Final Nuggets record: 35-47
|Seattle at Denver||Win: 99-88|
|Sacramento at Denver||Loss: 86-90|
|Minnesota at Denver||Win: 98-91|
|Denver at Houston||Loss: 113-109|
|Lakers at Denver||Win: 98-91|
|Houston at Denver||Win: 111-105|
|Portland at Denver||Loss: 91-97|
|Denver at Golden State||Loss: 90-98|
|Minnesota at Denver||Win: 86-78|
|Milwaukee at Denver||Win: 98-85|
|Denver at Vancouver||Win: 92-88|
|Charlotte at Denver||Loss: 112-119|
|Denver at Washington||Loss: 90-92|
|Denver at Boston||Loss: 98-99|
|Denver at New Jersey||Loss: 89-97|
|Denver at Toronto||Win: 122-114|
|Denver at Detroit||Loss: 81-91|
|Orlando at Denver||Win: 110-93|
|Chicago at Denver||Win: 105-99|
The Nuggets ended a disappointing season against the SuperSonics, beating them for the first time all season, 99-88. The only major event of the night was the fight that broke out between Shawn Kemp and Tommy Hammonds. Both were ejected after Kemp hit a 3-pointer and jawed at Tommy on the way back down the court. A friend of mine that was at the game said Kemp tore off Hammonds face-mask that was protecting his recently repaired broken nose. Not cool. Kemp, do you still wonder why you weren't chosen for Dream Team III? Kemp will be sitting in the first game of the playoffs.
I hope the offseason brings some positive changes to the Denver Nuggets. They have the talent, now the need a coach to come in and motivate, and guide these young players.
"This is a bitter pill to swallow," Nuggets guard Bryant Stith said, "and I'll be home wondering what happened to us this season."
The Nuggets season is officially over, after being elimnated from playoff contention by the Kings, 86-90. Just like many, many games this year, it came down to execution in the final two minutes of the game. The Nuggets were up by one with just over a minute to go when Mitch Richmond then hit a long jumper to put the Kings back up. The Nuggets go down to the other end and Dale Ellis puts up an off-balance shot and LaPhonso Ellis gets called for an offensive foul. After Brian Grant shoots free throws, Jalen Rose drives up the middle of the court and gets called for an offensive foul in the middle of the lane. Yes, Jalen shot 6/7 for 16 points, but he made the out of control play when the Nuggets needed him the most.
I watched this game over a few beers, which if nothing else helped dampen this frustration over a tough season. The Kings got their revenge against the Nuggets after we elimnated them from the playoffs in the final game of the season last year. Am I bummed that the Nuggets now are lottery bound? Yes, because the playoffs always offer a chance of glory and momentum building for the following season. I don't see what the lottery can really offer the Nuggets. However, with a good pick and a package deal including Mahmoud, the Nuggets may be able to trade up for a good center or shooting guard. Does this mean I'm giving up on Mutombo or Stith? No, but we definitely could badly use some help in both of those areas.
Now I look forward to seeing what moves the Nuggets can make in the off-season. I hope that most of these young athletes can come back hungry next year, to make big improvements on a forgettable season. Mark my words, Antonio McDyess will be a super-star for the Nuggets in the next few years, and LaPhonso Ellis will improve in the off-season to come back to the level he attained at the end of the 94 season.
Lastly, I hope Bernie Bickerstaff takes a good hard look at himself as the coach of this team and makes the right decision in the off-season. Bernie needs to return to the front-office and hand over the reigns to this young, exciting team to a man that can lead them to new heights in the 96-97 season.
I missed most of the Houston game, so I've asked an ex-Houstonian to be my first ever guest-speaker. He may approach things from a slightly different angle, but I'm grateful for his following commentary.
I'm pleased to be today's guest columnist, let's talk Nuggets. The Rockets finally got Hakeem back and are now one alien away from full strength. So one might think they'd be ready to start flexing their muscle. Wrong. They sleep-walk through another regular season game, this time coming up with just enough to win. Some flashes of brilliance from Hakeem, some vintage Elie, excellent booing of the rogue/faux point guard (Mr. shot selection) Jalen Rose. Paging Mr. Horry, Mr. Robert Horry, please come to the lost and found to pick up your game. It'll be interesting to see if Rudy's got any magic left when we head to LA to see the Lake Show and the fresh-legged hood, Nick Van Exel.
Well that's my Nuggets summary. Go Rockets.
Editor's note: I was very tempted to leave that last part out.
This was a great game to be at. Sure, both teams offenses virtually disappeared in the second half, and not just because of great defense. The Nuggets prevailed against the mighty Magic Johnson and his Lakers, 98-91. This game had it all, fast breaks, well run offense, tough defense, and another ref bumping. I'm not promoting this last item, but, no one got hurt, and it was very entertaining. During a timeout in the 4th quarter, Nick Van Ecel and Magic were busy questioning Ref Garretson about a call. Garretson gave Van Exel a Technical and Van Exel started to run at the ref. He was momentarily held back by a teammate and then he got free and elbowed Garretson back onto the scorer's table. This was my view from up above in the stands. Garretson shouting back some colorful expletives, but otherwise kept his cool. Van Excel has been fined a record $25,000 by the NBA and will miss 7 games.
Back to the game. LaPhonso had another excellent game and is finally starting to show the kind of consistency we began to expect from him during the 94 playoff run. He had 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Nuggets were terrors on the boards, and that was the difference in this game. They outrebounded the Lakers, 65-35. Many of them were offensive rebounds, creating 2nd and 3rd shot opportunities.
Wait... yes, there it is. There is still a faint pulse heard in the veins of the Nuggets 95-96 season. The Nuggets beat the 2-time defending champs, 111-105. Two of the games most dominating centers, one being compared to Jordan as one of the best games in basketball, and the other with intimidating night after night defensive performances, were missing. So, it came down to a bunch of tiny guys (yeah right) with a lot of heart. The Rockets have been playing various parts of this season with 5-6 key players missing. They recently got back two of their fireplugs, Mario Ellie and Clyde Drexler. You may remember that Mario broke his wrist after being bumped under the basket by Jalen Rose two months ago. There didn't seem to be any lingering bad blood between the two, proving that the heated controvery that flared up in Nuggets and Rockets internet newsgroups after the incident was all for naught.
LaPhonso Ellis had arguably his best game of the season. He made huge plays down the stretch just like the LaPhonso of old. On one sequence he held the ball and made the perfect pass to a cutting Jalen for a layup. On another, he made a tough left-handed hook shot in the lane when the Nuggets needed to stop a Houston comeback attempt. Jalen also had an excellent game, scoring 19, rebounding 10, and dishing out 9, just missing the coveted triple double. Bernie Bickerstaff was tossed in this game, and the club responded by coming out with renewed intensity to stay ahead of the ever-dangerous Rockets. Maybe, it was a good thing that Bernie got tossed??
The land for the new Nuggets/Avalanche stadium has been secured. If all goes as planned, ground will be broken this summer and it will take 18 months to build. The Nuggets have one of the few facilities left in the NBA where they don't have an on-site practice court. The new stadium will be located near Coors Field, in the booming lower-downtown area of Denver. Don't worry, its privately financed.
The Nuggets lost again, swept by the TrailBlazers for the first season in many years, 91-97. The Nuggets started off on a tear, but were outscored the next three quarters. With the Blazers struggling midway through the fourth, the Nuggets failed to convert on several trips down the floor as well. With the game neck and neck in the final minutes, the Nuggets relied on the outside shot. They lived... and then they died. Dale Ellis made a three pointer with just over a minute to play to put the Nuggets up by 1 point. Then, Rod Strickland said "remember me, Denver fans?" and came down and scored an easy basket in the paint to put the Blazers back up. Just minutes before, he had posted up the taller Jalen Rose, drawn the foul, and enraged Jalen enough for a technical to be called as well. Again, Rod seemed to be saying "should have traded for me, Denver". The Nuggets ran two plays in a row for Dale Ellis to try to regain the lead. The first play he missed badly and Antonio fouled out fighting for the loose ball. On the second play, the veteran travelled. And the Nuggets season fades to black. One question. When all of the Nuggets talent and future lies in the starting front lineup, why aren't plays designed to get them the ball in crunch-time situations???? I whince now whenever Bernie calls yet another timeout late in the game. What does he do in that huddle?
The Nuggets lost a crucial late season game to the Warriors, 90-98, ending a 3-game winning streak. The Nuggets continue to come out flat on big nights against teams that aren't playing like college-level teams. (Meaning: nearly any team could have built a 3 game winning streak against Vancouver, Milwaukee and Minnesota) The Warriors had been struggling of late, dropping behind the Nuggets momentarily in the playoff hunt, but the Nuggets took their sail down amidst full wind, and have lost all of their momentum again. They will try to get back on track again tonight against Portland, but I'm begginning to lose faith in this team's ability and desire to make it into the playoffs. They keep saying the right things after both wins and losses, but their effort and fire doesn't show on the court.
The Nuggets extended their winning streak to 3 games against the Wolves, 86-78. After an 11 point halftime lead was gobbled up by the Timberwolves, the Nuggets got the needed baskets down the stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive. LaPhonso had one of his better games, making the first 6 points for the Nuggets and coming up with big offensive rebounds when the team really needed them. He brought his game. MacLean was the game-high scorer with 24 points on 10-19 shooting. Mutombo had 18 rebounds.
No more Mahmoud. That's the word from the local papers and the Nuggets team in interviews. They do not expect Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf back for the remainder of the season. He has a strained left foot that has been bothering him off and on most of the season. To me, its not really the kind of injury that puts you out the remainder of the season. Yes, the Nuggets are further below the .500 line than they've been in quite a few years, but they still have a chance to make the playoffs, and you just don't give up on your teammates. Anyway, its not my foot that's injured, so it is Mahmoud's call. However, when your team is still making a desperate attempt to make the playoffs, and you're the team's leading scorer - you suit up and play. On a side note, Greg Grant, a dimunitive backup point guard has been signed to fill the void in Mahmoud's abscense.
Another struggling team came up in the Nuggets late-season schedule, and the result was the same, a 98-85 victory. This was the first time the Nuggets have put back-to-back victories together since early March, and it couldn't have come at a better time. This was a solid, if unspectacular, game by the Nuggets with 5 players in double figures. Stith was the high man with 20 points, and Rose had 11 points and 11 assists. The Nuggets played good team defense and forced many turnovers and steals creating easy fast-break oppourtunities. If there was anything I came away with from being at this game, was the fact that this team has trouble running the break, unless Jalen has the ball. We had several 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 breaks that we threw the ball away. It was a night that none of this mattered, but the little things will carry this team to the next level. The best thing about this game was that the Nuggets avoided their predictable 3rd quarter letdown that they've done all season long and actually increased their halftime lead.
In a late breaking development today, the Nuggets traded away their "lineup of the future" to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Forward Danny Ferry and Guard Terrell Brandon.
"This is a good move for us. Yes, we lost some good players in this trade, but we got a solid guy from Duke, and a pretty good point guard in the deal."said Bernie Bickerstaff about the trade.
The Nuggets organization was asked how they could get around the league imposed trading deadline that passed over a month ago. The Nuggets responded that when Bernie approached Stern about this one, he realized that we weren't just fooling around. The NBA refused to comment further.
So, we lose an average about 36 points a game, 20 rebounds and over 10 blocks per game, but we pick up two solid, experienced big-game players. Danny Ferry is ready to make a statement in the NBA, because his first 8 seasons have really been just a tune-up for this new chance at life with the Nuggets. Terrell Brandon played in the all-star game this year, so he's not just another 6'2 point guard. Terrell has also expressed interest in standing for the singing of the National Anthem.
For the 4th time in four games, it came down to the final minute before the winner of the game was determined. For the 1st time in four games, it was the Nuggets who came out on top, 92-88. Yes, you could say that it shouldn't have come down to the final minute against a team that's only won 11 games all season and is in the middle of a 19 game losing streak, but at this point, this Nuggets fan will be happy with any win we can get. I'm still holding out hope that they can pull together, squeeze into the playoffs, and start playing some serious ball again. Anyway, back to the win. The Nuggets had a 6-point lead in the closing minutes after a clutch 3-pointer from guard Jalen Rose. But the Grizzlies clawed back into it with two 3-pointers to knot the game at 88. The Nuggets called a time-out and they looked absolutely disgusted that they were faced with yet another do-or-die situation. This time, they didn't lose their cool. It helped to be playing the Grizzlies of course, but all NBA teams can be tough to beat when you've lost your confidence as much as the Nuggets have. The ball went into Jalen after the timeout as he posted up under the basket. He calmly caught the ball, pivoted into the lane as the double-team came and put up a soft shot that went down nicely for a two-point lead. Then came the time where I've become to cringe. Would the Grizzlies make yet another three, forcing the Nuggets to come from behind with a measly 15 seconds left on the clock? NO! Antonio McDyess and Jalen double-teamed the man with the ball and when he tried to throw it out to the top of the key, Dale Ellis intercepted the pass and streaked towards the basket. He was fouled, and made both free-throws, sealing the much-needed victory.
The chain of heart breaking losses continued with a 119-112 loss to the Hornets. The Nuggs just couldn't come up with the loose balls at key points late in the game and in both overtimes to help create a win, despite Mutombo's NBA season high 31 rebounds.
As far as this rapidly ending season, I see a few things about the Nuggets that point to them finishing under the .500 mark. First, when either Mahmoud or Dale Ellis are injured, the Nuggets become a very weak outside shooting team. When Mahmoud has been injured off and on throught this year, the Nuggets start to move the ball much better on offense, yet there are still times in the game when the post-up game isn't getting it done, and there is no outside firepower to keep the defense off-balance. Second, we have two awesome power forwards and no small-forard. The thinking here is that LaPhonso could make the switch to small forward when we traded for the rights to Antonio McDyess. Antonio is, and will be a great power forward. But LaPhonso has yet to find his game in the 3-spot. He just doesn't have the consistent outside shot or moves that would allow him to excel at that position. However, I still think he could, given an off-season to work on his game. LaPhonso is definitely one of the hardest working Denver athletes in the off-season. So, here's one more idea, what if Antonio considered moving to small-forward instead? He does seem to have a very consistent turn-around 12-foot jump shot. Could that translate to a consistent outside shot? He would need to work on his driving to the hoop, but he should be able to defend well against the league's small forwards because of his quickness. Anyone see any possibilities with this move for next year?
The Nuggets lost to the Bullets, 90-92. After losing in a last second heart-breaker to Boston Friday night, they had nearly the same thing happen again. LaPhonso put in a Dale Ellis miss with 3 seconds left to knot the game, but Brent price hit a baseline runner with 0.7 seconds left to steal another one from the hapless Nuggets. The Nuggets played aggresively in this game, but the refs seemed to have it out for them. I don't usually like to complain about officiating, but this one was called very inconsistently at times. On one sequence, Mutombo grabbed a rebound and was hit in the face with Juwan Howards hand, and was hassled by Big George Muresan. So, he swung his elbows in frustration to clear some room. He didn't make contact with anyone, but a ref called an offensive foul on Mutombo for the play. There were several offensive calls down the stretch that didn't seem to be called evenly. But, the refs made the correct call on Juwan Howard when he made contact on LaPhonso's wrist during a missed 3-pointer. When he whined about it, he was accessed a technical and Denver converted 3 of 4 foul attempts to get back in the game in the final minute. Officials do have a way of making up for bad calls, but why does it have to get so out of hand?
The Nuggets missed a prime opportunity to close to within a half game of the final playoff spot in the West, losing to the Nets - 89-97. The Nuggets went back to their standard style of play this year... playing down to the level of competition. We are simply better than a team like New Jersey, if we chose to be and play that way consistently over 4 quarters. We can beat New York, Chicago, Phoenix and Orlando, teams that know how to win consistently over a season, yet we lose two straight to New Jersey? I simply don't understand it! The Nuggets can't seem to find the emotional level of effort that they need to put forth night after night against each and every team in the NBA.
As far as the game went. We let it get away early, and went into halftime with a 14 point deficit. They poured on the effort in the third quarter and closed the score to 2 points to head into the final quarter. Then they ran out of steam down the stretch. Antonio McDyess who has been "Mr. Consistency" for the Nuggets had another solid game, leading the team in points with 20 and rebounds with 12. He shot 9/17 from the field but the Nuggets shot .427 as a whole. Mahmoud left the game early in the first with a contusion to his foot and it is unsure how soon he will play again.
The Nuggets found themselves again against the Toronto Raptors, beating them 122-114. Antonio McDyess tied his career high in scoring 32 point, and had a stellar all-around game with this line:
Rebounds Player Pos Min Fgm-Fga Ftm-Fta Off-Def-Tot Ast Pf St To Pts ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == === McDyess F 37 11-13 10-11 2 5 7 1 4 0 1 32
Antonio has been on a tear of late, averaging over 20+ points a game and shooting over 50% from the field. If anyone can push this team into a playoff spot right now, its Antonio. If the Nuggets get him the ball, he scores and its really that simple. He runs the floor, his turn-around jumper is money, and he follows shots for thundering putback jams. He had 3 alley-oops last night from Jalen and LaPhonso because those guys can see the whole court, and Antonio can fill the lanes. Its an exciting look at things to come for this Denver Nuggets team.
It will be interesting to see how fans in Denver and around the league respond in his first game back, against the Bulls. I had some of my initial facts wrong and although I don't agree at all with what Mahmoud did, I haven't lost respect for him. He stood up for a belief he has (or sat down, really), and I respect that. Sure, alot of people say how can he feel the flag represents oppression when he makes $32K every game. I don't have an answer for that. But, he had worked out something with the team by staying in the locker room until the anthem was over until people began noticing that he was missing. Check out what he said on ESPN.
The Nuggets dug themselves into a huge hole today by losing to the Detroit Pistons 81-91, on National TV today. Their playoff hopes for this season are now dismal at best. After key wins last week against Phoenix and Orlando, I had high hopes, but two losses in a row this late in the season are back breakers. I had expected to lose at Chicago, (everybody does!) but I hoped for a better effort in Detroit.
The Nuggets looked like the emotion-less, playing down to your opponent team that has helped put them at 10 games under .500 at this point in the season. They were slow to rotate over to open shooters at a key stretch in the 4th period, and even with 2 huge Bryant Stith 3 pointers, they went down fairly quietly. They looked tired, and they did not look anything like the team that beat Orlando last week
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is back in action, coming off the bench against Chicago and Detroit over the weekend. He was booed loudly when he entered the game in both contests, and probably deservedly so. He has stirred alot of resentment across the United States, and he will have to deal with the repercussions for quite some time. If nothing else, he at least came to terms with the NBA quickly, rather than dragging the ugly scene out over an extended period.
Antonio McDyess was the player of the game, and with that honor comes a $100 gift certificate to the local King Soopers grocery store. The rookie can buy his mom and himself some groceries... he earned a good meal!
The giant-killing Nuggets beat the mighty Orlando Magic tonight, 110 - 93. The rookie, McDyess was absolutely amazing. Despite still playing with a broken nose and a colorful facemask, he came out with a consistently aggresive playing style that he never backed off of all night long. Yes, he still makes rookie mistakes like goaltending (although Mutombo still can't help him himself in that department either) and offensive fouls and interference. But I would gladly give up a few of those mistakes for all of the aggressive rebounds, soaring dunks, and yes even beautiful passes. What's gotten into this kid, he plays his butt off each and every night with a broken nose for a team that is only flirting with the playoffs... I love it!. This is exactly what the Nuggets needed... for someone to step up and play with some intensity to let the rest of the team build upon it.
"It's amazing. Once I saw him, he's so big, I just had to go out and play hard,"said McDyess about Shaquile O'Neal before the game.
The Nuggets played their best all-around game of the season against the Magic. This was even better than the performance against the Bulls because the Nuggets regular third quarter letdown never transpired last night. In fact, they built up a 5 point lead at halftime to a 19 point lead in the 4th. The Magic went into an aggressive full-court trap and made a run to cut the lead to 11, but the Nuggets sustained it and kept pouring it on. I knew we were not going to be denied a big victory in this game when Mutombo made 2 outside jumpers look as pretty as Dale does it. You could hear the crowd - "Oh no!" ... "Oh YES!!"
Bernie has finally found a good rotation plan for his players. The starting five are getting the game off to consistently good starts. Dale Ellis comes off the bench for outside firepower. Hammonds has been playing more minutes, and been playing very well with the extra time. Jalen Rose has been providing both productive (if not as potent as Mahmoud) offensive and a much better job of running the offense. LaPhonso has not quite found his form of 2 years ago, but provides another rebounding presense when Mutombo needs a rest.
Why doesn't this team have a better record, if they can beat Chicago and Orlando? The talent is there, in my opinion, but this team has a major tendency to play a notch below the level of their competition against the average teams in this league. However, they have proven again and again that they can play with the big teams around the league. They just don't seem to be able to put forth the consistent emotional and aggresive games night after night like Chicago can. You have to be able to put away a team like New Jersey on your home floor, if you can beat Chicago, Orlando and Phoenix there.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has caused a controversy that has spread nation-wide by refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem. According to many people I talked to, he has had a problem with the national anthem for awhile and had worked out something with the league where he would stay in the locker room until it was over. Now, he has decided to make more of a political statement by coming out, but refusing to stand. The league has responded by suspending him indefinitely until he conforms. Mahmoud responded to a reporter that stated that the flag represented freedom to Americans by calling it a "symbol of oppression". I have lost all respect for the diminuitive Nuggets point guard. I don't usually have a problem with something like this, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but to feel the need to now make a political statement out of the whole thing is stepping over the line.
A great performance by all Nuggets tonight to beat the Warriors 102-88. Bryant Stith led all scorers and set a season high, putting in 27 points after only putting up 2 against Phoenix in his last game. The Nuggets blew this game wide open midway through the 3rd quarter, going up 18 points after a baseline 20 footer from Bryant Stith. Then they went cold, and the Warriors surged to cut the game to 6 going into the 4th quarter. The Nuggets continued to shoot poorly as the game stayed close until midway through the 4th. Then the went back to an effective post-up offense, expoiting mismatches with B Stith, Rose, LaPhonso and even Dale Ellis on the smaller, and often slower Golden State defenders. Jalen Rose had a spectacular game, with 9 assists, and continues to be red hot from the field by making smart choices, averaging a sizzling 72% in his last 4 games. LaPhonso led the team with 16 rebounds against a club that is normally very good at rebounding.
McDyess continues to impress me, donning a specially made face mask, and playing through the pain of a broken nose. He was aggressive on offense and defense and had several impressive put-back jams that were both called back because the ref thought they were over the cylinder. One clearly wasn't, but to see a high-paid athlete out there, playing through an injury makes me think not all these athletes are just in it for the money. I also got to meet Bryant Stith on Friday night at an autograph signing session at the Denver Auto Show. He is such a great guy, nice in person, plays hard every single night, and does great things for the community like the Stay in School program. I was really psyched to see him perform so well tonight after getting to meet him up close in person.
The Nuggets are now back in the playoff spot hunt. They beat the current 7th place Western Conference team, and are only 1 game behind 8th place Portland.
Denver beat the Broccoli Bunch 103-92. Key contributors: Dale Ellis, Jalen Rose, Dikembe Mutombo and Doug Overton. Dale provided much needed scoring with Mahmoud out, Jalen provided potent offense with 7/9 shooting and some excellent passes, and Doug, yes, Doug Overton, provided a change of pace at the point with some excellent penetration dribbling. Mutombo brought his patented defensive game to full force on Barkley and KJ when the Nuggets desperately needed stops. He had 8 blocks. More analysis later!
The Nuggets came out fired up for this game from the get-go. The intensity was there, and the shots were falling. Mid-way through the 2nd quarter, the Nuggets had a 12 point lead. They were switching well on defense to keep the Spurs at a low field goal percentage up to that point, and they were running mostly post-up plays with cutters down the lanes on the offensive end. Then they went away from that a bit, and the Spurs came charging back to take a 1 point lead at half-time. Mid-way through the 3rd quarter Mahmoud sprained his ankle. He was crossing the half-court line and making a pass, when he stepped on Sean Elliot's shoe and rolled the right ankle. He would not return. The offense went stagnant for awhile and the Spurs got hot. With the game beginning to slip away late in the fourth, the Nuggets made a strong run to cut the deficit to 5, but could do no more. They abandoned the inside game that caught them up, and looked to Reggie Williams off the bench for 3-pointers. He went 1-3 in the waning minutes and so went the Nuggets. The final score was 90-101.
It was a frustrating game to watch. The Nuggets were in control early in the game, and then it slowly slipped away, never to return. LaPhonso played a solid game. McDyess had an off night. Mahmoud was shooting 5-9 before he was injured, making some incredible shots and keeping the attack balanced. With him gone in the third, the Spurs were able to effectively shut down our potent inside attack. I hope the Nuggets can come up with a better overall game when they travel to San Antonio for part II of the home-home series.
The Nuggets front-line of the future - LaPhonso Ellis, Antonio McDyess, and Dikembe Mutombo, got its first victory,108-82 against Vancouver. Between the big three, they accounted for 30 points, 24 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Didn't get to catch the game, but I caught the scoop from SportsCenter and my girlfriend. The Nuggets beat the Bullets tonight 96-92. The Nuggets had a 10 point lead going into the fourth quarter at McNichols but Washington made a strong run to make it close down the stretch. McDyess was player of the game with 19 points, 9 boards and 3 blocked shots. Doug Overton, coming to Denver from Washington with Don Maclean for Robert Pack made a key field goal it that stretch run. The little guy, Mahmoud hit 2 free throws, (something he does better than anyone in the NBA) to seal the 2nd victory in a row for the Nuggs.
LaPhonso Ellis returned, and the Nuggets got back on track, beating an excellent Jazz team 99-90. I didn't get to see the game, but the highlights later than night showed a more energized team that didn't coincide with LaPhonso's return out of shear luck. Ellis is the answer to this team's emotional, energetic inconsistencies and woes. He made some bold statements to the Denver media leading up to this game... and he deserves what he's asking for... a starting position on this team.
Wake up Bernie Bickerstaff!
The Nuggets were slaughtered tonight, 107-78 in an embarassing road loss. Dikembe Mutombo returned to the line-up tonight, after missing 3 games with a sprained ankle. He got into early foul trouble and looked a little lost in the first half, only coming up with 2 rebounds and 0 points. Abdul-Rauf continued to struggle, going 2-9 from the field for the evening. McDyess was the only bright spot, scoring 21 on 9-15 shooting and pulling down a team high 6 rebounds.
Wait a minute... a team high 6 rebounds? The Nuggets were outrebounded 54-25!! Part of this unbalanced ratio was due to a fair amount of poor Nuggets shots in the first and third quarters. The Nuggets were actually only down by 8 to start out the third quarter. They then proceeded to get outscored 16-35 for the period, and the game was never close again. Even the Ex-Nugget, Elmore "Big-Boy" Spencer was able to get minutes and score his 2nd and 3rd points of the season. Ugh...
On the trade front, Rose and Williams did not get packed away to Portland for Rod Strickland tonight, and I for one am happy about it. I still feel like Rose has more to show than he has this season, and he did come out and play hard tonight despite the known trade that was being tossed around. He definitely did not have a good game tonight though, but emotions can wreck havoc on your ability to focus and play good ball. I wouldn't have missed Reggie too much though, I haven't seen him show up for a game once this year.
LaPhonso is expected back against Utah this weekend. Please, please, LaPhonso, wake up the rest of the Nuggets!
Tommy Hammonds was the player of tonight's game. Nuggets fans always cheer hard for Tommy when he gets his usual spot minutes, but tonight, with Antonio in foul trouble most of the game, Hammonds really shined. He scored a season-high 26, a season-high 12 rebounds and he made all 8 of his shots from the free-throw line. His only low point was when he jammed a baseline jam into the rim instead of through the net in the first half. But he more than made up for it with some monster jams and a huge tip-in in the second half. Jalen Rose was the other key to tonight's game. He distributed the ball well by consistently posting up Boston guards and then passing to cutters and open men on the perimeter when Boston double-teamed nearly every time. Jalen also played the best defense I've seen from him this season. He had a tremendous stuff block on an attempted Dino Radja jam early in the first half that seemed to set the tone for the game. This was a great game to be at when you want to see your team pound a team that you expect your team to pound. Every Nuggets player in uniform scored tonight and the crowd cheered loudly when Rasto and Overton put in the shots at the end of the game to make things perfect.
The final score was 117-93. The Nuggets played solid ball with a very short line-up with Mutombo and LaPhonso in suits on the end of the bench. They showed the kind of emotion and tenacity that they will need to get this second half of the season back on track.
Mahmoud continues the month long religious ritual which keeps him from drinking and eating during the day. His ritual ends on Tuesday.
The Nuggets lost a close one in Miami tonight. Down the stretch, down by 3, the had
several oppourtunities, but could not get the shot to fall. Wasted in the loss was an
excellent game by the rookie, Antonio. Both Mahmoud and Dale Ellis had off-shooting
nights, shooting 2-14 and 4-15 respectively. The Nuggets lost 91-97.
Mutombo went down with a sprained ankle in the third quarter, turning it on Rex Chapman's ankle as he turned to face the basket. His third-longest in the NBA consecutive starting streak is in jeapordy. More importantly, the Nuggets are weak at center without Mutombo in there.
The Nuggets played a solid first half with Mutombo holding Shaq to only 10 points on 4-12 shooting. However, the second half was a different story. Shaq went a scoring spree, scoring on hook shots, spin moves, and of course a wide assortment of dunks. He received a half-court pass from Nick Anderson that he turned into a two-handed reverse alley-oop dunk. The Nuggets lost by the final score of 116-91.
The Nuggets avoided a sweep from the Clippers by winning the last game of the series in the final game before the all-star break. Jalen Rose was the story of this game as he brought a tenacity and a desire to push the pace to the Nuggets team that I have not seen from him this entire season. Jalen had a talk with Bernie earlier in the week about a "desire for more playing time" and whatever they discussed seemed to bring great results. Bernie made a comment after the game to the effect that when his bench players hustle and hit the floor going after loose balls like Jalen did against the Clippers, he's going to have a hard time not playing them more.
The Magic show came to Denver the other night, and left the Nuggets as a dazzled team after the 4th quarter was over. The Nuggets played well up until that point, but fell apart on both offense in defense when the game was on the line. The Lakers easily pulled away, winning by 19. Magic was amazing - he didn't play like a man that's been away for 4 years and has gained 25 pounds since his last playing days.
Who would of thought... the Nuggets hand the BULLS their fourth loss! I went to the game tonight with my girlfriend and parents after returning from a great week-long vacation in Mexico. What a note to end my week on! The atmosphere was electric and it felt like we were in a playoff game before the game started. Rocky, the Nuggets emphatic mascot, went down a zip line from my section to get things started, and I was able to pose in a picture with him just before things got underway.
The Nuggets got off to a quick start, with Mahmoud hitting several quick 3's in the first period. Mutombo set the tone on defense, blocking Jordan on an attempted dunk early on. Stith played great man-to-man defense on Jordan, shadowing his every move with and without the ball. LaPhonso looked like the Ellis of old as he drove to the hoop twice for huge slams. The Nuggets led by as much as 31 in the 2nd quarter and finished at the half, up by 25.
Then the Bulls made their run as they outscored the Nuggets 39-16 in the 3rd. They did it with stifiling pressure defense, and an incredible surge by Jordan as he lit it up from 3-pt land, spun for a baseline dunk, and began to hit his fadeaway jumper over everyone. Suddenly the 25 point lead of the Nuggets was a 1 point deficit. The Nuggets didn't fold. The fought back in the 4th and got back to playing with the intensity and tenacity that gained them their huge lead in the first half. The Bulls kept pace with Jordan and Pippen hitting baskets until about a minute left in the game when the Nuggets stopped the Bulls defensively and sealed the game with a few key baskets. LaPhonso had a huge block on Jordan from behind on the Bulls last possession that typified the type of game the Nuggets had. As he pumped his fists, the crowd screamed from the excitement of the biggest Nuggets victory of the season.
The Nuggets looked like a well coached team for the first time all year. Sure, they got fired up for the big game against the hottest team in the NBA, a team that is being compared to the all-time greats. But the Nuggets actually matched up well defensively, the switched well on defense, and they moved the ball around on offense. Mahmoud did what he does, lighting it up from outside for most of the game, but he also got the ball into the big front line to exploit post-up matchups. It turns out, Bernie made no special preparations for the Bulls, but the Nuggets sure came out to play as a team!
Argh! The Nuggets lost yet another close one tonight - 94-93. The Nuggets were down 14 at the half but outscored the Clippers by 11 in the third quarter. The game went down to the wire as the lead see-sawed several times in the last minute of the 4th quarter.
Antonio McDyess led the Nuggets with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Mahmoud sat out with a hamstring injury.
I went to see the rematch of last season's regular season finale - Nuggets/Kings. Last year we beat them to advance to a short lived playoff series against the Spurs. This game went a little differently. The Nuggets started out great, keeping up with a hot-shooting Kings team by moving the ball around well on offense. They drove to the hoop often and seemed to be getting the Kings into early foul trouble. However, it turned around on the Nuggets in the second half as Mutombo got his fourth foul in the third quarter. The game was neck-and-neck until mid-way through the fourth. Then the Kings began to pull away from the Nuggets. With 2 minutes to go, the lead was 9 and many people began to flow towards the exits. However, Mahmoud became a one man show in the closing minute. Mutombo nailed two free throws to bring the score to 108-102. Then Mahmoud hit consecutive long distance three-pointers between 2 Richmond free throws. The score was 111-108 when Walt Williams of the Kings missed two free throws and McDyess came down with the rebound. The crowd was louder than I've heard all year as both free throws clunked. As soon as Antonio grabbed the rebound, the Nuggets headed up the court and 2 Kings players pressured Mahmoud. Antonio couldn't get him the ball! He finally did, but the pressure forced a turnover as the ball dribbled off a Kings player/Mahmoud's foot and out of bounds. With it went the hope of a miraculous comeback. Bernie, why can't the other 4 players on the court at the end of a game help to win the game... why does it always have to rest in the hands of our sporadic little guard?
The Nuggets have struggled the past 4 games. Losing in close finishes in three and getting blown out in another - producing the lowest scoring output in Denver Nuggets history. The Phonz is back and playing well, now the Nuggets need to figure out how to play together.
LaPhonso is back! He played in two games over the weekend, helping the Nuggets overcome the Lakers in L.A. on the second one, Sunday night. For a man that has been gone most of 16 months, there is not much rust on his game, nor a lack of confidence. He made a key steal in the 4th quarter, and with the shot clock winding down late in the game, he put up a fade-away 20 footer that found the net and helped the Nuggets hold onto their tenuous lead. Mahmoud was unbelievable, breaking out of a long shooting slump by hitting 8/9 from three-point land. McDyess added 20 points as his mid-range turnaround jumper was hitting nearly all night long. Mutombo got into foul trouble early, but the combination of McDyess and LaPhonso on the floor proved very effective against the Lakers, who don't have a true center.
The biggest factor of the game was the new-found emotion on the Nuggets team. LaPhonso brings it like no other player that has graced a Nuggets uniform in recent years, and the rest of the squads feeds on it and backs it up. To see LaPhonso running back down the court with both forearms pumping after hitting the biggest shot of his early comeback thus far, was truly a thing of beauty for this Nuggets fan. Welcome back, LaPhonso Ellis.
Great News! A local Denver television station talked with LaPhonso Ellis
tonight and he has been given the clean bill of health to rejoin the team. He said that he
will be back sometime soon, in January, when
he can no longer squeeze something positive
out of the team practices. I can't wait to see him on the court again, even if it is for
limited minutes until his regains his playing shape. Just having him in uniform again will
be a huge boost to the entire team.
The Nuggets play the Clippers tonight, and are looking for a little revenge from their earlier encounter. When they last played, the Clippers were surprising everyone with a 6-4 start and the Nuggets were winless at 0-7. Since then, their fortunes have reversed. The Nuggets have played well since then, but struggled of late because of injuries and a short bench.
The Nuggets pulled off a huge win against the New York Knicks on Thursday night. It was an amazing rebound from the trouncing they had received by the Pacers just two nights before. The Nuggets showed alot of what they're all about as they played with confidence and big plays from the offense and defense down the stretch against a hot Knicks team defending their own turf. Rauf and Rose both scored several crucial buckets late in the fourth quarter. Mutombo had two key blocks in the same possesion on Anthony Mason. At the end of the game, the young Nuggets whooped it up as they realized how big a win they had just pulled off. They seem to be playing as a team again this season and enjoying themselves after rarely showing that last year. All this after an 0-7 start. Now that's resiliency!!
The Nuggets 5 game win streak came to an end tonight in Indiana. We shot a dismal .325% compared to Indiana's scorching .605% Not much to say other than Doug Overton, acquired in the trade for Pack finally got some playing time.
I watched the 2nd half of the Detroit game from high up in the upper balcony thanks to some tickets furnished by HP. The Nuggets offense was definitely lacking without Mahmoud, but the defense looked much better than earlier in the season. Stith came through with some clutch baskets down the stretch, as he was the only Nuggets player that seemed to be able to create his own shot.
I sat on the floor (6th row) for the Utah game - what a treat! Not only that webeat the flopin' Jazz, but to see those incredible athletes up close and personal. I'm still overwhelmed by the experience.
The Nuggets had a huge win away at Dallas. Abdul-Rauf had a career high 37 with 8 3-pointers as they escaped with a narrow victory in overtime. McDyess also came up big in the game with 15 rebounds.
Antonio had a great performance the other night against Phoenix in a triple overtime season first win for the Nuggets. He scored 17 and grabbed 16 boards. At one point late in the game he went high to block a Barkley shot attempt and ended up hitting Charles in the face with his butt as he flew by. Man, that boy can jump! Maclean played valiantly and is beginning to help me forget the loss of Robert Pack.
The Nuggets have some new faces on th '95 roster. The big new rookie out there is Antonio McDyess, who has been showing glimpses of of his raw talent at power forward. Rodney Rogers and Brian Williams were traded away for the #2 pick on draft day from the L.A. Clippers. LaPhonso looks to be back in the lineup in late '95 or early '96. The Nuggets also traded Robert Pack away to the Bulllets for PF Don McClean and Overton, a backup guard. I'll miss Pack's explosive play.