Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Moving down

Mike Montgomery won 26 straight games to start the season last year at Stanford, so celebrating three victories in a row seemed like a strange notion for Golden State's first-year coach.

His players did it for him.

Mickael Pietrus scored a career-high 24 points off the bench and the Warriors won three straight for the first time this season, beating the injury-depleted Denver Nuggets 104-101 on Monday night.

``I'm very happy,'' Pietrus said. ``The most important thing for me is the team and the way we're playing right now.''

Jason Richardson added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who hadn't won three in a row since getting seven straight from March 15-28 last season.

Andre Miller had 21 points and a season-high 14 assists but missed two free throws in the final minute for the Nuggets, who extended their season-long losing streak to six games and lost their eighth in nine. Nene added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Marcus Camby had 16 points and 12 boards and received a scare when he landed hard on his wrist on a third-quarter breakaway.

Earl Boykins missed a desperation shot at the buzzer in an attempt to tie it for Denver, which played without star forward and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and forward Kenyon Martin because of injuries.

``We're not here for a moral victory,'' Camby said. ``We came here to get a win. Despite who we did or didn't have out there, the guys we did have played hard and competed. It's tough not playing with the two best players on your team, but we've been battling injuries all season and guys have found a way to step up.''

The Warriors rallied in the final period after going cold in the third and getting outscored 32-22. They hope to put a solid 48 minutes together soon.

``We're real close. We're getting there,'' Richardson said. ``We want to build a winning streak, and we have the opportunity to build one.''

Richardson's two free throws with 6:25 left pulled the Warriors within 87-85 and Pietrus gave Golden State the lead the next time down the floor with a driving layin. Murphy scored at 5:22 and Richardson had two straight baskets to cap a 15-2 run.

``Games can take a turn very quickly,'' Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ``That's what happens when you don't make shots and turn the ball over.''

Golden State, which led by as many as 14, beat Sacramento on Sunday to end an 11-game losing streak in Arco Arena.

Cliff Robinson made three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds for Golden State. Troy Murphy added 16 points and 16 boards, and Derek Fisher had 15 points.

Anthony missed his fifth straight game, but expects to return Friday when Denver hosts Philadelphia in its next game. The Nuggets opted to sit him out another day so Anthony will be assured of having two good practices on his ankle before Friday's game.

Martin, the team's second-leading scorer, was sidelined as a precautionary measure because of a mid-back strain on his left side. He was listed as day to day.

Richardson picked up his second offensive foul with 4:51 left in the first quarter, then immediately was hit with a technical for arguing and went to the bench. He didn't return until 5:49 before halftime. Coach Mike Montgomery spoke before the game about playing his stars fewer minutes early so they'd be fresh in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets opened the game by making 9 of 16 shots, but Golden State's second team sparked the Warriors with a 14-6 spurt to start the second quarter on the way to a 40-32 lead. But Nikoloz Tskitishvili scored seven straight during a 9-2 run to end the half and pull Denver within 53-46 at the break

This loss brings us to 0-6 in the last 6 games.We have been really struggling and all of us are hoping that Michael Cooper can turn this team around. Let's see if Mr. Cooper can get things together and get a solid line up going. Go Nuggets!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Struggling Nuggets fire Bzdelik

by Associated Press, from Foxsports.com
Jeff Bzdelik was fired Tuesday as coach of the Denver Nuggets, who are on a six-game losing streak and struggling despite the addition of Kenyon Martin this season.

Assistant Michael Cooper was appointed interim coach.

"Right now, I really felt the team needed a change," general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "Sometimes it's nothing the head coach is doing wrong. It's just that a change of voice sometimes is the positive."

Bzdelik is the first NBA coach to be fired this season. Denver was expected to move near the top of the Western Conference after signing Martin, an All-Star power forward. So far, however, the Nuggets have been hurt by injuries and inconsistency.

The Nuggets started the season without power forward Nene and have used 10 different starting lineups, with star forward Carmelo Anthony missing the past five games with a sprained ankle.

Shooting guard Voshon Lenard, Denver's only legitimate outside shooting threat, was lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon in the opener.

Denver opened the season 2-5, won 10 of its next 12 games and has lost eight of its last nine, dropping to 13-15 after a 104-101 loss to Golden State on Monday night.

And it wasn't just the losses — it was the way the Nuggets were losing.

Denver lost six games by at least 14 points and was lethargic in several others. The Nuggets have struggled defensively, particularly inside, and that has prevented them from utilizing their fast-break offense, one of the keys to their success last year.

The low point came in a nationally televised 19-point loss to Cleveland on Dec. 3. Bzdelik said he wasn't sure which team was going to show up from game to game and even questioned whether his team was in shape — suggesting the Nuggets may have been tuning him out.

"I didn't feel like the team was responding the way we had hoped," Vandeweghe said. "These things don't happen overnight, it's an evolution. I can't pinpoint when this trend started, but it started a while ago."

Bzdelik was a longtime assistant and scout under Pat Riley in Miami and New York before getting his first head coaching job with the Nuggets in 2002. Though Denver struggled to a league-worst 17-65 record in his first season, Bzdelik was credited with turning the Nuggets into a hardworking, defensive-minded team.

A roster overhaul and the addition of Anthony made all the difference last season. The Nuggets improved by 26 games to 43 wins - the sixth-best turnaround in NBA history — to reach the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

Through all the success, Bzdelik wasn't able to get any security from the front office. General manager Kiki Vandeweghe refused to give Bzdelik a contract extension last season and it seemed the only reason he was back this year was because of a contract clause that called for his option to be picked up if the Nuggets reached the playoffs.

It was a situation that may have had Bzdelik, 73-119 in just over two seasons with Denver, looking over his shoulder.

"Do I think I'm responsible? Yes, I take responsibility," Vandeweghe said. "At the end of the day I take responsibility for all the things that go on here. These are my decisions and some of them are not fun decisions to make."

Cooper, a member of the Los Angeles Lakers' "Showtime" teams of the 1980s, coached the Los Angeles Sparks to two WNBA championships and a finals appearance in four years before joining the Nuggets as an assistant this season.

"This is tough, but my goal now is to get us playing a little better," Cooper said. "We'll concentrate on defense and just try to continue the winning ways this team ended last season and sort of started with at the beginning of the season."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Green Sparks Sixers Past Nuggets

from NBA.com
Things were looking pretty blue for the Philadelphia 76ers until Jim O'Brien inserted Willie Green.

Green scored 13 of his season-high 17 points in a seven-minute span of the second half and sparked a stunning turnaround as the 76ers roared back from an 18-point deficit for a 110-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets, their third straight win.

For most of the first three quarters, the 76ers looked lethargic and sloppy, allowing the bigger Nuggets to dominate around the rim and convert turnovers into easy baskets. A one-handed alley-oop slam by Carmelo Anthony capped a 19-6 surge and gave Denver its largest lead at 77-59 with 3:46 left in the third quarter.

That brought out the boo birds at the Wachovia Center and prompted O'Brien to make mass substitutions including Green, who has had a yo-yo second season. Named the starting shooting guard in training camp, he lost his spot, regained it, then lost it again.

Having not played the last two games, Green looked like a colt let out of the barn. His exuberance picked up the defense and led to some badly needed offense as he scored eight points in a 17-4 run that closed the quarter.

"Coach O'Brien said something to me today. He just told to me to not get down on myself and stay ready," Green said. "AI (Allen Iverson) was always staying in my ear. He told me to keep working and stay sharp because my number is going to get called. I was able to go out and have a pretty good game."

"It just says a lot about who he is as a person and as a basketball player," Iverson said. "The stage was set for him to come in make major things happen. Not getting the opportunity to play and then all of a sudden when he gets a chance to play, he gave us the lift that we knew he always could."

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter as Green drilled a 3-pointer and jumper as part of a 12-0 burst that gave Philadelphia the lead for good. Allen Iverson and rookie Andre Iguodala added fast-break baskets that made it 92-86 with 8:19 left.

The stunned Nuggets made four free throws but got no closer. Iverson made a pair of jumpers and Iguodala sank a 3-pointer to cap a 9-1 burst for a 101-90 lead with 5:04 to play. It was at least a two-possession game thereafter, and Green capped the win with four free throws.

"Green just totally changed the entire game in terms of his desperate energy," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "He was just not going to be denied and his team followed him. It came at a point where we were celebrating. We exhaled and they dug in. Therein lies the story. The game is 48 minutes long and you have to play 48 minutes. We got a little comfortable and full of ourselves."

Green had been averaging 7.6 points per game and had not scored in double figures in December. He made 4-of-5 shots and 8-of-9 free throws, but more important, the Sixers outscored the Nuggets, 51-25, for the 16 minutes he was on the floor.

"I knew that I had to get in there and create some energy," Green said. "If anything, I was going to dive on some loose balls, and foul somebody hard. Anything, just to get a spark on the team. You don't know when your number will get called so, you have to be ready. It's part of being a professional. I was just watching, observing, learning from my mistakes. Then I went out there and played my heart out."

Iverson had 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Iguodala scored 16 points for Philadelphia, which was swept by Denver last season.

Anthony scored 29 points and Kenyon Martin added 25 for the Nuggets, who fell to 2-2 on their season-high seven-game road trip.

"That was the worst loss of my life," said Nuggets guard Greg Buckner, a former Sixer. "We definitely got too comfortable. The Sixers wanted it more, I guess. They had all the momentum, we just couldn't stop it."

The Sixers played without forward Kenny Thomas, who had flu-like symptoms. The Nuggets were without center Nene, who had a bruised right hip. As a result, Denver was outrebounded, 44-36, and surrendered 20 second-chance points.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Anthony injured

From sports.yahoo.com:
Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony sprained his right ankle after a hard fall in the third quarter Saturday night against the Houston Rockets.

Anthony was headed to the basket on a fast break when Bob Sura bear-hugged him and the two went tumbling out of bounds.

Anthony had to be helped to the locker room. X-rays were negative and his status is day to day.

Anthony had eight points when he left. He was replaced by Francisco Elson, who hit one of two free throws.

Although Anthony got about half his normal playing time, he still got 8 points 3 assists. It look slike MIller, Camby and Martin are going to have to step up inorder to fill up his presence. Heal fast Anthony and Lets get some wins Nuggets and make it 5-1!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Carmelo is ready to play!

From sports.yahoo.com:
Now Carmelo Anthony can concentrate entirely on basketball again. That means defenses all over the NBA better get focused, too.

Hours after prosecutors dropped a drug charge against him, Anthony scored 30 points to help the Denver Nuggets hold off the visiting Toronto Raptors 112-106 on Wednesday night.

``A little bit early in the season I was thinking about it, worrying about what they were going to do, but now I try to put basketball in the middle and work everything else around it,'' Anthony said.


The star forward was charged with possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana on Oct. 15 after a bag with the drug was found in his backpack as the team waited to board a flight for a preseason game. A friend came forward and said the drugs were his, but the negative attention clearly affected Anthony early this season.

Not anymore.

After shooting 27 percent the first four games, Anthony has made 36 of 76 shots (47 percent) the past four, scoring at least 30 points twice. More importantly, he has been more aggressive, and the smile he flashed so often as a rookie last season has returned.

``Carmelo is active and not settling for jump shots,'' Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ``He is taking balls to the hole and hitting the offensive glass, and those kinds of things are needed for him to be a complete scorer.''

In other games, it was: Detroit 93, Minnesota 85; Seattle 79, New Jersey 68; Orlando 107, Utah 92; Indiana 93, Atlanta 86; Washington 110, Boston 105 in overtime; Phoenix 95, New Orleans 84; Miami 113, Milwaukee 106; Memphis 101, Portland 82; Golden State 98, Chicago 85; and the Los Angeles Lakers 103, the Los Angeles Clippers 89.

Anthony also had a key block in the closing minutes and made all 16 free throws, including two with 5.6 seconds left to seal Denver's second win in three games since a 1-4 start.

Kenyon Martin added 24 points and 16 rebounds to give the Nuggets the electrifying 1-2 combination they were hoping for when Martin signed in the offseason.

Denver played without center Marcus Camby and power forward Nene due to hamstring injuries, and Martin did his best to make up for their absence with his usual aggressive play.

``People have been looking for that since the start of the season,'' Anthony said. ``We gave them what they want to see and hopefully we can carry it on to the next game and throughout the season.''

I hope that with his mind totally on basketball, he can play back up to his potential. It was clearly shown in the game against the Raptors, all we can do is just hope he can keep up the good work. Its good that he got out when he did, because who knows when we could be plagued with a serious injury. Luckily we have been limited to only Lenard this season. Lets pump it back up and hope that the drug charges can stay in the past!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Shimmering Pre-season wins, havn't come alive so far

From sports.yahoo.com
DENVER (AP) -- In an elevator with his entourage just after halftime, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was asked why he was leaving the Nuggets'
game so early. ``It's a bad show, man,'' he replied.
Bailey isn't the only one who thinks so.

The surprise of the NBA a year ago, the Denver Nuggets have been surprisingly bad this season. With a stagnant offense and not much more movement on defense, the Nuggets are 1-2 and hearing it from the hometown fans.
``We're just not playing, plain and simple,'' point guard Earl Boykins
said. The once-woeful Nuggets had a breakout season in 2003-04, finishing
43-39 to reach the playoffs for the first time in nine years. This from a team
that won 17 games the year before. The bar was raised even higher this season
because Denver added All-Star power forward Kenyon Martin and kept just about
everybody else.But the Nuggets were woeful in an 11-point loss at the Los
Angeles Lakers in the opener, eked out a sloppy victory against Minnesota on
Thursday, then were booed off their home court following Saturday's 106-82 loss
to Utah. And it doesn't get much easier. Next up is another game against the
Jazz, followed by Seattle, defending champion Detroit and a road game against
Sacramento. Making matters worse, the Nuggets lost shooting guard Voshon
Lenard for the season when he tore his Achilles' tendon against the Lakers.
Outside shooting was already a weak point.
Denver used DerMarr Johnson as Lenard's replacement against the Timberwolves, but he wasn't much of a factor, managing two points in 15 minutes. The Nuggets switched to defensive-minded Greg Buckner against the Jazz and had similar results from him -- four points in 17 minutes. With no one hitting shots from the perimeter for the Nuggets, opponents have been able to pack the paint against the Nuggets.
One of the league's top-5 scoring teams a year ago, the Nuggets rank 27th at 84.6 points a game -- 13 fewer than last year. Denver also has failed to shoot 40 percent in all three games and is at 37.3 for the season, third-worst in the league. ``We've abandoned everything we worked on in the preseason in terms of sharing and moving and playing together as a team with energy,'' coach Jeff Bzdelik said. Part of the problem is that the Nuggets have had a hard time getting into their offense, standing around until someone is forced to create something one-on one. Denver also hasn't been able to get out and run, a strong point last season, when it averaged 19 fast-break points. The Nuggets scored 28 against Minnesota but managed just 17 combined in the two losses.
``Everyone understands this team is built to run, it's built to move,''
general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``It's a matter of 'OK, how do we get guys
do that?'''
Playing better defense might help.
The Nuggets are allowing
95 points per game and opponents are shooting 46 percent against them, providing
little chance to push the pace. After all, it's not easy to run when you're
pulling the ball out of the net so often.
``It should be a very good
defensive team, a very good defensive rebounding team and a great running
team,'' Vandeweghe said. ``We've done it at times, just not enough.''
Then
there's Carmelo Anthony.
Last year's rookie sensation didn't play much in
the Olympics, was involved in a scuffle at a bar and was ticketed for having
marijuana in his backpack while boarding the team's plane during the preseason.
It hasn't gotten much better now that the season has started
After
moving without the ball so well in the preseason, Anthony has been mostly
stationary so far, lingering around the wings and forcing long jumpers.
Most
have missed.
Anthony is averaging 15.3 points, but he's shooting just 25
percent -- 1-of-9 on 3-pointers. The star was even benched to start the second
half against the Jazz, sitting there most of the third quarter before finishing
off a 3-for-20 night.
``There's so much pressure on him to succeed that it's
getting to him,'' Martin said. ``He needs to relax. He played so well last year
that if he plays bad you guys go write stuff about him. The game doesn't change,
he just needs to relax.''
With a great high-scoring run of preseason games, it is a shame we have gotten off to such a slow start. The fact of the matter is that we just need to kick it into a higher gear. The game against Utah was sloppy going both ways and the mistakes piled up. They were holding our offense and crushing our defense. Carmelo Anthony had nothing going for him that game. They held him to 15% shooting. Earl Boykins played well but it wasn't close to enough to make up 24 points. I guess we have to hope for a better performance. GO Nuggets!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Nuggets Win; Pacers Lose Miller

From NBA.com

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 29 (Ticker) -- The Denver Nuggets played without Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin in Friday's preseason finale.

The Indiana Pacers may be without Reggie Miller for much longer.The Indiana Pacers' veteran shooting guard suffered a broken bone in his left hand in the first quarter of a 98-79 loss to the Nuggets.

Miller, who is entering his 18th season with the club, was injured while running through a screen. The team did not immediately disclose how long Miller would be sidelined.

Without three of their top players, the Nuggets concluded a 7-1 preason. They open the regular season at the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

Led by NenĂª, who scored 17 points, the Nuggets had six players score in double figures. Rodney White added 16, Greg Buckner had 12 and Francisco Elson, Earl Boykins and DerMarr Johnson chipped in with 10 apiece.

Ron Artest scored 24 points and Stephen Jackson added 17 off the bench for Indiana (6-2), which opens the regular season at Cleveland on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hello Denver!

Hi, I'm just in the process of getting this blog on the Nuggets set up, so bear with me a second and I'll have some content up soon!