mobile phone. Each vote enters that person into a sweepstakes with a weekly prize featuring an IPod Shuffle, NBA merchandise or Ecko clothing.At the end of the promotion, one Grand Prize winner will be chosen from all the people who have voted for the plays of the week. That Grand Prize winner will have a choice of going “1on1” with Anthony, Ecko or Dupri.“Basketball fans have diverse interests and through Toyota 1on1 we wanted to give them a chance to really pursue their passion, whether it's on the court with Carmelo Anthony, learning about fashion from Mark Ecko or getting a deep dive into the music industry with Jermaine Dupri,” said Jim Farley, Toyota Vice President of Marketing.

Each of the icons is a standout in his business:

Carmelo Anthony
NBA rising star, Carmelo Anthony, was drafted No. 3 in 2003 by the Denver Nuggets and started in all 82 games that year. Anthony was selected as the 2005 Rookie Challenge MVP, a member of the 2004 U.S. Senior Men's National team and was the third-youngest player in the NBA to reach the 2,000 point mark.

Marc Ecko

From fashion to footwear, gaming to publishing, Marc Ecko is an artist, designer and entrepreneur who stands out for his ability to fuse the many parts of today's multicultural society into seamless, relevant styles and trends. Ecko heads the full-scale global fashion and lifestyle company, which last year alone billed more than $1 billion.

Jermaine Dupri

Grammy Award winning music mogul, Jermaine Dupri, has 20 years of experience in the music industry and is the founder and CEO of So So Def Recordings and president of Black Music at Virgin Records. Dupri has helmed the release of platinum albums for Janet Jackson, Usher, Mariah Carey and Bow Wow, to name a few.

In addition to being able to view and vote for the best plays of the week on, the website will link to video profiles of some of the top NBA players on “Toyota Moving Forward Moments,” appearing on NBA TV and, a photo blog where people can submit their “Fan of the Week” photos, a listing of the celebrity icons' favorite tunes and online versions of some of the unique games from the Toyota Zone at the NBA All-Star Game Jam Session.


Toyota established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates ten manufacturing plants including one under construction. There are more than 1,400 Toyota , Lexus and Scion dealerships in the U.S. which sell more than 2 million vehicles a year. Toyota directly employs more than 32,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $13 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.

No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends 5/1/06. Void where prohibited. See official rules at

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Desperate Utah Beat the Nuggets

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets played tonight as if they were just a slight bit hung over from the Divisional Championship party. It was not only predicted by yours truly to be a loss for the Nuggets, but they didn’t leave any reason for me to sweat it. A desperate Utah Jazz disposed of a lethargic Denver squad 104-83. The good news is that there is no reason to worry for Denver Nuggets fans.

Karl and staff chose to rest Marcus Camby. Without Camby in the middle, the Nuggets are a very vulnerable team. Utah’s big men and their performances illustrate my point beautifully. Okur and Boozer scored 24 and 25 points respectively and Andre Kirilenko added 14. As a team, Utah out rebounded the Nuggets 47 to 33 including an eight board advantage on the offensive glass.

On the opposite end of the gym, the Nuggets were out of sync and looked discombobulated. Carmelo Anthony was the high scorer for Denver, scoring 18. Although five Nuggets did score in double figures, it was an off night collectively. The Nuggets had trouble starting and finishing the fast break. A telling statistic relating to this is the team assists total. Once again, Utah out passed Denver 26 to 22.

Denver played all ten players that logged playing time at least 20 minutes each. This is evidence that the Nuggets are resting their battered and bruised and are coming to the realization that they are going to need to win out the rest of their games and get some help from Memphis to have home court advantage in the playoffs. By the way, Memphis did win tonight making it even harder for the Nuggets to pull off home court if they do meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Expect to see a lot more sitting of starters down the final three game stretch of the regular season. I think that they will probably only play Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller about 20 minutes against the Kings, and then will probably sit Anthony for the remaining two. Miller has an incredible consecutive games-played streak and will most likely not miss a start, but will have his minutes shaved down.

All is quiet before the storm in Nugget country as of right now. My predictions for the final six are true to the mid waypoint. Unfortunately, it looks as if home court advantage is not going to be in the cards for the Nuggets.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Marcus Deserves Defensive Player of the Year Honor

(FortCollins-CO) If there was ever a year that Marcus Camby has deserved to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award it would be this year. Marcus is having career numbers in this his tenth year in the league. Camby is leading the league in blocked shots per game at 3.3 swats a night and would be third in the league in rebounds if his average of 12.0 boards a night was included in the league leaders list. He isn’t included because of the number of games he has missed due to injury, but I feel that this particularly points to how tough he is to come back and maintain this caliber of performance. Marcus is also stealing the ball at a rate of 1.4 per contest.

His presence is invaluable to the Nuggets on the defensive end, not to mention he is also a consistent offensive threat averaging 12.9 points a game! By my simple analysis, that means he is averaging a double double in points and rebounds, while leading the league in blocks! Not bad Mr. Marcus Camby, you know the Nugg Doctor is pulling for you! I hope you bring Denver home that Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Congratulations, Now Lets Get to Work

(FortCollins-CO) The 2005-2006 Denver Nuggets have accomplished something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1988 campaign. Now what the Northwest Divisional Champions need to figure out is how to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Winning the division is sweet, but I’m not satisfied and ready to mail it in quite yet. The Denver Nuggets have tremendous potential and if they can peak at just the right time could surprise some unsuspecting teams. Beating Portland 110-98 was the easy part.

The Nuggets can celebrate a little tonight because they all played cohesively and beat a team convincingly that isn’t even of like caliber. Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 28 points and dropped six dimes. Rueben Patterson made the Trailblazers wince with his high-octane fast break performance. Patterson, who formerly played in Portland, scored 21 points in 28 minutes.

On the defensive end, who do you think was Mr. Reliable for the Nuggets? Mr. Camby of course! Marcus came up huge for the Nuggets in a game that totally summarized his entire season. Camby scored 21 points, grabbed 13 boards, (five on offensive glass), and rubbed out four shots. He is definitely a candidate for defensive player of the year in my opinion. He is leading the league in block shots per game, and if he wasn’t hurt early in the year, would be second or third in the rebounding race. Not to mention he scores a dozen points every night too.

One of the Nuggets main woes of the season might be rectifying itself. I’m talking about outside shooting, and two Nuggets are stepping up appropriately to the call of the three-point line. DerMarr Johnson and Greg Buckner shot a combined 4-10 from downtown and gave the Nuggets an important boost. I like the things I am seeing from both young men defensively as well. Doing the idiosyncratic particulars is precisely what this team needed and these two Nuggets are providing that kind of assistance.

I was doing some statistical research today and found some very telling numbers that you might be interested in. According to the website, Carmelo Anthony is catching the second most alley-oop dunks in the league. Andre Miller has thrown the most opps-a-daisy passes with 86. Twice as many as the next man on the list. Next, I found that Carmelo Anthony has the most game winning shots in the entire league with 10 in a three-year career. This is dumbfounding considering he is tops on the list with some big name stars that have been in the league for the better part of a decade. He is also leading the league in “up-close shots.” defines this stat as, “shots that include all close shots that aren’t tips on the offensive glass.” Carmelo has attempted 520 and made 322, for a healthy 62%. One unsavory Nugget, pardon the pun, is who in the league gets called for traveling the most. Once again, it is Denver’s young superstar Carmelo Anthony. He has been whistled 30 times for steps.
The Nuggets need to selectively rest the big guns before playoff time. As soon as the picture clears up as far as whom we are going to be playing in the postseason, and if we will or will not have home court advantage, is why I say ‘selectively’. There are still a couple wrinkles that need to be ironed out before the Nuggets clear the bench for the last couple games. The division is reason to celebrate, but there is still work to be done and goals to be accomplished. Congratulations Nuggets, I’ve got playoff fever!

Nuggets Unite for Win Against Warriors

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets were faced with some disturbing news prior to this game with Golden State. The beauty of the news that guard Julius Hodge had been shot was that it brought the Nuggets together. Just like any sobering event throughout history, regardless of social magnitude, when an event of such grounding implications occurs it solidifies groups of people with a common thread of identity. The young men on the Denver Nuggets came together as one for the win against the Warriors 95-92, despite not playing their best game.

Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and had three assists as he continues to hit that tender mid range jumper. He had nice contributions from Elson (13 points), Camby (17 rebounds), Patterson (12 points), and Eisely (Eleven points and four assists). The Nuggets had 24 assists total in the outing, which shows that they are effectively moving the ball and getting out on the break for easy buckets. All good signs for the playoffs forthcoming.

If there was a weakness in the Nuggets performance it is that first six minutes of the second half that can sometimes put a team away, or let them right back in it. Against the Warriors, the Nuggets let them right back in the thick of things. The Nuggets allowed the Warriors to score their most points in a quarter, 28, and quasi-flopped out by only putting up 19 of their own. Good thing they tightened the reigns in the fourth quarter, otherwise they were in potential danger of letting this one slip away.

Denver faces a struggling Portland Trailblazer squad tonight. If they win they will clinch the Northwest Division title for the first time in 18 years. They have already secured a tie at worst-case scenario, but I see it as almost next to impossible to not win one of the next five games. Get the champagne iced down, but save the good stuff for a little later in April. One goal being accomplished is nice, however there are still many more obstacles to overcome before the Nuggets have really won anything quite yet.

Our prayers and thoughts are with Julius, and his family and friends. A speedy recovery and a full rehabilitation is all we ask for, but take as much time as you need Julius. Let the boys in powder blue take care of things on the court. I think that this whole ordeal can be a blessing in disguise if it can bring the Nuggets closer to each other and create a sense of team identity that was in some regards needing of some overhauling.
Denver, you are almost there. Take care of yourselves, and the Trailblazers, and get some rest before the post season starts. It would be very nice to be able to sit some starters down the stretch and come out fresh, loose, and focused when it really matters.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Julius Hodge Shot on Highway

(FortCollins-CO) The rookie shooting guard Julius Hodge was shot while driving on I-76 after meeting with a musician friend. There is no reports of a prior altercation before the shooting occured. Coach George Karl expects Julius to miss the remainder of the regular season. Up to three weeks is expected before Hodge is capable of playing in any capacity. There are no suspects as of this time

Friday, April 7, 2006

Final Six Game Predictions

(FortCollins-CO) With six remaining games to the regular season schedule, I am ready to give my final win/loss predictions. Keep in mind that the Nuggets need only two wins or Utah loses to secure the division title. All the win/loss records for opposing teams are current as of the date of this post.
Golden State @ Pepsi Center: (30-44) How the Nuggets could lose this game after a thriller against the Lakers is beyond me. I predict the Warriors to get run out of the gym. They are a team that has struggled all year after coming out of the gates hot.
@Portland: (21-53) Another team that is not capable of playing with the Nuggets in any capacity. This game should be a lock in the W column.
@Utah: (35-39) A dangerous game. If the Nuggets win against the Warriors and the Trailblazers the division would be secure. The Jazz could be potentially fighting for a playoff birth. I predict a loss for the Nuggets. Utah will be desperate and a desperate team is a dangerous team.
Sacramento @ Pepsi Center: (39-37) The Nuggets will have their hands full. After returning to the Mile High City after potentially losing to the Jazz. The Nuggets will be willing and ready to dispose of the Kings. Expect Carmelo to have 30-35 points. Nuggets win a tough game.
Houston @ Pepsi Center: (32-43) Houston is a team that will not have much to play for. Nuggets win, despite possibly sitting some starters.
@Seattle: (31-43) The Nuggets have beaten the Sonics this year with some convincing showings. Seattle still has some pros on the team and I expect the Nuggets to sit starters. Nuggets lose a game that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
I am predicting the Nuggets to finish 4-2 in the last six. The Nuggets need to come out washed and waxed for the playoffs. Denver will finish the year 46-36 for the regular season (Or hopefully better!!). Denver is going to be buzzin come playoff time!!

Carmelo Slapped on Wrist

(FortCollins-CO) Carmelo Anthony was fined $15,000 for punching the ball into the stands in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Clipper game. 'Melo was ejected after the incident. The aforementioned action was the outburst following an extremely hard foul by the Clippers Quinton Ross which caught him in the face. This is the second time this season that something of like nature has occured. I like the intensity. I didn't like the position that ejection put the Nuggets in during a critical point in the game.

Overtime Thriller Materializes Victory

(FortCollins-CO) The NBA game is an enigmatic entity that is sometimes impossible to fully comprehend. The Denver Nuggets being the most mysterious team in the league just makes my job that much more perplexing. Thankfully, the Nuggets pulled out a gutsy win against the Lakers last night in overtime. The historical storyline was abundant. History itself may be in the making. The Nuggets beat the Lakers 110-108 in a game that almost went till one o’clock in the morning.

Kobe Bryant scored 42 points and broke a record held by Elgin Baylor, (Check the archives if you need a history lesson), for the most 40 point games by a Laker in a season by hitting the “four-O” mark for the 24th time this season. While one bit of history was rewritten, another might be just gaining acclaim.

Carmelo Anthony and company played phenomenal basketball for almost an entire game. This was refreshing to see after some of the low points that we have witnessed in the last few outings. All five starters scored in double figures, and Rueben Patterson tallied nine off the bench. Anthony had 33, Francisco Elson scored a career-high 21 points while grabbing eleven rebounds, and Marcus Camby scored ten and squeezed eleven to match ‘Cisco on the boards.

Carmelo Anthony’s most important deuce was in overtime, with ten seconds and ticking, score tied, and no timeout sequestered for a diagramed play. Everyone in the building knew ‘Melo was going to get the last look for the Nuggets, and the Laker defense could do nothing to stop it. Carmelo dribbled twice rapidly with the right, crossed over Devean “The Grinch” George, took a step back, and drained the fall-away jumper. The home crowd exploded. The Nuggets were up two with 3.8 seconds remaining. Too bad he wasn’t in the game against the Clippers, might have been two in a row…

Greg Buckner and Patterson tried their best to contain Kobe Bryant. It may seem that their efforts were in vain, but when the game was on the line, Kobe was not allowed to touch the ball for the last second shot. Consequentially, and after calling a time out when the Lakers were unable to inbound the ball the first time, Luke Walton got the final shot and missed. Not giving Kobe a chance to beat you in the final seconds is paramount and merits kudos for the defensive duo regardless of the 42 point effort by Bryant.

The history that is unfolding right in front of Nuggets fan’s eyes is the solidification of young Carmelo Anthony’s ability to cash the game winning check. He is now 10-15 lifetime when the game is in the balance to be tied or won in the last ten seconds. He has hit six game winners this year, and eight in his three year career. That is only three shy of his Airness’s mark of eleven in a 15 year career. Even more importantly is that the Nuggets are poised to clinch the first division title since the 1987-1988 season. The same season that was witness to Fat Lever being honored as Western Conference Player of the Month. Coincidence, I think not. Carmelo IS the best clutch shooter in the league. Anyone with any research to prove otherwise is encouraged to comment and school me on the numbers.

The magic number is now any combination of two Nugget wins or Utah loses. One side note that I would like to bring up. I did promise on another sports website to stop mentioning Kenyon Martin negatively because he is going to be a Nugget for the remainder of the season under any circumstances. So I’ll leave Nuggets fans with this; Denver is 15-6 when K-Mart doesn’t play… Instead of saying anything negative about Kenyon, I’ll just mention a positive about the Nugg’s. The writing is on the wall fans. Its your choice if you chose to read it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

First Since Fat Lever in 1988

(FortCollins-CO) Carmelo Anthony has been named Western Conference Player of the Month for the month of March. ‘Melo averaged 29.9 points a game and led the Nuggets to an 11-5 record. Carmelo continues to develop into a league superstar at the small forward position. Forward Paul Pierce only outscores him at his position in the entire NBA. ‘Melo is posting season averages of 26.7 points, 2.6 assists, and five rebounds. More importantly than the scoring boost he is having this year in comparison to the last two is his ability to lead the Nuggets on a nightly basis. Carmelo’s most improved area of his game is maturity. He is taking better shots and hitting with a greater efficiency. Congratulations Carmelo, the league is taking notice to what Nugget fans have been privileged to enjoy all season long! This is the first time a Nugget has been the recipient of this honor since Fat Lever was named back in 1988.

TWO GAME SPECTACULAR: Both Games Indicate Major Problems For Struggling Nuggets

(FortCollins-CO) Let me first apologize for the tardiness of my review regarding the embarrassing loss to the Dallas Mavericks. At least there isn’t too much positive that I can reflect on from that forgetful loss. Denver could only manage to score 79 points while the Mavericks trounced them by 24. Moving on now to the game last night.

The Nuggets would have seemed to have righted the ship by almost replicating the previous game’s total by scoring a season high 77 points in the first half. They were beating the Clippers by 22 at this point and it would have appeared that Nugget fans could have breathed a sigh of relief. Make it a quick inhale and an even quicker exhale because the Nuggets were going to go into cardiac arrest in the second half.

Coming out flat and playing uninspired basketball in combination with no defensive identity is a recipe for disaster. I am almost starting to believe the jeers from Nugget haters that the Nuggets are only going to the playoffs because we play in the weakest division in the league. What is going on Denver? How can you first only post 79 points in 48 minutes in the previous game? Then lash out on an opponent for 77 in the first half and then lose? Talk about a bi-polar disorder, sheesh!

Carmelo Anthony is continuing to play effectively. He scored 24 points against the Clippers. Marcus Camby added 19 and Andre Miller handed out 15 assists. The surprise contributor of the night was DerMarr Johnson. DJ scored 22 points, went three of five from the downtown, and only played 20 minutes. The main issue here is the second half collapse. The majority of all these impressive numbers were logged in the first 24 minutes.

In the last 24, the Nuggets only scored 16 points in both of the final quarters. That’s 32 points in 24 minutes or for all the math gurus out there, a point every 45 seconds. There was nothing that George Karl could say to his players. If they don’t want to compete, all the diagramed plays, substitutions, and motivational speeches mean nothing. The Clippers came back from grave and hijacked the W from the Nuggets.

Carmelo Anthony lost his cool down the stretch. He was ejected after being fouled and punching the ball ten rows deep. Consequentially, with the game on the line, Sam Cassell hit the technical foul and then the Clippers got to pick Reggie Evans off the bench to shoot Carmelo’s free throws. Reggie missed both and put the Nuggets in a tough spot to come back from. Down by one with 13 seconds remaining, with no Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets looked confused and settled for Andre Miller in the post. Miller couldn’t get his shot and passed to Kenyon Martin for a 17 footer. The ball caromed off the iron and the Nuggets were doomed to the cheers of the home crowd Clipper supporters.

The only diagnosis I have for the Nuggets is that they need to start playing ALL four quarters of ALL the games they play. This on again, off again routine is going to lead to a first round bounce without a doubt. I am totally exacerbated right now with this team. They show signs of greatness one game, or should I say one half, and then totally collapse like they are a lottery team. Never have I seen a team with a schizophrenic tendency like this one.
The magic number for clenching the division is still at three. The Denver Nuggets still have the Spurs and the Jazz remaining on their schedule. Time to buckle down Denver, while there is still time.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Late Signs of Life in Nuggets Win

(FortCollins-CO) The Denver Nuggets found themselves down by one going into the fourth quarter of Friday night's against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In a desperately needed sign of life, the Northwest Division leaders must have been motivated by something cosmic. Did they look each other in the eye and ask why they have been playing so poorly? Was there a divine intervention? Is this what is going to set the pace for a playoff run? Whatever caused the fourth quarter outburst and what materializes out of it is still undetermined, but the short term result was a blown out Minnesota team in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets won 106-94, but believe me it wasn’t as lopsided as it appears.

I’m going to speculate that the Nuggets finally realized that there was no reason to feel sorry for themselves. They are one of the best teams in the league and needed to start acting like it. They came out against a team that isn’t even of their caliber and toyed with their prey like I do with some over-cooked okra. The question that is looming over the Nuggets right now is clear. That question is, “Are you guys for real or are you just capable of flashes of greatness?”

After playing down to the Timberwolves level for three consecutive quarters the Nuggets reverted back to the Nuggets we were used to seeing on that franchise record setting road trip. Carmelo Anthony put up 32 and five rebounds. Kenyon Martin made his presence felt by tossing in eleven points, six boards, and two blocks. Marcus Camby only scored four points, but did rub out three shots and corralled eleven rebounds.

The most inspired play was that of Reggie Evans. Evans came of the bench and gave the Nuggets an incredible lift be giving a seven-eleven effort (points and rebounds), an uncountable number of hustle points, and defensive stands.

If there was one clear moment that can be pointed to that sparked the Nuggets out of their funk. It was Rueben Patterson stepping up in Minnesota guard Rashad McCants’s face and drawing the line in the sand. Rueben would be ejected from the game, but his stance was contagious. The Nuggets were done playing down to the level of the T-Wolves and were all about the business of closing the deal. Hopefully this new chippy attitude will carry over to Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

To beat Dallas, and to start a new game prediction streak, the Nuggets are going to have to walk into their gym and figuratively punch them in the mouth early. Dallas can score at a breakneck pace and the only way to slow that down is setting the defensive intensity early. I’m not saying that the Nuggets need to resort to any type of goonery or flagrant tactics, but the defensive agenda has to be their. On a nationally televised, Sunday afternoon game its time that the Nuggets let the league see that they are for real. I’m predicting a victory, my faith is unwavering, and the Nugget integrity is strong. You stop Dirk Nowitzki and you win. A tall order I know, but not outside the Nuggets capabilities.