Thursday, January 31, 2008

Camby: Snubbed!

(Boulder-CO) The NBA All-Star reserves were named today and Marcus Camby was amongst others who also took a snubbing. Henry Abbott from TrueHoop writes this about "The Captain".

"There are ten teams in the West that are all still bunched high enough in the standings to be theoretical candidates to win the conference. Each has a team leader who is a strong candidate to be an All-Star. (Indeed, only Golden State missed out). Denver only the middle of that pack, but already has two guys starting on this team! How greedy can you get! I know, it's not fair to exclude a guy because of what his teammates do. But has Camby really been better than David West, Brandon Roy, Baron Davis, or Manu Ginobili?"
Usually, I take what Henry writes as basketball scripture, but in this case I am going to have to respectfully disagree with him about Manu Ginobili being more deserving than Marcus. Manu is averaging 19.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and a career-high (or is it a low?) 2.7 turnovers per game. Camby is averaging 9.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, and 2.9 assists with his rebounding, blocks, and minutes played per game (35.2) all being career-highs. Granted, to be fair, Manu's averages are all career highs too, but are any of them really all that "All-Star" worthy?

In comparison, Camby's reboudning clip is only .6 fewer boards per game less than Dwight Howard's league leading 14.9 rebounds per game, his 3.9 blocks is #1 in the league, and his 1.05 steals per game and assist average are ranked second and third best amongst all NBA centers. Throw in the fact that he is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year (Plus- there isn't another player even close to removing Camby's belt so far this season) and I think things start to look pretty clear.
Now you tell me, who was a more deserving All-Star given all the aforementioned statistical facts, Manu or Marcus?

A Rumor I Really Don’t Like


(Boulder-CO) TZ over at www.sactownroyalty.com is pondering what Nugget(s) might be involved in a potential trade for Ron Artest. Let me just go on the record right now as saying I do not like anything that has to do with Ron Artest in a Nuggets uniform. To be honest with you, I don’t even like when he comes into town to play the Nuggets. But, I think the writing is on the wall and Nuggets brass is looking to make a move before the February 21st trade deadline that could potentially put the Nuggets into elite NBA company. However, like I’ve already stated, I do not want Ron-Ron in Denver. Period.

The NBA's Week in Review

(Boulder-CO) The homiest of homies, Dennis Velasco, runs this little site called About Pro Basketball and he gives me the weekly opportunity to say I write for a company owned by The New York Times. Here is the entire Eastern Conference and Western Conference broken down by those who know it best. Go give Dennis a piece of your mind!

Two Years and Running

(Boulder-CO) Whether you're new to the site or have been reading since day one. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you for making this Nuggets blog a massive success on the eve of its second birthday. This includes those of you who run other blogs and link to work that I publish, comment regularly, or just visit The Nugg Doctor everyday and never join the on-going dialogue that is always going on. Many of you might remember the first anniversary of the site and how this whole thing was started, but now after nearly 1,000 posts, almost 250,000 hits, and all of the other larger projects that I have had the pleasure of working on this whole "Nugg Doctor" thing never ceases to amaze me.
Now, there is one other thing that I want to run by you, Nuggets Nation, and it is the chance to, in my opinion, truly unite for the first time. I have been in contact with the ESPN Zone in downtown Denver and if enough of you would like to we could all view a game, as a unit, out in the public spotlight. Now, I know a lot of you are from places other than Denver, but for those of you who are or are from the neighboring areas this is an invitation to the first ever and still pending, "Nugg Doctor" group outing. If enough of us want to make it happen I'll start working out the details. I know I would really enjoy it, but ultimately, it's really in the hands of all of you. So I'm asking for some feedback here. You can either comment on this post or you can send me an Email (my Email info is in the profile).
But above all, this is your humble "Nugg Doctor" Nick saying "Thanks" for all the continued support.
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 31st, and on this day:

'94- Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins became the 11th player in NBA history to score 23,000 career points, netting 24 in the Hawks’ 90-85 win at Dallas.

'97- San Antonio’s Dominique Wilkins scored 27 points in the Spurs’ 97-95 loss to Minnesota, giving him 26,009 career points. Wilkins was only the sixth NBA player to score 26,000 points.

'01- Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach George Karl guided the Bucks to a 116-111 win over Denver, notching his 600th NBA coaching victory. Karl became the 17th NBA head coach to reach the milestone, and he was the sixth-fastest to 600 wins in NBA history.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nuggets Escape the Grizzlies

(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets were sleep walking through 45 minutes of tonight’s game with the Memphis Grizzlies, but found a way to ignite late in the fourth quarter to win, 106-102, and end their road losing streak at seven games while avoiding a season-high tying three straight losses overall.

The start of this game was full of news that players from both teams were not going to be able to play for a range of assorted reasons. For the Grizzlies, Stromile Swift was unavailable due to an incident with coach Iavaroni, Pau Gasol was a scratch with a sore lower back, and Mike Conley wasn’t going to play either due to a rib injury. For Denver, Carmelo missed his fifth straight game after once again not feeling confident in the injured ankle during pre-game workouts.

So despite being shorthanded, two crews from both teams threw up a tip and just because the Nuggets led by two at the half doesn’t mean I liked much about their effort. The Nuggets started out the game with seven turnovers in the first quarter and were taking a ton of poor shots. Plus, the little things like throwing the ball away with baseball passes four times, Kenyon Martin swatting a shot in to the fourteenth row when he could have just corralled the shot and kept possession, and J.R. Smith missing back-to-back dunks in the second quarter when the momentum was just starting to swing in favor for the Nuggets were really eating at me. The two blown dunks, in particular, were aggravating because they translated into five points for the Grizzlies, destroyed all the momentum the Nuggets had built in the second quarter, and completed a nine-point swing in Memphis’s favor when you consider the Nuggets came away with nothing instead of a sure four points. Needless to say, J.R. Smith was quickly benched after going 1-7 from the field in a mere nine minutes.

However, I will say that the only reason why the Nuggets were still in this game with such an undisciplined showing in the first half was Allen Iverson. He was the only Nugget to score in double-figures with 21 points and seven assists in the first half while recording three big steals that jumpstarted the Nuggets fast break in the second quarter.

In the third quarter the worst possible scenario came true for the Nuggets. AI was the only reason the Nuggets were in the game in the first half, but in the third quarter he went 0-7 from the field and didn’t score. And as quickly as Iverson disappeared so did the Nuggets as they managed only 19 points in the quarter and went into the fourth down by five.

More of the same crappy play ensued as the Grizzlies’ lead ballooned up to seven with three minutes remaining before the Nuggets flipped on the switch. With the score, 97-90, Marcus Camby tipped in an offensive rebound and started what would be a 12-0 run for the Nuggets that included five straight points (a three and a beautiful drive down the middle of the key) and an assist by Anthony Carter to Linas Kleiza for another three to give the Nuggets a three point lead. Allen Iverson would ice the game with six straight free-throws from there, but defensively good rotations, good challenges on Memphis’s shots by Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin, and solid rebounding were also part of the reason the Nuggets were able to close out this game and avoid a disastrous loss.

Sigh, what a relief.

Allen Iverson led all scorers with 32 points to go along nicely with 12 assists, four steals, and three rebounds and improves the overall record when he records a double-double to 19-1 dating back to last season. His offensive help came from a quartet of Nuggets all scoring in double figures while no individual scored more than 18 points. Anthony Carter is becoming the Nuggets unsung hero with the aforementioned five straight points in the fourth quarter and a total of 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists, Linas Kleiza overcame a 1-7 night from the three-point line to finish with 15 points and three rebounds, and Marcus Camby rounded everything out with 13 points, 19 rebounds, and five blocked shots despite taken a break in the second quarter to ice his sore right knee.

For the Grizzlies, Rudy Gay scored a team-high 30 points and Darko Milicic tied a career-high with 16 rebounds, but despite having four players score in double figures Memphis proved to be unable to manage the last three minutes of the game and they take the tough loss and end the Nuggets longest road losing streak since the 1994-95 season.
With tonight's win the Nuggets momentarily move into a tie with the Utah Jazz for first place in the Northwest Division, but Utah is currently beating New York and will most likely move a half game ahead of the Nuggets in the division by the end of the night. Plus, Portland is currenty beating the Cavaliers and with a win would move into a tie with Denver for second place, but that's ok becuase the number of losses stays equal with all three teams despite the Jazz having played, and won, one game more than the Nuggets and Trailblazers as of right now.

Like I said…I don’t have to like the way they did it, but I’ll take the win any day.

Go Nuggets!

Anthony Carter was Double Crossed!

(Boulder-CO)...And Chris Paul threw it between his legs first! Seriously, this is the way I described it in the game recap and here is the video evidence to support my description:

"To start the third period, CP3 shook Anthony Carter so bad, numerous times, with consecutive crossovers before flipping a lay-up that Kenyon Martin would have to goaltend that it made me spill my drink. I’m talking about a move that made Carter yo-yo back-and-forth as if Paul was manipulating AC’s movements like a puppet. And like a basketball game puppeteer, Chris Paul played with the Nuggets for the entire rest of the game."


Poor AC, that just isn't fair!

Were the Nuggets Just Kidd-ing?

(Boulder-CO) The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that early rumors concerning the Nuggets being interested in disgruntle point guard Jason Kidd are false. The story is a little convoluted, and may just be a smoke screen, but I still don’t think that landing Jason Kidd is that far off of a fantasy.

All the reports that I have seen have included Nene, Eduardo Najera, and J.R. Smith (at least) in a potential deal and Nene and Najera both have decent size contacts that would offset some of the price of Kidd.

Right now, I think the real question that needs an answer is what is Stan Kroenke’s primary focus with this team because the Nuggets still have the third highest payroll in the league and are still not in the NBA’s elite company. If Kroenke’s primary focus is revenue, then a deal for Kidd would not lead him to immediate financial gain because the Pepsi Center is close to, or is, all but sold out most nights. Filling the Pepsi Center to capacity and selling Jason Kidd merchandise is not going to make up a ten million dollar increase in team payroll alone.

But, if Kroenke is dead set on bringing a championship to this city then that’s a whole different story.

He would indubitably make more than enough in the next couple of years to justify the payroll, especially with a championship (or maybe two), and a move this big is exactly what it would take to make the Nuggets a legitimate contender. Move the aforementioned three, and potentially a draft pick, for Jason Kidd and the Nuggets can be arguably starting the best five of any team in the league. Furthermore, we will have landed the “true” point guard that this team has been lacking for years, while not making the already thin frontline much thinner.

There’s a little joke around Nuggets circles that says, “Everybody knows Eduardo Najera is only six-five” and Steven Hunter could probably fill the void where Eduardo’s impact was felt on the boards (remember he started for a ton of games last year with Philadelphia). In addition, Jason Kidd’s headiness would more than make up for Eduardo’s hustle. Sure, the trading of Nene right now would be cold blooded, but this is a business and Nene is, most likely, going to make a full recovery and Denver still has Von Wafer collecting dust on the end of the bench. J.R. Smith would be a loss because I really do think that he is going to finally get “it” and blossom into a great pro, but the Nuggets timetable is a little bit shorter than J.R.’s case might need.

So, is it going to happen? Probably not. Could it happen? Absolutely, and Stan Kroenke’s true intent with this team is going to be shown crystal clear by the February 21st trade deadline. If he is OK shelling out the kind of dough he is for a team that is maybe a second round surprise in the playoffs, then so be it. But if he is truly dead set on owning a winner, something has to be done and Kidd would certainly be making a huge statement.

Nuggets vs. Grizzlies: Game 45 Preview

(Boulder-CO) I’ll tell you one thing right now, Nuggets Nation. If the Denver Nuggets think that the Grizzlies’ record is indicative of the talent level on this team they have got another thing coming. Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Mike Miller are all very good ball players and should not be slept on. The return of Carmelo tonight would certainly help the Nuggets’ chances, but if Anthony doesn’t play the rest of the Nuggets are going to have to band together to get this win.

With that being said, a loss tonight would be a disaster. It’s one thing to lose to a very talented and red-hot Hornets team sans a superstar, but assuming Carmelo plays tonight, anything but a victory is going to be a real cause for concern. The Nuggets are a better team in every statistical category and a loss tonight would give the Nuggets their worst road losing streak since dropping eight in a row from December 17, 2004 through January 17, 2005. Additionally, the Nuggets have some serious kinks to iron out as they are now 7-13 on the road and have the fewest road victories among any teams with winning records.

Furthermore, Denver is currently in an early, but very tight divisional race and, in the stacked Western Conference, the teams that do not win their divisions are leaving a whole lot to chance concerning their postseason aspirations.

But forget all that for a second and let’s take a look at these Grizzlies.

For starters, Rudy Gay is having an amazing third NBA season by leading this team in scoring and steals at 19.6 points and 1.4 steals per game. He’s getting most of the offensive support from Pau Gasol and Mike Miller who are averaging 18.9 points and 16.7 points per game, respectively. The Grizzlies also have to be pleasantly surprised with the play of rookie guard Juan Carlos Navarro. J.C. is averaging eleven points and two assists in only 13 starts, but from there things start to get a little murky. The Grizzlies have five players averaging more than six points a game which, in turn, tells me they are an inconsistent, young bunch of players that haven’t quite yet learned how to win with any consistency. Which is probably also the main reason why the Grizzlies are a disappointing 13-32 so far this season.

The Nuggets on the other hand are an even stranger animal. So much talent, so many veterans, and so many good things to say about so many individuals, but yet they are still one of the most aggravating and inconsistent teams in the league. Why are they the way they are? The only answer that I can come up with is that while they have some nice pieces to the puzzle there are still so many nagging problems that continue to plague this team. That, and the nagging problems always seem to become distractions and then, unfortunately, they become excuses.

However, there should be no excuses tonight with the Grizzlies. Denver IS the better team, and the Nuggets need to not only prove it to themselves, but also to us, the fans. Teams that should be contended with come late April beat teams like the Grizzlies. Enough said.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 30th, and on this day:

'94- The #32 worn by Kevin McHale for 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics was retired during halftime ceremonies at Boston Garden. McHale, a seven-time NBA All-Star, scored 17,335 points, grabbed 7,122 rebounds and blocked 1,690 shots during his career, playing a key role on Boston teams that won three NBA Championships.

'96- Chicago defeats host Houston 98-87, led by Scottie Pippen’s 28 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Bulls post the 10th perfect month in NBA history (at least 12 games played) with a 14-0 record.

'96- Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers comes out of retirement, helping lead the Lakers to 128-118 victory over Golden State at the Great Western Forum with 19 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. Johnson had last appeared in an NBA game during the 1991 NBA Finals against Chicago.

'02- By scoring 18 points in a 90-78 triumph over Chicago at the Delta Center, Utah’s Karl Malone became the second player in NBA history to register 34,000 career points, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points).

'02- With a 88-71 victory over Atlanta, the Detroit Pistons recorded the 2,000th victory in franchise history. The Pistons became the sixth NBA franchise to reach that milestone, joining the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
Enjoy your day! A preview for tonight's game will be up around noon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

J.R. Smith is Nasty

(Boulder-CO) In last night's disgusting game against the Hornets, J.R. Smith threw down the dunk of this season so far. No wonder they call this young man, "The Prodigy".

Go Nuggets!

Northwest Division Update

(Boulder-CO) In last night's game recap I stated that the Nuggets, Trailblazers, and Jazz were all in a three-way tie for first place in the Northwest Division. And at the time, that was true. But, unfortunately the Jazz were able to win late last night (mind boggling, I know) and by doing so took control of the division. I just thought I would make that blatantly obvious to everyone and add some urgency to a situation that could have the Nuggets as low as third on the totem pole by the end of this week.
Time to vent, Nuggets Nation. Come together in the comments section.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 29th, and on this day:

'71- Hal Greer of the Philadelphia 76ers became the sixth player in NBA history at the time to score 20,000 points as the Sixers lost to Milwaukee 142-118.

'80- Norm Nixon played a then NBA record 64 minutes for Los Angeles as the Lakers dropped a 154-153 four-overtime decision to Cleveland. This record was matched by Sleepy Floyd of Golden State seven years later and broken by Dale Ellis of Seattle, who played 69 minutes in a five-overtime game at Milwaukee on Nov. 9, 1989.

'84- The NBA’s first All-Star Saturday took place in Denver at McNichols Arena. The inaugural Schick Legends Classic was won by the West, 64-63. The first Nestle Crunch Slam-Dunk winner was Larry Nance, who used a two-ball windmill dunk to beat favorites Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins.

'88- The Detroit Pistons drew a then NBA regular season record crowd of 61,983 fans to the Pontiac Silverdome, and the fans went home happy after watching the Pistons down Boston 125-108. The Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, and the Atlanta Hawks broke the attendance record by drawing 62,046 fans to the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.

'00- Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz became the third player in NBA history to score 30,000 career points, as he finishes with 35 in a 96-94 loss to Minnesota at Target Center. Malone’s historic basket came when he made a layup with 8:53 left in the third quarter, and thus took his place in NBA annals alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 career points) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
Enjoy your day!

There is No Kidding about Kidd Rumor

(Boulder-CO) The Nuggets are in desperate need of a point guard that can take them farther than Anthony Carter or Chucky Atkins can, and the latest rumor has the Nuggets looking at Jason Kidd.

No word as to who would be involved in a potential deal, but owner Stan Kroenke would have to shell out some major salary cap penalty dollars to acquire the Eastern Conference’s premier point guard. Furthermore, let me state that I would wholesale anyone other than AI, Carmelo, or Camby to get him.

My feelings at this point in the season are all for it. I mean, why spend all the money Kroenke already has on the books for a team that isn’t going to amount to hill of beans come playoff time when spending say, another $18 million, might take this franchise to the promise land? Make already ridiculously priced merchandise and fan fare even more expensive and charge J-Kidd’s salary to the game!

The move would address Denver’s long outstanding need for a bonafide point guard and perhaps put this team into elite company. Which, BTW, is so far away from where they are right now it’s scary seeing how the Nuggets already have the NBA’s third highest payroll!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hornets Leave the Stinger in Nuggets

(AP Photo/Bill Haber)

(Boulder-CO) Tonight’s, 117-93, loss made me realize the Denver Nuggets are at a crossroads. This season can go two different directions at this precise juncture. Veer one way and the Nuggets have all the excuses they need to slide out of the playoff picture. Veer another and they could choose to make this year a springboard for bigger and better things to come in the future. Either way, the Hornets proved to me that they are indeed, “For real” by trouncing the Nuggets right from the word go.

In the first half, Denver was absolutely exploited by the crisper New Orleans Hornets. Chris Paul was slicing the Nuggets interior defense to ribbons and finished the first half with eight points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Tyson Chandler was hanging all over the rim at nausea while grabbing ten rebounds, scoring eight points, and dishing out three assists. The Hornets tallied 17 assists on their 25 made baskets and badly embarrassed the Nuggets in rebounding 29-15.

In addition to the abysmal defensive effort the Nuggets put forth, they were once again sans Carmelo Anthony and looked befuddled on offense in the first half. Denver’s starters only managed to collectively score 31 points of which Kenyon Martin scored a team-high 16 of with Allen Iverson adding eleven. Marcus Camby didn’t score and only grabbed two rebounds (Seriously, only two boards are you kidding me?) with the other two Denver starters, LK and AC, combining for only four points.

Needless to say, the entire first half was a nightmare for the Denver Nuggets. New Orleans was ahead by 23 points, 63-40, and I could tell the Nuggets were just going to mail the second half in. It’s not a feeling that I like, but after listening to the first quarter on the way home from dinner and watching the entire second quarter once I arrived home. I knew why I was feeling queasy, and it wasn’t the Mongolian beef.

To start the third period, CP3 shook Anthony Carter so bad, numerous times, with consecutive crossovers before flipping a lay-up that Kenyon Martin would have to goaltend that it made me spill my drink. I’m talking about a move that made Carter yo-yo back-and-forth as if Paul was manipulating AC’s movements like a puppet. And like a basketball game puppeteer, Chris Paul played with the Nuggets for the entire rest of the game.

CP3 slid through the Denver zone defense like a breeze on a beach while setting up himself and his teammates for just about any shot they wanted. Even on plays when he screwed up, like the occasion he went up to dunk the ball off of a steal with some indecision and lost possession, he still managed to make the play by stealing the ball back from Kenyon Martin and diming Melvin Ely for an easy deuce. Honestly, CP3 was a treat to watch even if he was making the Nuggets look terrible by doing it.

In lieu of admitting that I have a full-blown man crush on Chris Paul, the guy literally single-handedly dismantled the Nuggets with a near triple-double stat line that reads 23 points, 17 assists, nine rebounds, two steals, and a block. And when you have a guy pass out that many assists it only means that the rest of his team got in on the scoring smorgasbord too. Paul and five other players scored in double figures thus leaving the rest of this game’s hideous Nuggets box score right here.

This loss now puts Denver, Portland, and Utah into a ménage à trois for first place in the Northwest Division. And to make things even more interesting, the Nuggets have two very winnable games against the Memphis Grizzlies and the Charlotte Bobcats up next before having to travel up to Portland to face the Trailblazers in a game that gives the victor a two-game swing in the divisional standings. The Nuggets could sure use these next two games to turn into wins before squaring off with the Trailblazers, so it is going to be imperative that Denver shakes off this pitiful effort before getting ready to take care of the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

It’s just a loss, Denver. Shake it off and get back on the horse.

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 28th, and on this day:

'75- The ABA’s eighth All-Star Game was held in San Antonio. The East squad beat the West squad 151-124. Freddie Lewis was named MVP. He had 26 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. The game featured future NBA stars Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel, and Moses Malone.

'80- New York Coach Red Holzman won his 600th game, only the second (after Red Auerbach) coach at the time to reach that plateau, as the Knicks defeated Golden State 107-103.

'85- Bill Fitch became the sixth coach in NBA history to post 600 wins as the Houston Rockets beat New Jersey 97-93.

'88- Michael Adams of Denver began a record streak of 79 consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal. The streak, which stretched over two seasons, lasted from '88 against Milwaukee through January 23, 1989 against Indiana. Dana Barros bested the streak by hitting 89 consecutive during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

'98- Indiana's Reggie Miller had one steal in an 85-84 win over Washington to give him 1,000 for his career.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nuggets vs. Hornets: Game 44 Preview

(Boulder-CO) Instead of the usual preview chalked full of stats and analysis, I have been interrogated by Ryan Schwan of www.hornets247.com on the finer points of Nuggetdom and have inquired deep into his vast knowledge about this surprising New Orleans Hornets team. You guys know the drill. I let you in on what questions Ryan wanted me to answer, but you will have to go over to www.hornets247.com to get my answers while getting to read my questions for him and his answers right here on The Nugg Doctor.

Nuggets Nation, meet Ryan Schwan from www.hornets247.com! Here are the burning questions Ryan needed some answers to:

RS: Carmelo and AI are on the cover of the new SLAM, and they're both smiling. That's good, but last year I noticed the Nuggets didn't run plays that involved both players very often. Their offensive sets appeared to be dumping the ball to Anthony in the post or giving Iverson a high screen from Camby and letting him create. Are they working together better this year?

RS: The Nuggets always seem to be struggling with injuries to their frontcourt, but whose recovery would mean more to the Nuggets: Kenyon Martin or Nene? Do you think they'll ever be reliable?

RS: This is former Hornet JR Smith's fourth season in the League and he's still making headlines for the wrong reasons. Are Nuggets fans holding out for him to reach his 'potential', or are they sick of him yet?

RS: The Western Conference is tight at the top and for once it looks like the seeding could shake out entirely different than it has the past few years. What teams do the Nuggets match up well against and would you like to see in the playoffs? Who do you want to avoid?

Head over to Ron Hitley and Ryans' place for my answers.

Now here are the questions I had for Ryan:

ND: CP3: Gush for me, please! Chris Paul is my favorite player in the league not on the Nuggets and you get to watch him every night. How lucky are the Hornets to have quite possibly the best young point guard to come out of college in the last ten years?
RS: I'll put it this way. Those polls about who would you rather build your team around - LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, or Kobe? Screw them, I want CP3. Here's a wonderful anecdote from the Spurs game the Hornets just had. In the third quarter, the Spurs shifted Bruce Bowen to Chris Paul in an attempt to slow him down. It makes sense - his defense on Steve Nash in the playoffs last year was an under-rated part of the Spurs dominance in that series. Bruce would pull, bump, swat, smack, hump and smother Nash any chance he got. Sometimes he looked like a dog in heat having his way with someone's leg. Nash complained to the refs - but it really got him nowhere, and you could tell Bruce did bother his game. Well, Bowen tried doing it to Paul. Twice Paul complained to the ref, shouting so loudly you could hear him over the crowd. The refs? They swallowed their whistles. Paul got that look on his face. Next time down the court, CP3 dribbled right to Bowen and turned his back. When Bruce started humping and smacking at him, Paul lashed out with his off hand, 'swatting' at Bruce's arm. But the replays show it pretty clearly, he wasn't going for the arm, he was going for Bruce, and Bowen almost fell over in surprise at taking one in the jaw. Paul got an offensive foul. Bowen didn't harass him so closely anymore, and the blitz was on.

ND: Tyson Chandler is averaging 12.2 points and 12.3 rebounds, but only one block per game. Isn't he supposed to be a defensive center? Support or abandon your big man.
RS: Blocking shots isn't the only way to play defense. Tyson doesn't come from the weak side and send shots into the front row because he's always given the other teams best-scoring big man and left to play him straight up. Instead of focusing on shot-blocking, he moves his feet, stays in front of the guy, and bothers his shot. It's very effective. This season he's enabled our team to face Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Boozer and Chris Kaman - and we never have to double unless we want to surprise the guy and throw him off. The league's premier post scorers, and we didn't have to double because he could already make their shots tough. That's priceless - and part of the reason our 3-point defense is top 5 and that we give our opponents fewer free throws than any other team.

ND: Who's offensive consistency would be more important to this team's success in the post season, Peja Stojakovic or Morris Peterson?
RS: Peja Stojakovic. Peja is our primary deep threat, and our third offensive option behind David West and Chris Paul. Our team has never lost a game when Peja was hitting shots at a reasonable rate. Morris Peterson is our fifth offensive option and though his shooting is helpful, his defense is much more important to the success our team. I'll also take the time here to point out that Peja's demise as a good NBA player has been greatly exaggerated. If he was the primary or secondary offensive weapon of a team, he'd still be getting 20+. How many teams can say that about their third option?

ND: The Hornets currently have the best record in the Western Conference. Will they be able to sustain this level of play all the way to the playoffs or will they fall off? Basically, I want to know if you think this team is for real and why.
RS: My first inclination was to say no - they won't continue it. The schedule for February and March is very ugly for the Hornets. Then I take into consideration what they've been doing this month, and I feel really good about them. They've played six really good teams, and beaten five of them by an average margin of 15 points. Even if those margins get split in half in February and March, that still makes them dominant. As for seeding, the Spurs have never been that concerned about getting the top seed, and Dallas is less focused on the regular season than they were last year. I wouldn't at all be surprised if the Hornets won the Southwest and got a top 3 seed out of it.

Tonight's game should be a good one. A big thanks to Ryan for taking the time to shoot knowledge back and forth with the Nuggets Nation

Go Nuggets!

Outlasted in Dallas

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(Boulder-CO) Even without Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets showed the Dallas Mavericks that they really aren’t anything special. And despite spinning their wheels early, the Nuggets were right with the Mavericks down the stretch as Anthony Carter and Dirk Nowitzki matched each other trey for trey with Dirk having the last laugh. The Nuggets lose, 90-85, and extend their road losing streak to five games, but there were a lot of good things that can be taken from this game and built upon in preparation for the looming postseason.

Denver came out in the first quarter and was really out of synch. The Nuggets only mustered 15 points in the first quarter and 19 in the second while shooting a dreadful 32% from the field. Starters Linas Kleiza and Anthony Carter were a combined 0-8 and the Nuggets finished the half with Allen Iverson as their high scorer with only nine points.

On the other side of the ball, the Dallas Mavericks were getting all the breaks, and the offensive boards. There must have been at least five times that the Mavericks were the beneficiaries of random plays swinging in their favor and they were doing a solid job keeping the Nuggets on defense by eating up the clock with second chance opportunities. The Mavericks grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the first half alone in what would be the most detrimental trend of the rest of the game. As for the defensive rebounding machine, Marcus Camby… he finished the half with only six boards while DeSagana Diop and Dirk grabbed nine and eight boards, respectively.

At the break, the Nuggets were down by eleven, 45-34, but honestly couldn’t really play much worse.

Denver regrouped and showed some fire on defense in the third period by holding the Mavs to only 15 points. The Nuggets’ guards got things cooking offensively, even though as a team they only managed to score 20 points total in the quarter, with Allen Iverson scoring ten and Anthony Carter coming up with another six. And although the game was still really slow and discombobulated, Denver was still in the thick of things and in a great position to perhaps become the first team in the league to beat the Mavericks twice this season at home.

Fast forward now to the five minute mark and the Nuggets had only scored eight points by way of a J.R. Smith three, Eduardo Najera bombing another long ball, and Allen Iverson hitting a couple of free-throws while the Mavericks had extended their lead to ten points, 72-62. Things were grinding to a halt for the Nuggets with the ball movement getting slower and slower, a couple of bad shots being hoisted, and Denver becoming visibly more frustrated with a couple of no-calls before Anthony Carter felt the hot shooting hand. AC scored the next eleven consecutive points (including three straight threes) and 14 of the last 23 points that were to be scored for the Nuggets, but unfortunately Dallas had a counter punch. Dirk Nowitzki would answer Carter’s long range barrage with a couple threes of his own, and managed to score 14 of the Dallas Mavericks’ last 16 points which included the final four game-sealing free-throws.

The Nuggets had given the Mavericks a little bit of a scare down the stretch, but in the end all the loose balls, offensive rebounds, and second chance points were too much for the shorthanded Nuggets to overcome. Denver had fought hard, but were outlasted by, at least tonight, the better team.

Allen Iverson led all Nugget scorers with 23 points, nine assists, and three steals, and his starting backcourt running mate Anthony Carter finished with 20 points, five assists, and five rebounds. Marcus Camby grabbed 12 rebounds and swatted three shots, but only scored eight points as the Nuggets collectively struggled offensively.

The good things that can be taken from tonight’s game are numerous (Denver didn’t give up, they played stingy defense in stretches, and they shot the ball well from downtown), but the one that I’m going to praise the most is Denver’s effort to lockdown the defensive glass in the second half. After a lousy rebounding effort that fruited the Mavericks eight offensive boards in the first half. The Nuggets shut off the valve and finished only allowing eleven offensive boards in total to the Mavericks. And had Denver shot the better than 19-27 from the free-throw line, who knows, the Nuggets might have actually won their third straight game without Carmelo. But the Nuggets need to learn quickly from this game and file away the positives for the upcoming postseason because they fly right into the nest of the Western Conference’s best team, record wise, tomorrow night with the Hornets of New Orleans.

Be ready for a showcase of a couple of the NBA’s two best guards tomorrow night, Nuggets Nation. CP3 and AI are becoming a marquee match-up.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 27th, and on this day:
'82- Geoff Huston of Cleveland handed out a club record 27 assists in a 110-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors. At the time, it was the fourth-highest assist total in NBA history.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets vs. Mavericks: Game 43 Preview

(Boulder-CO) Today’s match-up with the Dallas Mavericks should be a good measuring stick as to how the Nuggets stack up with the elite teams in the Western Conference. Denver handed Dallas a loss in their first match-up, but since then the Mavericks have streaked out to a 29-13 record and a second place position behind the Hornets in their division. And the game is at 4:30 MST, so what else could you want? It’s the perfect way to spend the Sunday before Super Bowl Sunday.

Plus, I think ‘Melo is going to play today even though The Denver Post is trying to smoke screen us. He loves big games like this and if he is probable tomorrow, he'll probably play today.

I’m not going to bore you with a long and overly analytical preview today because both teams have star-studded rosters with very capable players. For Dallas, everyone knows it’s Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Dirk Nowitzki. For the Nuggets, it's AI, ‘Melo, and The Captain. But, of all the different ways to look at this game I think there is one major and decisive component: Turnovers.

The Mavericks are the fifth best in the league at taking care of the ball and only turn it over an average of 12.3 times per game. The Nuggets are one of the worst at turning it over themselves (25th in the league at 15.3 tpg), but are also one of the best teams in the league at forcing them with the NBA’s 2nd best forced TO average of 16.3 a night. In tonight’s game, if the Nuggets are going to win, I would bet it’s by making Dallas turn it over far more than their average (which will drive the “Little General” crazy). How much they turn it over will also be critical, but I really do think that if the Nuggets force a lot of Maverick turnovers then Dallas will buckle and give the Nuggets their third straight win.
GAMETIME UPDATE:
Carmelo can not go. He tested out the ankle before the game and did not like what he felt.

Go Nuggets!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Birdman Sighting!

(Boulder-CO) "The Birdman" Chris Andersen was at the Nuggets vs. Nets game last night and is rumored to be attempting a comeback with the still interested New Orleans Hornets. If Andersen's application for reinstatement is approved, the Hornets would have 30 days to act before Birdman becomes an unrestricted free agent that could sign with any team.
Could the Nuggets be interested in the Birdman again? Is that why he was at the Pepsi Center? It could make sense to sign him to a ten-day contract and see how things go. Nene is not going to be ready for awhile and Steven Hunter has not had any positive impact for the Nuggets as of yet. Hey, if you ask me, I'm all for it! I love the Birdman just as long as he doesn't enter the dunk contest again...
Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 26th, and on this day:

'73- George Gervin made his debut for the Virginia Squires of the ABA against Utah. The Stars won 127-121.

'80- The Cleveland Cavaliers lost at home to Indiana 115-114, but had cause to celebrate as Austin Carr became the franchise’s first 10,000-point scorer.

'90- Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Lenny Wilkens won his 700th career game, 85-84 over Minnesota.
'91- Houston guard Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell became the fifth player in NBA history to score 30 points in a quarter, joining Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson, George Gervin and Michael Jordan. Maxwell, who finished with 51 points, hit for 30 in the final quarter of the Rockets’ 103-97 home win over Cleveland. Gervin holds the NBA record for scoring the most points in a quarter (33) in San Antonio’s 153-132 loss to New Orleans on Apr. 9, 1978.
'93- New Jersey’s Chuck Daly became the 15th coach in NBA history to register 500 career victories, after the Nets defeated the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 106-91.

'95- With a record 6,254,427 ballots cast by fans in the Foot Locker NBA All-Star Voting program, Detroit’s Grant Hill became the first rookie to ever lead all NBA players in All-Star votes received, earning the nod on 1,289,585 ballots.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets Hand Nets Eighth Straight Loss

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets once again received three 20+ efforts and were able to hand the New Jersey Nets their eighth-straight loss while winning their seventh-straight home game, 100-85. The Nuggets played a combination of stingy defense and consistent offense to subdue the Nets by keeping them two steps behind for the entire game.

In the first half, the Nuggets and the Nets were both struggling offensively and were shooting the exact same lousy percentage from the field. However, the Nuggets were in cruise control at halftime by means of a 16-point lead due to getting to the free-throw line far more frequently and making more of their attempts. In fact, it was the only statistical shooting difference in the first numbing 24 minutes.

I digress, only because the Nuggets were winning, and will fast forward through one of the worst defensive third quarters I think the Nuggets have played maybe all year. After holding the Nets to a mere 31 points in the entire first half, the Nuggets returned from halftime lethargic and surrendered a 36-point third quarter to New Jersey. And to truly illustrate how bad of a defensive collapse it was, Denver was ahead by 22 points with less than five minute remaining in the third before flat lining while New Jersey went on a 22-6 run entering the fourth quarter.

Now we had a ball game. Or at least I thought.

The Nuggets snapped out their funk like a prize fighter wakes up from smelling salts and gave the Nets a knockout punch in the form of a 4:51 long, 12-0 run to get things started. At this point, the Nuggets were up 18 and the closest the New Jersey Nets could get was trimming Denver’s lead to five with 3:46 remaining before going scoreless for the rest of the game as the Nuggets closed things out with a another 10-0 run.

Excluding the final five minutes of the third quarter, this game was well managed by the Nuggets. They shared the ball, did exactly what I said to do in transition on the slower Nets, used great defensive pressure (15 steals), and didn’t turn the ball over much (just eight TO's). Allen Iverson led all scorers with 30 points, five assists, three steals, two rebounds, and only one turnover. And, for the second straight game without Carmelo, the Nuggets received two other twenty-point efforts by, guess who, Linas Kleiza and Kenyon Martin. Linas has picked a great time of the year to step up for the injury plagued Nuggets and chipped in his fourth 20-plus point performance in the last five games with 23 points, eleven rebounds, two steals, two assists, and a block in his second straight start. Similarly, Kenyon Martin made his second straight start since returning from a staph infection and gave the Nuggets his second straight 20-point performance in addition to seven rebounds, two blocks, and a steal.

The other two great efforts that have to be mentioned came from Eduardo Najera and Anthony Carter. “The Grout” finished tonight’s game with twelve points, nine rebounds, and a team-high five steals in 21 minutes of play. Altitude Sports and Entertainment also brought it to my attention that Eduardo has currently played the 3rd most minutes played by any player in the NBA coming off the bench. His starting teammate, Anthony Carter, also had another yeoman performance by quietly dishing out a team-high nine assists while not turning the ball over a single time, grabbing five boards, and scoring four points in 39 minutes at the helm.

And then there is Marcus Camby. To be quite honest with you, I know the All-Star game is in New Orleans. And I know that the Hornets' Tyson Chandler or Amare Stoudemire will probably get the nod over “The Captain”, but Marcus is truly having a better season up to this point than both and deserves to be named an All-Star. About the only knock anyone can put on Camby is his inconsistent scoring, but on a team with so much offensive firepower that shouldn’t be a deciding factor when evaluating his first half of the season overall. Tonight, Camby grabbed 14 rebounds, swatted four shots, and scored six points in just another quiet but pivotal role. Plus, Marcus eclipsed the 1000th block milestone with the Nuggets on his second of the aforementioned four rejections.

The Nugget are now 1 ½ games ahead of the Portland Trailblazers for first place in the Northwest Division with two fewer losses. Remember, Nuggets Nation, the loss column is what you want to keep an eye on in what is shaping up to be a pretty tight playoff race because wins can be made up, but once you lose, the number of losses can’t be changed.

Go Nuggets!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 25th, and on this day:

'60- Wilt Chamberlain scored 58 points, the most ever by an NBA rookie, as Philadelphia beat Detroit 127-117 at Bethlehem, PA. Chamberlain tied his record less than a month later.

'86- Manute Bol of the Washington Bullets blocked 15 shots in a 111-103 win over Atlanta. His total is tied for second (Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal had 15 rejections at New Jersey on November 20, 1993), behind the NBA record of 17 blocks by the Lakers’ Elmore Smith on October 28, 1973.

'88- Jazz guard Rickey Green scored the NBA’s 5,000,000th point on a 24-foot three-pointer as the buzzer sounded ending the third quarter of Utah’s 119-96 victory over Cleveland.

'96- In the closest NBA All-Star balloting returns since 1977, Grant Hill of Detroit edges Chicago’s Michael Jordan 1,358,004 votes to 1,341,422, out of more than 6.4 million ballots cast. Hill leads all vote-getters for the second straight year.

'98- Michael Jordan led all players in votes received for a record ninth time in his career and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant becomes the youngest starter in NBA All-Star Game history after the final returns in the 1998 McDonald's NBA All-Star voting program.

'99- Former NBA referee Sid Borgia passed away.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets vs. Nets: Game 42 Preview

(Boulder-CO) Sorry about being tardy, everybody. That midseason review was a dozy yesterday and duty called this morning. But without further delay: Tonight, the Nuggets host a very dangerous Nets team that is pushed back into a corner. New Jersey has lost a season-high seven straight games including a back and forth struggle last night in Oakland at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Now, they may be tired, weary, and a little bit on edge after playing last night and having to travel, but that is exactly what scares me about this team. That and the facts that they are a very capable road team at 9-10 overall this season and the Nuggets are prone to taking nights off.

Carmelo is listed as doubtful in the team’s media notes, but on ESPN the Nuggets are hopeful to have him in action. I personally have heard from sources that he is a game-time decision and that the decision is right now 50/50. ‘Melo may not start and see how the game goes. If his teammates are handling the job, don’t expect Anthony to play. If it appears that Denver is going to struggle, don’t be surprised if he gets up and takes off the sweats.

If he plays, fine. If not, the rest of the Nuggets need to be prepared to once again pick up his slack. Offensively, the Nuggets’ best bet is going to be to move the ball up and down the floor with quick passing. I say this because the Nets are not known for getting up and down the floor with much speed and I think Allen Iverson and Anthony Carter can push the ball on Jason Kidd and probably hit guys like Linas Kleiza and J.R. Smith for easy transition buckets. On defense, the Nuggets are going to have to be aware of where Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson are at all times because both men can shoot the trey while trying to keep Jason Kidd from recording his 11th triple double of the season. In addition, the Nuggets are currently better than the Nets across the statistical board and this is another one of those games that Denver should win.

Will they? You make the call. Lately I’ve been a jinx, so leave your prediction in the comments section.

Go Nuggets!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Iverson and Anthony to Start All-Star Game

(Boulder-CO) With a late surge in the voting, Allen Iverson will accompany teammate Carmelo Anthony as a starter on the Western Conference’s All-Star Team this year, reports ESPN. Way to do work, Nuggets Nation! This is big. Now all we need is the tri-fecta with Marcus Camby being selected by the coaches and this will be an All-Star Game to truly remember for Denver.

Go Nuggets!

Denver Nuggets Midseason Player Reviews

(Boulder-CO) This article’s title should be self-explanatory. I’m simply going breakdown every Nuggets’ individual performance in the first 41 games of the season and then wrap things up by evaluating Coach George Karl and the team as a whole. Ready?

Carmelo Anthony- A minor slip in scoring average from last year isn’t enough to stop me from saying this has been ‘Melo’s best season yet. At the mid-way point, ‘Melo is averaging 25.5 ppg (2nd highest on the team and 4th overall in the NBA), a career-high seven rebounds, and 3.4 assists. ‘Melo has led the Nuggets in scoring 17 times this season, but the most exciting aspect of his improvement has been in his defense. And while I still think there is room to improve, his desire to play better defense is visibly noticeable and it has been a key factor in his rebounding progression. Already this season Carmelo has recorded eleven double-doubles including four-consecutive double-doubles from December 20th through the 26th to mark the first time in his career with a double-double in four-straight games. Anthony played in 40 of 41 games in the first half of the season only missing the 41st game against the Atlanta Hawks due to a sprained ankle suffered in the second quarter of the previous game against the Lakers.

His season-highs so far are 37 points and 16 rebounds in the same game against the Houston Rockets. ‘Melo dished out a season-high assists rebounds against the Knicks and recorded a season-high of four steals in a game against the Lakers.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Carmelo, now a two-time All-Star, a 9.

Chucky Atkins- Oh Chucky, what is there to say? I think I speak for the entire Nuggets Nation when I say you are a disappointment. Not necessarily in your play, but rather in your inability to do so. A preseason groin strain has snowballed into a full-blown sports hernia and your return is not expected until the early part of March; when you might not even be needed. And since all your injury problems have occurred your presumed starting spot has been nicely occupied by the more defensive minded Anthony Carter.

On the Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Chucky an “INC” for incomplete. There just hasn’t been enough Chucky Atkins footage to evaluate for me to actually assign him a numerical value. It’s a shame too, because I did really think that Atkins’ abilities could have been a big asset to this team.

Marcus Camby- Ah, “The Captain”. Marcus Camby may or may not be named an All-Star this season (even though his efforts and numbers warrant it), but the Camby-man has had his best mini-season of his long career in these first 41 games. Marcus is averaging career-highs in both rebounding (14.5 per game and second in the NBA) and blocked shots (3.9 per game and tops in the NBA) while flirting with a double-digit scoring average of 9.5 points. But what is more than the numbers might indicate is how much Camby’s presence dictates the Nuggets overall effort of the defensive end. When Marcus is in the game, the Nuggets are a completely different team in comparison to when he sits on the bench. He single handedly wills a team that would probably be content with just trying to outscore their opponent every night to play with the same kind of inspiration on the defensive end of the floor.

Marcus Camby’s season-high of 20 points came in his seventh career 20/20 game (first this season, fifth as a Nugget) with 23 rebounds at Charlotte on November 14th, 2007. He grabbed a career-high tying 24 boards and swatted a career-high tying eleven shots against the against the Jazz, and dished out another career-high nine assists against the Trailblazers. “The Captain” also registered his third career triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocked shots and five assists in 30 minutes vs. Milwaukee on the day after Christmas.

Other things you should know about Marcus Camby are he has grabbed 10 or more rebounds 34 times while also grabbing 20 or more rebounds nine times. He’s also recorded ten double-doubles, the aforementioned triple-double, and has swatted more than 10 shots on two different occasions.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Marcus Camby an 8.5, but if he can somehow find a way to finish the rest of the season averaging a double-double that score could eventually rise. Plus, at this rate, he is easily going to run away with his second Defensive Player of the Year award!

Anthony Carter- What a pleasant surprise this veteran point guard has been! With the debilitating injury to Chucky Atins, AC has proven that he can shoulder quite a load as the Nuggets starting point guard. A starter in the last 26 straight games, Anthony Carter is averaging career-highs in this long list of statistical categories: Minutes played (29.7), points (7.7), assists (6.4), rebounds (3.0), and steals (1.4). And along with Marcus Camby, he has been having a career year and is doing so by recording this lengthy list of career-high tying performances: He scored 21 points against the Magic, dished out 15 dimes against the Sixers, and grabbed eight rebounds against the Pacers on November 27th (sorry about there not being a link for this game due to my first encounter with cluster headaches).

All in all, for a guy who is only making $770,610 for his services this season I think it is safe to say that AC is a lifesaver. Without him where would the Nuggets be?

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Anthony Carter a 6.5. There is still a lot of room to improve for Anthony Carter, but I have liked almost everything he has shown the Nuggets Nation so far!


Yakhouba Diawara- After starting a handful of games early in the season, the Yak has been somewhere in between lost and found. Sometimes George Karl finds him for specific assignments while others he’s lost at the end of the bench somewhere with Von Wafer and Steven Hunter. ‘Khouba has been a starter in 14 games while seeing action in 30 of the first 41. He is averaging three points, 1.2 rebounds, and less than one assist, but if there is a bright side to Diawara’s game it has been in his improved three-point shooting. The Yak was only making 28% of his long range attempts in the 2006-07 campaign, but has upped his average to 35% this season.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Yakhouba Diawara a 5. Not bad, not great. Just a Yakhouba in the world trying to earn some burn. What else can we expect?

Steven Hunter- Where ya been, Steve-O? This Nuggets team has had more injuries than an all-night emergency room, but yet your presence has only been seen in a team-low five games. Granted, you missed 25 straight games with knee surgery and the recovery has been tough I’m sure. But, George Karl has still had you available lately and the only thing that gets written in your box score is DNP-CD. Steven Hunter is averaging .6 of a point, grabbing 1.2 rebounds, and 1/5th of a blocked shot.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Steven Hunter a 1. What do you want from me? He gets a one for being on the team.

Allen Iverson- The Answer, quite simply, is having a MVP season. A lot of big names out there aren’t really talking about AI as one, but trust me, he is and his numbers will prove it. “Bubba Chuck” Ranks third in the NBA in scoring (27.0), first in minutes (41.7), 11th in assists (6.9) and sixth in steals (2.07). He exploded for a season-high 51 points against the Lakers, but hasn’t beaten his season-highs of 14 assists and seven steals since opening night against the Sonics.

Furthermore, The Nuggets are 18-1 all-time when he posts a double-double, with the lone loss coming in his first game as a Nugget (having won 18-straight since) and he has moved into 21st on the NBA All-Time scoring list past both Larry Bird and Gary Payton at Atlanta on January 15th with a grand total as of right now of 21,932 career points.

Are you starting to believe?

In case you’re not, there’s more…

AI was named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from 11/12-11/18 for averaging 26.7 ppg on .558 (29-52) shooting from the field to go along with 6.3 apg, 2.0 rpg and 1.00 spg while leading the Nuggets to a 3-0 record. Iverson then played a career-high 57 minutes vs. Houston on 12/20 which was also the most minutes played by any Nuggets player since the franchise joined the NBA in 1976. Amazingly, in the first 41 games, he was once again named Western Conference Player of the Week for 22nd time in his career and second as a Nugget for games played from 12/31-1/6 averaging 33.3 ppg on .531 (34-64) FG shooting in an exhausting 43.6 mpg while leading the Nuggets to a 3-0 record. He even rallied his way to a starting nod for the Western Conference in this year‘s All-Star Game.

Now if that isn’t a first 41 games of a season worth of a MVP candidate, then evidently, I don‘t know what one is!

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Allen Iverson a 9.5. Bravo!

Linas Kleiza- The “L Train” has had quite the breakout in these first 41, indeed. We should start by acknowledging the fact that he made the game-winning 22-foot turnaround jumper as time expired at Sacramento on 12/23 in what has been a magical little run since Christmas. LK continued to show that he was a consistent contributor throughout the start of the new year before he poured in a career-high 41 points to go along with a season-high-tying nine rebounds (3rd time) in a career-high 42 minutes vs. Utah in front of a home crowd on 1/17.

Now Kleiza is averaging 11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists and is consistently being the first man off the bench for George Karl.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Linas Kleiza a 7.25. He’s shown us just how talented his is. The only question now is how consistent his game gets.

Kenyon Martin- So far, K-Mart has proven to me that he is a warrior. For a guy to still be able to do what he does after double microfracture surgery is utterly amazing. He most recently just notched his third double-double of the season (second-straight, 31st as a Nugget, 95th of his career) with a season-high-tying 20 points (3rd time), 10 rebounds and two blocks in a season high-tying 38 minutes (3rd time) vs. Atlanta on 1/23. Martin is averaging 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.35 steals, and 1.45 blocks per game, and has played, and started, 31 games so far.

And the scariest thing for the opposition in the second half of the season is I have a blue-light special feeling about Kenyon’s progression down the stretch.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Kenyon Martin a 7.

Eduardo Najera- “The Grout” is having another grout-like season. Eduardo Najera may not always be in the box score with impressive efforts, but he is always giving one. Najera plays hurt, does the little things like take charges and dives on floors, and always manages to give the Nuggets a spark. Eduardo is averaging 5.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists, but his energy and professionalism are invaluable.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Eduardo Najera a 6.5.

Nene- The only thing Nene needs to concentrate on is his health. Early this season he injured tendons in his thumb that required surgery and put him on the IR for six weeks. And most recently a testicular tumor was removed and gave the Nuggets Nation quite a scare. Nene was averaging 5.9 points and 6.2 rebounds. He is now on an indefinite leave from the team while he recovers.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Nene an “INC”. Get well, Big Brazil.

J.R. Smith- Did you know that J.R. Smith’s nickname is “The Prodigy”? A fitting name for a young player with upside the size of Mt. Rushmore and a lot to learn. Smith is averaging 9.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, but still manages to leave the crowd oohing and ahhhing at least once a game. He also still manages to give George Karl fits sometimes, but I think both men are moving forward in a positive direction.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give J.R. Smith a 7.25.

Von Wafer- Where you been, buddy? I hyped ‘Nilla pretty hard and kind of feel foolish now for over-estimating his impact this year. Von has only played in 18 games so far this season and is averaging 1.2 points and not much else.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give Von Wafer a 2. Better than Steven Hunter, but not by much.

Coach George Karl- I had my issues with the way George Karl was running this team early in the season, but all things considered, he is doing a fine job. All the injuries have made his life tough, and it’s not like he doesn’t have some gigantic egos to manage on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, when you consider all this team has gone through already, George has the boys in first place in the division at 25-16 and only getting stronger.

On The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give George a 7.75. He hasn’t micromanaged this team to death, but has also kept a pretty tight ship for the most part.

Overall, on The Nugg Doctor scale of 1-10, I give the Nuggets (like their coach) a 7.75. What, you’re expecting a long, drawn-out, link filled analysis of this whole team as a whole? I think I just did that, now didn’t I?

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 24th, and on this day:

'56- With the West defeating the East 108-94 in the sixth All-Star Game in Rochester, Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks captured the first of his NBA record four All-Star Game MVP awards, leading his team with 20 points and 24 rebounds.

'85- NBA players announced plans to aid famine victims in Ethiopia by donating their winners’ and losers’ shares from the 1985 All-Star Game. The NBA matched this sum to bring the donation to more than $100,000.

'90- The Los Angeles Lakers’ Pat Riley became the 13th coach to reach the 500-victory plateau, getting there faster than any coach as the Lakers downed the Pacers 120-111. At 500-184 Riley surpassed Don Nelson, who was 500-317 when he reached that milestone.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nuggets Clip the Wings of Atlanta

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(Boulder-CO) The Denver Nuggets grounded the Atlanta Hawks at the Pepsi Center, 107-100, by putting together a well-rounded effort. Carmelo Anthony did not suit, but with three Nuggets scoring 20+, including two double-doubles, there was sense of cohesion tonight that I haven’t felt in a lot of games in the first half of the season.

The Nuggets gave an all-around tremendous effort in the first half with a lot of mentionable notes. For starters, all eight Nuggets that played, scored. AI led the Nuggets in scoring with twelve points, Anthony Carter led all Nuggets in assists with six, Marcus Camby was dominating the boards like a supped up machine with 15 rebounds, and everyone deserves kudos for a stingy defensive effort. Denver held the Hawks to a mere 27% from the field and allowed only 42 points while scoring 52 points on 44% from the field.

The only thing that bothered me about the first 24 minutes was Marcus Camby playing a little bit too much point guard, but when a guy grabs 15 boards in a half I guess he’s allowed a few coast-to-cost drives, right? Especially when he not once, but twice, bailed the Nuggets out by stopping consecutive fast break opportunities for Atlanta. The first came by way of Camby luring Josh Childress into a travel that was in all actuality a charge, and with the second by way of jarring the ball loose, and off of, Josh Smith and out of bounds.

Plus, Anthony Carter (in disbelief, mind you, for a foul being called on Marcus Camby after he demolished a last-second shot attempt by Marvin Williams) heaved a shot from about three-quarters court and hit nothing by the bottom of the cotton! It didn’t count for anything, but I think the official didn’t hit him with a technical foul purely based upon the degree of difficulty of the protest.

In the second half, the Nuggets managed to barely stave off the Hawks. The game got especially tight with only to go two minutes remaining and the score, 100-96, but the Nuggets displayed a nice sense of composure to close out the win. Anthony Carter showed he is capable of hitting clutch shots, Kenyon Martin tapped out a critical rebound with under a minute to play, and Marcus Camby iced it all with his 21st rebound of the night.

All Nugget starters except Anthony Carter, who had a team-high nine assists, scored in double-figures. Allen Iverson scored a team-high 29 points, Kenyon Martin recorded his second straight double-double (third overall this season) with 20 points and ten rebounds, LK scored 23 points and has scored more than 20+ in three of the last four games, and Marcus Camby swatted four shots, scored 13 points, and ripped the aforementioned 21 rebounds. In addition, tonight’s effort by the “Chairman of the Boards” now marks the ninth time Camby has grabbed 20 or more rebounds so far this year.

Highlights included Josh Smith recording his first career triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds, and ten assists and Linas Kleiza absolutely facializing Smith with two hands like his mother always told him to. Kenyon Martin, maybe in his best overall game so far this season, climbed high on the ladder to slam home a missed lay-up by Allen Iverson and there was also a rare "Bubba Chuck" dunk off a sly steal in the backcourt. But what is most important about this game is it puts the Nuggets back in first place in the Northwest Divisional standings with the help of the New Orleans Hornets beating the Trailblazers tonight, 96-81. Carmelo isn’t expected to miss anymore games to the best of my knowledge, so congratulations, Denver! It appears like you might have weathered the worst injury storm in the most recent stretch of injury-plagued Nuggets history with a nice win.

Go Nuggets!

AI Loves MJ....Michael Jackson!

(Boulder-CO) Miss Suns Gossip recently had a chance to interview Carmelo Anthony and dug up an interesting fact about Allen Iverson. Apparently, AI loves Michael Jackson! Carmelo even goes as far as to call Iverson, "Michael's #1 fan".

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 23rd, and on this day:

'59- In the NBA All-Star Game in Detroit, St. Louis’ Bob Pettit and Elgin Baylor of Minneapolis became the first co-winners of the MVP award as their West team won 124-108.

'80- George Gervin of San Antonio scored 55 points in a 144-130 Spurs’ victory over the Pacers in Indianapolis.

'92- Houston’s Otis Thorpe became the 10th player in NBA history to play in 500 consecutive games, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Rockets’ 109-96 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at The Summit.

'98- Denver tied the single-season record of 23 consecutive losses set by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995-96. The streak halted with a 99-81 win the next day vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

'98- Michael Jordan scored in double figures for the 800th consecutive game in a 100-98 OT win over New Jersey. Jordan would add 40 more double-figure scoring games to his NBA record before retiring for the second time at the end of the 1997-98 season.

'00- Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson becomes the sixth coach in NBA history to win 900 career games when the Mavericks defeat the Detroit Pistons 99-91 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Enjoy your day!

Nuggets vs. Hawks: Game 41 Preview

(Boulder-CO) The Atlanta Hawks’ last victory came against the Nuggets over a week ago. Since then the Hawks have lost their last three straight games (Milwaukee, Toronto, and Portland) and have only scored 100 points once since beating the Nuggets, 104-93.

In the first meeting against the Hawks the Nugges allowed 65 points in the first half, allowed six double-digit scorers, and only managed to finish with five players hitting the box score offensively. It was also not pretty defensively as the Nuggets surrendered 62% from the field to the Hawks while being outscored 24-18 in points in the paint, 17-6 on the fast break, and 19-11 off the bench when all was said and done. Plus, Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith managed to get kicked out of the game.

In tonight’s match-up, and to make matters even tougher on the Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony will not play. He is still too sore to play on the ankle that he twisted against L.A. and Allen Iverson is going to have to pick up his slack offensively either by exploding individually or by getting his teammates involved. In addition to Iverson needing to have a big game, Marcus Camby has to give the Nuggets more than he did in the first meeting of these two teams. Marcus only scored four points, grabbed twelve rebounds, and only blocked one shot and will have to give Denver much better showing for the Nuggets to win.

So, with Marcus and Allen being the focal point of tonight’s match-up, the Nuggets will have to win the rebounding and assist battles to win the game. The Nuggets are currently the league’s second best rebounding team while Hawks are currently ranked 17th. In the first match-up, the Nuggets managed to win the rebounding battle 41-35, but that was mostly due to the Hawks shooting 51% from the field. In assists, the Hawks badly out passed the Nuggets 33-22 with AI only dishing out four dimes. Iverson either has to be in the 8-10 range in assists or score 40+ by himself for the Nuggets to win. Which brings me to the perfect time to switch gears and talk about overall scoring. The Hawks are a team that are not used to scoring above a hundred points on a nightly basis. They’re currently averaging only 94.2 points per game (25th overall) while the Nuggets own the fourth best scoring clip of better than 104 points per game. Whether the majority of the offense comes from Iverson (the most likely suspect) or from a variety of others like Kleiza, Martin, or J.R. Smith chipping in. The Nuggets have to pick up the slack from the absence of Carmelo while also limiting the Hawks to one shot per possession.

This all brings us to some sobering facts. The Nuggets have once again slipped a half game behind the Trailblazers for first place in the Northwest Division and, even though we are only half way through the season, it is looking like with the other two divisions in the conference both being stronger overall than the Northwest that whoever doesn’t win the division may not even make the playoffs. Meaning, that it is critical that the Nuggets fight through this prickly stretch of misfortunate injuries while not losing too much ground so they can still be in a position to strike once some things level out. Teams weather these kinds of storms by beating the teams they are supposed to beat which is how I’m looking at tonight’s match-up with the Hawks. Even without their only All-Star that played in the actual game last year (remember AI was an All-Star too but didnt play due to injury), the Nuggets still have two guys of All-Star caliber and a good cast of role players to get the job done. And if they don’t, no one is going to feel sorry for them come late April.

We need this one, Nuggets Nation.

Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nene's Tumor Actually Malignant

(Boulder-CO) It is being reported by ESPN that the testicular tumor removed from Nene last week is, in fact, malignant. The report states, "The Epoca article is based on a lengthy interview with the doctor who performed the procedure, Fernando Kim. Dr. Kim further explains that the cancerous tumor was caught early. There is no evidence that the cancer had spread, and the likelihood of recurrence, he says, is small after a successful procedure to remove the cancerous testicle. Further, the doctor adds that the player is recovering extremely well both physically and mentally. The doctor does not speculate about when Nene might be able to return, although normal recovery from this procedure is said to be two months."
What a tough bit of news to swallow for Nene, his family, and the Nuggets Nation.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Big Brazil.

LK 43's Career-High 41

(Boulder-CO) Linas Kleiza just scored a career-high 41 points against the Jazz. This video shows every point scored by LK. Enjoy

Nuggets Lose Game and Carmelo in L.A.

(AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
(Boulder-CO) Is there no basketball god? And if so, how could they allow Carmelo Anthony to come down on Kobe Bryant’s foot and twist his ankle after a jump shot? Forget for a second that the Nuggets lost to the Lakers, 116-99, and just think about the bad luck this team has had with injuries this season. First, it was Chucky Atkins who went down with a pulled groin that later would develop into a full-blown sports hernia. Then it was Steven Hunter who needed surgery on his knee. Nene then found out he had a testicular tumor. Following that scary news was Kenyon Martin’s battle with a staph infection on the buttock. Now, it’s Eduardo Najera and his hyper-extended elbow and, even worse, Carmelo with what appears to be a badly sprained ankle!

Somebody better call a witch doctor because I think this team is cursed!

No seriously, get out the yellow pages and call now.

The Nuggets never really had a chance in this game with the Lakers because, as we have already seen now more than a handful of times, they allowed a team to score around or more than 60 points in the first half. Against the Lakers, it was a 39-point first quarter that put the Nuggets behind the eight-ball, and as the game went on Denver could never get out of the hole they already dug themselves. Granted, Derek Fisher was unconscious in the first quarter, but that is still no excuse for the soft interior defense the Nuggets played. Factor in that Denver threw in the towel with a 17-point fourth quarter and there should be no miscommunication as to why the Nuggets were beaten so easily.

Just how bad was the defense by Denver? Let’s put it this way… Kwame “Mittens” Brown had two huge dunks in the first three minutes of the game!

Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but I have had it with this injury routine. It’s not something that anyone can do anything about, but something has got to give. The training room in Denver must have a revolving door on it because they just can not get a full, healthy team together. Is there a bright side? Yes, and that is Nuggets trainer Jim Gillen is one of the best, and now busiest, in the business and the Nuggets (with Nene as the exception) should be able to recover from all this misfortune and hopefully show us what they can do at quasi full-strength sometime real soon.

Until then…

Go Nuggets (the healthy ones)!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 22nd, and on this day:

'98- The NBA has reached six-year agreements with ABC, ESPN and AOL Time Warner to have ABC, ESPN, TNT and a new AOL Time Warner/NBA jointly owned national cable sports network televise NBA games beginning with the 2002-03 season.
Enjoy your day!
(A recap of last night's loss in L.A. will be up this afternoon)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Camby is a Member of this Community




(Boulder-CO) Verbatim, this is the email and picture I just received: "We wanted to let you know that Nuggets center Marcus Camby was at ESPN Zone on Friday night. Camby took time to sign autographs and take numerous photos with fans who were onsite. Three lucky fans were picked to go up against Camby in ESPN Zone's College Hoops game in the Spots Arena. The top scorer, Erik McCormick with 30 points, just edged Camby's 28 and won Club Level tickets to Saturday's Nuggets game against the Timberwolves. Camby also played other games with fans while he was at ESPN Zone."

What else can you say about Marcus Camby other than he is a fantastic member of the Denver community? He is always willing to sign autographs, kiss babies, and help old women across the street.



Here's another picture of Camby at the ESPNZone.


I suggest the chicken wings if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Go Nuggets!

Today's Date in NBA History

(Boulder-CO) Today's date is January 21st, and on this day:

'54- For the first time in All-Star history, an overtime period was needed to decide a winner. Boston Celtics’ guard Bob Cousy’s 10-point overtime scoring burst gave the East a 98-93 victory and brought Cousy All-Star MVP honors.

'58- Bob Pettit of St. Louis became the first member of the losing team to win the All-Star MVP award, scoring 28 points and grabbing 26 rebounds, even though the East beat the West 130-118.

'90- Golden State’s Don Nelson became the 10th NBA coach to win 600 games, following the Warriors’ 120-115 road win at Boston. That improved his overall record to 600-404 in his 13th season of coaching in the NBA, and at 49 Nelson was the second youngest to reach that plateau. Red Auerbach was 43 when he won his 600th game.

'91- Dick Motta of Sacramento coached in his 1,648th regular season game, a 97-94 victory over Houston, at the time an NBA record for the most regular-season coaching appearances.

'94- The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Seattle SuperSonics 91-87, Dallas’ 19th consecutive loss at Reunion Arena, establishing an NBA record for the most consecutive home games lost.

'98- Michael Jordan made 14 field goals to increase his career total to 10,524, passing John Havlicek (10,513) for fifth place on the NBA's all-time field goals made list.
Enjoy your day!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nuggets vs. Lakers: Game 40 Preview

(Boulder-CO) You didn’t know that the Lakers have the fourth best record in the Western Conference, did you? Surprising as that may be, L.A. has been playing some really strong and disciplined basketball in the first half of the season, and it wasn’t until young center Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury that required surgery that the Lakers even lost their twelfth game. Furthermore, the Lakers have already handed the Nuggets two losses so far this season with the second defeat squandering a 51-point effort by Allen Iverson.

Without Andrew Bynum, the Lakers have turned to Kwame Brown with very limited success. Bynum was averaging 13.1 points and team-highs with 10.2 rebounds and two blocks per game in comparison to the five points and five rebounds L.A. has been seeing from Brown. And without Bynum, the Lakers are down to only three players who are scoring in double-figures. Once again, leaving Kobe Bryant to shoulder even more of the load.

But the Nuggets are currently experiencing just the opposite. Linas Kleiza has been coming on strong, and with his latest 41-point outburst, the Lakers should be put on notice of him and J.R. Smith. Lately, Smith has been showing up with more regularity and it has been a blessing in disguise. In his last four games, Smith is averaging 14.2 points per game stemming from a recent rash of 8-22 from downtown and has been instrumental in sparking key comeback efforts. In his last five games, (with forwards Nene and Kenyon Martin out with varying medical issues), Linas Kleiza is averaging 15.6 points and six rebounds in almost 30 minutes per game. This now gives the Nuggets four players scoring in double figures, in addition to the league’s most potent scoring combination of Allen Iverson (27.1 ppg) and Carmelo Anthony (25.8 ppg).

Now, on paper, this game looks to be a great contest, but all the statistical categories that the Lakers and Nuggets were so similar in were in direct relation to a Laker team that included Andrew Bynum. Without Bynum, I think the Lakers are going to slide back into the middle of the Pacific Division and who better to send them into a two-game slide than the Denver Nuggets? Marcus Camby is having his best year ever, Carmelo is rebounding (finally), and Allen Iverson is still able to take over any game at anytime. All in all, Denver isn’t looking like a team in that much disarray seeing how they have all but lost their presumed starting point guard (Chucky Atkins) to a hernia that will take the majority of the rest of the season to recover from, and two power forwards indefinitely (Nene and Kenyon Martin) to a testicular tumor and a staph infection on the buttocks.

So, barring any kind of massive offensive showing by Kobe Bryant I think the Nuggets should be able to extend their current two-game winning streak to three games against the Lakers. I haven’t made a prediction in awhile, but I’m pretty confident on this one.

Go Nuggets!