Monday, April 30, 2007

Playoff Preview - Nuggs vs. Spurs - Game Four

(Boulder-CO) Make no mistake about it, Nuggets Nation; this is a must-win game in every sense of the expression. The Denver Nuggets have so much at stake in tonight’s game four at Pepsi Center that I have been losing sleep since the final buzzer sounded in game three‘s loss. It’s as simple as this; lose tonight and it is almost certainly lights out for the beloved Nuggs. Win and a new breath of life will be forced back into this franchise and city.

Regardless of all the swirling comparisons to the 2005 playoff series with the Spurs where the Nuggets were dominated 4-1, this series couldn’t be any more different. I have been pleasantly surprised with the Nuggets defense and effort thus far, but it has been the Nuggets’ offense and execution that has been their Achilles heel. Mental breakdowns just can not happen. Guys have to make lay-ups and free-throws. And when the game’s final possessions hold the outcome, the Nuggets have to make sure they are the ones who make the play.

So here is what it boils down to: The Nuggets are going to have to combine the same intensity that they have been bringing to the arena with a mental sharpness that the Greg Popovich led Spurs have been displaying for years. I feel that the reason why the Spurs now hold a 2-1 lead in the series is because they have made the plays that have needed to been made at the times of most necessity. Plain and simple, it is what a championship caliber team does.

I will be at the Pepsi Center tonight, and with any luck, my game recap will include a win when it is published tomorrow morning. Until then… Go Nuggets!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Playoff Celebrity Look-a-Like

(Boulder-CO) Do you remember the hit show from the 80's, "Perfect Strangers"? Well, the Flopper looks just like Balki Bartokomous from the fictional country of Mypos! Check the goods.





Seperated at birth?

Call it What You Will

(Boulder-CO) At least I am not the only one who can see the discrepency that is being implemented regarding the refereeing this postseason. D-Wil of the AOL-NBA Fanhouse makes a pretty strong case for me right here. Even if you don't agree you have to admit that the picture of the Flopper is down-right hilarious!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tim Duncan NEVER Fouls; Nuggets Lose

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) I am only going to say this once and move on: The NBA officiating crew in this game should be put under review for their horrendous interpretation of game three. Where was Joey Crawford when we needed him?

The Denver Nuggets are the losers of game three, 96-91. The combination of playing their own worst enemy and the Spurs hot three-point shooting was enough to do them in. Denver is now at risk of letting this series slip from their grip as the Spurs now lead 2-1 with a must-win game looming on Monday night.

The first quarter was solid with the Nuggets finishing on top, 25-22. The Nuggets made good on 11-22 from the field; despite Marcus Camby starting 0-6 in what was an obvious misunderstanding that he was named Defensive Player of the Year prior to tip-off instead of OFFENSIVE. And in one of the strangest moments of playoff basketball I have ever seen… Coach George Karl was hit with a completely asinine technical foul for standing, that’s right standing, outside of the coach’s box. So much for the idea of referees not putting their own personal stamp on the game. Thanks for nothing, Bob Delaney!

In the second, my worst nightmare became reality as the Nuggets opened up 0-11 from the field and with Eduardo Najera being completely abused off the dribble by Manu Ginobili. “The Flopper”, as he will be referred to as for the rest of this postseason and indefinitely until he mans-up and cuts the phony dramatics out, finished with eight points in the quarter and eleven for the half. The Nuggets on the other hand finished the second quarter only scoring 15 points and were lucky to be going into halftime down only three, 43-40. Carmelo missed four straight free-throws after making 16-17 up to this point, Steve Blake was a no-show without a single point, Allen Iverson was 3-10 good for only seven points, and the Spurs were just starting to heat it up from downtown connecting on 4-13 from beyond the arch.

After the chance to regroup, Allen Iverson came out with a completely new offensive focus in the third quarter. The Answer scored the first six points for the Nuggets in the half and would add a dozen by the completion of the third. However, Denver’s main headache would prove to be their own sloppy play which was kindled by J.R. Smith’s lackadaisical backwards pass towards the Nuggets’ basket. Robert Horry picked off the errant pass which allowed the Spurs to explode for a quick six points off two three-pointers and opened up an eight-point lead that would suffice them throughout the fourth quarter. San Antonio outscored the Nuggets, 32-27, in the third and with a defense like the Spurs’ that left the Nuggets with a steep mountain to climb in the fourth.

Once again Denver gave San Antonio a spirited run, but the veteran Spurs have been there, done that, and own the rings to prove it. San Antonio is not a team that lets the Nuggets, or any team for that matter, back into games when they lead by more than eight points to begin the money quarter. And after the Spurs would fatten their lead to ten at one point, the Nuggets would take back three in the quarter, but the damage had already been done.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with a double-double which included a game-high 28 points and twelve rebounds while Allen Iverson finished with 20 points, but had three turnovers to all but nullify his four assists. Nene did a good job matching Tim Duncan’s 20 points with 18 of his own, but Duncan’s seven offensive rebound were too much for the Nuggets to handle. It should also be noted that despite all the pushing, shoving, and illegal screening that Duncan doled out that he was not guilty of even a single foul in tonight’s contest! And after starting out the game 4-13 from downtown in the first half… The Spurs connected on 5-8 from downtown in the second with Michael Finley leading the way on 5-7 from deep.

Now is the time that the Nuggets have to look themselves in the mirror and decide whether or not they allow history to repeat itself. There are only two ways out of this series; one with honor, and one without. For the last three years the Nuggets have been one-hit wonders in the postseason and the young guys on this team need to do what it takes to not become too familiar with the feeling that comes with being bounced in the first round. Time to fight, Nuggets. Time to fight!

Bring on game four!

Playoff Preview - Nuggs vs. Spurs - Game Three

(Boulder-CO) Despite not being able to snatch game two in San Antonio, this series is due to be shaken up as the Nuggets hope to play not-so gracious host to the Spurs at the Pepsi Center tonight. And I can not think of a better position for the Nuggets to be in.

First and foremost, the city of Denver is already jamming like a Phish concert as six o’clock can not come soon enough. I expect the Pepsi Center to be on the verge of explosion when the lights go out for the players’ introductions and Marcus Camby being officially presented with the Defensive Player of the Year award by El Capitan David Stern is going to be the cherry on top.

Add in the fact that the Nuggets made the Spurs sweat, albeit for only a few minutes down the stretch, in game two and there is no question that Denver believes they can win this game and this series. I still like all the match-ups I have previously dissected, and I feel that as long as the Nuggets toss a few lay-ups in here and there. They are going to be just fine. Hell, look what happen to Mavericks when they entered the dragon’s lair, otherwise known as the Oracle Center in Golden State!

All kidding aside though, the two main aspects of this critical game three are going to be the shooting percentages for the Denver Nuggets and how many points they can limit the Spurs bench to in the scoring column. I phrase the bench aspect of the Nuggets agenda in such a fashion because it has become very apparent that George Karl is not going to be playing much of the Nuggets reserves because they have not been able to produce in games one or two. San Antonio’s second line has outscored the Nuggets back-ups, 66-13, while sometimes playing six deep off the pine, whereas the Nuggets only substitute the trio of Eduardo Najera, J.R. Smith, and Linas Kleiza.

Remember, Nuggets Nation, this has now become a five-game series with the Nuggets having three of the remaining five games at home. Tonight poses an opportunity to remain in the driver’s seat and put the Spurs into another must-win situation in game four. Time to squash the Spurs!

Go Nuggets!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Camby Wins Defensive Crown in a Landslide

(Boulder-CO) At last, Marcus Camby holds the title of Defensive Player of the Year! It was just announced this morning and is being reported by ESPN that Marcus Camby’s league leading average of 3.3 blocks and averages of 11.6 rebounds, and 11.2 points along with also being the highest statistically ranked center in steals with 1.24 thefts nightly were good enough for 403 total points, including 70 first place votes, from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters.
Bruce Bowen came in a distant second with 206 points.

The difference in this year’s campaign from last season’s is how Marcus truly became the foundation of this team. He played in 70 games this season and recorded a career best 32 double-doubles in points and rebounds.

Congratulations Marcus Camby, you truly are, The Captain!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Don't You Wish You Still Had 'Em?


(Boulder-CO) Today's offering is the Air Zoom GP designed for Gary Payton back in 1999. This shoe was one of my personal favorites due to the suede material on the outside and the lace-hiding wrap that was secured with a ski boot ratchet system. Although the Air Zoom GP wasn't the the strongest hoops shoe if you were a big man concerned with ankle support, it more than made up for its low profile with its light weight design and traction. Not a shoe for taking your game to the streets, but if you were dominating the indoor game with quickness and hops than this was a perfect fit for your style of game.
Don't you wish you still had 'em?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Few Other Things to Consider

(Boulder-CO) I still haven’t stopped looking at tonight’s box score, (thanks, thaanswer), and I have stumbled upon a couple of other things to take into consideration when comprehensively evaluating game two. First off, the Nuggets only shot 17 free-throws with Allen Iverson not taking a single attempt from the charity stripe and Nene only getting to the freebie line twice. The Spurs didn’t do much better, however they did get to the line 23 time in comparison, but what strikes me weird about this statistic is how many times the Nuggets missed lay-up opportunities where marginal contact was evident in addition to the amount of slashing to the basket Denver attempted.

The next area of concern for the Denver Nuggets is how the Spurs dictated the tempo of the game with transition defense. San Antonio beat the Nuggets at their own game by doubling Denver’s fast break point total, 14-7. I’m not sure if this is a direct result of the Spurs getting back and setting up that zone defense that stifled the Nuggets in the first half, but I think we would all agree that the Nuggets are at their best when fast breaking as much as possible.

And lastly, and directly related to fast break points, is how the San Antonio Spurs distributed the ball better than the Nuggets with 20 assists to Denver’s 17. Aside from Steve Blake’s seven assists and Allen Iverson’s five, the Nuggets didn’t have another player with more than two dimes. This indicates to me that we need more quick passing around the perimeter to open up the lane for cutters and post-and-relocate with our three-point shooters and post players.

This could all be useless statistical analysis in the end of the day, but I just thought I would bring these numbers to everyone’s attention over the next two days as we discuss different ideas that can be of use in the upcoming games.

Feel free to chime in if you have differing thoughts or ideas.

Late Comebacks Usually Fall Short

(AP Photo/Bob Owen)
(Boulder-CO) Game two was a sporadic affair for the Denver Nuggets. They had a hard time establishing any rhythm offensively, shot a frigid percentage from the field, didn’t get many friendly bounces, and shot themselves in the foot enough times to potentially lose much worse than they actually did to the Spurs, 97-88.

In the first half, the Nuggets were absolutely struggling offensively due to missing eleven lay-ups. That in combination with San Antonio switching to a zone defense confused Denver in half court sets and as a result limited the Nuggets to 34% from the field, one shot, and dictated the pace of the game. The Nuggets were also sloppy of the defensive boards allowing the Spurs to grab six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone before surrendering nine at intermission. And when the buzzer sounded, the Nuggets had only mustered 41 points and found themselves down by eight.

Most coaches will tell you that the first three minutes of the second half are the most pivotal minutes of the game, and the Spurs obviously made note at the break by coming out with fire and extended their lead over the flat-footed Nuggets to eleven at the nine minute mark. Denver was getting out-hustled to every loose ball, was out-rebounded on both ends of the floor, and showed signs of fatigue when the Spurs were beating them down the floor for easy buckets. The Spurs would extend their lead to 14 at the close of the third quarter and the Nuggets were looking out of gas and without a map at the AT&T Center.

At this point in the game my stomach was in knots thinking about how easily the Nuggets could have mailed this game in already thinking about getting this series back to Denver, but they didn’t go out without a spirited fight which resulted in a lot of pride being restored for the Nuggets to take back with them to the Mile High City.

The Spurs held their biggest lead of the night, (17 points), with eight minutes remaining before the Nuggets picked themselves up by their bootstraps and went on a 23-9 point run which brought them back to within three, 91-88. The late comeback was spearheaded by Allen Iverson’s eight points, but as most late comebacks do, fell short down the stretch when the Nuggets hot shooting couldn’t be sustained.

As I mentioned before, the Nuggets all struggled offensively and it started with the dynamic duo. Carmelo Anthony concluded tonight’s game with a double-double of 26 points and ten rebounds after finishing the first half with just ten points and five boards. Allen Iverson started off the game 4-13 from the field, and if it wasn’t for his big fourth quarter, would have played one of his worst playoff games of his career. The Answer finished with 20 points and five assists, but just couldn’t find the cup shooting an icy 9-25 from the field overall.

On the defensive end, the Nuggets were led by Marcus Camby’s 18 rebounds and three first half blocks, but Denver had no stopping power for Tim Duncan’s 22 points, five assists, five blocks and seven rebounds. Nene’s spirited effort of 17 points and seven rebounds helped, but Duncan put his stamp on this game for the Spurs in a very stoic fashion.

Along with being plagued by poor shooting, (Denver finished shooting just 34-88), I must say that the Spurs reserves were the difference in this game. Manu led the charge with 17 points, but the San Antonio bench out-scored the Nuggets trio of back-ups, 30-7.

What is different about this game, and this series, from the situation two years ago is how the Nuggets showed the resiliency and pride of their character in the fourth quarter, whereas the 2005 Nuggets allowed the Spurs to take not only just a win in game two, but also Denver’s sense of confidence. The final eight minutes of this game proved to me that the Nuggets will not only be physically prepared, but more importantly mentally ready, when this series resumes on Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. And after the Nuggets have been in San Antonio for the last extended week, I know the city of Denver is going to be ready to welcome the Nuggets home with a down-right energized atmosphere for both games three and four.

This once seven game series has now become a five -game run to see who can hold onto their momentum with the Nuggets having three home games out of the possible remaining five. I still believe Nuggets Nation, do you?

Go Nuggets!

Playoff Preview - Nuggs vs. Spurs - Game Two

(Boulder- CO) With game one in their back pocket, the Nuggets know that the Spurs will loaded for bear. And rightfully so, because I am sure that San Antonio knows that the team that loses the first two games, regardless if they surrender both of their home games, have lost the series 76% of the time throughout the NBA’s playoff history.

In game one, we all witnessed what the Nuggets faithful knew about Nene. Big Brazil’s play was critical in every sense of the word as he basically canceled out the play of Tim Duncan by scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to counteract Timmy’s 14 points and ten boards. In game two, Nene is going to have to give a repeat performance, regardless of how the numbers pan out, in an effort to nullify or better his counterpart. My feelings are if you take the Spurs’ heart, i.e. Tim Duncan, the rest will fall!

Also in game one, Marcus Camby was all that was advertised in my first meeting’s preview. Along with helping Nene on Duncan, the Captain absolutely dominated his counterpart in Franny Elson. Having the luxury of a defensive helper like Camby is invaluable because it allows the Nuggets perimeter players to overplay the first pass off the ball, and when the ball is in the post the Nuggets have the choice of not to send the double-team knowing that the Camby-man is looming on the weak side help. And as we all saw in game one… Having another frontcourt player who routinely grabs double digits in rebounds was critical in limiting the Spurs to one shot and out on most offensive possessions. I’ll be looking for Camby to improve on his ten rebounds from game one in tonight’s game because, heck, that is what the Captain does.

Transitioning now from good things that did happen to things that didn’t have me concerned about the play of Manu Ginobili. The flopper had a terrible game with only nine points and two assists in game one, but the Nuggets need to be ready for Ginobili to bounce back tonight. I’m not so sure that Denver has completely figured out how to defend the slippery Ginobili, or if such a thing is even possible, but what I would like to see is for the Nuggets to frustrate him early in an attempt to disrupt his game and take him out of the offense. My thoughts are to be able to control the damage that the Spurs stars can inflict while making their second tier players step-up in an attempt to beat us.

And since I’m on the topic of second tiers, I would like to see more of an impact from the Nuggets reserves in game two. In the month of April, George Karl has essentially sliced down the number of reserves he plays to three. Eduardo Najera, Linas Kleiza, and J.R. Smith are the chosen trio and were the only non-starters to play in game one. Nobody made that big of an impact in the first meeting, but J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza are certainly capable of putting up big numbers. With J.R., it usually always boils down to the results of his first three shots. If the twine starts to tickle… Look out because J.R. is a player that can get red-hot at the drop of a hat! And what will be of the most important aspect of getting J.R. in rhythm will be his shot selection. As for Linas, I feel that his outside game is predicated on his confidence, which is almost always boosted by getting him out on the fast break and putting the big Lithuanian in a position to finish strong. When Linas starts to feel included on the break his outside game really comes alive and from there he can be a deadly substitute at any juncture in the game.

Other than those select points, if Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony can torch the Spurs for anywhere near 60 points again in game two as they did in game one I like the Nuggets chances of taking a commanding lead in the series. The Spurs may think they have an answer for Carmelo in Bruce Bowen, but they sure don’t have a clue as to how to stop The Answer! Even if Allen Iverson isn’t able to reach 30 points again tonight, remember that the Nuggets are a formidable 12-1 when AI reaches double digits in assists.

My final thought stems from back in 2005 when the Nuggets snatched game one from the Spurs before exiting the playoffs stage left. I bring it up not because I think the same outcome is likely, but rather because of the learning experience that needs to brought to the arena for tonight’s game. The Spurs know what it is like to be down and what it takes to even the score and transfer the series momentum. The most important thing is whether or not the Nuggets have learned from their mistakes of yesteryear and have the character to take control of this series by the horns.

Go Nuggets!

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Hear a Lot of Crying

(Boulder-CO) There is so much belly-aching going on over last night's beating the Nuggets put on the Spurs that I felt I would leave it up to the Nuggets Nation that reads this blog to submit links to the crying of which can be found from every corner of the Internet. It should be a fun way to savor the moment, so get those links in, damn it! I'm not going to be happy unless this comment section blows up.
Oh, and I have a hit counter too, so don't think for one minute that I don't know you're reading!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Game #1 Stunna

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(Boulder-CO) What-what, what-what, what!?!?! The 2007 playoffs have officially started off with a bang as the Nuggets planted a stunning, 95-89, smack-down on the Spurs in game one. The long list of great performances is intact for the Nuggets, but first let me breakdown how Denver put a big win in their back pocket.

In the first half the Nuggets were getting it done with defense as they limited the Spurs to 33% from the field, and one shot, as they dominated the glass 28-19. And because of the defensive intensity, the big names for the Nuggets were able to lay a strong offensive foundation of their own. Carmelo went into intermission with 16 points and five rebounds off 7-9 from the field, Allen Iverson had 12 points, and Nene and Camby each grabbed seven boards and scored six and seven points respectively.

On the other side of the intermission box score the Spurs big names looked down right awful. Tim Duncan sulked his way to four points on 2-11 from the field, Manu struggled to seven points on 3-12, and Tony Parker limped in with four points on 2-10. And the kicker was how the Spurs only shot four free-throws in the first 24 minutes and hit on only two attempts.

But somehow the Nuggets, for as well as they played, still found away to keep the Spurs in the game by turning the ball over eight times resulting in eleven San Antonio points. At one point in the first half the Nuggets led by as many as nine points, but the lack of care with the basketball translated into only a, 44-42, advantage at the break.

In the third quarter, the Nuggets were stymied by a rallied up defensive effort by the Spurs who jumped out to a five point lead with more than eight minutes remaining. I don’t know if the Nuggets were so happy with their efforts up to this point that they forgot to come out and compete, but luckily they were awaken by the smelling salts of Coach George Karl. George called a full-time out and whatever was said in the huddle was exactly what this doctor ordered! From that point on the Nuggets proceeded to counter-punch the Spurs right in the breadbasket with an 11-2 run that would fruit a lead that would last until right about the same time in the fourth quarter. Where once again George Karl would have to break out his bag of smelling salts.

With just shy of eight and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Denver had fallen behind by one after “Big Shot” Bob Horry hit a huge three-pointer that had the San Antonio faithful on their feet. Coach Karl quickly called timeout to relax the crowd and circled up the Nuggets. And once again whatever was said to calm down the troops was precisely the right prescription. The Nuggets answered back and dropped a 15-4 point run on the Spurs that was finally ceased by Tony Parker hitting two free-throws with the damage already done. The Nuggets were now in the lead for good with their biggest margin of the game, 87-77, and from there would trade baskets and free-throws with the Spurs before walking off with their hands in the air and a victory in game one!

Aside from how I just illustrated the game’s unfolding, I would like to point to one specific point where I felt the Nuggets displayed the confidence needed for the win. With five minutes and twenty seconds remaining, Nene swatted a lay-up attempt by Robert Horry and really drove home a statement to the Spurs who trailed by three at the time. That statement was clear: The Nuggets are just not happy with being in the playoffs this year and they have more than enough fire in their bellies to put out your lights if you are not going to bring you’re A game!
Now on to the Nuggets’ individual breakdowns.

I mentioned in my guest interview with www.thebasketballjones.net that Allen Iverson was one of the toughest postseason competitors the NBA has ever known and he did not make me look bad tonight with a game-high 31 points to accompany his five assists. He scored eleven third quarter points, and it should also be mentioned that while Allen had struggled from the free-throw line to end the regular season, he was a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe tonight.

Also reaching the 30-point club tonight was Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo hurt the Spurs for 30 points and eight rebounds, while also finishing a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line.

On the glass, the Nuggets were led by Marcus Camby and Nene. The Captain ended tonight’s game with ten boards, (nine defensive), two blocks, and eight points, which was exactly as I drew it up in my game preview as he completely DOMINATED Franny Elson who didn’t score and only squeezed four rebounds. Nene also executed exactly how I foresaw as he matched and bettered Tim Duncan’s 14 points, ten boards, and seven assists with 13 points, 12 rebounds, (eight offensive), two assists, two steals, and the aforementioned block on Robert Horry.
My final sidenote is that Jacque Vaughn is a total idoit for not once, but twice, diving for loose balls that he had no chance of grabbing and taking out both Allen Iverson and Steve Blakes' legs. I'm not trying to say that he shouldn't play hard, but in both plays Vaughn was guilty of overdoing it like a high school gym class all-star. Thankfully however, in both incidents, both Iverson and Blake got up with slightly gimpy ankles, but were able to continue to play after Vaughn's idiocy.

Now we lay in wait for Wednesday’s game two to see if the Spurs react to this upset loss to the Nuggets. I for one am riding high, but this series is far from over and the Nuggets can ill-afford to let up on the Spurs for even one quarter! We’re ready San Antonio, are you?

Go Nuggets!

Playoff Preview - Nuggs vs. Spurs - Game One

(Boulder-CO) Tim Duncan and posse do not even know who they are about to face. In all three regular season games between the Spurs and Nuggets this season, Denver was not at full-strength for any contest. In the first match-up, the Nuggets were without their young star Carmelo Anthony. Minus 28.9 points in average scoring Denver lost, 92-83. In round two the Nuggets were a different team. Denver had just landed AI a few weeks prior, but due to a twisted ankle, the Answer had one of his worst games since moving to the Mile High City and scored merely nine points in another loss, 95-80.

Now fast forward to the month of April when the Nuggets finally sorted out all their chemistry problems, came together as one collective unit, and ripped off a 10-1 record including wins over some of the NBA’s elite in playoff type atmospheres. Not to mention a game where we all saw San Antonio’s second tier get blown out, 100-77, by the Nuggets bench players. Many of which will never even see the light of day when real stakes are on the line!

So, how do these two teams stack up? Well, I’m happy to say real good if you’re a Nuggets fan.

At the point, the Spurs may have the edge with Tony Parker, but Steve Blake is asked to do one thing and one thing only and that is command this team with a sense of cool collectiveness. Sure, Parker is averaging 18.6 points to Blake’s 6.4, but Blake is a cool customer handling the rock with only 1.5 turnovers per game, while handing out just as many assists.

When it comes to shooting guards, the Nuggets have one of the best playoff performers the NBA has ever seen in Allen Iverson. The Spurs will most likely start Michael Finley, but we all know the real match-up at the two is with Manu Ginobili. While Manu’s flopping and herky-jerky offensive style is going to be something that surely annoys me, I’ll take AI over the Argentinean any day! Also keep in mind that when AI reaches ten assists the Nuggets are nearly unbeatable with a 12-1 record. So, when it all boils down, Finley or Ginobili can’t make a case against AI. He is a warrior in the postseason and the advantage goes to the Nuggets!

Now for the battle at the three. On the one hand, the Spurs have a perennial NBA First Team defender in Bruce Bowen. On the other, the Nuggets have one of the most lethal scorers in the game today in Carmelo Anthony. Maybe in years past Bowen was capable of getting in Carmelo’s head and disrupting his game, but the past is the past, and I for one do not live in it. Carmelo has refined his game on all forefronts and is equally capable of scoring in the blocks as he is stroking that tender jumper from anywhere inside 18 feet. Add in that he is quickly improving on his three-pointer and you have a scoring phenom in the makings. Once again, the advantage goes to the Nuggets.

At the four spot the Spurs have been able to rely on the workman mentality of arguably one of the all-time best power forwards in Tim Duncan for the last decade and the Nuggets are developing one of the NBA’s next big things at the position with Nene. Duncan brings to the table season averages of 20 points and eight rebounds that are both down from years past. Nene, in his first full season back from knee injury, posted averages of 12 points and seven boards, but that is not the full story. In just the last five games of the regular season, Big Brazil was averaging 18 points and a shade more than nine squeezes a night. So, give or take a rebound and a bucket here and there, you’re looking at what fans in powder blue would argue could be a coming of age at the power forward position. Conventional wisdom says the Spurs get the advantage on this one, but I’m telling you that this match-up is not going to be the one that swings the series. Both men are going to have their moments, but Nene is going to be a handful for Timmy to guard and on the other end of the floor Big Brazil doesn’t take any crap from anyone!

Now, if you’re keeping track of how the advantages were dealt you know that it is dead even at two apiece. Tony Parker gets the nod over Stevie B, I like AI over Manu the flopper, Carmelo will at least double Bruce Bowen in points scored in the series, and Nene and Tim Duncan at the four is intriguing to say the least. The men in the middle are going to be the difference in game one and the Nuggets are facing an old friend in Francisco Elson.

Do you remember ol’ Franny when he played for the Nuggets? Well, if not, please allow me to refresh your memory as to why the Nuggets dealt him! The seven-footer from the Netherlands never averaged more than five points or five rebounds while in Denver, despite seeing more than 20 minutes per game in this last year. He was a piece to the Nuggets puzzle that just couldn’t find a way to fit in and luckily for us he will be matching up with Marcus Camby AKA The Captain.

The Camby-man is the decisive advantage that the Nuggets starting five has over the cast of the San Antonio Spurs. He brings averages of 11 points, 11 rebounds, better than three rejections, and three assists while locking down the paint for Denver. Anything less than completely dominating Francisco Elson would be a travesty seeing as it is essentially a match-up of last year’s starter vs. a guy that couldn’t barely get in the box score coming off the Denver bench. Obviously, the advantage goes strongly to Camby.

Throw the seeding out the window and I think you have one of the most exciting first round playoff match-ups in the last five years. I’ve broken down how the starting fives stack up head-to-head with the Nuggets of now having a slight advantage of the Spurs. Chemistry and cool will be the true deciding factor in who steals victory in game one and I can’t wait for this one to get underway!

Go Nuggets!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'm Addicted to Hoops

(Boulder-CO) My main man in the blog game, Ryan McNeill of www.hoopsaddict.com, asked me to answer a couple of quick questions concerning the whole damn playoff picture and you can read my two cents by heading over to Hoops Addict for the goods. There was litterally an All-Star roster of bloggers and other media types breaking down the playoffs, so don't be square and get yourself over there.

I Got The Basketball Jones

(Boulder-CO) Once again I was called upon by the all-knowing Tas Melas and J.E. Skeets of www.thebasketballjones.net for a guest spot on their podcast. We are talking about Manu, Tony, Allen, Linas, and everyone else involved in the Nuggets vs. Spurs first round playoff match-up. Be sure to head over and check it out by clicking right here.

Go Nuggets!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Motivating the Nuggets Nation

(Boulder-CO) The anxiety while waiting for the playoffs to start has the Nuggets Nation really buzzing. But to ensure we are all ready for game one to pop-off here is very inspiring youtube clip of former Nugget Dikembe Mutombo. Get ready Nuggets Nation, we are in for a wild ride! And to be sure you know the ins and the outs of this series be sure to check back tomorrow night for my series preview for your Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs.


Melo is the Player of the Month

(Boulder-CO) For the second time in his four-year career Carmelo Anthony has been named the Western Conference Player of the Month for the 10-1 record he helped guide the Nuggets to in the month of April.

Carmelo has averaged 28.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in the last eleven games and the Nuggets have pulled together to oust the Lakers from the sixth spot for the 2007 playoffs. He was also the Nuggets’ leading scorer in eight of those ten games of which he played in. This season also marks the fourth straight time that the Nuggets have made the postseason, and coincidentally, Carmelo has been a Nugget for all four previous campaigns.

Will this be the year that the Nuggets make it out of the first round? Only time will tell!

Go Nuggets!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Was This Really a Meaningless Win?

(Boulder-CO) You could argue that because none of the major characters for either team played in tonight’s game between the Nuggets and the Spurs, but I am here to tell you that you would be dead wrong in doing so. I too am guilty of thinking that this game was nothing more than scrounge time, however, somewhere in the third quarter it hit me: Some of these players (Robert Horry, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, and Michael Finley just to name a few) could be the difference makers in this series.

Here is how the role players played out in tonight’s, 100-77, Nugget victory.

The Denver Nuggets had five players step-up and give them double figures in points. The top contributor was Reggie Evans who scored 19 points and snatched 20 rebounds in his best game of the season by far. J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza each scored 17, Steve Blake added 12 points and eight assists, and Yakhouba Diawara chipped in an even dozen. And at one point in the game, pun intended, the Nuggets were out in front by 27 before coasting to their 45th win to close out the 2006-07 season.

The Spurs on the other hand didn’t get the same kind of numbers from their bench players who saw significant time in tonight‘s contest. Beno Udrih scored a team-high 13 points, but Michael Finley, Robert Horry, and Brent Barry were all held to less than ten in the scoring column. What this tells me is that the Spurs could potentially find themselves in trouble with the Nuggets if their big names are not able to put up big numbers because their bench players are not able to put up enough in the scoring column to pick up the slack.

What will be critical in the upcoming series will be putting Greg Popovich in a position to play his second tier due foul trouble, fast-tempo, and tough defensive match-ups because what I think the Nuggets lack in experience and discipline they make up with bench scoring.

With their 45th win of the season the Nuggets have improved by one win over last year’s mark. With all the trades, the long suspensions served for the, “Little Grapple in the Big Apple”, and injuries I think that the Nuggets have come a long way since last season around this time. Granted the post-season road to hoe is looking a lot tougher this season than last, but I feel this team has been able to overcome a lot of adversity this year and wouldn’t be surprised if they give San Antonio more of a run for their money than they gave the Clippers in last year’s playoffs.

And as soon as the playoff schedule is released you can rest assured that I will be posting analytical game previews, recaps, and everything else in between concerning the Denver Nuggets and their 2007 playoff run.

Go Nuggets!

Hold the Phone! A DerMarr Highlight Reel

(Boulder-CO) Game 82, how I loathe thee. It's no secret tonight that both teams, Nuggets and Spurs, will not be playing their top guns. That means we should be seeing a lot of time from Yakhouba, Jamal, and you guessed it, DerMarr Johnson! Here is a youtube clip of DerMarr's brightest moments from the last three seasons.

Go Nuggets!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Please Reinstate Joey Crawford

(Boulder-CO) It has been brought to my attention by David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout that Joey Crawford has been suspended indefinitely by Commissioner David Stern for the remainder of this season, including the 2007 playoffs. For those of you living in a cave, Joey Crawford ejected San Antonio's Tim Duncan for enjoying himself on the bench during their most recent match-up with the Dallas Mavericks. Duncan appeared to be laughing it up with Frenchy guard Tony Parker when crazy Crawford gave him his second technical and the early shower.

What amazes me about this story is Tim Duncan’s report that Crawford actually at one point asked the 6’11” power forward if he wanted to “fight” him after ejecting him from the game!

Is Joey Crazy? The answer is yes, crazy like a fox! It’s just too bad that he won’t be able to referee any of the Nuggets and Spurs’ first round playoff series games while continuing his tyrannical bias against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Lord knows that the Nuggets could have used him!

Idolizing Red’s Army

(Boulder-CO) I have to admit a couple of things after reading the latest Carnival of the NBA posted at www.redsarmy.com… First off, this edition of the NBA Carnival has got to be the funniest, most thought-out, and down-right creative of all of the Carnivals to date. To take a concept like American Idol, bastardize it slightly, poke fun at yourself, and link all the greatest hoops blogs out there together in one flowing post is nothing short of pure genius! Second, I have to admit to rooting for Sanjaya because it is the seemingly easiest outlet for my anti-American Idol sentiments. And lastly, Paula Abdul was a fox, is a fox, and will most likely remain a fox until the end of all mankind. Well done, fellas. Red is without a doubt looking down and is mighty proud. Click here to be magically whisked away to the 43rd Carnival of the NBA!

Campaigning for Camby

(Boulder-CO) Last year Marcus Camby did not win Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion only because he missed 26 games for various different injury related reasons. His numbers were there, (12 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 1.4 steals), but those in the position of power didn’t feel that he was the NBA’s best defensive player.

Fast forward to the present. Marcus Camby is the leading candidate to win top defensive honors, but there is a twist in this year’s campaign for a much deserved Defensive Player of the Year honor in the Mile High City. A twist that seemingly doesn’t make too much sense to me.

This season, Marcus Camby has been nothing short of sensational once again for the Denver Nuggets. He boasts 32 double-doubles in points and rebounds, a nine block performance against the NOOCH, and a 22 rebound performance against the Lakers. The season highlights are obviously there, but Marcus has been much more than just a couple of incredible box scores. He has been a foundation for the Denver offense because when Marcus locks it down the Nuggets are able to jumpstart that fast breaking offense we have all come to know and love. So, fundamental NBA wisdom would lead us all to believe that offense starts with defense, and if the Nuggets are known for being one of the NBA’s elite offenses, than Marcus Camby is an elite defensive player!

The season numbers for Marcus are incredible. The Captain has averaged 11.4 rebounds (5th in the NBA), 3.3 blocks (1st in the NBA, and might I add almost an entire block better than his nearest competition), 1.24 steals (24th in the NBA with only one center, Ben Wallace, ahead of him in the standings), and if there was a statistic for altering shots I’m sure he would be running away with that as well!

The only thing that doesn’t sit well with me is how Marcus Camby should be DEFENDING his title instead of potentially winning it for the first time. Last season Marcus Camby led the league in blocked shots at the same clip per game, grabbed slightly more rebounds with an average that would have been good for third best in the league had it not been for injuries, and stole more balls! I guess I have no choice but to digress, but it would have been even more fitting in the event that Camby does win top defensive honors this year that he would have been DEFENDING his title from last.
Go Nuggets!

Monday, April 16, 2007

What a Bench Clearer!

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets started their usual five with the exception of Marcus Camby and would end up playing twelve deep in tonight’s, 122-107, thumping of the Timberwolves. Minnesota had no Kevin Garnett, and quite frankly, no chance against the Nuggets and played as if they have already mailed in the rest of the season. There were good things in tonight’s win, but for the most part this game was rubbish.

Quick highlights include Linas Kleiza’s 23 points and ten boards, Carmelo’s 21 points and five rebounds, Allen Iverson’s 25 points and three assists, Steve Blake’s ten assists to just two turnovers, and Nene’s 18 points and ten rebounds on 6-9 from the field. Yawn.

Despite Kevin Garnett not playing tonight, the only thing on my mind was the Big Ticket. Since the game was such a bore after the Nuggets twisted off a 32-point quarter while holding the Timberwolves to just 18 in the third. I had a lot of time to contemplate the situation concerning McHale, KG, and the Timberwolves franchise and came to a pretty profound conclusion.

The Minnesota Timberwolves owe it to Kevin Garnett to trade him! Obviously, there was little-to-no-reason for tonight’s game to be played, but the Timberwolves are seriously in shambles. They have nothing but shoot-first guards, nine players born either in 1978 or later, a shaky at best coaching situation, and injuries galore. Furthermore, it is just a testament to how great a player Garnett truly is that this team even won 32 games this year!

And to think that I used to enjoy watching the Timberwolves. Now all I see is a graveyard for Kevin Garnett.

Now the Nuggets have an even more pointless game with the Spurs on Wednesday night before San Antonio and Denver clash in the first round of the playoffs. Expect a whole lot of nobody to play for either team. The foresight to see this victory coming from a mile away brings my final ten-game prediction record to a decent 5-4 with a predicted loss at San Antonio pending. Somebody wake me when the playoffs start!

Go Nuggets!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good Lawrd! Denver Forgot the “D” in Memphis

(AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)
(Boulder-CO) It was a trap game anyway you look at it. The Nuggets, riding an eight-game win streak, went into Memphis tonight with the sixth seed locked up and basically nothing to play for. Sure, pride was on the line and the season’s longest winning streak, but really the Nuggets might as well have sat their starters. Tonight they step in their own scheduling bear trap and lose to the Grizzlies for the second time this season, 133-118.

There isn’t really any other way to summarize the game other than to say the Nuggets didn’t play even one iota of defense tonight. They gave up 133 points in total, a season-high, while allowing the Grizz to score more than 30 points in every quarter, including 38 points in the fourth to close it out. The game felt like a high school all-star game with all the lay-ups, late rotations, ole defense, and cheap-ticky-tack fouls for easy and-one situations. To be perfectly honest with you, I had to hold myself back from retching on numerous occasions.

Another area of the game that was flat-out repugnant for the Nuggets was turnovers. In the first half alone Denver coughed up the rock 14 times. Nobody was ready for passes, Allen Iverson was throwing terrible passes, and often times too many passes killed the Nuggets on the fast break. In total the Nuggets threw it away 21 times resulting in 23 Memphis Grizzly points.

And that’s not to say that Memphis needed any help scoring either. The Grizzlies shot a blistering 57.8% from the field and 66% from long range.

To add insult to the injury of losing to the league’s worst team for the second time this season the Nuggets were actually in a position to make the kill in the fourth quarter. After battling back to a, 95-95, tie after three quarters the Nuggets held a four-point lead early in the fourth before completely self-destructing. The Grizzlies would then go on a 38 to 23 run to finish out the fourth and leave the Denver Nuggets punk’d and looking for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from the sidelines!

It was no surprise that the defensive intensity was lacking so badly when Marcus Camby was plagued by foul trouble all night. Marcus would eventually foul out of the game in merely 30 minutes of action with 14 points, eleven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal. Nene would give a double-double performance of 22 points and ten rebounds, but was a far cry from an adequate substitute for the leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Offensively, the Grizzlies brought out the bad-news-bears from the Nuggets. Denver shot an uncharacteristically high 28 attempts from three-point land while only cashing in ten times and found themselves on the wrong side of a despairingly big difference in free-throw attempts. Even more uncharacteristic was Carmelo Anthony finishing the team’s best three-point threat on 4-9 from downtown. ‘Melo finished tonight’s game the Nuggets’ high-scorer with 28 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. Furthermore, as a team the Nuggets shot only 22 free-throws while the Grizzlies finished with 43 attempts, and to their credit, Memphis hit 33 of their freebies.

The loss brings my final ten-game prediction record to an even 4-4 with a pending win against the Timberwolves and a loss to the Spurs in a playoff preview to end the regular season. Hopefully my premonition will hold truth and the Nuggets can finish the season 45-37 overall, and one game better than last season. I could be bent out of shape, but why? We’re playoff bound!

Go Nuggets!

Linas "Amaze Ya" Kleiza

(Boulder-CO) Here is a youtube clip of Linas Kleiza's top plays. It should serve as a nice little shot in the arm before the Nuggets square up with the Grizzlies in a few hours. Go Nuggets!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Welcome Ticket City

(Boulder-CO) I would like to extend a big Nugg Doctor welcome to Ticket City as the newest advertiser on The Nugg Doctor. The Playoffs are upon us, and unless you're one of the lucky ones with preferred order to get a seat at Pepsi Center, be sure to check out Ticket City for your playoff ticket solutions! Big thanks to Julie Kwong for teaming up.

Gumshoe-Baby-Gumshoe

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets hung around all game long and found a way to leave the Oklahoma City fans going home with long faces as they sneaked out a victory from the Hornets, 107-105. The win takes the Nuggets to their eighth straight victory while locking up the sixth seed and essentially eliminates the Hornets from the playoffs.

The Nuggets spun their wheels on the defensive end in the first quarter allowing the Hornets to score 35 points. Their rotations were slow and as a result they surrendered far too many lay-ups and uncontested shots.

In the second, the Nuggets did get their offense clicking thanks in part to six points from J.R. Smith in his first six minutes, and improved on their first quarter 22 points by scoring 31. However, the Hornets were still shooting a respectable percentage from the field and held onto a, 56-53, lead going into half. The Hornets were having balls go in the basket after bouncing off the top of the backboard, getting almost every call, and the ball seemed to just want to bounce in their favor nine time out of ten. I was starting to get worried that the Hornets were just destined to win their last game for the warm and welcoming people of Oklahoma.

The Nuggets, still hanging around, could still not find a way to take over the lead in the third quarter. Little runs here and there would run out of steam and somehow the Hornets were able to keep a comfortable lead of eight or ten points. The fourth started with the Hornets in the lead, 85-77, but the Nuggets were not quite yet ready to just allow the confetti to fly in what was probably the last NBA game the Oklahomans will see.

With just over six minutes to play in regulation the Nuggets tightened their collective waistbands and got down to serious business. They were down by eleven, 101-90, before going on a 10-0 tear in the next three and a half minutes putting the Hornets’ backs against the wall. The entire sold-out arena rose to its feet to help will the Hornets past the Nuggets’ surge, but in the end the Nuggets’ defense was too stifling and offense too clutch.

In the final minute the Nuggets began down by one after an Allen Iverson jumper made the game, 103-101. Enter Marcus Camby. Marcus swatted a David West jump shot and recorded his eighth block of the evening. Carmelo Anthony rebounded and was fouled by West down on the other end of the floor. ‘Melo drained both free-throws and gave the Nuggets their first lead since 6-5 and just under nine minutes to play in the first quarter. The Hornets came down and hoisted a quick three which was missed and tapped out by Carmelo Anthony. The loose ball was quickly grabbed by Nene and Big Brazil got the ball to a streaking Steve Blake as he ran out to a left handed lay-up putting the Nuggets up by three.

The Hornets called timeout and tried to get a quick lay-up, but Chris Paul’s driving attempt was once again destroyed by Marcus Camby for the Camby-man’s ninth block of the evening. The loose ball was wrangled by Bobby Jackson for a lay-up, but the Nuggets were still in command by one and inbounded the ball to Carmelo Anthony who iced the Nuggets victory, and the Hornets season, hitting the tail end of a two shot trip to the charity stripe after Chris Paul had no choice but to foul.

Snatched. Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Nuggets play the spoiler!

The Nuggets were led tonight by the near triple double effort by Marcus Camby. With 15 points, eleven rebounds, and nine swats he was the Nuggets’ backbone. He blocked two critical shots and snagged the most crucial rebound of the game and without him who knows what would have happened. With the performance, Marcus gave the Nuggets his 31st double-double of the season.

Carmelo led all Nugget scorers with 31 points and Steve Blake double-doubled with ten points and ten assists. All Denver’s starters scored in double figures with Nene and Iverson chipping in ten and 23 respectively. As a team the Nuggets were careful with the ball only turning it over nine times total in the game.

The God-awful Grizzlies are next and I’m now 4-3 predicting these last ten games. I have it down for a win, but hope I’m not guilty of counting my chickens before they hatch. Denver has now won eight straight games and seemingly has put the NBA on notice. The Nuggets are for real, baby. Be sure to pass along the message!

Go Nuggets!

Stay Pumped Up for Tonight!

(Boulder-CO) I've been liking just posting a highlight reel to get everybody pumped for the last stretch of games, so here is a clip of some of AI's best moments from as far back as college. I've been anxious for him to throw that rediculously sick crossover, (you know, the one where he literally hops one way with the ball before yanking it back the other way), since he has been a Nugget, but he has been reluctant to give it to me. Maybe we'll all get lucky tonight...
Go Nuggets!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nuggets Riding a Rocky Mountain High

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s victory is all about accomplishments both in the moment and over a career. By beating the hated Utah Jazz tonight, 115-106, the Nuggets have guaranteed themselves a birth in the post-season and a winning record, set a franchise record for road wins with 20, push their winning streak to a season’s best, and current NBA best, seven straight games, and wrench down the sixth spot just another twist leaving the Lakers now two games in the rearview mirror. Also in the rearview mirror is the symbolic step of Adrian Dantley’s familiar number “4” hanging from the rafters of the Energy Solutions Center on what should be a night that serves as a catalyst in AD’s ride to Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Nuggets jumped out to a quick lead and held it tight throughout the majority of the game. By halftime the Nuggets were up by seven before going up by ten during the third quarter. What was really a welcome surprise was how the Nuggets continued to outplay the Jazz, even if by the smallest of margins, in each quarter. Denver did not lose a quarter in the scoring column and with the big efforts by Denver’s biggest names the Nuggets were able to stave off the Jazz’s best attempt to crawl back into within striking distance.

Carmelo Anthony led the way offensively for the Nuggets despite not getting a single damn call all night. ’Melo scored 32 points, snared six rebounds, and dished two dimes, but what was most frustrating was if the referees would have blown the whistle he could have had forty easily! Anthony did shoot twelve free-throws, and was perfect from the line might I add, but numerous times he scored the deuce and was not rewarded for taking the Jazz abuse.

Defensively, the Nuggets are soaring high on the wingspan of Marcus Camby. The Captain fell just shy of a triple double, (13 points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocked shots), but his value as of late goes far deeper than what the box score can illustrate. He serves as a safety net that the perimeter defense can bank on when playing the passing lanes and being aggressive trying to thieve balls from lazy dribblers. He alters twice as many shots as he blocks and when he locks down the boards limiting the opposition to one shot the Nuggets are proving to be very hard to beat.

Another key to the Nuggets' success has proven to be their 11-1 record when Iverson double-doubles. Tonight, the Answer finished with 22 points, 12 assists, and five rebounds including two three pointers and a dunk. The story goes Carmelo and the boys have been giving AI some grief for not dunking as regularly anymore prompting the history of the NBA’s third highest scoring average to start looking to bang it home when the opportunity presents itself.

And the play of Nene continues to be a major bright spot. Big Brazil served up a couple of facials tonight, (one to Carlos Boozer that was plain filth), and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. He brings a tough swagger to this team that is also invaluable in the same sense as Marcus Camby’s defensive presence.

I’m also happy to report that I am back to 3-3 in my final predictions making me and all the time I put into watching, scrutinizing, analyzing, and agonizing over the Nuggets just as reliable as flipping a coin! Seriously though, if they win, I’m happy to be wrong. It’s the other way around that has a way at eating at me.

Up next is a day of rest before back-to-back games on the road with the Hornets and Grizzlies. I have both games down for Nuggets victories, so it is time we go our separate ways. Until then don‘t worry, I’ll figure out something to write about.

Go Nuggets!

Get Pumped Up for Tonight!

(Boulder-CO) Here is a short video clip to get everybody juiced for tonight's game against the bitter rival Utah Jazz. Congratulations to Adrian Dantley for Finally getting his jersey number retired. Tip-off can not come soon enough!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Breaking News in the Carmelo Incident

(Boulder-CO) I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be as simple and innocent as it sounded at first earshot and it is playing out to be much more than a quick stop at 7-11. I first covered this story here, but now there is more being reported by Marc J. Spears of The Denver Post in today’s edition.

The new report from Carmelo himself concerning what happened that night is staggeringly different than how innocently Brandon Herrera first came off. Spears reports this interesting side of the story in the article, “After he and Craig turned down the autograph request, the men began speaking obscenities to them. Once in the store, Anthony added that one of the men, Brandon James Herrera, got on his cellphone and told someone to come to the store to ‘Kill Melo.’ Upon hearing the threat, Anthony said he returned to his car to get inside and check on his fiancĂ©e, La La Vazquez. After some time passed without a return by Craig to Anthony's car, Anthony re-entered the 7-Eleven, where he learned that Craig punched Herrera.”

Carmelo goes on to say, “When we walked in there (Herrera) said, 'Come around here, man, we need you to kill somebody. We need you to kill Melo. We need you to take care of this business for us.' And this and that. I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' Look, anything could have happened. We were still in 7-Eleven and anyone could have come there.”

Now it is time for my opinion on the whole fracas. Why didn’t Carmelo just stay at home or in the car and let his friend run into 7-11 and grab whatever item he/they needed? My only guess at this critical juncture in the evening is that Carmelo’s friend wasn’t going to be able carry out all the items himself because of some unbeknownst reason. Point being is that Carmelo shouldn’t be at 7-11, nor should La La, seeing how this kind of bullshit happens at seedy places at these kinds of hours.

Carmelo goes on to say, “Something could have easily happened, and then what? People are going to say I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time. You never win in situations like this.” And you know what, Carmelo? That’s because you ARE at the WRONG place at the WRONG time! Make a mental note: 7-11 at 3:00 am is not the place for a NBA superstar to be. Send a friend, send an enemy, hell, I don’t care if you send Yakhouba Diawara for your per diem, but make the note!

My final thought is thank God that it wasn’t Carmelo doing the punishing for whatever was or wasn’t said. Let his buddy take the wrap, Carmelo needs to concentrate on basketball.

Don't You Wish You Still Had 'Em?

(Boulder-CO) This sneaker may have either been a love or hate for most shoe fanatics, but I for one will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Air Penny Liquid that burst on the scene in 1997. It featured an interior bootie for added comfort, a wrap-around Air unit in the heel, and was all black except for four small stability "pods" in the forefront of the shoe. It was ultra-light and stiff while also being soft and supportive. It was designed for Penny Hardaway before his career took a serious dive due to injury. Peep game.

Don't you wish you still had 'em?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Nuggets Stymie Lakers to Clinch Tie-Breaker

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets accomplished something tonight that hasn’t happened since the 1993-94 season. With their sixth win in a row, which is the longest winning streak of the season, the Nuggets have won the season series against the Lakers, and by doing so clinched the tie-breaker just in case Denver and the L.A. finish with identical records. Tonight, Denver showed resolve, resiliency, and killer instinct beating the Lakers, 115-111.

In the first quarter, Marcus Camby set the defensive tone for what was going one of his best performances of the year. The Captain came out and returned four Laker shots back to sender and grabbed a handful of rebounds. Offensively, the Nuggets were jumpstarted by Carmelo’s twelve first quarter points which were scored in a variety of fashions. ‘Melo threw a reverse dunk down on Luke Walton, hit a rare three, and was 3-4 from the charity stripe. And the Nuggets’ collective efforts in the quarter put them in the lead by nine points, 32-23.

In the second the Nuggets came out very strong early, but faltered late to allow the Lakers to shave a couple points off their lead and go into the half down by seven, 65-58, largely in part to a 7-2 run in the final minute. The biggest positive at this point was the Nuggets holding Kobe Bryant to nine first half points by flashing different defenders at him and disrupting his rhythm by denying him the ball off the first pass past half-court.

The Lakers would battle back quickly in the third and find themselves down by only two points with a shade over six minutes to play before the Nuggets showed their first bit of true resiliency. From that exact juncture in the game, Denver-70 Los Angeles-68, the Nuggets went on a 12-0 run in the next two minutes and finished the quarter with a ten point lead. Carmelo Anthony would have seven of those twelve with the other five coming by way of an Allen Iverson three and two made free-throws by Eduardo Najera. I felt that this stretch of game was the first of two critical junctures where the Nuggets showed a sense of maturity and calm to go along with a strong sense of resolve that was not seen in earlier stretches of this season.

The second pivotal stretch of game started with 6:50 remaining in the fourth quarter with a Kobe Bryant dunk that pulled the Lakers within seven, 102-95. At this point in the fourth quarter the Nuggets were going cold from the outside while settling for jump shots and I feared a pending letdown as the Lakers were swinging the momentum of the game. And with said momentum the Lakers would eventually take the lead, 105-104, after threes from Maurice Evans and Brain Cook with only 4:20 remaining. But once again the Nuggets' resolve proved true with the game’s outcome in the balance as Steve Blake was cold-blooded with a humungous three-pointer to regain the lead for good.

And once they had regained the lead, the Nuggets showed the type of killer instinct that has been so elusive all season long. It may have came by way of the free-throw line with the Nuggets going 8-12, but what was so refreshing to see was the Nuggets’ ability to limit mistakes and make the necessary hustle plays that won the game. Marcus Camby had a steal, Nene drew a foul on Luke Walton on the offensive boards, and Carmelo Anthony answered the call of duty defending Kobe Bryant down the final stretch. This is how you close out games and the Nuggets couldn’t have picked a better time to be playing their best basketball.

With this win, the Nugget now need to only win one more game to guarantee a playoff birth and bring my ten-game prediction record to a respectable 3-2. Now on to the individual efforts that collectively materialized the big W.

Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 33 points while pitching in five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was an efficient 9-19 from the field and a killer at the free-throw line hitting 12-14. While he was the offensive MVP for the Nuggets, I would have to give the overall game MVP to Marcus Camby. The Captain may have only finished with three points tonight, but he flat-out dominated the glass grabbing 22 rebounds and swatting seven Laker shot attempts. Without him I do not know how the Nuggets would have kept Lamar Odom, Ronnie Turiaf, and Andrew Bynum off the glass.

Off the bench, the Nuggets enjoyed the return presence of Eduardo Najera chipping away here and there to finish with 14 points, nine boards, and three steals. Eddie was a perfect 4-4 from the field and a respectable 6-8 from the charity stripe in his first big chunk of minutes since returning from a tibia contusion nearly ten days ago. I’ve always said that Eduardo is the glue that holds this team together sometimes and tonight he proved to be just that. When the Nuggets were ready to crack and go to pieces… Eddie was there, one way or another.

Tonight was a great win, but the Nuggets need to re-focus before going into Utah for a game that has plenty of distractions, (Adrian Dantley’s number being retired just being one of many), and a hot atmosphere in what should be another playoff-like feel against the bitter rival Utah Jazz.

Six is great, but can the Nuggets make it seven?

Go Nuggets!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

LK Lifts Nuggets to Victory

(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
(Boulder-CO) It was a game of runs that seemingly would have appeared to leave the Nuggets on the short end of the stick as they were down by eight, 74-66, after three quarters of play. Enter Allen Iverson and Linas Kleiza. I’m not going to spoil the surprise quite yet, but these two Nuggets were the reason that Denver leaves L.A. in the sixth playoff seed, and with the victory, 96-93.

The Clippers had a lead as large as 15 points at one juncture of this game, but the Nuggets once again refused to waive the white flag of surrender. Denver essentially had to play the entire game from behind because in every quarter, except the fourth, the Clip-show out-scored the Nuggets. And in a game where no Nugget player recorded a double-double, there was still some gargantuan showings of resolve to snatch this win from the Clippers.

When the box score is broken down you have to start with the absolutely inspiring performance by Allen Iverson. AI scored 17 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter and literally willed the Nuggets to victory. He would not be denied and added four rebounds, four assists, and a steal. With a performance like tonight’s, Allen Iverson proved to me tonight that he is the leader of this team (sorry, Carmelo).

But Carmelo was no slouch either!

‘Melo finished tonight’s game with 23 points, six boards, five assists, two steals, and a block, but when the Nuggets were in search of the game-winning shot the ball didn’t go in Anthony’s direction.

Instead of forcing up a bad shot with only 18 seconds remaining and with defenders swooping from every direction, Anthony dished a quick pass out to Linas Kleiza. LK was camped out on the three-point line, conveniently located in the corner of the gym, and was ready to put the Clippers to sleep. Down by two, 93-91, Linas let fly and after the ball dropped through the net the Nuggets were up by one and for good! Linas Kleiza, the savior!

AI would also add two more free-throws for good measure after stealing the ball from Corey Maggette in the final six seconds to put the game on ice. These five points were the only five unanswered points of the contest for the Nuggets in what was in my opinion the most hard fought game of the season up to this point.

The Nuggets are now winners of five-straight games and hold the current longest winning streak in the NBA. They also currently hold the six seed in the Western Conference playoff picture because this win ties the Nuggets with the Lakers in overall record and of whom they will match-up with on Monday night at Pepsi Center. And thanks to LK, I am back to .500 in my final ten game predictions at a modest 2-2. Go Nuggets! I think I’m coming down with a touch of playoff fever!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Captain Makes it Happen

(Boulder-CO) Here is a little highlight reel of Marcus Camby to get all of the Nuggets Nation ready for the game against the Clippers tonight in L.A. You have got to love the segment where he rejects some of the NBA's biggest names!

Good Friday Magic

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets knew the impressive record of the Dallas Mavericks. They hung around. The Nuggets were down big numerous different times in the game. They hung around. They matched Dallas’s defensive effort and now the Nuggets are 2-23 when not scoring over a hundred points after tonight’s win over the Mavericks, 75-71. You could argue that this was the best win yet of the season, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted that both teams would have scored less than eighty points with the Nuggets winning a defensive battle at home with the league’s best team.

If you’re expecting big numbers in the box score let me just burst your bubble of hopes right now. The Mavericks shot a dismal 36% from the field and just 17% from downtown finishing just 3-17 from the land of plenty. And the Mavericks didn’t find a way to shoot many free-throws with just eleven attempts from the line in total finishing a meager 8-11. However, it was very surprising in such a low scoring affair that the Nuggets only committed eleven turnovers in a game that was equally one part ugly and one part sweet as candy.

Carmelo Anthony had his best stuff down the final stretch and finished with a game-high 23 points, including ten in the fourth quarter, to go along nicely with ten rebounds, three assists, and a steal. And there were no two bigger than the alley-oop pass thrown by Marcus Camby with the game tied at 71 when ‘Melo snatched the ball from mid-flight and made the Pepsi Center erupt with a thunderous finish to give Denver the lead for good!

Carmelo’s main partner in crime tonight, no pun intended, was Allen Iverson. AI gave the Nuggets 22 big points, five assists, three ‘bounds, and two steals. I really liked the overall game that AI produced because it wasn’t forced at the wrong times and when it was his time to put the ball in the basket, or make the right pass, it seemed as if he always made the correct play.

The other main offensive weapon for the Nuggets in a game that was dominated by poor shooting and defense was Nene. Big Brazil once again went for a double-double on his way to proving to be nearly un-guardable in the blocks that rings 16 points, ten rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Do you remember when Nene was out of shape, missing games because of pain in the surgically repaired knee, and rarely grabbing more than five boards a night? I know it seems so long in the past, but it wasn’t! Nene has matured so much, so fast this season that it has truly been a slideshow, game-by-game, of his improvement. He’s back in shape, showing unbelievable quickness around the goal, and hitting the boards like Gus Johnson! And if the Nuggets are going to make some big things happen come playoff time, I think that a lot of it depends on the play of Nene.

Another point that I would like to illustrate is how the Nuggets never waived the white towel of surrender against the league’s best overall record. Down as many as twelve at one point, and eight or ten a couple of different times, the Nuggets kept the wheels turning despite only playing eight deep for the fourth or fifth time in a row and found the resiliency to win. I don’t know if earlier in the season the Nuggets would have believed in themselves enough to win a game like this because of all the readily available excuses, but this win showed me that the Nuggets may, and let me stress that word MAY, be ready to rise above all that has happened this year and catapult themselves into the category of “Very Dangerous” come playoff time. And just to refresh your memory; The Nuggets have now trounced Phoenix, killed the Lakers, and defeated a very strong Maverick’s team at home which should be enough for any potential team to be a little worried about playing a series with the Nuggets.

The show capper is how the Nuggets have now won four straight games, which also ties Golden State for the longest winning streak currently in the NBA, and are potentially closing in on the sixth seed depending on how they fare against the Clippers today and the Lakers on Monday. I for one do not want to move up to the sixth seed, however, because that would mean the Nuggets would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and have to deal with that suffocating Spur defense. I would much rather see the Nuggets stay in the seventh seed and play the Phoenix Suns where anything, and I do mean anything, could potentially happen.

Oh, and I’m elated to announce that my psychic skills are looking pretty shoddy as I thankfully was wrong in my prediction that the Nuggets would lose against the Mavericks! That makes me 1-2 overall so far and brings the Nuggets overall record to 39-36.

Go Nuggets!

Friday, April 6, 2007

2:30 am Isn’t Time for Autographs

(Boulder-CO) Sometimes the best places to be in the wee hours of the night are Taco Bells, convenience stores, and grocery stores because the things, and people, that you might encounter are surely going to give you a story to remember in the morning. Or in the case of Brandon Herrera, a beating. You may be asking yourself why this is on The Nugg Doctor, but it is my unfortunate duty to link Carmelo Anthony to the whole fiasco that went down on March 18th, at a 7-Eleven store in southwest Denver.

The story goes that Carmelo and a friend hit up the corner store around 2:30am where 19-year-old Herrera asked the Nuggets forward for his autograph. Carmelo allegedly turned down the opportunity to make the young man’s day and Herrera then called Anthony a “punk” and started an argument which was ended when the person with Anthony, described in the report as the athlete's friend, “punched, pushed, and slammed” Herrera to the floor, the Denver Police report said.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson today identified the suspect as Racheed Craig. Furthermore, Anthony "was not involved" in the assault, Jackson said.

I guess Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have to sign anything that he doesn’t want to sign because that is his prerogative, but shouldn’t something as easy as scribbling your name and making a fan happy be water off a duck’s back? Regardless, shouldn’t ’Melo and his friend be able to at least just grab whatever item they stopped off for without making it more of a big deal than it needed to be, autograph or no autograph? I mean, once again it should be water off a duck’s back whether Brandon Herrera thinks Carmelo is a punk!

Call me crazy, but I just don’t understand why Carmelo can’t shake some of these loose strings that always seem to drag his name into territory that it doesn’t need to be. I understand that Carmelo is just as not responsible for his friend's actions as I am, but it doesn’t look good for the young athlete’s image anyway you slice it. Oh well, sigh, at least I received my Carmelo Anthony autograph, via the mail, on one of his sneakers for doing a press release for Toyota One-on-One. Maybe he will take a card out of Bill Russell’s deck and not sign autographs in the future making mine that much more rare and valuable!

No More Game Previews until Playoffs

(Boulder-CO) Hopefully I am not jinxing anything, but I wanted to let everyone know that I will not be writing any more game previews until the playoffs because I have already predicted the final outcomes of the last ten games here. Full breakdowns before each and every playoff game will be posted early that day, but until then, enjoy watching me squirm as my psychic skills are put to the test!

Who You Callin’ Dirty?

(Boulder-CO) It is being reported today by the Rocky Mountain News that two players, Toronto's Rasho Nesterovic and Seattle's Andre Brown, are calling Reggie “The Joker” Evans dirty. Such allegations bring me to propose the question: Do YOU think Reggie is a dirty player or just a hard-working, misunderstood role player who is just so happy to be in the game that his motor runs hot?

I will say this though… Chris Kaman…

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Don't You Wish You Still Had 'Em?

(Boulder-CO) I am starting a new column around here for the looming off season titled, "Don't You Wish You Still Had 'Em". These posts will be strictly about old basketball kicks that were not only ahead of their time, but also which many of us wish we still had a fresh new pair of! Should be a fun way to reminisce about the good ol' days and pass the dreaded off season. Enjoy the old hotness.
Today's first post is the Nike Zoom Flight '95 worn by none other than Jason Kidd in his rookie year. The shoe was one of the first to utilize Nike's Zoom Air and was a personal favorite of mine from back in the day! Peep game.

Don't you wish you still had em?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Nuggets Show Balance in Win

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets got a lot of scoring from a variety of players tonight in a nice win against the Sacramento Kings, 120-115. The Nuggets exploded in the first half and held a 21-point lead entering intermission, but the Kings deserve credit for battling back in the second half only to have their efforts fall short.

In the first half the Nuggets were doing all the right things. They had 28 assists, 30 boards, and shot a steamy 58% from the field on their way to a 71-point explosion in the first 24 minutes. Offensively, they were guided by Carmelo Anthony’s 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Defensively, the Nuggets were anchored by Marcus Camby swatting shots, Nene ruling the glass, and as a team forcing the Kings into bad shots on their way their way to holding Sacramento to 39% from the field. It was one of the better first halves of the season and the Nuggets looked prime to blow out the Kings.

However, once the second half started the Nuggets slipped into a mini-funk that allowed the Kings to battle back to within eight with under seven minutes to play in the third quarter. The Nuggets starting five came out a little bit too loose and it wasn’t until the substitutions for Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith did Coach George Karl find any energy. L.K entered the game and immediately hit a bucket to push the lead back to ten. Then J.R. Smith wired in two three-pointers and added two more free-throws before coming up with a huge blocked shot at the buzzer to put the Nuggets back in the comfort zone entering the fourth, 95-79.

In the fourth the Nuggets were still too much in love with the jumper and failed to take advantage of Sacramento’s lack of a shot blocker. As a result of their 4-18 start from the field in the money quarter, the Nuggets found themselves clinging to a five point lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Slowly but steadily the Kings had been led all the way back into striking distance by Ron Artest. Love him or hate him, the choice is up to you, but you can not disagree with the fact that the guy is a talented basketball player. Ron-Ron finished tonight’s game with a game-high 32 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals, but it was just not enough as the final seconds ticked off with the Nuggets still in the lead. Denver had survived. Hallelujah!

As I mentioned before, Carmelo Anthony was the team leader early and finished tonight’s game with a team-high 31 points along with eight rebounds the previously mentioned four assists, but he was far from alone in the box score. Nene was once again gargantuan pouring in a tremendous effort. Big Brazil finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. He proved to be un-guardable by either Brad Miller or Shareef Abdur-Rahim as he scored in a variety of fashions, but Nene was not alone in the club of double-double. Marcus Camby contributed 15 points, eleven rebounds, and four blocks and Nuggets’ shooting guard Allen Iverson added 16 points and ten assists. The effort from Marcus marks the 28th time the Captain has recorded a double-double this season.

I also feel that J.R. Smith deserves some credit for his defense. If you compare where J.R. started this season defensively to where he is now one has to admit that the youngster has grown by leaps and bounds. Last night he came in the second half and did a fantastic job against Kobe Bryant and his efforts were felt once again tonight. It all boils down to desire for J.R. because he has all the physical talents to be a great defender and as of late he has shown the discipline and dedication to make himself a better overall player.

The Nuggets will rest tomorrow before meeting up with the Mavs in a heat check game with potential playoff implications if Denver were to slip in the final eight games or the Clippers were to streak into the seventh playoff position. And if your keeping track of how my predictions are holding up… I’m 1-1 with the Nuggets picked to lose against the Mavericks. But for tonight, we dance!
Go Nuggets!