Thursday, February 28, 2008
In their first meeting things got ugly for the Nuggets. Let us stroll down memory lane, “The Nuggets couldn’t throw it in the ocean if they were already knee deep in the breakers. As a team, they shot 39.1% from the field, and to no surprise with that kind of percentage, only combined for 16 assists. Allen Iverson was about the only Nugget bright spot offensively and finished with a game-high 29 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals. If he could have only limited his turnovers (8) it would have been a masterful performance, but nevertheless, it’s not like he got much support. The Nugget bench only combined for 19 points on 7-23 from the field. Starters Kenyon Martin, and Yakhouba Diawara were a combined 0-7, and usual bench sparkplug Linas Kleiza was 0-4. Even the ‘Melo man himself struggled to get into a rhythm (mainly because he settled for way too many jump shots of the first pass and long three attempts), despite finishing with 24 points on 8-23 from the field.
But the defense was really where the root of the problems were concentrated.
The Nuggets were out rebounded 50-40, the Clippers got way too many open looks and lay-ups, nobody got the message that Tim Thomas was a three-point shooter, and Chris Kaman absolutely ate Denver alive. As a team, Los Angeles shot a blistering 53% (8-15) from three-point range and had five players score in double digits. Led by Chris Kaman’s seemingly tireless efforts, and 17 points and 21 rebounds, the Clippers just passed the ball around until the Nuggets would fall asleep defensively and give them a great opportunity to score. And I would bet that if the NBA kept track of time of possession, it would have shown that the Nuggets were badly manipulated into a Clipper-favorable style of basketball. Los Angeles slowed the ball down and kept the Nuggets from fast breaking with their high percentage shooting. Limiting the game to just eleven transition points of which the Clippers had eight of.”
Sounds like a case of the bizarre-o Nuggets to me. However, the scary thing is they are capable of playing like that on any given night. Rooting for this team is like a roller coaster with the highs being exhilarating and the lows being almost unbearable.
At least in tonight’s game the Nugget will not have to contend with Sam Cassell who was bought out on Thursday.
But their is more good news for Denver as they are hosting this game. The Nuggets are 22-7 so far at Pepsi Center this season and have won four of their last five there over the Clippers. The Clippers, meanwhile, have lost 11 of their last 14 on the road and are currently in a three-game slide. Furthermore, Carmelo enters tonight’s game averaging 29.3 points against the Clippers in the last four meetings while Iverson has been a Clipper killer averaging 29.9 points per game in the last seven meetings.
Another point of interest tonight will be how many points the Nuggets surrender to the offensively challenged Clippers. L.A. comes into tonight’s game with the third worst scoring average of 94.1 points per game. Based upon the pure speed the Nuggets would like to play at, and their own defensive problems, I think if the Nuggets can keep the Clippers under 100 points they should be able to win this game. But, as we have seen with recent games against the Bulls and Bucks, the Nuggets are very capable of giving up high point totals to teams that typically struggle offensively.
Only five of the sixteen games scheduled in the month of March are against sub .500 teams. Denver needs this Leap Year game in February in the worst kind of way.
In the first quarter, I thought for sure it was going to be a long night. The first offensive possession fruited one pass and an 18-foot, semi-crooked, jumper from Marcus Camby. The Nuggets turned the ball over five times and if it weren’t for AI hitting twine for nine first quarter points the Nuggets would have definitely finished with a lot less than 31 points. There was porous defense in the first quarter too. A couple of slow rotations by Denver led to fouls, a couple of dunks, and a handful of free-throws that the Nuggets should have been able to stop. I digress, it’s not a perfect world, and this is the NBA.
Another reason why Allen Iverson’s hot start was important to the Nuggets was it gave Denver back that electric feeling. The Nuggets were playing lukewarm basketball in their three straight losses without the electric feeling of someone turning up their game a notch. And in this case, the charge flowed through six other Nuggets as Denver recorded a total of seven players in double-digits, the most points scored in a NBA game this season, two double-doubles , and a new franchise record in a field goal percentage making 59 of 88 shot attempts good for 67%. The Nuggets also scored 30+ points in all four quarters while only allowing Seattle to score 30+ in one.
I’ll warn you… the box score is gaudy. AI led all scorers with 31 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Kenyon Martin connected on 11-14 from the field good for 23 points and seven rebounds. Linas Kleiza returned to familiar form with 15 points, three assists, three rebounds, and two steals. J.R. Smith continues to put up a stat line. He scored 15 points on 3-5 from downtown. Carmelo was visibly frustrated with the officiating, but still managed to score 16 points and grab six rebounds in only 30 minutes of play. Marcus Camby was well-rounded with twelve points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks. And AC rounded out the fold with a double-dozen of twelve points and twelve rebounds.
I liked this game because it was a win, but it also reminded the Nuggets how to win. They weren’t playing a great team, but they took care of business and did so in high fashion. The Nuggets need to take the good, leave the bad, and make sure that they bring their game against the Clippers to ensure back-to-back wins.
'81- Houston’s Calvin Murphy made the last of his 78 consecutive free throws, in a game against San Diego, setting what was then an NBA record. The record was later broken during the 1993-94 season by Minnesota’s Micheal Williams, who converted 97 consecutive free throws.
'87- Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn called his 2,000th consecutive game for the club, a streak spanning 22 years.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
'59- Boston Celtics star Bob Cousy dished off for what was then an NBA record 28 assists in a 173-139 win over Minneapolis, the highest scoring game in NBA history at that time. Boston’s 173 points is still the record for a non-overtime game, a mark that was matched by Phoenix in 1990. Scott Skiles of Orlando set the NBA single-game assist record of 30 on December 30, 1990. Cousy’s record of 19 assists in one half has stood for more than 40 years.
'98- The Indiana Pacers defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 124-59. The 65-point margin of victory is the second-largest in NBA history, outpaced only by the 68-point margin when Cleveland defeated Miami 148-80 on December 17, 1991.
'99- Los Angeles Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler works his 1,500th Clippers game in a game against the Atlanta Hawks.
'99- The Golden State Warriors, with a 110-93 defeat of Denver, became the seventh franchise in NBA history to register 2,000 victories. The Warriors' mark includes the triumphs posted by the Philadelphia Warriors (1946-62) and San Francisco Warriors (1962-71).
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
His idea is basic. Fire. George. Karl.
Go check it out!
Agree or disagree? That is the question, but I know after watching them last night that what I just offered up in those four points are the roots of all that still hampers this team.
I only have five points of interest from last night’s game. From there I’ll leave it up to everyone else in the comment section.
1. Detroit controlled the tempo of this game from start to finish. My comrade Btalk and I took this game in together and when he looked at me at the start of the fourth quarter and said, “The score is tied at 73. We’ve played right into Detroit’s hands”, I knew right then and there we were going to lose. Detroit has Denver native, and former Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups running their show. Last night, we had J.R. Smith serving as our point guard. Who would you guess was more likely to falter.
2. Denver was out passed 29-25 in the assist category by a team that is not known for scoring a lot of points. I’d be willing to bet that nine times out of ten when the Nuggets don’t win the assist battle they lose the game. Once again, this goes back to sharing the ball and team offense. Both of which the Nuggets could use a lot of help in.
3. Balance. The Pistons were very balanced and gave the Nuggets an offensive attack consisting of all five starters scoring in double figures including Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups each scoring 20 points. Antonio McDyess recorded a double-double of 16 points and 13 boards and Rasheed chipped in ten points and nine rebounds. The Nuggets are extremely unbalanced. Three players from Denver scored in double figures (‘Melo, AI, and J.R. Smith) on a combined 19-53 from the field. Denver only shot the ball 89 times, you do the math…
4. J.R. Smith is not very clutch. Sure, he made shots that kept Denver in the game down the stretch, but he also took shots that kept Denver from continuing to swing momentum in their favor at earlier points in the game. Smith took ten three’s last night and only made three of them. Two of them came in the fourth quarter, so that just left seven other bad shots for George Karl to grimace over while he was at home sick with the flu. On top of all that, Smith once again failed to make good on three attempts from the free-throw line with the game’s outcome in the balance. He gave a similar performance in a similar situation in a game not too far back against the Indiana Pacers.
5. Digital Underground allegedly made their final public appearance at halftime of last night’s game. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but you are a bold-faced liar if you proclaim to not know the words to, “The Humpty Dance”. Extra points awarded if you have, or personally know anyone who has in fact, “Gotten busy in a Burger King bathroom!”
With last night's, 98-93, defeat the Nuggets have lost three straight games and are now going to really have their backs against the wall against some formidable foes down the home stretch. Now, it’s possible that Denver could go on a winning streak and still make the playoffs, but the row to hoe is full winning teams and as of right now I think it’s do or die time for the Nuggets. A few more losses without another few wins in a row is going to seal the deal on this year’s Denver Nuggets…
I’d like to be wrong. I’d like to see Denver some how win the division while getting hot right before the playoffs, but right now I just don’t see it happening. There are too many problems that seem to just not want to be addressed by either the players or the coaching staff and a more likely scenario is for the finger pointing to start sometime in the next 10-12 games. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Sunday, February 24, 2008
NS: Considering he’s just started to make his way into the rotation because of the broken hand that he sustained in the pre-season, he’s coming along nicely. It took more than a few games for him to get acclimated to the NBA game, but he’s done a nice job filling in for Chauncey Billups so far. He’s a combo guard that has for the most part played the one for Detroit. He’s fast, likes to drive the lane and has skills that will develop even more as he gets more games under his belt.
NS: Ask any one of his teammates throughout the years and they will tell you that Rasheed is as solid as they come in the locker room. When Sheed isn’t on the floor shaking up the other teams offense you will find him helping the rookies on the team mold their game. Sheed’s doing everything he needs to do for this team to win games. He’s even made it a point to play more in the paint, something Detroit fans have been wishing for. Most of all he’s is the anchor to Detroit’s solid defensive presence. So in Detroit…..numbers don’t matter.
ND: Why have the Pistons obtained such amazing things out of Chauncey Billups whereas the Nuggets could not?
ND: How far can Detroit go this year and if they do end up in the finals is there somebody in the West that you would like to see?
ND: Who's will dictates the outcome of this game? The Nuggets with their motto of, "We'll just score and hope for the best",or the Pistons' yeoman defense?
NS: The Pistons will not try to play the Nuggets game, so look for the Pistons to clamp down defensively. If you get us in a run and gun battle we have the legs on our bench to give you a fight. We will know what kind of game it’s going to be after the first quarter. Good luck, but not really! Go Pistons.
Natalie also wanted to know a few things about the Nuggets...
NS: Has the Allen Iverson – Carmelo Anthony experiment lived up to its expectations? Has chemistry been an issue?
NS: Being in the West and knowing that winning 50 games might not even get you in the Playoffs, what do you think The Nuggets chances to make it are?
NS: What blockbuster trade impacted the Nuggets chances of coming out of the West?
NS: The Pistons have one heck of a starting five and a new and improved bench, what or who will Denver try to stop to come away with the win?
Be sure to head over to Need4Sheed for my answers.
'95- During Philadelphia’s 84-75 home setback against Indiana, Dana Barros hits a single three-pointer, giving him the NBA single-season record of 44 consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal, breaking Michael Adams’ previous mark of 43. Barros stretched the streak to 58 games by the season’s end and 89 games before it ended on January 12, 1996.
'99- The NBA and Hard Rock Care, International broke ground and unveiled the name – NBA City – and logo of the first-ever NBA restaurant. NBA City opened in summer 1999 in the Citywalk entertainment district at Universal Studios Escape in Orlando, Florida.
'99- Indiana’s Reggie Miller becomes the first NBA player to reach 4,000 three-point field goal attempts in a 81-74 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
First of all, I have always been on the Birdman's side. The guy just has a charisma that forces you to like him (think Eduardo Najera "cool" and add some mystery and danger). But I think one of the main challenges of Andersen's case has to do with a clause that states Chris can not enter anymore dunk contests for the rest of his professional career.
'78- Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets handed out 29 assists in a 126-112 win over Houston, an NBA record that lasted more than a dozen years, until Orlando’s Scott Skiles collected 30 assists against Denver on December 30, 1990.
'98- Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon became the eighth player in NBA history to play 1,000 or more games with the same team. John Stockton is the all-time leader, having played in more than 1,300 games for the Utah Jazz.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
In the first half, it was the story of the Dr. Jekyll. The Nuggets were up by as many as 23 points before entering intermission up by 14, 64-50. Kenyon Martin had already recorded a double-double at the break with 13 points and eleven rebounds. Allen Iverson was the team’s high scorer with 17 points. Collectively, the Nuggets shot 26 free throws by aggressively attacking the basket. As for the three defensive departments I mentioned in this game's preview (blocks, forced turnovers, and steals), the Nuggets were having a good showing. They out-played the Bucks in all three categories 6-4 in blocks, 5-0 in steals, and 7-4 in the turnover battle. Denver was also out rebounding the Bucks 30-24 in the first 24 minutes of play while holding all Bucks except for Michael Redd (26 points at the break) to single figures in scoring.
After halftime, enter Mr. Hyde.
The Nuggets only grabbed three rebounds in the third quarter and a total of ten for the second half losing the overall battle of the boards, 53-40. Denver also collapsed defensively. After holding the majority of the Bucks in check offensively, Milwaukee finished with four players in double figures including a season-high 42 points for Micheal Redd. The Bucks came into this game with the 27th ranked offense scoring only 94 points per game, but the Nuggets went to pieces and allowed them to score 65 points in the second half and paste them with 115 points, 21 more than they average. Offensively, the Nuggets managed only 45 points as they fell in love with the jump shot and cooled off considerably from the first half. The Nuggets also only shot three free-throws in the third quarter (and eight overall in the half) before I stopped counting how many times they could have attacked the basket in hopes of getting rewarded with a trip to the free-throw line and started to count how many times they made one pass and hoisted a jumper. The result was a stagnant offense that fell short of the magic mark of 25 assists, which the Nuggets average when they win, as Denver finished with 22 dimes.
Talk about stubbing your toe. This was a game that the Nuggets needed to stash away a W in before the schedule gets considerably tougher for the next eight games. Denver has to play Detroit on Monday night before having to face Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio (twice), and the conference rival Utah Jazz.
The obligatory box score recap reads Allen Iverson 26 points and five assists, Carmelo Anthony 25 points and seven rebounds, J.R. Smith 20 points and four assists on 6-15 shooting, Kenyon Martin 15 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, and Marcus Camby six points, ten rebounds, and four blocks.
Now we’re going to really see what kind of character this team is made of down the stretch. With their backs against the wall, I have a sneaking suspicion that things may be on the brink of unraveling. I hope I’m wrong, but the road ahead is tough and the Nuggets are not showing me much in the cardiology department. How much do you want it, Denver? We’re going to see clearly what this team is made of in this next stretch of eight games.
Denver can accomplish this by showing Milwaukee why they are tops in the league in three defensive categories. The Nuggets are currently leading the league in forced turnovers, steals, and blocks. They would also do themselves a huge favor by sharing the ball. The Nuggets had an extremely low 17 assists on 48 made baskets last night against the Bulls. Denver is at its best when the ball gets spread around, so here’s to hoping for some distribution. So far in wins, the Nuggets average 25 assists. In losses that number dips dramatically to 20.
The Nuggets also have to know where Michael Redd and Mo Williams are at all times. Mo is shooting a torrid 39% from beyond the arch and Redd is not far behind him at 37%. Another player the Nuggets will need to be aware of is Charlie Villanueva. In his second game back from a sore ankle, Charlie score 18 points against the Detroit Pistons.
Aside from that trio of Milwaukee players, the Nuggets need to concentrate on playing defense as a team. It’s been too long since Denver played a solid game defensively and as of late I feel they have been too reliant on their offense to get the job done. A combination of the two every night would be deadly, but I’d gladly settle for a 82-75 victory with the Nuggets not scoring as much as they are accustomed to while shutting the Bucks down defensively.
The bottom line is this is a game Denver needs to, and should, win. Remember, Denver needs to win 20 out of their last 30 games to realistically put themselves in a position to make the playoffs and they're 1-1 so far in this first stretch of ten games. Two out of three does the trick, Denver. Avoid falling behind the curve by bagging the Bucks tonight and catch the jet back to the Mile High to prepare for Detroit on Monday.
The reason why?
Denver waltzed into Chicago and once again gave an effort that was too little too late before trying to pull off a miracle and falling short, 135-121. And the sick thing about it is yet another individual Nugget gave a career-best performance, but it goes wasted because Denver collectively still refuses to play a lick of defense for more than a couple of back-to-back possessions at any one time.
Just how bad was the Nuggets defense?
Denver allowed the Bulls to shoot 57.1 percent from the field which is the second-highest percentage an opponent has shot against the Nuggets this season. Chicago’s 135 points were also the second-most they've allowed, trailing only a, 137-115, loss at Phoenix in early January as the Suns went berserk from long-range setting a franchise record for three’s made in a single game. Plus, the Nuggets are now allowing their opposition 109 points per game on the road and have kept only five teams below 100 points in its 26 road games.
More horror is abundant in the Bulls’ box score. Of the nine players seeing action for Chicago, seven scored in double figures. Ben Gordon lit the Nuggets up from every conceivable spot on the floor with a team-high 37 points and five assists coming off the bench. Kirk Hinrich recorded a double-double of 16 points and 14 assists. So did Joakim Noah with 14 points and ten rebounds and Tyrus Thomas who added 18 points and eleven boards.
As for the Nuggets and their single most detrimental character trait, let’s just say they are consistently inconsistent. Since averaging 20 points and seven rebounds in his last three games, Kenyon Martin was a no-show with four points and one rebound in 30 minutes of playing time against the Bulls. Linas Kleiza is another player who is capable of really helping this team on one night and on the next night he looks like a rookie all over again. He has a season scoring average of 11.7 points but in the last five games Kleiza’s average has dropped to 6.2 points including last night’s 20 scoreless minutes.
But the area where the Nuggets inconsistency hurts them the most is defensively. Denver has proven to be unable to sustain a level of intensity on defense and in cases like last night they can flat out look uninterested in stopping their opponent. The Nuggets often play with an attitude that is so sure of themselves offensively and as individuals that the defensive end of the court goes forgotten because good D doesn’t produce good stats. And the sick part about the whole defensive agenda is the Nuggets have quite possibly the premier defender in the whole league in Marcus Camby, but as a team they just don’t aspire to match his intensity very often.
Offensively, the Nuggets are fully loaded. J.R. Smith recorded a career-high 43 points, including a 23-point fourth quarter consisting of seven made three’s, on 8-14 from the land of plenty making him the fourth Nugget this season to score 40 or more points in a single outburst. The only problem was Denver couldn’t stop anything on the other end of the floor and at best could only match the Bulls’ 34 points in the final period after trimming a once 23-point lead in the third quarter to a score of, 108-102, four minutes into the fourth quarter before a 14-3 run by Chicago slammed the door shut on the Nuggets comeback.
This was a game that the Nuggets needed to win. The Bulls were shorthanded due to extended paper work involved in the trade of Ben Wallace to Cleveland for Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes. Furthermore, games like this are going to be the ones that get looked back on and labeled missed opportunities in the event that Denver does not make the post season. I know it’s a short plane ride from Chicago to Milwaukee and the Nuggets had better of used their time in preparation for tonight’s Milwaukee Bucks match-up to square away a defensive agenda.
'87- Nate McMillan of the Seattle SuperSonics tied the rookie record for assists in one game when he handed out 25 assists in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. McMillan matched Ernie DiGregorio, who tallied 25 assists on January 1, 1974 against Portland.
'92- Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston rejected seven shots in the Rockets’ 90-83 win over San Antonio at The Summit, becoming the sixth player in NBA history to register 2,000 career blocks.
'93- Utah’s John Stockton picked up seven assists in a 105-78 loss to Houston, becoming only the fourth guard (along with Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas) in NBA history to reach the 8,000 career assist plateau.
Friday, February 22, 2008
With that fact being emphasized at nasuea, the Nuggets should be ready for anything in Chicago. The Bulls are still a dangerous team trying to find their way into an ugly Eastern Conference postseason picture, but are no way, shape, or form as talented as the Nuggets.
Get this W, Denver. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of others.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
'60- Wilt Chamberlain scored 58 points in the Warriors 129-122 win over the Knicks, tying his rookie record for the most points scored in a game.
'76- Red Holzman won his 500th game following New York’s 102-98 win over New Orleans at Madison Square Garden. At the time, Holzman was only the second coach--after Red Auerbach--to reach that plateau.
'92- Utah’s John Stockton became only the sixth NBA player ever to collect more than 7,000 career assists when he handed out 15 in a 124-97 Jazz win over Houston at the Delta Center.
'93- The West defeated the East 135-132 in overtime in the 43rd annual NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, as Utah’s John Stockton (15 assists) and Karl Malone (28 points) became the first players from the same NBA team to ever share the All-Star Game MVP award.
'00- New York’s Patrick Ewing reaches the 23,157-point plateau in an 87-76 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, good for 16th place on the NBA all-time list ahead, passing Elgin Baylor.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This incredible screening room is where we will be holding the event to ensure everyone has a great view of the game! I will be there with a laptop to publish in-game thoughts, comments, and pictures, so let's get a great group together to eat, drink, and to rally around the Nuggets with prizes for Nuggets trivia, great seats, and a great atmosphere! Click here to learn more about the event or you can email me (the info is in the profile) with any other questions you would like to know more information about.
'96- Utah’s John Stockton became the all-time leader in steals with 2,311, passing previous leader Maurice Cheeks in a 112-98 win over Boston.
'97- Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon became the 15th player in NBA history to score 23,000 career points in a 107-97 win over Toronto.
'01- Mark Jackson of the Toronto Raptors recorded 12 assists to move past Isiah Thomas and into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time assists list. Jackson notched his 9,062nd career assist in Toronto’s 113-102 win over Golden State.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
With the most fans ever to file into the Pepsi Center on hand, all the Nuggets raised their games to new heights. In the first half, both teams played to a stalemate of 62 points after Denver had once led by as many as nine midway through the first quarter. Ray Allen had scorched the Nuggets for 14 points in the first twelve minutes before going cold in the second while Carmelo Anthony led all Denver scorers with 18 points at intermission.
In the second half, the Nuggets applied more defensive pressure by way of a two-three zone and the Celtics were visibly bothered as they only scored 22 points in the third quarter. Marcus Camby was swatting shots all over the place, Kenyon Martin played fantastic one-on-one defense on Kevin Garnett, and the rest of the Nuggets were scrappy on the Celtics’ perimeter shooters. Coincidentally, the good overall defense by Denver translated into even better offense as the Nuggets put 26 points on the scoreboard by way of five different Nuggets scoring.
Entering the fourth, the Nuggets were in foul trouble as Kenyon Martin would eventually foul out and Marcus Camby and Carmelo Anthony would have to play the duration of the final quarter with five fouls. However, there was no need to worry as the Nuggets once again relied on balance scoring, including three three’s (back-to-back bombs by Linas Kleiza and one by Marcus Camby!), to close out an absolutely fantastic team effort. Denver even had to overcome one of the most horse manure calls that I have seen in all my years of watching NBA basketball to subdue the struggling Celtics late in the fourth quarter. With 20 seconds to play and the Celtics down by six, 121-115, Boston called its final 20 second timeout where they drew up a play for Ray Allen to launch a three. Jesus Shuttlesworth got the shot off, but the attempt was well short and way right, and when Carmelo Anthony grabbed the errant shot referee Bennie Adams blew his whistle and ruled the rebound a goaltend! It was the single most ridiculous call I have ever seen made since, come to think of it, quite possibly ever, but thankfully the Nuggets made enough free-throws to stave off any last ditch efforts by the Celtics.
The box score for the Denver reflects just how inspired the Nuggets played, not only as individuals, but for once as a team. Immediately, Marcus Camby narrowly missing another triple-double by one blocked shot is just a reflection of just how great of a season the Captain his having. Marcus finished tonight’s game with eleven points, 13 rebounds, nine blocks, three assists, and three steals in 40 minutes of action. And as I mentioned before, Marcus hit a three which was the nail in the coffin from the right corner with just over two minutes remaining. The bomb gave the Nuggets a seven point lead, the ability to make the rest of the game a free-throw contest, and the Cambyman his third make of the year from downtown.
Kenyon Martin also played spectacular. Despite having a throat cold, K-Mart gave the Nuggets 28 tough minutes on both offense and defense en route to scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds, swiping two steals, and swatting a shot before fouling out with just under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Martin played excellent one-on-one defense on all of Boston’s big men and was an efficient 8-12 on the offensive end. I particularly enjoyed how Martin allowed the game to come to him, and when it was his time to produce, he had no problem doing so.
Offensively, the Nuggets were led by Carmelo Anthony. ‘Melo scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds, including a 12-13 performance from the free-throw line. Anthony received a lot of help from Allen Iverson who shot his way out of a mini-funk to finish with 28 points on 7-16 from the field while dishing out nine assists. The Answer also grabbed seven rebounds, but uncharacteristically did not record a steal. It should also be noted that the Nuggets out shot the Celtics in every category. Denver made 51% from the field in comparison to Boston’s 44% and most importantly made 8-17 of their three-point attempts.
So, bring out the little people because ding-dong the witch is dead! The Celtics have finally lost to a Western Conference foe bringing their record against the left coast to 16-1. The Nuggets' next game is on Friday in Chicago against the Bulls. Every game matters, Nuggets Nation. You know it, I know it, and apparently, the Nuggets got the memo too!
The good news for the Nuggets is the Celtics haven't won while visiting Pepsi Center since December 7, 2003. However, Kevin Garnett is no average visitor and I have personally seen him in the past while with the Timberwolves completely change a game. Additionally, the Big Ticket says that he is ready to play and the only thing stopping him is Coach Doc Rivers. Now, personally I hope he doesn’t play because the chances of the Nuggets beating a Celtics club without this season’s first half MVP is a lot higher than with, but either way, the Nuggets have to be loaded for bear and whoever else is wearing clovers.
I mentioned in an earlier post that every game from here on out needs to have a playoff feel for the Nuggets. Waiting for the final dozen or so games in hopes of turning it on late may not be realistic for Denver if they are going to make the playoffs. Allen Iverson needs to break out of this mini-funk that seemingly carried over to his All-Star performance. LK needs to put his stamp on this game too as he has been MIA over the last couple of weeks after an unbelievable stretch of games in late January and into the first week of February. Marcus Camby giving the Nuggets something offensively would be nice, but I’m more likely to guess that Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith will be of more service offensively than the Captain.
Other than those quick points, we are going to get a quick barometer as to where this team’s head is at tonight against the Celtics. If the Nuggets play well, we may be in for wild finish. If they play poorly, don’t be surprised if Boston is up by 40 again at one point.
'95- Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon passed the 10,000-career rebound plateau after pulling down nine boards in the Rockets’ 122-117 loss at New York.
'96- Phoenix’s Charles Barkley pulls down his 10,000th career rebound in the first quarter of the Suns’ 98-94 OT win against visiting Vancouver, becoming the 10th NBA player with 20,000 points and 10,000 rebounds in a career.
'01- Guy Rodgers, a four-time NBA All-Star who led the league in assists twice in a 12-year NBA career from 1958 to 1970, died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at age 65.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Not to mention the fact that if Denver fails to win it’s division (which they are currently trailing the Utah Jazz by 1 ½ games in) they could very well be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
So, with the stage set, allow me to give you the forecast for what the last 30 games of the season have in store for the Nuggets and how difficult the task is of not only winning the division, but even just making the playoffs at all.
For starters, let me illustrate who is left on the schedule and how many times each the Nuggets will have to face them. The records in parenthesis are how Denver has already fared against each opponent.
There is no easing into the short half of the season as the Nuggets get things started off by facing the 41-9 Boston Celtics (0-1) in their second and last (thank, God) meeting of the season. From this point, things start to get ugly. The Nuggets still have to face the Suns (0-1) three more times and the Rockets (1-1), Jazz (1-1), Warriors (1-1), Pistons (0-0), Spurs (1-1), and Raptors (0-0) each twice with all of the aforementioned teams currently sporting winning records. Then you sprinkle in Dallas (1-1) for another rendezvous and now you realize the Nuggets have 17 of their next 30 games against some very rigid competition.
The good news is that there is a few lambs still on the schedule. Denver has three games each against the struggling Seattle Supersonics (1-0) and miserable Memphis Grizzlies (1-0), but the rest of their games against sub .500 teams are by no means cake walks. The Nuggets have a pair of games against the Clippers (1-1) and one last meeting with the Sacramento Kings (1-0) to round out games against teams in the Western Conference. That just leaves the Nuggets teams in the Eastern Conference remaining to play and a few of these franchises may be fighting to make the playoffs in the vastly thinned out Eastern Conference. However, while Denver is undefeated against east coast foes remaining to be played (they have already beaten the Nets, Bulls, Bucks, and 76ers each once already this season). It should be no secret that with a potential playoff birth on the line the Nuggets should expect fierce competition out of the Bulls, 76ers, and Nets.
Now back to some cold hard facts about what it is going to take for the Nuggets to make the playoffs and, hopefully, win their conference. It is my contention that for the Nuggets, and the other five teams in the Western Conference playoff picture all jockeying for postseason births, to make the playoffs it will take winning 20 of their next 30 games. The Nuggets are a combined 14-8 overall against the remaining 16 teams who have an overall winning percentage of 54%. Overall, the 32-20 Nuggets have won 61% of their first 52 games and I believe they will need to win 52 games to make the postseason.
Whoa, did that all happen too fast?
Here’s a few other ways of looking at it!
The Nuggets’ next 30 games are against teams with a combined winning percentage of 54%.
17 of the Nuggets’ next 30 game are against teams with winning records.
Up to this point, the Nuggets have won 61% of their first 52 games. To get to 52 wins overall, they need to win 66% (or two out of every three) of their remaining 30 games.
The Nuggets are 14-8 so far against teams remaining to be played.
With all that being said, the road to this year’s postseason is going to be tough. This may be the most crowded and talented Western Conference playoff picture in the last ten years. And, as amazing as this may sound, 50 wins may not be enough for a team to make the playoffs this year! The Nuggets are one of many teams on the cusp of missing out and, barring any last minute trades that I’m sure are being concocted in the minds of many of you, there is nothing going to guarantee Denver a playoff series other than this roster of current Nuggets banding together and getting it done. Make no mistake, Nugget Nation: every single game from here on out IS a playoff game. Losses are going to sting and, in too frequent of occurrence, the season is very capable of being labeled an out-and-out failure.
Face it, it’s rally time, Denver.
'64- Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points against Detroit, his second consecutive 50-point game.
'72- Randy Smith of Buffalo played the first of what would become an NBA record 906 consecutive games over an 11-year span, ending in March of 1983. Smith’s record was broken by A.C. Green of the Dallas Mavericks, who played his 907th consecutive game on November 20, 1997.
'83- Philadelphia's Moses Malone scored the NBA’s 4,000,000th point on a tip-in of his own miss at 11:59 of the first quarter against Houston.
'84- Former New York Knicks forward Bill Bradley had his uniform #24 retired at Madison Square Garden.
'86- San Antonio’s Alvin Robertson recorded just the second quadruple-double (along with Nate Thurmond) in NBA history at the time, with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals in the Spurs’ 120-114 win over Phoenix. Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson later became the two other NBA players to accomplish this feat.
'93- The NBA Jam Session Presented by Fleer was introduced at the 1993 All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City. Jam Session is an event that gives fans the opportunity to experience the NBA interactively through basketball activities and, challenges as well as meeting NBA legends and current stars.
'95- John Stockton became the first guard in NBA history to collect 10,000 career assists after dishing off for 15 in Utah’s 108-98 home win over Boston.
'96- Chicago’s Michael Jordan pours in 44 points and teammate Scottie Pippen adds 40 during the Bulls’ 110-102 road win at Indiana, as they become the ninth pair of NBA teammates (and just the sixth in a non-overtime game) to score 40 or more points in the same game.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
'72- Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers became the first player in NBA history to reach the 30,000 point mark for his career during a 110-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Chamberlain also passed Bill Russell during the 1971-72 season to become the NBA’s all-time leading rebounder.
'92- The Los Angeles Lakers officially retired Magic Johnson’s #32 jersey at halftime of the Celtics-Lakers game at the Great Western Forum. Johnson became the fifth Lakers player to have his jersey retired, joining Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
'94- By handing out 12 assists in Utah’s 103-99 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers, John Stockton became the third guard in NBA history (joining Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson) to reach the 9,000 career assist plateau.
'96- Vancouver dropped a 110-100 decision to Atlanta in the first of an NBA record 23 consecutive games lost by the Grizzlies.
'99- Gary Gerould, the voice of the Sacramento Kings, announced his 1,000th broadcast during the Kings 101-98 win over the Boston Celtics.
'01- Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach Larry Brown notched his 1,000th professional basketball coaching victory when the 76ers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 108-93. Brown had 771 coaching wins in the NBA and 229 in the American Basketball Association.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
'67- San Francisco’s Rick Barry scored 50 points against visiting Boston at Oakland, one of his seven 40-plus point games during February, en route to his winning the NBA scoring title that season with a 35.6 ppg average.
'75- In one of the longest and highest-scoring games in ABA history, the San Diego Conquistadors defeated the New York Nets 176-166 in four overtimes. The game featured a career-high 63 points from the Nets’ Julius Erving, who set an ABA record by shooting 25-for-46 from the field.
'82- San Antonio’s George Gervin’s failure to score 20 points in a 114-94 win over Seattle broke his club-record streak of 53 straight games with 20 or more points.
'86- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Elvin Hayes’ career total of 50,000 minutes during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 141-117 win over Atlanta, becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in that category.
'87- A crowd of 52,745, at the time the largest in NBA history, turned out at the Pontiac Silverdome to watch the Pistons beat Philadelphia 125-107. The mark lasted less than a year, with the Pistons breaking it at the Silverdome once again, drawing 61,983 for a game against Boston on January 29, 1988.
'95- The Houston Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler (and forward Tracy Murray) from the Portland Trail Blazers for veteran forward Otis Thorpe, a 1995 first round draft choice and the draft rights to forward Marcelo Nicola. With Drexler in place, the Rockets went on to win their second consecutive NBA championship.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The first half ended with the score tied at 48 and from there it all went down hill for the Nuggets Nation. In the third quarter, the Nuggets were out hustled to loose balls, long rebounds, and on defensive rotations. J.R. Smith, while scoring 16 points off the bench, took errant three after errant three and played absolutely terrible defense. Numerous times he was looking the wrong direction as his defensive rotation was blown. Tonight, he also proved to me that even while getting into the fold offensively he just still doesn’t understand time and possession basketball. Shooting three’s on fast breaks when the team needs buckets in the worst kind of way is absolutely ridiculous. Furthermore, Smith could do himself a huge favor after hitting one outside shot if he didn’t always huck up his next touch from wherever he may be standing. It’s as if he gets blinded by a single make and loses all track of what the team is trying to accomplish as a unit.
Honestly, I give when it comes to J.R. and his game’s immaturity! The guy is such an exciting talent, but until he learns how to really play the game within the game he is going to continue to frustrate me and George Karl.
It also didn’t help that Allen Iverson is having a hard time finishing on the drive. AI struggled through his second straight game offensively finishing just 5-16 from the field for 21 points and seven assists. Now, I know that isn’t a bad box score, but when a team relies on a certain level of performance out of a guy like Iverson an off-night like tonight can make the difference in a game’s outcome. Additionally, Carmelo Anthony also had a rough showing tonight. Despite finishing with a game-high 32 points, ‘Melo was 9-19 shooting with his proficiency at the line serving as his saving grace. Anthony went 11-14 from the charity stripe, but didn’t hit the glass as hard as we have been getting used to finishing with just six rebounds.
Whether you call it running out of gas or just checking out early the Nuggets looked uninterested as the Magic won the game, and the second half, by eleven points. Dwight Howard must have took Van Gundy’s comments about his focus personally as he repeatedly out-muscled the Nuggets frontline on his way to a game-high 24 rebounds, 23 points, three assists, and two blocked shots. The Eastern Conference’s starting center received most of his offensive help from Hedo Turkoglu, Brian Cook, and Rashard Lewis who were a combined 8-14 from downtown and a total of 61 points.
Now, with 30 games remaining the Nuggets are 32-20 overall and currently still in second place in the Northwest Division trailing the Utah Jazz by a single game. I think we should all be pleasantly satisfied with that record and the Nuggets' current position in the division when all things are considered. Kenyon Martin is proving to be a durable asset, the ‘Melo-AI experiment has proven to be a success (at least for each man individually), and given the types of injuries Denver has had to fight through things could be a lot worse.
The last 30 games of the season are going to truly reveal what kind of gusto this team is made of. The Nuggets have to face the Suns (potentially with Shaq in the line-up) three more times, the Spurs, Jazz, Rockets, Warriors, and Pistons each twice, and the Mavericks and Raptors each once again before all is said and done. Not to mention they have to come out of All-Star Weekend with a match-up against the best team record wise in the NBA in the Boston Celtics!
So, could the Nuggets still win 50+ games this season? Absolutely. Could they still miss the playoffs in the extremely crowded Western Conference? That’s not too far of a stretch either. Stay tuned.
'94- Chicago’s Scottie Pippen hit five three-pointers and scored a game-high 29 points, helping lift the East to a 127-118 win over the West at the 44th annual NBA All-Star Game in Minnesota. Pippen captured All-Star Game MVP honors for his performance.
'00- Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, the starting frontcourt of 7-footers for the West All-Stars, combined for 70 points and 33 rebounds as the West held off several strong challenges from the East to score a 137-126 victory before an energized crowd at The Arena in Oakland. O’Neal and Duncan shared MVP honors.
Enjoy your day!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
In an overwhelmingly sloppy first half overall for the Nuggets, something has to be said about J.R. Smith’s effort in the first 24 minutes. J.R. was lighting it up from downtown taking a break at halftime with 13 points and two assists on 3-5 from beyond the arch in a performance which included a four-point play. Smith was also playing very solid defense on Dwayne Wade and was a visible spark off the bench.
Unfortunately, the otherwise sloppy play I mentioned was affording the Heat to enter intermission shooting 61% from the field and holding an advantage in the rebounding battle 22-14. Carmelo was the best Denver rebounder finishing the half with a team-high four rebounds with Marcus Camby uncharacteristically grabbing just two rebounds in the first 24 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 14 points to lead Denver in points, but the otherwise lackadaisical Nuggets found themselves down to the league’s worst team, 63-57.
In the third quarter, the Heat continued their hot shooting but the Nuggets hung around largely in part to Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith shouldering much of the scoring load. Kenyon Martin was a perfect 6-6 from the field scoring twelve points in the quarter including six straight over a four minute span. J.R. continued his torrid shooting by hitting a three to end the quarter and managed to carry over the hot hand into the start of the fourth with a total of five straight three’s to give the Nuggets a, 93-91, lead with under nine minutes to play in the game. J.R.’s eight made three-pointers for the game is a new career-high, but it was his defense on Dwayne Wade in clutch moments of the game that really sealed an overall great performance.
The game would swing back and forth over the course of the fourth quarter and with the Nuggets having the final shot in regulation and the game tied. The Denver offense went flat and the final look at the rim for the Nuggets ended up being a fade-away by Allen Iverson that was snuffed out Dorell Wright.
Enter overtime where the Nuggets would strike first and never look back. Despite having an off night shooting, ‘Melo reemerged as the Nuggets’ bread and butter scoring six of the Nuggets twelve overtime points and gave George Karl his 14th double-double performance of the season finishing with 22 points, eleven rebounds, and four assists for the game’s grand stat total. Kenyon Martin finished with 24 points and six rebounds and J.R. Smith’s team-high 28 points and career-high eight three’s were enough for the Nuggets to overcome a dreadful night by Allen Iverson who finished with just 16 points on 5-20 shooting.
Dwayne Wade led all scorers with a double-double of 29 points and ten assists and Shawn Marion grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds to compliment his 23 points, but Marcus Camby’s 14 rebound effort in the second half ended up swinging the battle of the boards back into the Nuggets' favor for the game, 49-46. And none were bigger than his 16th and game-sealing rebound as time expired. The Captain finished tonight’s game nearly missing a triple double with 12 points, the aforementioned 16 rebounds, and seven huge blocked shots.
The Nuggets averted disaster tonight because they came together as a team with individuals stepping up at the right times. Kenyon Martin’s 12 points in the third period were huge. J.R. Smith was instrumental in keeping the Nuggets toe-to-toe with the Heat late in the third and to begin the fourth. Marcus Camby turning things up on defense in the second half set the tone for the Nuggets comeback and Carmelo not shying away from the spotlight in overtime despite having a bad night shooting are all equal reasons why the Nuggets can fly to Orlando tonight to face the Magic tomorrow with an extra spring in their step.
Great, ugly, overtime,win, Denver.
I should also mention that this Miami team has lost 22 of their last 23 games, is in the bottom five teams league-wide in offensive rebounds (29th), defensive rebounds (27th), total rebounds (30th), assists (25th), opposing blocks (28th), three-point shooting percentage (28th), field goals attempted (29th) and made (26th), the opposing team’s shooting percentage (26th), and with the ultimate smear are the league-wide loser in points scored per game at 92.3 (30th).
The only two players on this Miami team (besides Wade, of course) that have hurt the Nuggets in the past are Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. In Denver's, 137-115, loss at Phoenix on Jan. 7, Marion scored 27 points by way of a three-point barrage. Marcus Banks also went berzerk from downtown off of a 7-8 performance good for 23 points as the Nuggets gave up a franchise record for three’s made in a game for the Suns. Fittingly, these two guys now play for the Heat as Phoenix’s end of the Shaq deal.
Other than those key points right there Denver better keep it real tonight and get this W.
'87- Bill Fitch became the fifth coach in NBA history to reach 700 career wins when the Houston Rockets beat the New Jersey Nets 121-99.
'89- A crowd of 44,735, the largest in NBA All-Star Game history, turned out at the Houston Astrodome to watch the West beat the East 143-134 in the 39th renewal, as Utah’s Karl Malone won MVP honors after scoring a team-high 28 points.
'94- Cleveland’s Mark Price captured his second straight AT&T Shootout title, Minnesota rookie Isaiah Rider won the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk, and the Phenoms, led by Golden State’s Chris Webber (14 points, 10 rebounds), defeated the Sensations 75-68 in the inaugural Schick Rookie Game at All-Star Saturday, held at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
'95- In the 45th annual NBA All-Star Game at America West Arena in Phoenix, Sacramento’s Mitch Richmond scored a game-high 22 points and won MVP honors in leading the West to a 139-112 triumph over the East.
'99- Mark Price announced his retirement from the NBA at a news conference at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where he starred for Georgia Tech from 1982 to 1986.
'99- Utah’s Karl Malone became the 10th player in NBA history to log 40,000 career minutes in a game against Golden State.
'00- NBA All-Star Saturday in Oakland had Chicago’s Elton Brand winning the Schick Rookie Challenge MVP after finishing with 14 points and 21 rebounds as the 2000 Rookies defeated the 1999 Rookies 92-81 in overtime. The Sony All-Star 2ball competition was won by Utah Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek and Utah Starzz Natalie Williams, as they edged out Phoenix’s Jason Kidd and Jennifer Gillom, 68-61. Hornacek carried his hot shooting into the AT&T Shootout, and became the fourth player in the history of the event to repeat as champion, edging out Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Milwaukee’s Ray Allen in the final round with a score of 13. Vince Carter took center stage in the evening’s grand finale and turned in an Oscar-worthy performance, capturing the NBA.com Slam Dunk title. Carter registered three perfect scores of 50 points and distanced himself from a talented collection of high risers, including second-place finisher Steve Francis of Houston and Raptors teammate and cousin Tracy McGrady (third).
So, basically, what this means is if Camby is able to actually do his job even 60% of the time than not only does he make all the money in his contract, but he also gets humungous bonuses along the way for, you guessed it, doing his job! You have got to love the NBA in this regard because, I am going out on a limb here but, I highly doubt that if any of us only came to work 60% of the time that there would be any bonuses (especially of that size) in our paychecks.
NBA basketball - where amazing happens!
Monday, February 11, 2008
'78- George Gervin of San Antonio scored 23 fourth-quarter points, one more than the entire Golden State team, as the Spurs won in overtime, 131-122.
'82- Houston Rockets center Moses Malone grabbed an NBA-record 21 offensive rebounds in a 117-100 victory over Seattle.
'89- Calvin Murphy scored an event-record 26 points, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, to lead the West over the East 54-53 in the Schick Legends Classic at All-Star Saturday in Houston.
'90- The TeamUp Youth Celebration started in Miami during All-Star Weekend.
'95- The Miami Heat became the first NBA team to have two of its players sweep the All-Star Saturday competition, as Harold Miner won the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk and Glen Rice captured the AT&T Shootout.
'96- The East team defeats the West 129-118 in the 46th annual NBA All-Star Game played before 36,037 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Shaquille O’Neal scores a game-high 25 points and grabs 10 rebounds and Michael Jordan, the All-Star MVP, has 20 points in only 22 minutes to lead the East.
'01- Allen Iverson of the East All-Stars scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to lead his team all the way back from a 19-point deficit after three quarters and score a dramatic 111-110 come-from-behind victory over the West in the 50th NBA All-Star Game at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. Stephon Marbury of the New Jersey Nets hit a three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to give the East the victory. Iverson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.