(Boulder-CO) Today’s date is December 30th, and on this day:
‘61- Wilt Chamberlain scored 42 points in a 116-111 loss to Boston, the 14th straight game in which he scored at least 40 points, an NBA record.
‘71- The Los Angeles Lakers posted a 122-106 victory at Seattle, giving them a perfect 16-0 record for December, the best monthly record in NBA history. It was the Lakers’ second consecutive undefeated month, as they also posted a 14-0 mark in November, during their NBA record 33-game winning streak.
‘90- Orlando’s Scott Skiles dished off an NBA record 30 assists as the Magic defeated Denver 155-116 at Orlando Arena. Skiles surpassed previous record holder Kevin Porter of New Jersey, who handed out 29 assists in the Nets’ 126-112 win over Houston on February 24, 1978.
‘92- The Phoenix Suns defeated Houston 133-110 to finish December with a 14-0 record, tying for the third-best month in NBA history. The Lakers set the NBA record by going 16-0 in December 1971.
‘96- New York became the fourth NBA franchise to reach 2,000 victories, following a 98-96 home win over New Jersey. The other three NBA teams that had surpassed 2,000 victories are the Celtics, Lakers and 76ers.
‘97- Chicago's Michael Jordan scored 33 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 787 consecutive games with at least 10 points.
‘97- San Antonio's David Robinson recorded five blocked shots to move into eighth place on the all-time chart ahead of George T. Johnson (2,082).
(Boulder-CO) Since everyone has already read what I thought is necessary for the Nuggets to defeat the Golden State Warriors in my first preview, I have teamed up with Atma Brother #1 of Golden State of Mind to provide the Nuggets Nation with a deeper look at the Warriors.
He asked me three questions and I reciprocated. Here are Atma Brother #1’s answers to my questions and the questions he asked me, but to read my answers you will have to head over to Golden State of Mind.
ND: The Warriors were going berserk from the three-point line all night long until the fourth quarter. Are they more likely to win in Denver by bombing away from the arch again in hopes of making them when they count or are they in need of a new philosophy in the Mile High?
AB1: They're more likely to win if Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony decide to take a Sunday night off. The Nuggets are just a better team with two superstars to the Warriors' one. On many nights there aren't many better players in the entire NBA than Baron Davis, but because of some front office failures Nellie has had to rely on Stephen Jackson too much. Jack has responded extremely well of course, but he's not a superstar by any stretch. Jackson is undoubtedly a solid all around offensive player and shut down defender though. If both AI and Melo are suited up and the Nuggets don't beat the Warriors, the Dubs are stealing one.
But since you asked, they're more likely to win if they get red hot from outside with penetrations to the key and dishes out to open 3 point shooters. Of course that's much easier said than done when the key Warrior players have been playing such heavy minutes.
ND: Neither team played very much defense, I think we can all agree on that, but the Warriors seemed to be fouling a nausea in hopes that the Nuggets would falter at the charity stripe. Is there anything that you foresee changing in the Dub's defensive approach or am I going to have to watch the Nuggets shoot 40 free-throws again?
AB1: Defense? Haha did you watch Friday night's game? There's no defensive approach to this game, it's about who puts up more points. When over 20,000 people were chanting "Dee-fense! Dee-fense! Dee-fense!" at the Roaracle on Friday night I was thinking it was just pointless. The Warriors simply cannot defend Allen Iverson one on one (few in the league can though) and Carmelo Anthony is a natural born Warrior killer with his size, strength, speed, and offensive repertoire. We should've been chanting "Off-fense! Off-fense! Off-fense!" because the only way the Warriors can beat the Nuggets is by getting red hot.
Still you can make a very good case that offense isn't the problem when you put up 120 points at home and still lose. My man Fantasy Junkie broke down what the Warriors need to do defensively to beat the Nuggets in RECAP: Warriors 120, Nuggets 124 - Where's the D?.
ND: The Nuggets have this guy on their team by the name of Allen Iverson. It was my understanding that he was, and still is, the fastest guy in the league with or without the ball. The Dub's Monta Ellis claims in his new And 1 commercials that he is, in fact, the fastest man in the league. Care to elaborate on such claim from such a B-list player? (no offense intended...)
AB1: AI is a well established former scoring champ and MVP as well as a perennial All-Star, while Monta is second round surprise in his 3rd season who's currently averaging 17.1ppg. This isn't even the slightest diss at Monta, but there's no comparison between the two. Iverson is one of the greatest players to play this game and Monta is a nice up and coming player with limited upside because of his average handles, lack of 3pt jumper, and mediocre passing ability.
In terms of raw foot speed I wouldn't doubt that Monta might be able to outrun Iverson in a 40 yard dash given their age difference by about a decade. But seriously who cares? Like you noted on the basketball court Iverson is the fastest guy in the league with or without the rock. He's faster than Monta with the rock simply because his handles, smarts, and savvy are infinitely better. AI also has a more dependable midrange J and long ball that Monta has a ways to go on. Iverson is faster than Monta without the rock because he knows how to use screens and tire out defenders who have to chase him for a full 41 minutes every night. Throw in the fact that AI has always had superior court vision, passing acumen, plus the ability to create for himself and others off the dribble and it's a no brainer.
There's no questioning that the Missippi Bullet is fast, but The Answer is faster where it counts. I think you'll agree- it's strange to compare a superstar nearing the end of his prime with a player of Monta's caliber.
Now here are the questions that Atma Brother wanted answered by me:
AB1: On paper the Denver Nuggets looked stacked with two superstars in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby, a couple of nice big men with their own respective strengths in Nene Hilario, Kenyon Martin, and Eduardo Najera, plus a big time scoring threat off the bench in J.R. Smith. With the 3rd largest payroll in the league their management and ownership team seems to be committed to winning now and not tomorrow. How far can this team go this season without any roster changes? Are they capable of reaching the level of the Spurs, Suns, and Mavs? Could they beat any of these 3 teams in a playoff series this spring?
AB1: At the time of last year's blockbuster Iverson trade many critics claimed that AI and Melo couldn't play well together. How has that worked out? Are there enough shots to go around and are both players happy with their offensive roles?
AB1: Denver isn't exactly a big market team or the most diverse place in the country. Soon after the AI trade I joked "How in the name of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did this city luck into Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson? How in the name of Kiki Vandeweghe do the only two fellas sporting cornrows and tats in this town just happen to be Melo and AI?" But seriously, how popular are Melo and Iverson in Denver? How popular is this star-loaded hoops squad in this football town? Does Denver deserve such a nice ball club? Do they even care?
(Boulder-CO) Today’s date is December 29th, and on this day:
‘79- Houston’s Rick Barry scored 19 points in a 104-100 victory over Philadelphia, becoming only the 15th player at the time to surpass 18,000 career points.
‘97- Dallas' Bubba Wells recorded six fouls in three minutes of a 111-105 loss to Chicago. He broke the 41-year-old NBA record of five minutes set by Dick Farley of the Syracuse Nationals.
‘99- The late Wilt Chamberlain became the first player to have his number retired by three teams when the Golden State Warriors retired his #13 jersey at halftime of their game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The No. 13 jersey was presented to Barbara Lewis and Yvonne Chamberlain, Wilt's sisters, and Oliver Chamberlain, his brother. Chamberlain's number had already been retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was part of the 1967 NBA championship team, and the Los Angeles Lakers, where he was part of the 1972 title team. Chamberlain spent six years with the Warriors organization, averaging 41.5 points and 25.1 rebounds in 429 games.
‘99- Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown became the 11th coach in NBA history to reach the 700-victory plateau when the 76ers defeated Golden State 97-94 in Oakland.
‘01- Don Nelson became the third coach in league annals to win 1,000 games as his Dallas Mavericks defeated Atlanta 113-97, and Jerry Sloan became the 10th coach in NBA lore to win 800 games when his Utah Jazz downed Philadelphia 89-81. Nelson joined Lenny Wilkens and Pat Riley in the 1,000-victory club.
(Boulder-CO) That's right, NBA fanatics the gurus of the round pebbled leather have done it again and I'm proud to say that I'm on the team! Get your NBA fix by clicking this link and leave no stone unturned. You can still send all late Christmas presents to me as late as January 3rd, 2008.
(Boulder-CO) I told you this one was going to be a rubbernecking affair! The Nuggets outlasted the Golden State Warriors, 124-120, by doing the little things right down the stretch. Guys like Anthony Carter rebounding amongst the trees late in the game, Linas Kleiza stepping up in the third quarter when Carmelo went to the bench with foul trouble, and an impressive collective effort by all the Nuggets from the free-throw line is why the Mile High City sleeps well tonight.
In the first half the Nuggets looked sharp. Despite allowing the Warriors to score 64 points (including seven three-pointers), Denver did exactly what I prescribed and shot a high percentage by connecting on 28 of 47 shot attempts to finish the first 24 minutes with a 59% clip from the field. Denver countered Golden State’s 64 with 71 points of their own with Carmelo Anthony leading the way with 24 points and five rebounds. The Nuggets also received a big shot in the arm from their bench which outscored the Warrior reserves, 19-15, in the half led by Chucky Atkins and J.R. Smiths’ six points a piece.
In the third quarter, the Golden State Warriors made me wonder if they would ever miss from downtown as they hit five three-pointers including a 30-foot bomb at the buzzer by Stephen Jackson who accounted for three of the aforementioned five. But, the counter punch for the Nuggets against the trey ball of Golden State was Linas Kleiza. With Carmelo Anthony on the bench with his fourth foul at the six minute mark, Linas came in and scored the final eleven Denver points in the quarter to preserve the Nuggets five-point lead heading into the fourth. In fact, including Kleiza’s final eleven, he and AI scored 21 of the Nuggets 31 points in the third.
And that’s right about the time that Golden State’s golden touch from long distance faded.
The Warriors were 12 of 26 with the long ball entering the final quarter, but lost their legs in the fourth and made only 2 of 10 attempts from the land of plenty when they needed them the most. On the flip side to Golden State’s shooting woes was the perseverance the Nuggets demonstrated at the free-throw line. Denver made good on 14 of their 16 opportunities at the charity stripe in the money period and outlasted the Warriors down the stretch in front of more than 20,000 once rabid and now stunned Golden State fans.
It’s hard to say that one Nugget effort was bigger than another in this game because everyone did so much, but if I had to give out a game ball it would have to go to Allen Iverson. AI was the true warrior of tonight’s game by scoring a game-high 39 points and dishing six assists. His confidence was unshakeable. Whether they tried to sic Baron Davis on him to match his speed or Matt Barnes to try and bother him with length, AI showed everyone that he fears no man. Iverson attacked the basket like a man possessed and when he wasn’t wetting jumpers in helpless defenders’ faces he was clutch from the free-throw line finishing, 13-15.
But luckily for AI, he wasn’t the only Nugget with the eye of the tiger.
Carmelo Anthony (despite battling home cooking all night long by the men with whistles) finished tonight’s game with 30 points and eight rebounds as he too was a fantastic 8-8 from the free-throw line. Marcus Camby added 15 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Anthony Carter was his usual pesky self on defense and came up with what I feel was the game-sealing rebound with the Nuggets up by six and only three minutes remaining to play, and Linas Kleiza added 15 points and also finished a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line to round out the Nuggets offensive effort.
Did I mention that the Nuggets were outstanding from the free-throw line? Denver finished tonight’s game 33-37 and can thank the Warriors for playing such half-assed defense. Even with Golden State making a season-high 14 threes their lack of defensive urgency was their fatal flaw. They just kept fouling and putting Denver on the line where the Nuggets politely drove the final nails into Golden State's coffin.
Do I feel sorry for Golden State? Not even for a second! Now they can see if their hysterical offensive strategy and crappy defense can have any better luck in Denver where I can guarantee the Mile High maniacs will be in full force on Sunday night.
(Boulder-CO) Well, I hope everyone likes scoring! Tonight we have two of the top three offensively productive teams set to square off in what should be a tremendously entertaining game. Golden State comes into tonight’s game as the second highest scoring team in the NBA at a clip of over 108 points per game and can boast that as a team they have six players averaging double digits in scoring. The Nuggets come into tonight’s game as the NBA’s third best offensive team despite only have four players averaging double digits in scoring. However, luckily for the Nuggets they have the third and fourth highest individual scoring averages in the league with Allen Iverson’s 26.3 and Carmelo’s 25.5 marks, respectively.
But there a couple of things not related to scoring that you should know about tonight’s game, and the cast of characters playing in it.
For starters, did you know that Carmelo is the Nuggets second leading rebounder right now? That’s right! Anthony is averaging 6.5 rebounds a night and is coming into this game on a four-game double-double streak that was started by ‘Melo grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds against the Rockets last week.
Another tidbit you may or may not be aware of concerns Marcus Camby. The Minister of Defense is currently second in the league in rebounding at 14.1 boards a night and is leading the league in blocked shots at a clip of 3.63 swats. Marcus is also coming off of his third career triple-double against the Bucks and as Allen Iverson said, "As he goes, we go."
And what about Big Brazil?
Nene is back, and he didn’t waste any time showing the Nuggets Nation just how important of a piece he is to this franchise. Whether he or Kenyon Martin starts is irrelevant really, but there are a few things you have to like about Nene’s first game back. His conditioning doesn’t appear to be a problem like in years past, his explosiveness is there evident by his first touch of the game being aggressively flushed through the iron, and he isn’t shy about crashing the boards as his seven rebounds would indicate. Plus, Nene brings another reliable low post scorer to this team whereas before one could argue that Carmelo Anthony was the only player reliably capable of scoring for the Nuggets with his back to the basket.
But for now, let’s get back to breaking this game down.
The Golden State Warriors (surrendering a league-high 106.2 points per game) play the worst defense of any team in the league. And while the Nuggets aren’t exactly the ‘89 Detroit Bad Boys themselves, they have the tools to keep a team in check if they choose to make it a point of emphasis.
For Denver to be successful tonight in Oakland they need to first disrupt the Warriors’ fast-break and there is no better way to do that than shooting a high percentage from the field. Whether or not it is by Denver fast breaking themselves doesn’t matter, but the Nuggets need to take high percentage shots, and make them, to stymie the G-State running attack. No team in the league can beat you with the fast break if they have to take the ball out of the net more times than not, so the Nuggets need to show they have some proficiency in their half court game.
After that, George Karl shouldn’t be afraid to play small ball with Don Nelson if my first prescription can’t be filled. Brush the dust off a guy like Yakhouba Diawara to harass Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, or the self-proclaimed “fastest man in the NBA” Monta Ellis. Bring Bobby Jones in to utilize his energy and length on D for the Warriors Kelenna Azubuike and Matt Barnes. And above all, don’t be afraid to give a few hard fouls when Warriors attack the bucket. I’m not saying do anything dirty, but there should be no freebies going to the rim now that Denver has a full frontcourt. Make the Warriors earn everything they get offensively. Trust me, Golden State won’t like that. From what I’ve seen, the Warriors buckle when they take a few on the jaw and they are not a team that can beat many folks in this league when the number of lay-ups they are accustom to scoring gets limited.
Get ready for a rubbernecking evening, Nuggets Nation! This one should be entertaining.
(Boulder-CO) Today’s date is December 28th, and on this day:
‘50- Dolph Schayes of Syracuse pulled down 35 rebounds, at the time an NBA record in the new statistical category, in a game at Philadelphia against the Warriors.
‘95- Dick Motta of Dallas became the third NBA coach to win 900 games when the Mavericks beat the Grizzlies, 103-101 in double-overtime. He joined Red Auerbach (938) and Lenny Wilkens (then with 1,014).
(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 27th, and on this day:
'56- Bill Sharman’s consecutive free throw streak ended at 55, an NBA record that lasted for 19 years. Houston’s Calvin Murphy broke the record with 58 consecutive free throws during the 1975-76 season. The current record is 97 by Micheal Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, set in 1993 over two seasons.
'64- Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati had 16 free throw attempts in one quarter of the Royals’ game at Baltimore, the most free throw attempts in one quarter in NBA history. The mark has been matched by five players in 36 years, including Michael Jordan in 1992, but it has never been surpassed.
'67- The New York Knicks named Red Holzman head coach, replacing Dick McGuire. Holzman went on to lead the Knicks to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973, utilizing several players recommended by McGuire, who became the team’s chief scout.
'78- Seattle’s Paul Silas played in his 1,123rd regular season game, at that time trailing only John Havlicek’s 1,270. Robert Parish now holds the record for the most games played in an NBA career, with 1,560.
'80- Calvin Murphy of the Houston Rockets began a streak of 78 consecutive free throws made in a game against Washington. It was the first of 16 games Murphy would need for his then NBA record FT streak.
'91- Tim Hardaway of Golden State set an NBA record for most field goals attempted with none made in a game when he shot 0-for-17 in the Warriors’ 106-102 OT win at Minnesota.
(Boulder-CO) This one was fun. The Denver Nuggets (who are now almost 100% healthy minus Steven Hunter) are no longer missing any major pieces to their puzzle and put an absolute drumming on the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-105, tonight at the Pepsi Center. But don’t let that mere 20-point margin of victory fool you because the Nuggets led by as many as 39 at one point, and guys like Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson were sitting the bench by the fourth quarter and throwing sneakers to fans.
In the first quarter you could tell something magic was about to happen. Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony came out red hot and scored the Nuggets first 18 points. Marcus Camby was erasing shots at a dizzying pace. Kenyon Martin was back in the line-up and at sometime we all knew that Nene was going to check it back in after a five-week lay-off from thumb surgery.
Fast forward past the 28-17 point first quarter and to the exact moment that Nene enters the game.
With 10:34 seconds to play in the second quarter, Nene AKA “Big Brazil” entered the game for Marcus Camby and within a minute he was violently throwing down a Chucky Atkins bounce pass that was gift wrapped extra special. It was at this exact point that this game started to get way out of hand as the Nuggets would continue to systematically destroy the Bucks, 40-21, in the quarter to lead by 30 at halftime. Carmelo led all scorers with 21 points and six rebounds, AI had 17 points and four assists, and Nene had scored eight points in his first seven minutes. As a team, Denver was shooting 59% from the field and 50% from downtown. The Nuggets were torrid and everyone was getting into the act.
And the act was just getting started too!
It was more domination in the third quarter as the Nuggets would balloon their lead to a gaudy 39 points at one point. Carmelo was done with 26 seconds remaining in the third after scoring a game-high 29 points and grabbing his tenth rebound marking the fourth double-double in a row that ‘Melo has given the Nuggets. But I told you this one got ugly so here comes the highlight reel. Marcus Camby recorded his third career triple-double of ten points (including a three-pointer to beat the substitution), ten blocked shots, and eleven rebounds. Allen Iverson scored 24 points while dishing out six dimes before throwing his sneakers into the crowd. Linas Kleiza scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. Anthony Carter scored 13 points, helped out six teammates, grabbed six boards, and stole four balls. Nene finished with eleven points and seven rebounds while looking trim might I add. J.R. Smith played in garbage time and still had twelve points bringing the grand total of Nugget double-digit scorers to seven and the final score to, 125-105.
The Nuggets ran the Bucks into submission with 44 fast break points totaling up a season-high 34 assists. Everybody made the extra pass. Carmel is rebounding. AI is creating. Marcus, well, Marcus is Marcus, and the rest of the pieces to the puzzle are starting to come together.
Right now it feels good to be a Nuggets fan, but will this feeling last?
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets host the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at Pepsi Center in a game that should be won. Despite the Bucks having three offensive options capable of scoring at least 20 points, Milwaukee comes into this game with an 11-15 overall record that includes a dismal 2-12 mark on the road. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are a stout 11-4 in Denver.
Against the Kings, the Nuggets received an amazing all-around effort capped off by LK hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer. And the way that I see tonight’s game is if the Nuggets can get a similar effort from their bench they should have no problem bagging the Bucks. However, if only two or three guys score in double-digits this game could be more hard fought than it should.
The Nuggets will have to contain Yi Jianlian, who is coming off of a career-high 29 points in Milwaukee’s last win against the Bobcats, and Michael Redd, who as we all know can shoot the lights out of any gym. The Bucks are a team that come into this game only averaging 95.4 ppg on the season, so if the Nuggets are to win, and win convincingly, they need to keep Milwaukee from approaching the century mark while running them up and down the floor.
On top of all that the Nuggets are starting to come together as a team. Chucky Atkins is back and is only going to get better. Nene is set to return tonight, but is probably not going to see a whole lot of minutes if he plays. Kenyon Martin is probably out for tonight’s game with a hamstring tweak, but is also looking better and better as of late. Marcus Camby returned to action against the Kings after his back was hurting him. And Carmelo Anthony is finally starting to rebound averaging 13 boards per game in his last three games!
Everything is looking better and better for the Nuggets. The time to ride the seemingly good wave of things to come is now. The team on the chopping block is the Bucks.
(Boulder-CO) Have you ever noticed that it says, “In Doug Moe We Trust” underneath my profile picture? Well, Doug Moe (Nuggets franchise wins leader, North Carolina Tarheel, ABA, and NBA legend) took a bad spill on the ice over a week ago and the fall may have caused a case of pancreatitis says ESPN.
Thankfully, Doug is feeling better because the Nuggets sure do need his wisdom to lead them when the going gets tough. Remember these words from Moe, Nuggets Nation: “The first team to a hundred usually wins!”
(Boulder-CO) Carmelo Anthony has been named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week for the seventh time in his young career. For the week of December 17 through December 23, Carmelo average 33.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while leading the Nuggets to a 2-1 record. ‘Melo scored a season-high 37 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds (including twelve offensive boards) in a double-OT win against the Rockets. He followed that up with a 34-point - twelve rebound effort in a loss to the Trailblazers and scored 30 points and grabbed another dozen rebounds in a Nuggets comeback victory over the Kings.
With this being his seventh such honor, Carmelo has tied the Nugget legend Alex English for the franchise record.
(Boulder-CO) Today’s date is December 26th, and on this day:
'76- Larry Kenon of San Antonio set an NBA record with 11 steals in the Spurs’ 110-105 victory over Kansas City. Kendall Gill of the New Jersey Nets tied Kenon’s mark more than 22 years later when he recorded 11 steals against Miami on April 3, 1999.
‘95- The NBA Jam Session presented by Fleer, the league’s interactive basketball attraction, opens at the annual Barcelona Children’s Festival in Spain, the first time that Jam Session ventured onto European soil.
‘97- San Antonio's David Robinson scored 24 points to pass the 15,000-point plateau for his career.
‘00- Don Nelson of the Dallas Mavericks notched his 945th head coaching win when Dallas defeated Seattle 114-93, moving ahead of Bill Fitch (944) and into third place in all-time NBA coaching victories.
‘01- Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown became the ninth coach in NBA history to reach 800 victories in the league after the Sixers' 100-86 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.
(Boulder-CO) Merry Christmas, Nuggets Nation. Although some of you are very quiet and don't think I know you read this page every morning. I, in fact, do know and thank you very much. Everyday that I see the Nuggets Nation reads this page it's like waking up on Christmas morning to open presents!
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets almost had their Christmas spoiled by the Sacramento Kings, but Linas Kleiza saved the day with a buzzer-beating 20 foot jumper to push Denver over the top, 106-105.
I thought the Nuggets really played poorly in the first half. They allowed the Kings to score 66 points on nearly 50% shooting while they only tallied 51 points on barely 40%. Denver was allowing anyone on the Kings a wide-open look from the perimeter and the interior defense was flat-out soft. Kenyon Martin and Nene are sorely being missed, and after last night it is apparently critical that one of the two can stay healthy for the rest of the season.
In the second half, the Nuggets that we all know are hiding underneath some kind of funky shirt came out and put it to the Kings. Denver outscored the Kings, 55-39, in the half and came back from down ten to start the fourth quarter in a victory capped off by Linas Kleiza gathering a loose ball, checking the clock on the other end of the floor, and letting fly a jump shot from the top of the key that dropped!
Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets offensively with 30 points, twelve rebounds (God, I love it when he cleans the glass), and two blocks. And for a change he had more support from just one player that goes by a two consonant acronym. AI had his 21 points and six dimes in a game that I thought was poorly officiated, but J.R. Smith got some burn from George Karl and made the best of it by going 4-8 from the three-point arch scoring 14 points in 18 minutes. In fact, I think this is the first time in December that the Nuggets bench has outscored the opposition’s by bettering Sacramento, 34-22. Najera had five and eleven boards, Atkins had a trey, and LK finished with 12 points - including the most important score. For that matter, even Marcus Camby exploded for 19 points and a team-high 14 rebounds! The point that I’m trying to illustrate here (just in case you have already had too much egg nog) is that the Nuggets finally got a rounded effort and it was nice to see the contribution out of some guys that had all but disappeared for awhile.
Up next for the Nuggets is a home game against the Bucks on the 26th before a back-to-back set with the Golden State Warriors over the weekend.
Merry Christmas, Nuggets Nation.
P.S.- Sorry about that Trailblazer game and a preview for this one… I didn’t have the internet where I was and, uh you know… It’s the holidays!
(Boulder-CO) Today's date is December 21, and on this day:
'80- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became only the fifth player in NBA history to notch 25,000 points as he scored a season-high 42 points in the Lakers’ 135-102 win over San Antonio.
'01- With 16 points in a 100-94 victory over New Jersey, Indiana's Reggie Miller improved his career scoring total to 21,801 points and moved past Larry Bird into 19th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
(Boulder-CO) Seeing how we just played these jerks (I kid, I kid), I'm just going to tell you to read this and insert a "nine" where you see Portland's winning streak mentioned, "LeMarcus Aldridge will play" where the Trailblazer's leading scorer is said to be injured, and know that the Nuggets will be up in Portland tonight instead of at home.
I'm still riding high on that wave of emotion from last night's win. Who's with me?
(Boulder-CO) The NBA’s marketing campaign this season is, “Where amazing happens”, and in last night’s double-overtime win over the Houston Rockets Anthony Carter and the rest of the Nuggets did not come up short. Denver emerged the victor, 112-111, on the tremendous efforts by Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter, and believe it or not, Chucky Atkins!
In the first half, Carmelo Anthony was struggling. ‘Melo was just 2-17 shooting in the first half and was way too reliant on the jumper. However, thankfully for the Nuggets Allen Iverson was on his game and scored 18 of the Nuggets first 26 points and dished two assists to keep Denver in the game.
Enter Chucky Atkins for the first time this regular season.
Chucky entered the game with the score, 23-16, with just over a minute to play in the first quarter and instantly sparked the Nuggs. There was no big ovation. There was no montage on the jumbotron. In fact, I didn’t even notice that he came into the game until someone’s shot went up that didn’t look like any of the more familiar Nuggets shot it. Atkins missed his first attempt of the season, but it didn’t take Chucky long to get it going in the second quarter. With nine minutes remaining until half, Atkins (who made a lay-up earlier in the quarter) hit two back-to-back three pointers off of AI dimes to give the Nuggets a, 32-27, lead of which the Nuggets would battle hard with to finish the half up by two, 44-42.
Enter Carmelo Anthony.
After starting the game shooting the ball horrendously, ‘Melo regained his touch and hit all eight of his shots in the period scoring 16 of the Nuggets 29 points. The Nuggets improved their advantage to, 73-69, at the end of the third, but the Rockets weren’t done fighting. In the fourth, the Rockets clamped down on defense and scored in bunches off of seven lay-ups to tie the game at 94 after scoring the regulation’s last seven points while holding the Nuggets scoreless in the last two minutes.
Re-enter Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony.
‘Melo and AI weren’t done scoring yet and split all eight of the Nuggets first overtime period’s points. Houston had more of a rounded effort with Shane Battier hitting a three, Luther Head popping a jumper, Bonzi Wells making yet another lay-up, and Rafer Alston tying it all up again by making only one of two attempts from the free-throw line with under a minute to play in OT.
Enter double OT.
The Nuggets, perhaps taking a cue from the Houston Rockets in the first OT, banded together as a team to score ten points off of Carmelo Anthony hitting the front end of two free-throws, another Chucky Atkins three-pointer, seven-foot jumper, and an assist to Marcus Camby for a ten-foot floater, and no bucket was bigger coming out of the game's final timout than the game-winning, up-and-under 15-foot jumper that the unsung hero, Anthony Carter, hit to win the game with no time on the clock!
Nuggets win! I repeat, NUGGETS WIN!
Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets in scoring with a huge stat line reading 37 points, a career-high 16 rebounds off of 12 gianormous offensive boards, three steals, two blocks, and two assists. Allen Iverson was right alongside ‘Melo with his 36 points, nine assists (only one turnover in 57 minutes), five rebounds, and two steals. The unsung hero, Anthony Carter, finished with six points, eight assists, and four rebounds and Chucky “come lately” Atkins was the only other Nuggets player to score in double figures with 13 points.
There was a Marcus Camby sighting too! The chairman of the boards finished with a team-high 18 rebounds, six blocks, and the aforementioned deuce in the second overtime period.
One sour side note about this otherwise fantastic game is Kenyon Martin left the floor in the third quarter with a leg injury and did not return. His status is questionable for tonight’s game against the Trailblazers. However, K-Mart did have an impact when he did play scoring eight points, grabbing ten rebounds, and blocking three shots.
Denver now plays again tonight in Portland against a Trailblazer team that is due for a loss after winning their last nine games.
(Boulder-CO) J.R. Smith said today in The Denver Post that, “When I'm not angry I have a lot more finesse to my game, I try to do everything real smooth. When I'm out there angry, everything's more rugged; getting rebounds. And then my teammates get behind me.”
My initial response to this statement was, “Good, do whatever it takes, J.R.”, but after thinking about it from a perspective of someone who continues to play the game I thought differently. In fact, my perspective on the topic did a complete 180. The worst thing you can do is play the game angry with the reason being basketball is to sports as jazz is to music.
Basketball is played in the moment. Much like jazz music, basketball is improvisational. When you use an emotion like anger to motivate yourself, your actions become premeditated and the results are often not favorable. Especially in a game like basketball which, from one second to the next, requires you to adapt to the situation at hand. Not to mention the type of premeditative thoughts that anger usually evokes.
Instead, I feel that the problem with J.R. as of late has been his intensity, or should I say, lack there of. Remember when he was playing good? He was playing the best defense of his career and it was translating into an improved offensive presence. J.R. was getting steals that were putting him out on the fast break. Once on the break, J.R. was dishing assists when he wasn’t finishing, and he was playing within the flow of the game and with his teammates. He was also making his long ball, which additionally, is all about being ready and in the moment.
Now instead of feeling the flow, or should I say the jazz, of the game J.R. is forcing himself in a negative way both for himself and the team. When he is in this kind of mentality he hoists bad shots, plays poor defense highlighted by frustration fouls and too much gambling, and ultimately, sees his minutes taken away. So, the answer, in my eyes, is not for J.R. to get angry with the situation, but rather to focus all his intensity into the moment and situation. The best at doing this was his Airness, Michael Jordan, with that stare and body language that was so intense that it could seemingly bend steal, and the will of his opposition. But, that wasn’t the best part about it, no no no, not at all. The best part about the intensity demonstrated by Jordan was it made his teammates raise their games to new heights because while their physical abilities were nowhere near Jordan’s; nor could they be raised to equal his. Their intensity levels were capable of rising to the level demonstrated by their emotional leader, and that is what made Jordan’s intensity so contagious.
So, once again, the answer for J.R. is not to get angry and play with a negative and premeditated cause, but rather to intensify his efforts and to play in the moment. Feed off the most intense player on the floor and try to match their intensity. Heck, for that matter, it could be just an intense play - a rebound, block, or a dunk - but use its rhetorical power to put yourself into the same mindset.
Be like Mike!
Change the game as the game changes. Feel the jazz.
(Boulder-CO) www.nuggets.com reports today that forward/center Jelani McCoy has been waived. No big surprise here, seeing how Nene and Steven Hunter are close to returning. Jelani only saw the floor five times for the Nuggets and averaged three minutes per game when he did.
Good luck and farewell, Jelani. Somewhere, an NBA team needs a big body like yours!
(Boulder-CO) Damn, does it feel like a long time since the Nuggets played a game!
The Rockets come into Denver tonight on the tail end of back-to-back games after a loss last night to the Orlando Magic, 97-92. And if that was the only problem plaguing the Rockets their outlook on tonight’s game may be a little bit more positive than it is knowing that they will most likely be without their leading scorer, Tracy McGrady, who is out with a sore left knee.
On the other hand, the Nuggets have their own problems. Denver has lost its last two games and it hasn’t been because they played well and were outmatched, but rather they defeated themselves by not playing up to their ability; a trademark that seems to follow this team year-in and year-out.
In tonight’s game, there are two things that have to go right for the Nuggets if they are to stop the bleeding of their most current two-game losing streak. First, the Nuggets desperately need to share the ball to the tune of 25 or more assists. There are a lot of potent offensive weapons on this Denver Nuggets club, but unless the ball gets shared no one gets their respective offensive games revved up. Guys like J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby all need to get smart touches and make them count.
The second critical point of interest in this game is Carmelo Anthony. ESPN illustrates this point perfectly in that in the Nuggets' 14 wins, Anthony has averaged 27.1 points while shooting 46.6 percent, but he has scored just 20.4 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting in the team's 10 losses. Allen Iverson may have, recently, taken the torch from Carmelo, but I’m not so sure after looking at what happens when AI leads this team in scoring that such a scenario is good for the Nuggets in the long run. Carmelo may need to be window piece of this team while AI manages things from the inside for the Nuggets to be successful.
Also as a side note, Yao got beat up pretty bad both physically and statistically by Dwight Howard last night. Marcus Camby needs to have a solid game defensively because without McGrady the Rockets are going to have to work their entire offense through Ming making Marcus just as instrumental on defense as Carmelo or AI are on offense.
Should be a good game, Nuggets Nation. One that hopefully shows some improvement in intensity and discipline from the last two dismal efforts.
(Boulder-CO) Today’s date is December, 20 and on this day:
‘66- Seattle was named the 11th franchise city in the NBA. Approximately one month later the team was named the SuperSonics, the result of a local contest won by Howard E. Schmidt. The name represents the regions historical relation to the aviation boom.
‘92- Buck Williams becomes only the 20th player in NBA history to collect 10,000 rebounds in his career as Portland defeats Golden State, 130-114.
‘97- New York's Patrick Ewing suffered a Lunate dislocation and torn ligaments in right wrist in game vs. Milwaukee Bucks and was declared out for the remainder of the season following surgery.
‘01- Chick Hearn, the Lakers' play-by-play announcer, was not be behind the microphone for the Lakers-Rockets game as he recovered from heart surgery to replace a blocked aortic valve, bringing to end an astonishing streak, one that lasted more than 36 years and 3,338 games.
(Boulder-CO) Sean Watts of Passion and Pride has written an open letter to Allen Iverson on the anniversary of his departure from Philly. Absolutely fabulous stuff, Mr. Watts, but here's to hoping that there is a happier ending to this story in Denver than the one you had to endure in Philadelphia.
(Boulder-CO) I’m starting a new segment today for the Nuggets Nation’s truest basketball aficionados. It's called, “Today’s date in NBA History”. Everyday, I will give you historical tidbits from the NBA’s rich history to enjoy and your going to enjoy ‘em, see? Fun for the most obsessed NBA fan in every family!
Today’s date is December, 19 and on this day:
'56-Upon his return from Melbourne, Australia, where he led the U.S. Basketball squad to an Olympic gold medal, Bill Russell signed his first contract with the Boston Celtics.
'68-The Detroit Pistons traded Dave DeBusschere to the New York Knicks for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives. The acquisition of DeBusschere is often credited as providing the last piece to the Knicks’ championship teams of 1970 and 1973. The midseason trade also allowed Bellamy to play in an NBA record 88 games that season with New York and Detroit.
'90-Boston’s Kevin McHale scored 23 points in 29 minutes of play, helping the Celtics down Philadelphia 115-105 while reaching the 15,000 point mark for his career.
'92-New York’s 91-87 win over Miami at Madison Square Garden gave Knicks Coach Pat Riley his 600th career victory, the 12th coach in NBA history to reach that mark.
'06- Philadelphia's Allen Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first round draft picks.
(Boulder-CO) By now you know that I read pretty much everything that relates to the Denver Nuggets. Most of the time it’s just to sharpen my own blade when it comes to differing perspectives on the current state of NBA affairs in the Mile High City. But, in select other instances, I find myself in either such strong disagreement or so vehemently concurring with the sentiments of other local journalists that I have to make my feelings public.
Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes in today’s article, “Right now, the Nuggets are a waste of our time and franchise owner Stan Kroenke's money.”
A sentiment that I can understand, and relate to completely.
The Denver Nuggets are currently on a pace to win 48 games this year, only three games better than last year’s 45-37 mark, and have not even begun to play their hardest stretch of games on the schedule.
Now get ready for some harsh and sobering realities.
“Big Brazil” is set to return sometime after Christmas. Nene is going to have to be worked into the playing fold, and without doubt, back into any kind of shape. This is going to take at least a month of games and could create a playing time quagmire which could, in turn, result in a sour atmosphere on the Nuggets frontline. Kenyon Martin is playing, well, far better than anybody expected him to this early off of yet another microfracture surgery, and having two injury-prone power forwards that have both been inconsistent at times is going to be a tricky road to navigate.
Chucky Atkins is also set to return sometime after Christmas, and that is going to create a similar situation in the Nuggets backcourt that, in all reality, only has one part-time vacancy. Allen Iverson just does not need a substitution at any one time in most games, so that leaves Anthony Carter (who, by the way, has played really solid basketball as of late) and Chucky Atkins in a predicament of who should play when, how much, and why? Chucky’s three-point shooting may be able to help the Nuggets score in bunches, but his defense is going to be a downgrade from Carter’s pesky nightly efforts to shut down the opposition’s best scoring guard. On the other hand, Atkins is more suited to commandeer the Nuggets in a more clear and direct fashion on the court than the oft-times quiet and yeoman Carter. Not to mention… what happens to a guy like J.R. Smith when there isn’t all of a sudden a direct need for his, often times, streaky shooting?
So, what does this mean for Nuggets fans?
It means that while things may (and trust me I’m hopeful because the thought of covering another 58 games like the first 24 makes me quiver) get better in the long-run. The Nuggets Nation has at least the entire month of January to wait before any sustained improvements are going to be seen. Player rotations need to be shuffled, production needs to be evaluated, minutes are going to have to be monitored, and the Nuggets are going to continue to lose games to teams they should, on paper, beat handily because of Denver’s personnel being all out of whack.
The best case scenario for the Nuggets is staying on the same pace they are on now with the correct answers, and players, emerging from the situation at hand as the season progresses.
The worst case scenario is a bunch of very individually talented and disgruntled basketball players who are confused as to the reasons why they still barely keeping this team above .500 while not playing the kind of minutes that some of their salaries might warrant. All while Stan Kroenke stares a $15 million dollar salary cap overage directly in the face.
But one thing is for sure, and Kiszla hit it right on the head, “Right now, the Nuggets are a waste of our time and franchise owner Stan Kroenke's money.”
Keon was a favorite player of mine while he was with the Nuggets because I enjoyed the charisma that he played with. Plus, Keon always had a way of smiling at just the right time. I hope he can get the help that he needs and can find the strength to overcome his addiction while in search of a better, sober life.
(Boulder-CO) Kenyon Martin did not deserve to be suspended for inadvertently elbowing Melvin Ely last week. The Denver Post is reporting that Martin will file an appeal for the one-game suspension handed down by the league that would entitle K-Mart to re-collect the estimated $118,181 lost, but I doubt he will win back one thin dime. The suspension has been served and the NBA rarely issues "refunds".
(Boulder-CO) I have seen pretty much all I need to see out of this Nuggets team of present. After getting thoroughly blown out by the Portland Trailblazers, 116-105, last night at the Pepsi Center it is pretty clear to me that the Nuggets, despite having a tremendous roster, will not be anything but a mediocre club this year. Denver has too many individuals on offense, not enough discipline on defense, no clear-cut team leader that is capable of doing the job at hand, and is not – I repeat – not going to accomplish what Stan Kroenke is paying nearly 15 million dollars over the NBA salary cap to have accomplished.
All you need to know about last night’s game was that the Portland Trailblazers mopped the Pepsi Center floors with our beloved Nuggets from opening toss to final buzzer. In the first, the Nuggets were outscored 30-25. In the second, the Nuggets were bullied, 31-24. In the third, the Nuggets were once again trumped, 31-24. And in the fourth, the Nuggets mustered what I like to call the old, “Too little, too late”, self-respect effort to outscore the Blazers, 32-24, in hopes of camouflaging a pathetic effort. Portland even led by as many as 21 points at one juncture of the game after Martell Webster made a technical free throw for delay of game on Marcus Camby.
Carmelo Anthony continues to struggle offensively after what I thought might have been a return to offensive normalcy against the Hornets two games ago. Against the Trailblazers, Anthony finished with 19 points on 6-17 shooting, but what irks me the most about Anthony’s performance was his inability to rebound when the Nuggets were getting abused on the boards, 41-31, overall, including 18 offensive boards by Portland. Why a guy as big and strong as Anthony can’t turn and box out his man is beyond my understanding; especially when nobody else on the team finished with more than seven rebounds.
Allen Iverson exploded, again, offensively notching 38 points, six assists, three steals, and two rebounds, but he still hasn’t found a way to get the rest of the Nuggets to play with the same fervor as he does, which at this point, is not his fault. AI is going out there every single night and leaving it all on the floor, and no one is stepping up their game to help him. Can you imagine what this team would look like without him?
From the Portland side of the coin, Brandon Roy torched the Nuggets for 26 points and a career-high tying eleven assists while Channing Frye added a season-high 20 points on 10-13 shooting. Furthermore, the Blazer bench outscored the Nugget bench, 49-22, with George Karl only playing reserves Eduardo Najera and Linas Kleiza any substantial minutes. Plus, the Trailblazers have now won seven straight games, which is only second best in the NBA to the Boston Celtics current eight-game winning streak.
Let this serve as your notice, Nuggets Nation: Denver will not be doing anything spectacular this season.
(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s game is a set-up. The Nuggets looked like garbage in San Antonio against the NBA’s defending champs last night, and tonight have to face a surging and vastly improved Portland Trailblazers team that has won their last six straight games. And as if that isn’t enough to make all of us leery, the Trail Blazers have to come to Denver where they've lost nine in a row since 2003 and 15-16 since 1999. The Nuggets always seem to drop games in bunches, and I’m starting to feel like somebody is standing behind my back about to push me down the stairs!
Wait, what’s that? What’s that you say? Out with the negative vibe and in with the good karma…
O.K, I guess things aren’t that bad when you consider Portland has already lost at the Pepsi Center this season, shooting a season-worst 39.0 percent in a 110-93 loss on Nov. 14. Portland is not going to have leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge (18.7 ppg) available due to plantar fasciitis. Plus, Steve Blake has never been able to hurt us, Marcus Camby always plays great against Joel Pryzbilla, and the Nuggets are 10-3 thus far in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center.
(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets teased their fans for the first twelve minutes against the Spurs before going into a classic Denver Nuggets funk that last 24 minutes and sealed their doom, 102-91, in San Antonio. These types of uninspired stretches of basketball have been, and will continue to hold the Nuggets in a state of mediocrity for as long as the Nuggets A) continue to allow them to occur, and B) do not have any idea how to get themselves out said stretches until it is way too late.
The first quarter was fantastic with the Nuggets outscoring the defending NBA champs, 27-22, by result of playing good defense and getting high percentage shots on the offensive end. Even at half, with the score 56-50, I liked what the Nuggets were doing because they had shot 57.1% from the field, had limited the Spurs to only five offensive rebounds, had recorded six steals, and managed six blocked shots. The only area for concern at this point was the Nuggets low total of assists (13) of which nobody had more than two of individually.
Even after surrendering 34 points to the Spurs in the second quarter, I still liked the overall feel of the half. But, what I didn’t see foreshadowed in that second quarter was the collapse that was about to ensue.
34 points is way too many baskets to allow a great team like San Antonio to plaster you with, and when you come out on their home floor in the third quarter and allow them to bombard you with another 36 you have officially mailed it in. Evidently, noting that San Antonio is quite possibly the best three-point shooting team in the league wasn’t on George Karl’s points of halftime emphasis because the Spurs came out in the third and hit five long range bombs on the Nuggets, and at one point, seemed to be alternating lay-ups with threes. And per usual… There was not a single timeout called by George Karl and his bench full of silent wise men as the Nuggets not only played terrible defense, but also went completely stagnant on the offense only scoring 18 points in the quarter.
It was then at this point that I too mailed this game in!
I had high hopes for this match-up. Not only because it was a rematch of last year’s playoffs. Not only because I thought, maybe, the Nuggets might be making a push into the Western Conference’s elite. But, really because the Nuggets schedule up to this point has been less than challenging and I wanted a "reality check" game to evaluate Stan Kroenke’s big price tag product.
And as for all my pivotal points outlined in this game’s preview… The Nuggets went a disappointing 0-5. San Antonio completely dominated the game’s tempo after the first period, the Spurs completed the game with a 48% shooting percentage on 84 attempts in comparison to Denver’s 47% on only 76 attempts, AI did not double-double in dimes and scoring despite having 30 points by the game’s conclusion, the Nuggets did not get to my prescribed 25-30 assists, and my pivotal point of eleven San Antonio offensive rebounds was eclipsed by one as the Nuggets lost, 102-91.
The rest of the box score is pretty gruesome, but its main problem if you’re a Nuggets fan is how the Spurs bench outscored the Nuggets bench, 35-16. J.R. Smith was the Nuggets high-scorer off the bench with seven, and is now 1-18 from downtown in the month of December.
At least Denver has a chance to forget about this game tonight as they host the Trailblazers at Pepsi Center.
(Boulder-CO) Once again, it is Scott Hastings with this weeks Nuggets quote of the week. In a pregame interview segment with Anthony Carter, Scott said what we all are thinking about the Kenyon Martin suspension.
"Horrible decision by the league." -Scott Hastings
(Boulder-CO) Kenyon Martin being suspended by the NBA for one game without pay this late after he inadvertently elbowed Melvin Ely is bull. You know it, and I know it. Scott Hastings of Altitude Sports and Entertainment even went as far as to call it, "disrespectful by the league" in tonight's pregame.
(Boulder-CO) Tonight, we will really get a good look at whether or not the Nuggets are progressing as a collective unit. The Spurs, even without Tim Duncan (who may or may not return to action tonight) and/or Tony Parker are still a damn tough basketball team to beat on their home floor.
San Antonio has lost its last two straight games for the first time this season partly because of Tim Duncan’s absence, but more so, because of both he and Tony Parker’s are now injured. Before Tony went down, the Spurs were still racking up the wins with Manu “The Flopper” Ginobili picking up Timmy’s slack and averaging 37 points in the first two games that Duncan was out for. Now that Tony is also sidelined there is just too much slack for the rest of the Spurs to untangle resulting in their most recent, 96-84, loss to the Golden State Warriors and, 102-97, defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the other hand, the Nuggets are a team that is seemingly starting to put all their loose pieces together with five wins in their last six games, and they still don’t even have a full roster of players.
What else is new, right?
Things to look for in tonight’s game are which team dictates the tempo, shooting percentages (which, for the Nuggets, will also be closely tied to the tempo of which the game is played), Denver’s assist total, and San Antonio’s offensive rebound total.
If the Denver Nuggets want to leave the Alamo city with a win tonight they will need to get out and run the Spurs into submission. San Antonio is a team that likes to milk every possession for the absolute best scoring option and have been the best team in the league for years now because of how efficiently they do it. Good shots are what the Nuggets hope for. Great shots are what the San Antonio Spurs work for. Denver needs to limit San Antonio to contested, decent looks at the basket and then rebound like gangbusters to get the legs of the fast break established.
This is where things get pivotal.
From there, one team should be able to establish a favorable shooting percentage with the Nuggets hopefully doing so by getting a plethora of fast break opportunities from point number one. San Antonio wants to grind the clock and finish every 24 seconds with a deuce and shoot the ball about 80 times making about 37 of them while limiting the Nuggets to about 75 shots when all their turnovers are accounted for. The Nuggets need to get about 90 shots on their basket and make about 42 of them to win. Which, again, is why the game’s shooting percentages for both teams is so closely tied to the tempo.
Denver will also have to share the ball somewhere in the vicinity of 25-30 assists to defeat the Spurs. The Nuggets are 17-1 when AI double-doubles with assists and points and if he can give Denver 10-12 assists with at least one other person, ehh hmm Anthony Carter or Carmelo Anthony, recording at least half of what AI does the Nuggets chances of victory are greatly increased. The Nuggets can ill-afford to have Marcus Camby snatching junk off the glass and then putting the ball on the floor, so my prescription is for everyone to get the ball to a guard and run the floor like someone is chasing you. The pass is coming, rest assured of that, but the assist total can’t grow if the Nuggets get caught having sticky fingers.
My last point to take notice of is how many offensive rebounds the Spurs can grab, and If you add up all my previous points it shouldn’t be hard to understand why this is so important. If the Nuggets give the Spurs two and three chances to score on too many possessions they will surely lose because 24 seconds is a long time to play defense for; let alone trying to play respectable D for 48 seconds or, gasp, over a minute. My pivotal point in this aspect of the game is eleven. If the Nuggets can hold the Spurs to eleven or fewer offensive boards they can, and should, win this game. If the Spurs collect more second-change opportunities than that… It could be a long night!
Should be a good one. Let’s get some chatter in here, Nuggets Nation!
(Boulder-CO) The Hornets came into tonight’s game with the best road record in the Western Conference, but they proved to be unable to defeat the Western Conference’s second best home record that the Denver Nuggets can proudly say is now 10-3 after the, 105-99, extermination of the bug tonight at Pepsi Center.
The first half was hard fought with the Hornets getting the better of the Nuggets by the end of it, 59-51. In the first 24 minutes alone Chris Paul had torched the Nuggets for 19 points and seven assists to lead all scorers while also getting into early foul trouble. On the contrary, Carmelo Anthony was still continuing to struggle offensively and finished the half with only eleven points and five rebounds on a dreadful 3-13 shooting that included missing his first five shots. However, Allen Iverson was picking up his slack and led the Nuggets with 13 points and five assists.
The main problem at this point was how the Nuggets were giving the Hornets (mainly Chris Paul) way too much penetration around the goal and things got really bad with the Hornets going up by as many as 14 points with under a minute remaining in the half. New Orleans had three players score in double-figures with the aforementioned CP3 stat line, Rasual Butler scoring 14, and David West kicking in eleven and as a team were shooting a torrid 56% from the field with 13 total assists.
Thankfully for the Nuggets Nation the next three words I am about to type are probably the best holiday surprise so far.
Carmelo is back.
And it was on Carmelo’s back that the Nuggets rode all the way to victory tonight after he scored 15 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter!
Denver gained some ground on the Hornets in the third period outscoring New Orleans, 26-22, and went into the final period down by only four. Anthony Carter was the spark that lit the Nuggets on fire with nine points in the third, and in the fourth the other man named Anthony threw gas all over it. No single shot was bigger than the three Melo hit that tied the game at 86 with 8:20 remaining and when Eduardo Najera hit another one the next time down the floor you could sense the momentum had swung for the final time in the Nuggets direction. The Hornets would momentarily take back the lead, 92-91, with under six minutes remaining, but the Nuggets defense (led by Anthony Carter’s gutsy effort on Paul around the perimeter and Marcus Camby shutting down everything inside and grabbing almost every defensive rebound) was awakened and so was Carmelo’s offense.
Anthony scored the next eight straight Nugget points and with the game tied at 99 Marcus Camby grabbed two offensive rebounds with the second being tipped back in to give the Nuggets enough to win a very hard fought game against a very good New Orleans Hornets team.
The Nuggets had six players score in double figures with Carmelo’s aforementioned 32 points and ten boards leading the way. Allen Iverson scored 22 and passed out eleven assists to improve Denver’s record to 17-1 when he records a double-double. Marcus Camby had a double-double of is own with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks. Anthony Carter had 13 points and five assists to compliment his gritty defense on CP3 down the stretch, Kenyon Martin added eleven points and eight rebounds, and Eduardo Najera gave the Nuggets ten points off the bench.
Up next for the 14-8 Nuggets is a rematch of last season’s first round playoff match-up with the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday. I hope the Spurs are still undefeated at home when the Nuggets roll into town. That would make things a whole lot more dramatic when these two division leading teams meet for the first time this season.
(Boulder-CO) The New Orleans Hornets are a damn good basketball team. They are led by my favorite point guard, Chris Paul AKA CP3. And for those of you who don’t know, Chris Paul is averaging 21.8 points, ten assists, three steals, and is so other worldly fast with the dribble that if you take your eyes off of him for even a second he will be at the rack laying it in on you. CP3 is coming off of 10-for-16 from the field, scoring 29 points and adding 10 assists Sunday against the Grizzlies and just days before that he made five three-pointers and scored a career-high 43 points.
Man, can he play!
Both the Hornets and the Nuggets are coming into this game as winners of four of their last five games, but it is the Hornets that may be now coming back to full-strength. Tonight, they are expecting to have “Don’t call, I’ll” Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson return from injuries sustained on Friday against the Grizzlies. The Hornets also bring seven-foot center Tyson Chandler, who is averaging a double-double of eleven points and just as many rebounds, and a budding star power forward in David West, who is averaging 18.2 points per game and always seems to be around the ball, for the Nuggets to contain. These two guys are going to be a handful for Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin to handle because Chandler is a tireless rebounder and West is a ball of energy on the blocks, perimeter, and off the dribble. Marcus is going to have to put a body on Chandler because Tyson is a legitimate seven feet and probably has better springs than the Minster of Defense and Kenyon is going to have to play honest, square to the basket defense to keep West from scoring 30 because if Kenyon tries to cheat a go for steals and ends up in foul trouble. David will surely have a field day with any of the other defensive options the Nuggets have right now with Nene still on the sideline.
Offensively, the Nuggets desperately need Carmelo to get back on track. He said in his latest blog post that he has been showing up early to practice to get more jumpers up and tonight’s game would be the perfect opportunity for him to explode. Peja is not known for playing the stiffest defense and I think that Carmelo would be well-advised to take Stojakovic down to the blocks and use some power moves to get lay-ups and free-throws early to get his confidence going first before starting to let the jab-step and fade-away fly. There is no doubt in my mind that AI and CP3 are going to give us a show trying to definitively prove who is the fastest man on earth with a basketball in their hands, so it is going to be paramount that Carmelo returns to his regular offensive self to help offset the inevitable offensive support that Chandler and West are going to provide for New Orleans.
The last point that I want to bring up is that the Hornets boast the Western Conference’s best road record at 8-2 so far and the Nuggets are 9-3 at the Pepsi Center. Meaning, that both of these teams are playing in their most favorable of scenarios that have made them so comparable and competitive seeing how New Orleans’ is 14-7 and Denver’s is 13-8, respectively.
Only San Antonio’s perfect 12-0 record at home is better than the Nuggets 9-3 home record mark in the Western Conference picture, but we’ll worry about putting a blemish on that perfection later this week…
Be sure to go see what’s buzzin’ over at www.hornets247.com for a different look at tonight’s game, and be sure to sting Ron for me!
(Boulder-CO) The Minister of Defense is now writing his own blog. Marcus has three posts so far and they are actually pretty good. There is a lot of sound basketball analysis and Marcus is very detailed in his explanations. Go check it out!
I'll also be adding a permanent link to Camby's blog in the blog roll.
(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets are currently the third highest team payroll in the NBA with three of their four highest individual salaries all running through the 2010-11 season. Eduardo Najera is in a contract year. He is set to make $4.9 million this season and then he will be a free-agent, but instead of thinking about the free-agent market and how much his basketball services are worth. He is more concerned about staying a Nugget for years to come; even if that means becoming the ultimate “Team“ guy. That’s right, Eddie is willing to take less money to stay loyal to the Nuggets!
But, what the article linked above doesn’t tell you (and what nobody else but yours truly will tell you) is that Eduardo Najera is by no means hurting for cash. In fact, he makes some of the biggest bread on the team by way of endorsements. So, don’t worry about EddiethisChristmas. Eduardo has his money game in check.
Also included in the same article is a segment about Anthony Carter and his career-high stats. When presumably asked about what he attributes the improved play to he says some cliche things like, "Taking care of my body", and, "Eliminating fast-food", but what I didn't expect to read was, "I'm not drinking the whole season."
(Boulder-CO) Just because I don’t like the way the Nuggets won doesn’t mean I don’t like the win. Denver turned the ball over a season-high 26 times directly resulting in 33 Kings points, gave up a twelve-point lead after halftime to go into the fourth down by one, and shot only 2-15 from downtown which when all combined made beating the Kings, 101-97, a whole lot harder than it needed to be.
The first half was chalked full of good things. Offensively, Allen Iverson led all Nugget scorers with 19 points, three assists, and three rebounds. He got a lot of support from Kenyon Martin’s 12 points and eight rebounds and Carmelo Anthony’s ten points, six rebounds, three blocks, an assist, and a steal. Even Anthony Carter came up big with some very stingy defense at times on Ron Artest, John Salmons, and Beno Udrih while also giving the Nuggets a team-high eight assists, two steals, and a domineering block on a Salmons fade-away.
The Nuggets went into halftime with a twelve-point lead after outscoring the Kings, 25-13, in the second quarter and things were looking really good. Denver had limited the Kings to 38% shooting from the field and were badly dominating Sacramento on the glass, 29-14.
Unfortunately, the Nuggets were not primed coming into the third period and allowed the Sacramento Kings to completely erase their lead to actually go into the fourth quarter up by one point after Denver put up a pitiful 18 points and allowed 31. Denver missed twelve shots in the third, abandoned the fast break, and stood around and watched an awful lot. But, what was most disheartening about the quarter was how George Karl, once again, didn’t call timeout when the momentum was swinging Sacramento’s way or when the Nuggets went completely stagnant on offense. It wasn’t until the Kings were all the way back into the game, 69-68, that a timeout was called leaving me scratching my head as to why it wasn’t called earlier. The Nuggets were taking bad shots and the ball movement stopped, but yet there was no reorganization when the game was slipping away.
In the fourth, the Nuggets did regroup offensively, but it was their proficiency at the free-throw line that saved them. Denver hit 10-14 free-throws on route to scoring 24 points in the quarter to win by five. Allen Iverson led Denver in scoring with 23 points and ten assists improving Denver’s record when he double-double’s to 16-1. Carmelo once again struggled from the field connecting on just 5-16 from the field (including 0-4 from downtown) to finish with 14 points, seven rebounds, the aforementioned three blocks, three assists, and a steal.
However, the unsung heroes of the game were Anthony Carter and Kenyon Martin. Anthony Carter played his best game of the season finishing with 17 points, nine assists, four steals, three rebounds, and two blocks. I already mentioned that he absolutely trashed a John Salmons fade-away, but the feather in his cap was also swatting seven-foot Brad Miller’s turn-around jumper from the elbow that made Miller so frustrated that he actually threw a forearm into AC’s head for his sixth and final foul. Carter also ripped loose a steal from a penetrating Francisco Garcia that sparked a fast break scoring opportunity in the crunch of the fourth quarter.
Kenyon Martin also played his finest all-around game of the season finishing with 20 points, twelve rebounds, five blocks, three steals, and an assists in 38 big minutes of action. He was 8-10 from the field, only got whistled for two fouls, and had five of his twelve rebounds on the offensive glass. K-Mart is showing continued improvement in his bounce around the goal and is catching more alley-oops and putting back more and more tip-slams with each passing game. Does anybody remember that I predicted Martin to win NBA Comeback Player of the Year?
Up next for the 13-8 Denver Nuggets is a few days of rest before hosting Chris Paul and the Hornets on Wednesday night. Denver has a light week next week starting with the Hornets and then do not have to play again before Saturday when they face a serious challenge traveling to San Antonio to play the Spurs. Denver is now 9-3 at the Pepsi Center and is currently tied for first place in the Northwest Division with the Utah Jazz.
(Boulder-CO) This week was a doozy! I finally got back to 100% after being blindsided by a cluster headache the week before, the Nuggets beat the Heat and the Mavericks, I rolled the hell out of my ankle playing some pick up ball at my alma mater, and the Nuggets play host the Kings tonight!
Oh well, the show must go on!
Here is the Nuggets quote of the week from Chris Marlowe’s blog.
“Also in a starring role on Thursday night was forward Linas Kleiza. He only played seven minutes in the loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night, but in Dallas he was on fire. With dunks, drives, and three-point shots, the “Lithuanian Liquidator” was tearing them up.”
(Boulder-CO) Since about the end of 2005, the Denver Nuggets have been Carmelo’s team. He’s been Denver’s leading scorer, All-Star, and face of the Nugget franchise, but is he still maintaining that status with Allen Iverson, a future Hall of Fame shoe-in, on the team?
I ask because for the last couple of games now it has seemed like Carmelo Anthony has been more of a side dish instead of the Mile High entrée. And if you haven’t been keeping an eye on the NBA’s scoring race this early in the season; let me bring you up to speed. Allen Iverson is now the Nuggets top scorer. At the twenty game mark, AI is averaging 25.5 points (4th in the NBA), 7.4 assists, three rebounds, and 2.5 steals while Carmelo’s average of 25.2 (still good enough for 6th best in the league making he and AI the only duo in the top ten) has dropped from 28.9 points last year when he came in second in scoring to only Kobe Bryant after leading the league for most the year. Granted, Carmelo’s assist average is currently at a career-high 4.3 per game, but it’s not like any of the other Nuggets are stealing his looks with the next highest ppg average being J.R. Smith at eleven.
So who IS the leader of the Denver Nuggets?
I’m not going to try and distinguish who exactly is the leader of this team between AI and ‘Melo based upon statistical achievements (or create controversy seeing how I don’t care which player people delegate for one reason or another), but I will clearly define what kind of qualities these very inconsistent Nuggets still desperately need in one. The Nuggets seek a player that knows how to bring the best out of our worst man. A player that sparks the Nuggets when they are down by ten or on the verge of putting a team away by 20+. A player that sets the tone. Not just offensively, but defensively too. Can AI be this guy? Maybe. We have seen him take an otherwise mediocre 76ers team all the way to the NBA Finals. Could ‘Melo do it? We have seen him take an otherwise mediocre Syracuse team to the NCAA Championship but the answer is again, maybe.
For now, the Nuggets “leader” role is one to watch because without it solidified, I still think that this year’s team is going to continue to show glimpses of greatness while also, at times, appearing like they are on the verge of falling apart. Anyone have thoughts on who, so far, has been the leader of this team? And no wise answers like “George Karl”, knuckle heads!