Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nuggets Start with a Preseason Gem

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) Hot damn, here we go again! It sure feels good to be writing up the first game recap of the year and it makes things even sweeter that it is in a winning capacity for the Denver Nuggets. Tonight, at the Pepsi Center the Nuggets beat the Clippers, 119-107, without even playing Nene, Kenyon Martin, Eduardo Najera, Chucky Atkins, or Anthony Carter.

Offensively, the Nuggets were led by ‘Melo who managed to score 17 points, dish six assists, and grab two rebounds in a limited 25 minutes of action. The good news for Nuggets fans is Anthony didn’t look as if he has skipped a beat after leading Team USA Basketball to the gold medal in the FIBA Americas Games. Especially considering recent mention in the local papers that he was, “a little tired”, from the continuous basketball he’s been playing. Overall, ‘Melo continues to abuse defenders at will , both inside and out, and just watching him for a few minutes gave me goose bumps.

Now, speaking of not skipping a beat, or a rebound for that matter, I have to go off the handle for a second about the performance Marcus Camby put on. Camby grabbed 23 humungous boards in 24 minutes, swatted three shots, dimed four assists, and pitched in 13 points. For the last two seasons Marcus Camby has been the defensive backbone of the Denver Nuggets, and if George Karl wants to improve defensively, it shouldn’t be too long before the rest of the Nuggets become inspired by nights like this by the Cambyman. Marcus was crazy good tonight and while his box score is impressive in its own right, his impact on this game went so much deeper. The man flat out owns the area around the goal and I would even go as far as to say the Clippers, at times, looked intimidated when driving the lane knowing that Camby was lurking somewhere on the week side. And if tonight was any kind of a teaser for the season to come for Camby… Let’s just say defending his Defensive Player of the Year title should be no problem.

Other offensive bright spots for the Nuggets were Von Wafer, J.R. Smith, and Linas Kleiza. The big three off the bench all played well in one capacity or another, but I do not feel that any of them had that great of a showing for differing reasons. Von Wafer matched the 17-point team-high set by ‘Melo and grabbed six boards, but fouled a lot on defense and gave up numerous drives to the cup. J.R. Smith started the game and managed to finish with 15 points, but did so on a dreadful 5-14 shooting night which included a 0-7 showing from long range. Linas Kleiza, who probably played the most well rounded game, finished with 12 points on 5-10 from the field while nabbing three rebounds. Linas didn’t really get a chance to do much attacking of the rim and I feel that for him to establish an early confidence that can carry over the entire length of the season. He has to get things going to the basket so defenders have to respect his drive; thus opening up his outside shooting.

Oh, and I almost forgot… Allen Iverson also plays for this team!

The Answer finished tonight’s game with eleven points, seven assists, and a rebound. AI looked very assertive driving the ball into the Clipper defense, willing to dish to the open man, and still capable of finishing at the rim. The Nuggets will benefit tremendously, (not to mention the kind of flexibility Denver will have substituting for different line-ups), if Allen Iverson is concentrating on getting others involved as a point guard instead of a score-first shooting guard. And it is no secret that Denver is light at the point, but if they would be as fortunate as to have a guy like Allen Iverson transform his game into one that serves the situation around him. I truly believe that there are great things in store for the Nuggets Nation this year.

Up next for the Mile High crew is the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night. I slacked off big time today and didn’t post a game preview article, but swear to you that there will be one for Friday’s game.

Go Nuggets!

4 comments:

Commish CH said...

good breakdown, the paper had like one paragraph!
What about Wafer and his outside shooting? can he contribute 10-12 mins this year?

one.

Stumbleweed said...

I was there, and I definitely think Von will contribute this year. He has a silky pull-up jumper -- he crossed over Dickau or someone and nailed it before the guy even knew what happened. His shooting was definitely better than J.R.'s yesterday, but as the Doc pointed out, he did get into foul trouble like crazy when he came into the game. But yeah, overall, I think he'll be a nice addition for nights that J.R. and LK aren't shooting up to their normal skill level.

I also think that we will like Steven Hunter in this system. He can certainly keep up on the break and he threw down a pretty nasty finish in traffic Nene-style, so hopefully we'll see more of that to come. J.R. got really aggressive in the 4th and went to the hoop relentlessly, getting two 3-point plays in a row on drives. I think it's a good sign for everyone that he started getting aggressive and driving when he was struggling with his shot instead of just throwing up more shots... He also was playing good defense -- got a hand on a ball and challeneged everything well (despite Maggette making the shots anyway).

Also, at the pre-party thing that I got invited to, Rex Chapman answered questions from everyone. Notables were that K-Mart is really impressing everyone with his explosiveness and also with his attitude. Basically, he said that we shouldn't notice much difference when K-Mart plays this season compared to his healthy games with us. Rex said that his hops are back and the knees feel great.

Also, Rex basically flat-out said that they won't move Marcus this year or any other. He said that there were offers and that they just sort of laughed them off because they can't imagine the team without Marcus. Also, Eduardo is still struggling with his back issue and has tried basically everything to no avail. So they're just hoping that it goes away, but the prognosis isn't very good for Eddie playing healthy this year (at least early on). Also, apparently Nene's calf is fine now, but his knee flared up in the Playoffs and still bothers him. He's also back into playing shape despite being around 275 at the Worlds -- he said he plans to play at about 250 and he's at around 260 right now.

So that's basically it. We had really great seats (especially for being free) -- we were like 7 rows behind the Nuggets bench, so I enjoyed myself immensely despite it being a pre-season game. The starters (we started AI, JR, LK, Melo, and Camby in case anyone was wondering) actually played a decent amount, including some in the 4th quarter, so that made it more entertaining.

And once again, Melo is gigantic. Rex said that he thinks he grew another inch or so, because he's as tall as Kenyon now (K-Mart is 6'9"). If you haven't seen him up-close and personal, it's hard to realize how big he is and how fast he moves. We're lucky to get to watch him here.

Nugg Doctor said...

Thanks for the inside scoop from Rex, Stumble. Good to know that Nene is dropping the extra wieght and Kenyon's attitude is positive. But as far as Eddie goes that really sucks and the worst part about it is his impact on this team was one that I do not see being easily replaced by anyone currently on the roster. Here's to hoping that Najera's back can improve in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Nugg Doctor said...

Commish,

'Nila, as he likes to be called, is a fantastic outside shooter who has pretty much excelled at almost every stop on the way to the NBA.

I can definately see him stepping into a reserve role for the Nuggets this year and he is going to get a fair shake by Coach George Karl if he can prove his worth on the defensive side of things. His biggest competition is J.R. Smith, and while Smith is also a fantastic offensive player, his defense leaves a lot to be desired. So, be sure to keep that in mind when watching these two and comparing them head-to-head. Because the way I see it is the man who shows he can play the most consistent defense is going to get the nod. And if Wafer and Smith can both combine their offensive games with a defensive agenda, I wouldn't be surprised to see either one of them moved for a more traditional point guard by the trade deadline (oops, did I just create a rumor?).

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor