2001-2002 Game Summaries
To see game summaries from past years, visit the archives.
||Denver at Philadelphia 76ers
||Nuggets loss: 77-108
Iverson, sore toe and all, single-handedly destroyed the Nuggets in Philly.
trip that faded
The road trip started off so promising with solid wins
against Memphis and Minnesota. Then the Nuggets seemed to tire as a team and remember
their tendancy for playing on the road the past few years - losing.
After missing the previous game, and being listed as day-to-day
with a sprained big toe, Allen Iverson ended up playing in this game and tore
up the Nuggets with 27 points in 36 minutes along with 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
Ex-Nugget Mt. Dikembe Mutombo had a stellar game with 20 points on perfect shooting
(9-9 from the floor, 2-2 from the line) and 10 rebounds.
The Nuggets didn't put up much of a fight. They shot just
.368 from the floor, were outscored in the first 3 quarters 54-86, and looked
lethargic from start to finish.
In my opinion, Avery Johnson has been the MVP of
the Nuggets so far this season, but he needs to be the back-up, not the main guy
so that his minutes stay around 30 or less per game. Kenny Satterfield is not
ready to back him up quite yet, but he at least has gotten some real experience
in the past few games.
The Nuggets will be happy to return home, even against
Utah, and they just might receive a huge lift by seeing Antonio for the first
time all season in a game.
Nick Van Exel missed his fourth straight game with
inflammation in his left elbow. Ryan Bowen missed his 2nd game with a sprained
left ankle. To be honest, I think this team really missed Ryan the past two games
because they really could have used his infusion of energy and hustle. Without
him, the Nuggets seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Til next game,
||Denver at Los Angeles Lakers
||Nuggets win: 107-91
you believe that Voshon gave Kobe all he could handle and more? When you believe
that, you'll also realize that somehow, someway, the Nuggets beat the Lakers,
was truly a beautiful game
I was ready to turn the TV off after Raef LaFrentz
hit his first two shots and the Nuggets were up 4-0. Call the game, it's over,
the Nuggets are winning, and they can't keep that up against the mighty Lakers.
I'm glad I decided to keep watching.
This was a huge win in the midst of a frustrating, turmoil
ridden Nuggets season. Let's list some of the streaks and trends the Nuggets broke
on this night:
- 1st Nuggets road win in the last 15 games
- 1st win in LA since January, 1996 when Nick Van Exel
still played for the Lakers
- Only the 2nd time the Nuggets shot over 50% (56.5%) for
the season, against one of the NBA's best defenses.
- Shaq returned from his 3 game suspension, scored 40 points,
and somehow the Nuggets won going away.
When Raef scored 6 points early in the 1st quarter, I
took that as a sign of good things to come, as Raef had struggled the past few
games. Raef only scored 2 more points, but he did what he could to slow down Shaq,
earning a shiner and a scratch from his ear to his chin on one side of his face.
The young pups of the Nuggets are starting to show their
contributions and were evident in this game. Chris Anderson, playing with
a bone chip in his right wrist had two monster dunks and threw his athletic and
wiry frame around with abandon, making good things happen. His best highlight
was his underhanded free throw that went in when he was fouled at the end of the
first half. Zendon Hamilton has found growing confidence and consistent
inside rebounding toughness and scoring ability - earning several recent starts
with Scott Williams still out with a sore back. Zendon's 17 points was a career
high, and he has pulled in double digit rebounds in 3 of the last 4 games.
Okay, I can't ignore shooting guard Voshon Lenard
any longer. He was easily the MVP of this game with his scoring, hitting 9 of
11 shots for 29 points. Earlier in the season, when Tariq was actually healthy
for a short while, Voshon was completely out of the playing rotation and got few
minutes under Issels final weeks at the helm. Did Voshon complain about his lack
of playing time, ala George McCloud style? When Mike Evans took over, Voshon started
getting more playing time, and the Nuggets best shooter started taking some of
the pressure off of Nick by providing scoring help. Voshon has been key in several
of the recent Nuggets victories. In this game, with Kobe Bryant defending him,
he was actually able to abuse the NBA 1st team defender a few times, using his
strength to get his fade-away off against the taller Kobe. So, thanks Voshon,
for being a professional, and stepping up to help the Nuggets win a few games
once you were given a chance.
Lastly, Posey also had a great night scoring 23,
including a clutch 3 pointer late in the 4th when the Lakers threatened to get
close. Nick was Nick, scoring 17 points and handing out 12 dimes.
Til next game,
||Sacramento Kings at Denver
||Nuggets lose: 107-112
Benson and I were fired up to get our mitts on Doug Moe Bobbleheads, although
we refute the accuracy of his attire. Oh, and the Nuggets were entertaining also...
With the only nationally televised Nuggets game of the
season (TNT), free Bobbleheads of Doug Moe, one of the last successful Nuggets
coaches, and an outing with one of my longest and best friends, it was bound to
be an excellent night.
I was sure we would see a spectacular game from Nick,
as he would use the opportunity to showcase his talents for the trade he has been
requesting this season. Instead, he sat out with a "sore jaw" that he
suffered during the Utah game. Huh?
The extremely undermanned Nuggets gave a valiant effort
against one of the best teams in the NBA. The Nuggets went into half-time behind
by only 1 point, and they reversed the score by the end of the third quarter -
finding themselves up by 3.
Much of the effort came from Raef LaFrentz and
Avery Johnson, who both had stellar outings. Raef poured in 30, had 10
rebounds, and had 6 blocks to continue his run at finishing #1 in blocks per game
for the NBA. Avery had 23 points and 12 assists.
In the end, the Kings made it look easy by shifting into
another gear that the Nuggets just couldn't match. The score was close, but you
could tell the Kings were in control. Another loss, but a highly entertaining
game, and a glimpse at a possible Western Conference Finals team.
Final thoughts: If only Raef could put consistent
outings like this together. How great of an off-season pick-up has Avery Johnson
Til next game,
||Dallas Mavericks at Denver
||Nuggets lose: 94-95
Nowitzki celebrates after hitting the free throw that put the Mavs up with less
than 7 seconds left.
ways to lose
Another game, another similar ending.
In the past 4 games, the Nuggets have lost 3 of them by
a combined total of 4 points. If the game is close, the Nuggets seem to
be finding ways to lose. Maybe they are just always out of gas, because to get
into games we usually are coming from behind in the 4th quarter.
The Dallas game was a little different. Yes, we were behind
by 12 points, 40-52 at half-time. But we made all of that up in the 3rd and early
4th quarters, and were playing with a lead thru-out most of the 2nd half of the
With 1:13 left, we had a 5 point advantage - 92-87. Suddenly
are shots stop falling, and Dallas hits a lay-up, followed by a quick transition
3 from Dirk. Avery Johnson comes thru and hits a tough layup with less
than 20 seconds to go, Nuggets lead by 2. With Dallas on offense, Dirk gets the
ball and goes to work. Ryan Bowen, all skinny 6-9' of him is guarding 7' Dirk,
and he has no help. Isn't zone defense legal? It's not like Dirk is the quickest
guy on the court, he's making a gradual big-man spin move to the middle of the
court! Dirk pump fakes, knowing Ryan has to leave his feet to have a chance at
defending a good shooter. Dirk waits til Ryan awkwardly falls into him, and calmly
makes the hoop and one. Ballgame. Nick gets off a fading-away 3-pointer at the
buzzer while being contested by Steve Nash and it falls harmlessly to the floor
- airball. Argh.
A couple of quick things. Why, oh why did we cut Shawnelle
Scott? Granted, he was not the future of the Nuggets at the center position, and
he was not the most athletic guy, but he was definitely servicable enough to start
10 games for us before he was waived this past week so we didn't have to give
him a contract for the rest of the season. There were a few smaller, comparable
guys on the roster at the loaded forward position that could have easily be waived
in his place. Hmmm, suddenly we are getting outrebounded (nearly doubled up by
the Hornets the other game in a bad loss) and the coaching staff is talking about
toughness and lack of physical presence. We just cut the biggest, toughest guy
on the roster! In the last three games James Posey (love the guy) a skinny,
6-7 hustling small forward has led the team in rebounds - that's not right.
Til next game,
at Denver (12/26/01)
Evans took over the reigns after Issel officially resigned
before the game.
and definitely no cigar
This was one of the quotes following the
game from discontent Nuggets point guard, Nick Van Exel.
I took my Dad and grandfather to this holiday
game. Before the game I told them I couldn't promise a victory,
but I promised them an exciting game. Unfortunately, I was right
on both counts - the Nuggets lost a close, exciting game, as they
have a penchant for coming from behind this season.
Unfortunately, when you come from behind
as often as this year's Nuggets do, you sometimes don't have enough
gas left in the tank at the end.
Battling back from a 13 point 4th quarter deficit, the
Nuggets went up by 1 after 6 points from James Posey, and 3 by Nick late
in the game. The T-wolves answered the challenge by coming down and getting a
basket from Joe Smith with seconds left on the shot clock. The Nuggets called
their final time-out and interim coach Mike Evans drew up a play. The play panned
out as designed, with a wide open three-pointer from the corner for Voshon
Lenard. Unfortunately, the gauge was empty, and Voshon missed the shot. After
the Nuggets fouled Anthony Peeler and he hit both free throws, they had one final
hope, down by three points. Unfortunately, with no time outs, Nick was only able
to get off a difficult shot and it bounced harmlessly off the rim and to the floor
as time expired.
As most of you know, Issel formally announced
his resignation as Nuggets Head Coach and President just hours
before the game. The odd part is that he was not present for the
announcement, as it was relayed by GM Kiki Vandeweghe.
Most of the Nuggets seemed relieved to have this particular chapter
behind them, as they were happy that Issel had made his decision.
Ex-Nugget Chauncey Billups had a killer
game against us, scoring 12 points in the 1st quarter and 22 and
8 assists for the game. A fan behind me shouted it out the best
- "Chauncey, if you had played like this for us every night,
you would still be in Denver!"
Ryan Bowen and T-wolves player Gary Trent
got into a scuffle in the 4th quarter. As the action was away
from the ball, I only saw Bowen on the ground with Trent standing
over him. The crowd and Nuggets players went crazy and the refs
called a flagrant foul on Trent. I asked Bowen about the incident
at the Nuggets Open House the following day and he said that Gary
took his head and slammed it against the court. He has a black
eye to prove it, and you can see the picture by following the
link on the Multimedia page.
Til next game,
at Denver (12/15/01)
Evans is 2-0 as his first two games as an interim NBA coach.
are the best medicine
Mike Evans has held the reigns well.
With Dan Issel halfway thru his 4-game suspension,
long time assistance coach, Mike Evans has filled in well. As
in perfect, with a 2-0 record. Okay, the first victory was at
home against bottom dweller Memphis Grizzlies, but after 5 straight
losses, and losing 9 of 10, any victory is huge.
After a win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday
night, Evans and the Nuggets players should be beaming.
This game was won in the 4th quarter by the Nuggets, with
Van Exel leading the show as usual. During the Nuggets losing streak, his
heroics were not enough, but on this night Nick had a little help from his friends.
Voshon Lenard has stepped up his
scoring the past few games, and he has been rewarded with more
playing time. Raef LaFrentz got the Nuggets going in the
4th with a pair of 3-pointers that helped ignite a 17-2 Nuggets
run over the last 4 minutes of the game. Nick had a hand in all
of it, as he continues to be Mr. 4th quarter. Would you pick anyone
else in the NBA right now to be on the floor when you needed a
basket in crunch time? I would even pick Nick over his Airness,
at least this year's model. No disrespect intended MJ, Van Exel
is just that good right now.
There was even a Calbert Cheaney sighting
in this game. An often maligned roster spot on the Nuggets, (especially
by me) Calbert played 22 minutes, scoring 10 on 5-7 shooting and
hauled in 7 rebounds. He was tired at the end, shooting 2 free
throws at the very end (that we luckily didn't need) that made
Shaq's free throws look like things of beauty. The Nuggets as
a whole played with good energy thru-out the game, especially
in the 4th quarter when they could have written the game off as
I know that Assistant Coach Mike Evans did
not want his first shot at coaching in the NBA under these kind
of circumstances, but he's proven himself well so far, and deserves
a real shot someday... maybe when Issel steps down in the next
year or two with his pride intact?
Maybe Santa bringing Nick a late Christmas
present of an all-star game berth will finally foil his desire
of being traded to another team?
Til next game,
Lakers at Denver (11/25/01)
and the Nuggets stood up to the powerful force of the Lakers.
victories don't count
Yes, I know... it doesn't help at all at
the end of the season when the judges tally the wins and losses
and award teams playoff spots based solely on the final standings.
As long as the Nuggets don't go thru too
many more of these close losses, they should be able to
build on a game like this. The Lakers are the best team in the
NBA and are working hard to establish themselves for a run at
a third title. Jackson, the ultimate motivator, has the Lakers
already operating smoothly like an oiled machine in the early
going of this 2001-2002 season.
With the Nuggets playing great small-ball
this year, with Nick at the helm, a team like the Lakers could
really threaten to blow out our undersized team. With the Nuggets
fresh off of a near all-time scoring low at home against the Lakers
just last week, this game could have gotten ugly. It looked like
it would several times in the first half - with the Nuggets falling
behind by 10-14-points at times.
The third quarter was a different story,
with Van Exel and Posey combining for a 1-2 scoring
punch that led the Nuggets to outscoring the Lakers 29-16. Unfortunately,
that wasn't the story of the game. Derek Fisher, returning from
injury for his first game of the season was the difference maker
for the Lakers. Yes, Kobe and Shaq got their points, but Fisher
hit the big shots - going 4-4 from 3-point land.
With the game tied 96-96 with less than
2 minutes to go, Raef LaFrentz and Scott Williams
fought each other for a missed free throw courtesy of Shaq. When
neither grabbed the ball, the Lakers George hit the short shot.
On the other end, Williams fouled Shaq, sending him to the line
again. This time, he made the Nuggets pay with two free throws
in a row - a more impressive feat than any of his monster dunks.
With the Nuggets now trailing by four, they worked to get the
ball in at the half court. James Posey ran down to set
a pick on Fisher and they collided. Posey was called for the questionable
offensive foul, and when Kobe got the hoop and the harm on the
other side, the game was effectively over. A great battle, but
the Lakers experience took over down the stretch.
Consider the upcoming home game against
the Pacers a must win for the Nuggets still fragile psyche.
Til next game,
||New Jersey Nets
at Denver (11/19/01)
the pressure mounted against the Nets, Nick stepped up...
now, the latest episode of Nick at Nite
Who would have thought this would be a big,
exciting game against the New Jersey Nets. Well, it was.
The Nets were off to their best start in
years, are being led by the newly acquired Jason Kidd. Even with
Kidd shooting just 2-14 in the game, he is dangerous any time
he has the ball in his hands, especially in crunch time situations.
One of those two shots was a long distance bomb to tie the game
and help send it into overtime. The Nets had chipped away at an
11 point lead in the fourth quarter and looked strong going into
the extra five minutes. Except, they don't have Nick.
Give Nick Van Exel a wide open look at the
basket in the first quarter, and he is probably going to make
it about 30% of the time. Give Nick the ball with a man or two
draped all over him, the shot clock winding down, and a Nuggets
win hanging in the balance, and Nick will hit the shot 8 out of
10 times. Nick has that crunch time prowess that you associate
with only a few guys in this league - namely a guy they call MJ.
It is not sacrilege to make this kind of
analogy. Nick is that good when the pressure is on, and he's been
doing it for years. His team expects it. Coach Issel expects it.
The fans expect it, and time after time, Nick delivers. You get
the feeling this year that Nuggets fans might be in for something
different, if the Nick and his merry band can keep up this level
of intensity and skill until and after McDyess gets back.
Before I get too far off into dream land,
let's talk about the Nets game a little. Issel mixed things up
by starting Ryan Bowen at forward in George McCloud's
spot. I'm not sure I like that switch every game because Bowen
is the prototypical bench player - providing sparks of energy
when the starters become stagnant and start standing around. Ah,
but NBA basketball is all about keeping a team happy and if any
bench player had earned a start from his efforts this season -
it's Bowen. Nuggets fans know that Bowen has been the team's Energizer
Bunny for the past 3 seasons, but he seems to be doing his thing
better than ever this year, earning more and more minutes on the
floor. Good things just happen when he's out there - a steal,
a broken up layup, an offensive board, even tough defense on the
other's teams big guard or small forward. Bowen is one of those
guys that has answered the call of picking up the slack in McDyess's
Other guys are also becoming consistent
contributors - Abdul-Wahad, Posey, and LaFrentz.
Tariq had a horrible season last year, with a variety of maladies
that may have stemmed from coming into the season out of shape.
Not so this year - he's beginning to look like a higher leaping
version of ex-Nugget Bryant Stith... a big guard that can post-up,
hit jumpers from close in, grab offensive rebounds, and play tough
physical defense. Posey gets better every year - and he contributes
like Bowen, in a variety of ways that don't always include big
scoring. LaFrentz has shook off a rough start and is having a
good year, providing number 2 scoring, and playing more aggressive,
more often. As an undersized center with good quickness and shooting
ability, he has to do this to be effective and help open up his
Finally, this game was won by Nick. He had
a game high 30 points, just beating out the Nets Kenyon Martin.
Nick's big points came when they were needed the most, hitting
a three pointer and two free throws late in overtime to hold off
Til next game,
at Denver (11/15/01)
the entire Nuggets team struggled to find its shot, Grant
Hill found his
can't hit the broad side of the barn
As much as I hate
to write about Nuggets losses, I told myself before this game
that it would by my first new game summary in over a year. It's
good to be back.
With new seats
in the Pepsi Center that are a few rows closer to the floor, and
now behind the visiting team's bench, I treated my Dad to a Nuggets
Based on the first
few games I've been to this year, I promised a Nuggets squad that
was playing well, even without All-Star McDyess, by bringing good
energy and effort on both ends of the court.
The Nuggets started
the game with cold shooting, and never seemed to warm-up. The
lack of outside shooting infected the bench too - Rider,
Williams, and Avery all came in and continued the
theme of poor shooting thru-out the game. You know the team is
a bit off offensively when Ryan Bowen scores 14 (a career
high) and leads the team is scoring. This isn't meant as a knock
on Bowen, but I think he would readily admit that he doesn't expect
the team to count on his scoring most nights. Bowen is the master
at infusing energy in this team when it's most needed - he has
an amazing knack for making the hustle plays look easy - scrapping
for a loose ball, making a steal, tracking down an offensive rebound.
Van Exel, who has been leading the team
in scoring every game so far this year, with a 27.0 per game average,
had only 13 points tonight. Nick is not the best shooter in the
world - but he can get hotter than most guys in the league from
time to time. He has the ability to hit the tough shot more often
than the easy one. I was expecting Nick to have an off night one
of these nights, but I didn't expect the rest of the team to follow
his lead. Guys like Raef, Tariq, and James Posey had all
come off of several good games in a row - none of them could get
it going this game.
The Nuggets scrapped and worked hard thru-out
the first half to stay with Orlando. The Magic obliged by not
taking advantage of every opportunity, and the Nuggets went into
the locker room at half-time trailing by only 6.
When the Nuggets started off the second
half just as cold as the first, the Magic finally started taking
advantage. McGrady scored 8 points in the third, and Grant widened
the margin in the fourth when he scored 12 of his 23 points. The
Nuggets couldn't find anyone to answer and faded further and further
away, never mounting a serious challenge.
Until McDyess gets back on the court, this
is Nick's team - good and bad. It would be nice to find a few
guys though that could consistently hit their shots when Nick
dishes it to them. I don't think we can expect Nick to score 28+
points every night.
Til next game,
Bertha Lynn, a local news reporter
sat in our row, just a few seats down from us. Rocky the Mascot
was in our section, saw her, and made a big deal out of it. At
half-time, Rocky hit his third over-his-head, backwards, half-court,
underhand shot of the young season. Amazing! During one
of the 2nd quarter time-outs, Rocky did one of his standard gag-skits
- a camera that he points at the crowd while the video displays
on the Pepsi Center jumbotron, showing "KISS!" around
the picture. The theme song from Disney's Little Mermaid - "Kiss
the Girl" plays in the background. Towards the end, he usually
has a little fun with the refs. For once, one of the refs actually
played along and planted a big kiss on the cheek of the other
ref. (neither were refs I know the names of - it was NOT Steve
Javie!) The entire event made it on to SportsCenter coverage for