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!

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