The Nuggets kick off their first series of the 2013 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. With injuries still lingering and a rotation in flux, there are certainly questions to be answered — which is what we plan to do below. As always, please feel free to play along and submit your answers to each of the following questions in the comments section.
As the Nuggets get set to battle the Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference finals some Nuggets fans may be trying to get more familiar with the opponent. In an effort to help I put together some quick scouting reports on each player on the Warriors roster, from superstar Stephen Curry to superstar celebrator Kent Bazemore. Each report includes the player’s role, where they are the most dangerous offensively, and a ranking on how much Nuggets fans should be worried about a particular player, where a 1 being someone they can basically ignore up all the way to 5 who they should fear could swing a few games almost single handedly.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +6After a rocky start to the season, Gallinari has finally emerged as the consistent, reliable player the Nuggets need him to be. Although he went cold from the arc, going 0-5, the real story is that he continued his recent return to driving and attacking the rim. His two assists and six trips to the line belie how effective he was at getting into the paint and sharing the ball. And while David Lee did get the best of him at times, his defense overall was pretty solid in this game.|
|Kenneth Faried, SF 36 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +14It’s going to be difficult this season to say new, original things about how Faried played. His energy was, as usual, explosive and infectious, and his teammates always seem to ratchet up their play a notch when he’s on the court. He did struggle defensively at times, but he played tough and led the team in rebounds.|
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | +7Koufos was a bit of a mixed bag in this game. Early foul trouble sent him to the bench early in the first quarter, and in the third quarter he got downright abused by Carl Landry. Kosta simply couldn’t stop him from scoring around the rim, a fact which Golden State quickly recognized and exploited to its fullest. On the offensive end he was steady as usual, but also made little impact.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 18 PTS | +8Lawson started off tentatively again. In the first half he dribbled around too much on the perimeter, hesitating too much to drive to the basket, and fearing too much to take wide open 3-pointers. But once again, he woke up midway through the third quarter to rediscover his aggressive streak, most especially at the defining stretch of the game, when the Nuggets opened the third quarter with a big run to convert a 6-point halftime deficit to a 9-point lead in just 4 1/2 minutes.|
|Andre Iguodala, SG 39 MIN | 11-19 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 29 PTS | +13The Rapid Reaction code doesn’t allow for it, which is the only reason Iguodala does not get the A+++. This was the game that seemed to truly signify: “Andre Iguodala is now officially a Denver Nugget.” His threes were falling, he made some great defensive plays, and threw in a couple highlight reel dunks for good measure. Above all, it looked like he really understood his role out there, and was having a fun time making the most of it. With both ‘Dala and Gallo at the top of their games, this will be a tough team to beat.|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -3The good news is that J-Ham shot 100% from the arc. The bad news is that it was only one shot, and that’s about all he did. He looked pretty lost defensively, and continues to make some rookie mistakes (which may be forgivable given that, having been benched all last season, this effectively is his first year). If he can’t start making a bigger and better impact when he gets chances, he’ll have a hard time earning the minutes we’re hoping he’ll eventually get.|
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | +6Like Gallinari, Brewer went scoreless from the arc (0-3). After starting the season shooting so well, it’s hard to grade Brewer now. Is it “bad” that he’s regressing to his career mean? For the purposes of this game however, he had four steals and gave the Warriors some headaches with an energetic performance on both sides of the court, which is what Denver needed from him, and therefore what mattered most.|
|JaVale McGee, C 25 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +2McGee’s stat line doesn’t really tell the story of his game tonight. Yes, he missed a few careless shots from the post, as has become typical. But his three blocks and many more altered shots outweighed that. He was fed some big dunks, and got more pumped up than we’ve seen him all season. And most importantly, when Landry was scoring repeatedly on Koufos in the third quarter, helping the Warriors eat back into the lead the Nuggets had just regained, JaVale was sent in to stop the bleeding, and did a very effective job of shutting Landry’s one-man run down.|
|Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +2Miller didn’t have a huge impact on this game, but the impact he had was positive. As usual, he found ways here and there to get a basket just when Denver needed one, but didn’t do much remarkable tonight. George Karl seemed dedicated in this game to keep Lawson on the floor, as Andre’s minutes were fewer than usual.|
Anthony Randolph tops the trio of enigmatic seven-footers on Denver’s roster at no. 10 in our #NuggetsRank series. It’s going to surprise a lot of Nuggets fans that he ranks ahead of incumbent centers Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov despite being the least likely to receive playing time among all three.
While we are passing along hot rumors, a new article by Chad Ford reports that Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti told Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal the Thunder would look into trading up to draft him. Who cares? Not gonna happen, right? Well, a little further down the page Beal shares that another playoff team from the Northwest Division made a similar comment.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting the Nuggets are very active in Draft day trade talks, discussing a possible deal with the Warriors that centers around trading Chandler for the No. 7 pick in the first round. As part of the proposed deal the Nuggets would likely have to take on Dorell Wright and the last year of his contract at just north of $4 million.
|Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 12-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | +33
Complete and utter domination. Faried set new career highs in points, rebounds, field goals made, and field goals attempted in just 24 minutes. He was outstanding in transition and a beast in the paint on both ends. Defensively, it was by far his finest performance to date. I get the sense Faried is seen as purely an energy guy by the coaching staff, but games like this are a reminder he’s a much more complete player than he’s given credit for.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +25
Gallo’s welcome return was well-received by the Nuggets new starting five. For the first time in weeks, the Nuggets started a lineup with chemistry and cohesion on both ends of the court. A lot of the credit must go to Gallo, who clearly isn’t in game shape yet managed to get the Nuggets playing the best team basketball we’ve seen in weeks.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +28
Koufos is capable of putting up better numbers, but still played a fantastically solid game that helped the Nuggets open up with perhaps their best start all season. Nothing was wrong with Koufos’ game, but he was somewhat overshadowed by the stellar play of McGee and Faried.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +33
I supposed this is now what a poor game out of Afflalo looks like. It’s a shame this season feels so short because if this is what we can expect when Afflalo doesn’t have it, he’s well on his way to becoming a special player. His leadership and team-oriented play were a welcome sight on a night he could not carry the offense like he has in the past couple of games.
|Ty Lawson, PG 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +31
I hate to be harsh, but once again I did not like the timid, passive style of play we saw out of Lawson against the Warriors. Lawson did not do anything wrong, but he should play better against a sad Warriors back court full of no-names. Ty has it in him to take over these games if he wants to and it’s personally disappointing that he doesn’t show more of a killer instinct or a drive to assert himself against lesser competition.
|Al Harrington, PF 12 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Harrington didn’t play much, but he did his job admirably when he did. Al was once again flame throwing triples from long range and wasn’t needed for more than a few minutes after the bench essentially put the game away in the second quarter. Bad news just came out that Al has a torn meniscus and has been trying to play through it the past few games.
|Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 12 AST | 6 PTS | +16
Once again, I just really like the maturity and professionalism Andre is now showing on a nightly basis. Why this was missing for first 80% of the season I have no idea, but in the past month or so Andre has been one of the steadiest guys on the team outside of Afflalo.
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +5
Brewer still has a place in the Nuggets’ rotation and he found that niche tonight. Corey was solid in transition and at the very least, less of a black hole on offense. I think his leash with George Karl had gotten a little too long and Brewer became too content to step outside of what he’s supposed to do best. He did a lot of good things in garbage time, but questions remain about his decision making on offense.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +4
Mozgov got an extended garbage time stint after playing himself out of the rotation entirely on the Nuggets’ recent east coast trip. He was part of a twin towers lineup with McGee and hopefully, the dose of playing time will light a fire under him to make himself a more useful option should the Nuggets need him down the line.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-8 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Patience is the key with McGee. Admittedly I was not a fan and frankly, never believed the Nene trade had anything to do with the merits of acquiring him. Honestly, after getting an extended glimpse at JaVale and everything that comes with him, I’m impressed. Sure, he can be frustrating on a team that can’t afford any more inconsistency. Even so, the physical tools and multi-faceted skills he shows warrant a more patient attitude. This is a work in progress that likely won’t be complete by the end of this season, and there’s still plenty of good to be found in that.
|Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | +7
He’s an exciting player, but all of his minutes came against the Warriors reserves with the Nuggets up by 30. Still, Julyan played with a lot of intensity and displayed a keen sense for utilizing his length and athleticism on defense.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +6
Jordan was another guy who saw garbage minutes and ran up the score on a team that had already given up. It was nice seeing him sky high for a dunk and have success after a a sub-par game as a starter in his previous outing.
|Chris Andersen, C DNP COACH’S DECISION
Gone, but not forgotten. Obviously this grade is N/A because he didn’t sniff the court yet again. I don’t think this is it for Birdman in a Nuggets uniform, but it’s probably a sign he will not play for the rest of the year. It has to be frustrating for Bird to be cast aside and given the Renaldo Balkman treatment, but it’s also a strong indication this team is moving in a new direction and making tough sacrifices for the sake of developing talent.
|Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 PTS | -11
I’m still trying to figure out why Faried didn’t see any meaningful time past the start of the game. He’s suffered through slow starts before and usually still finds a way to make things happen. Faried’s rebounding performance was very poor, but I’m confident he would have made a difference if given the chance. This likely wouldn’t have ended up as one of Faried’s better games, but after all he’s been through this season I am shocked George Karl continues to have so little confidence in one of his better players.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 18 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -8
Hamilton followed up his brilliant start last night with a dud. Considering he’s only seen meaningful minutes in about five games so far, his struggles are understandable. I liked the fact Hamilton played with confidence but he looked like a guy doing his best not to screw up instead of a high energy difference maker. He needs more time, and unfortunately the Nuggets don’t have that as they’re fighting for their playoff lives on a nightly basis.
|Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 4-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7
Koufos also struggled on the boards quite a bit, where the Nuggets were thoroughly dominated by Golden State. His production was solid, but much of it came in garbage time. Like Faried, he was another guy who never got going because he didn’t play a significant role. Even so, Koufos could have a more immediate impact in the starting lineup and he’s just been blending in.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | -13
Afflalo did all of his damage in the first quarter and subsequently disappeared for the rest of the game. I find it hard to put much blame on him after watching him carry the starters with a tremendous effort last night. Afflalo doesn’t excel at creating offense, but he’s been forced into taking a higher volume of increasingly difficult shots. At some point, the Nuggets must make an effort to get him some help and run an actual offense that does not depend on Afflalo going one-on-one so much.
|Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | -21
You might not be able to tell from the box score, but this was a half-hearted effort from Ty Lawson. Going against the Warriors’ point-guard duo of Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson, Lawson did all he could to take a backseat and coast through the game. He was clearly Denver’s most favorable matchup and just didn’t step up. You have to wonder if he’s started to lose confidence and defer after a couple of bad games and the resurgence of Andre Miller.
|Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -9
The highlight of Al Harrington’s night was getting into it with Warriors fans after starting the game on fire from deep. The raucous home crowd was giving him the full-on Joe Lacob treatment by the end of the night. I appreciate the show of emotion and competitive fire, but showboating against opposing fans during a blowout loss is just quintessential Al Harrington.
|Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | -7
After an apathetic, indifferent, and just flat-out bad start to the season, Andre Miller seems to have finally turned things around. He’s been consistent for the first time all season and his change in attitude has been admirable. Defensively, Andre’s play leaves a lot to be desired even against B-list NBA talent. The team needs to play at a high level defensively to get the most out of Andre Miller, and it’s safe to say that hasn’t been happening.
|Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -7
Brewer was once again a mess. While he finally upped his production, it came at the cost of high volume shooting and low efficiency. He just runs around the court without rhyme or reason and against the Warriors, he did not make a positive impact on defense. If he’s not going to hang his hat on perimeter defense anymore, Brewer just needs to play smarter. Ten shots and five three point attempts is not acceptable for a player with such limited offensive talents.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +5
McGee’s been pretty bad since his move back to the bench. The issue appears to be mental more than anything, as his confidence is currently so low he’s focused purely on avoiding mistakes more than anything. McGee showed some good things tonight, like the fact he can be an imposing defensive presence at the rim. Unfortunately, he also showed the lack of discipline and maturity that’s earned him his reputation. McGee can still be a fantastic player for the Nuggets if he can put it all together, but with only a handful of games left and JaVale struggling, there may not be enough time.
|Julyan Stone, G 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +3
Stone played a few garbage minutes, shot a midrange airball and recorded a foul. His performance was short and basically meaningless, but more importantly a sign of a how non-competitive the Nuggets were against the lottery-bound Warriors.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Rudy’s up and down season continues as he got his first start of the year and failed to make an impression. He is too small to match up with small forwards and his defense so wildly erratic it’s hard to trust him with a significant role. While Rudy plays hard, he does nothing consistently well and it’s hard to depend on him for anything. The biggest problems for me is he can’t make open threes and he puts his teammates in poor positions on defense by gambling for steals and failing to rotate.
|Kenneth Faried, F 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
Faried had a fantastic start, posting up David Lee for a score and forcing him into a turnover on the other end. Unfortunately he really tired out about 5 minutes into the game and it became clear Karl didn’t plan on playing him much anyway. I like the small steps he’s taken towards becoming a better offensive player and I think it’s becoming clear that whenever this kid starts getting minutes he’ll put up double doubles. He lost his minutes to Harrington in the second half which was Karl’s plan all along.
|Nene, C 31 MIN | 6-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Nene moved over to Center and while he was clearly the Nuggets best option offensively, he played passive and couldn’t be counted on for consistent scoring. Nene just sort of went through the motions expecting his teammates to pick it up and start winning the game. The team has no flow or rhythm on the court and without that Nene doesn’t know how to get himself going. He just didn’t affect the game one way or the other and kind of blended in. Although he scored 15 total, 3 points is all he contributed in the second half.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +3
Afflalo clearly had his best statistical performance of the season but he was a complete black hole on offense. No assists and another string of poor shot selection despite the fact he was hot most of the night. Afflalo getting his confidence and swagger back is good, but he continues to make bad mistakes in transition at the worst possible times. I would trade some of his scoring output for the defensive consistency we saw last season, but he just ended up fouling a lot and failing to get his teammates to work together. Now that Afflalo’s playing better, perhaps he can have a more positive impact as a leader.
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | -13
He was just destroyed by Stephen Curry. The fact Lawson can have his worst game of the season and end up with a double double says a lot, but you can’t give him credit for doing anything well tonight. He came out tentative and attempted nothing at the rim. Defensively, Lawson was abused by anyone he guarded and he just sort of lost his will in the second half.
|Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7
Harrington has had a long career in the NBA. For more than a decade he’s been known as a guy who puts up numbers on bad teams and doesn’t play any defense. He’s falling back into that familiar role in Denver after a promising start to the year. One thing I just can’t help noticing in all these losses is how badly the defense falls off when Harrington and Miller come in off the bench. He needs to rededicate himself to defending and trying to raise the intensity level of the second unit.
|Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | -11
Remember George Karl’s infamous speech about not holding the ball? There is no bigger offender than Andre Miller. He’s just kind of coasting through this season, a clear indication it’s just not the right long-term fit. When he comes into the game he just casts a dark shadow of indifference over the team’s collective spirit. The speed of the game comes to a total halt and the Nuggets can’t hang with anyone. I just don’t see how it makes sense to keep him here. He will certainly seek a better situation during free agency when his options open up. For now, he’s stuck and so are the Nuggets.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Koufos had another extremely productive stint in limited minutes. Although he’s proven himself worthy of a significant role, Koufos is stuck in the same boat as the rookies as guys who will play limited minutes no matter what so that Karl can get the veterans in. 2K was assertive on the offensive end and while you’d like to see him get closer to the basket, he’s showing improvement and that’s all you can ask of the promising young Center.
|Julyan Stone, G 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +2
Stone was a victim of Karl’s rotations yet again. He saw some early action as one of the first guys off the bench, but was subsequently banished to the end of the bench until garbage time. It’s very difficult to assess where Julyan might fit in until he gets a fair shot at proving himself. During garbage time, Stone played point guard and got the Nuggets playing their most energetic ball of the night. The Nuggets seem to want him and Faried involved more despite Karl’s refusal to give either a real shot.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +10
This is more of an incomplete, but I couldn’t help but notice he was extremely active and a nice compliment to Afflalo in his garbage time stint. Hamilton is very aggressive with the ball in his hands and sometimes loses control, but he seemed like an unselfish player capable of making things happen off the dribble. Jordan has a quick release and good form on his jump shot so you wonder how he might do with some more confidence in a real game situation.
Tonight the Denver Nuggets defeated the Golden State Warriors to reach the 50-win plateau for the fourth consecutive season. Along the way nine Nuggets reached double figures in scoring — one short of the team record 10 — and professional pine-rider (or should I say, “former” profesional pine-rider) Kosta Koufos had perhaps the best game of his young career scoring 18 points and nine rebounds in only 19 minutes of action. (more…)
With the current Denver Nuggets squad far surpassing any expectations fans had following the historic Carmelo Anthony trade, it’s now time to start seriously looking at whether or not another 50-win season is approaching. With nine games left to play and our current record sitting at 44-29, you’d think 50 wins would be easily attainable considering how hot the Nuggets have been as of late, but like all teams not named the Miami Heat, the final stretch of games in the NBA season is almost guaranteed to be tough. (more…)
Recap by GoldenNugget
Warriors we are not. Most of the time, that’s a good thing considering our record in comparison to theirs, but tonight that was not the case. For three quarters the Warriors made one 3-pointer after another, finishing the game exactly 50 percent from downtown in route to their 116-114 victory over the Nuggets. Then, in the fourth quarter the Warriors suddenly lost their touch from behind the arc and went cold, only scoring 16 points. Still our beloved Nuggets couldn’t capitalize, and with a chance to win or tie the game and only eight seconds to go the ball somehow ended up in Nene’s hands where he shot a mid-range clanker that sealed the deal for the Warriors.
The Denver Nuggets are attempting to right the ship by taking care of business against some of the league’s lesser squads. After a tight win over the New Jersey Nets Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets were in Oakland, CA to take on the Golden State Warriors.
Just when it seemed like the Carmelo Anthony rumors were going to die down and let us move on with our lives Adrian Wojnarowski comes along and blows things up again.
According to a report on Yahoo! Sports by Mr. W. William Wesley told the Nuggets “weeks ago” that they needed to trade Carmelo and provided a list of acceptable destinations. That statement would support the theory I promoted earlier this week right here so it must be true.
Josh Kroenke then met with Carmelo on Sunday in an attempt to convince Carmelo that he should remain a Nugget. Apparently the meeting did not go well and the Nuggets are prepared to trade Carmelo. The Knicks, Nets, Rockets and Clippers are still listed as possible landing spots along with Golden State. Apparently Orlando has dropped off the list as I have not seen them mentioned lately.
Before I get to the controversial finish to the Nuggets/Warriors game I have a little message for Altitude. Stop freaking showing the final score of the Nuggets’ game on the bottom of the screen during the replay. If I wanted to know the final score, I would look it up. I doubt too many people watch the game already knowing the outcome or hoping to see the final score before the game ends. Thanks for ruining a crazy finish for me and likely other Nuggets fans as well.
Now, was J.R. Smith fouled on the Nuggets final possession of the game? Yes he certainly was. Was he fouled hard? No he was not. Did the contact significantly impact his ability to make the shot? It certainly did. Would I be going crazy if the officials made that call against Denver instead of for them? Absolutely. Ultimately would I be more angry at the player for committing the foul than the ref for calling it. You betcha.
Sadly, my true reaction to the call was robbed by Altitude’s inability to suppress the final score from their ticker so I did not get to observe the play unfettered by the knowledge of what I was about to see. Nevertheless, when I saw the play I was surprised the foul was called. Monta Ellis clearly bumped J.R. and with that contact he robbed J.R. of any opportunity to make the game winning shot.
So is a foul always a foul or should the referees swallow the whistle in the closing seconds, especially on 40 foot heaves? It looks really bad to have a player bailed out like J.R. was tonight, but on the other hand, can you honestly look the other way and allow a defender to eliminate any chance of their opponent making a game winning shot with even just a little contact? I do not think there can be a hard and fast rule, referees can only use their best judgement, but I sure have seen a lot more contact go uncalled late in games than what Ellis did to J.R.
As I mentioned above, if Warrior fans should be upset at anyone it is Ellis. He was not in a position to challenge the shot and should have made every effort possible to avoid touching J.R.
Whether you agree with the call or not if there was a team that needed a break, it was the Denver Nuggets. By the end of the game tonight four of their top eight players were out with injuries as Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Chris Andersen did not suit up and to add injury to injury Ty Lawson rolled his left ankle with 4:16 remaining in the game. Plus Nene rolled an ankle early in the fourth, but he was able to return and Kenyon had a frightening fall in the last game against Philly. If I were a Nuggets player right now I would purposely avoid any potentially dangerous situations. Get a rascal scooter to ride over ice, have the wife wrestle with the kids and definitely no
The interesting thing to me is this is the third time in his career J.R. Smith has been at the line with little to no time left on the clock preparing to shoot three free throws. Last season on January 8, 2009 he was at the line with five seconds left and Denver down three to Detroit and he only made two of three. During the 2007-08 season J.R. was in the position to tie the game with three free throws against Indiana and he missed the third one. Granted tonight Denver only needed him to make two to take the lead, which reduced the pressure, but he still made the first two.
Since J.R. was able to make the first two, it gave Denver the option to miss the third and force the Warriors to call a timeout. If J.R. needed to make the third to give Denver the lead, the Warriors could have called a timeout and would have had 0.4 seconds to hit a game winning shot of their own.
We also saw what a difference 0.2 of a second makes. In Chicago earlier this season Chauncey purposely missed his second free throw with Denver up one and 0.6 seconds left. As the NBA rulebook states, it takes 0.3 seconds to catch a rebound and call timeout. That was almost enough time for Brad Miller to throw in an incredible game winning shot, but with 0.4 seconds left tonight Chauncey knew there was no way there could be anymore than 0.1 seconds left if J.R. missed his third free throw. He missed it, the officials correctly put 0.1 seconds on the clock and Golden State had no chance to win.
The Nuggets were not very good on defense, but players like Joey Graham and Malik Allen, yes Malik Allen who I lambasted after the Sixers game, played good enough to help Denver be in position to win even though they were missing four key performers over the final four minutes. Denver even managed to come back from a five point deficit with under two minutes to play.
Because of that, I am willing to put this in the good win category, even if they needed an assist from the officials.
By the way, did Monta Ellis not take about five steps trying to catch the ball just before he made his shot to put the Warriors up one with 15.2 seconds left? Maybe the final call on Ellis was a make up call, but lets not get into that right now.