Again, Carmelo Anthony Will Be Traded

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.

(more…)

Is a Foul Always a Foul?

Box Score | Highlights (if you have not watched the ending yet, make sure you do right now)

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.

Featured Blogs: Warriors World | Golden State of Mind

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.

Nuggets/Warriors Daily Dime Chat

I took part in the ESPN.com Daily Dime chat last night during the Denver Nuggets’ 135-107 blowout win over the Golden State Warriors.  I would have mentioned it sooner, but my neighbor’s unsecured wireless disappeared and my DVR did not want to record and those technical issues set me back.  Like any good Nuggets fan I persevered and I encourage you to check out the DD chat for some good Nuggets dialog as well as thoughts on which Michael Jordan draft pick was the worst and the news of AI possibly signing with the 76ers.

New post coming tomorrow, I promise.

Predicting the 2008-09 Season – How Did I Do?

Before we begin the season previews and start looking forward to next season, I am going to look back at last season. I made a multitude of predictions over the previous 12 plus months and I started wondering how accurate I was. Did I successfully predict how well Chris Andersen played? What about the Nuggets acquisition of Chauncey Billups or how many games the Milwaukee Bucks would win?

The only way to know if I knew what I was talking about is to go back through thousands and thousands of words and pluck out all the things I said would happen no matter how hair brained or how mundane and assign a verdict.

Here is the first of four posts full of things I thought would happen. We will start by looking at my general preseason projections and game by game forecasts. Tomorrow we will look at my projected season records for all 30 teams. We will then move on to my projected personnel moves and then finish with my projections for player performances.

Prediction: I believe the Denver Nuggets must alter their style of play if they are ever to become a true championship contender. I love the Denver Mile High Mystique as much as anyone, but I strongly believe the Nuggets must evaluate the overall philosophy of their franchise.

Verdict: I am going to say correct. The Nuggets still ran, which is fine, but they dropped from their perennial spot of first or second in pace down to fifth, it may not sound like much, but they were closer to the eleventh fastest paced team, Milwaukee, than they were to the second fastest paced team, New York. The greater focus on defense and working for better shots on offense was a great recipe.

Prediction: I might be completely wrong, but if we are ever going to see the best of the Nuggets and the best of George Karl, it has to be this season.

Verdict: Correct, the embarrassing sweep at the hand of the Lakers in 2008 shook the players and forced them to deal with how far away they were from contending. That led them to push themselves to great things last season.

Prediction: The [Western Conference] number eight seed will make the playoffs with 44 to 46 wins next season.

Verdict: Incorrect, Utah was the eighth seed with 48 wins.

Prediction: The lower class [of the Western Conference] will be better. Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Sacramento will fall into the categories of improved to much improved. The Clippers may have lost Elton Brand, but they played most of last season without him anyway and the additions of Baron Davis and Marcus Camby (although I have a difficult time buying them as a playoff contender) will clearly make them more competitive.

Verdict: Incorrect, all three combined to win only one more game than the Lakers, 66 to 65. However, the Wolves were 10-4 in January only to have Al Jefferson suffered a season ending injury in early February and the Thunder were a very improved team going 18-27 from January 10 through the end of the season. The Clippers were simply abysmal, but at least I did not pick them to make the playoffs like many others did.

Prediction: Out of the teams that finished outside the playoffs looking in last season the only team that I believe needs to be taken seriously is Portland.

Verdict: Correct, Portland was the only non playoff team from 2007-08 to win more than 30 games in the west.

Prediction: Some believe Golden State can compete for a playoff spot, but I do not see it.

Verdict: Correct, Golden State finished 19 games out of the playoffs. I need to keep making predictions against nebulous conglomerates such as “some.”

Prediction: I believe the Nuggets and Blazers will make the postseason.

Verdict: Correct, both did.

Prediction: This season is the year that they [Denver] will be better off having a representative in Secaucus, NJ instead of having their representatives massacred at the hands of the Lakers or Hornets in the first round.

Verdict: Wildly incorrect, but had they not made the Billups trade, I think that prediction would have been the truth. I was wrong about the Hornets too.

Prediction: If you are looking for a team to fall apart this season how about the Clippers? They have a point guard who is famous for his horrid shot selection paired with a control freak head coach. They lost their best player in what might have been a far more incompetent negotiating process by the front office than anything the Nuggets have been guilty of and God’s Gift to Defense Marcus Camby is not going to play a single game in the preseason due to a heel injury. Oh yea, and do not forget that Chris Kaman is coming off of a season where he played only 56 games plus he put some extra wear and tear on his body by playing for Germany in the Olympics.

Verdict: Correct, they were without a doubt the biggest disappointment in the West other than perhaps the Suns. By the way, that was in response to ESPN.com’s NBA writers naming the Nuggets the most likely team to self combust.

Prediction: [After game 23] they [the Nuggets] face three straight back to back sets against some very good teams which will tell us a lot about how good this team can really be.

Verdict: Incorrect, Denver was only 2-4 in those six games (at Dallas, at Houston, Cleveland, at Phoenix, Portland and at Portland), but the season turned out OK. Of course, I could go the other way and say they only went 2-4 and that showed us they were not going to be NBA champs.

Prediction: The Nuggets have already clinched a tie with the Mavs for the season series, but I believe they will certainly win at least one of the two games left to clinch the tiebreaker in case it should come into play.

Verdict: Correct, the Nuggets swept the Mavs in the regular season.

Prediction: I do not like their chances against the Spurs or the Hornets (especially now that Tyson Chandler is back in the Big Easy) and I would not be very confident should the Nuggets face off against the Jazz [02/20/09].

Verdict: Incorrect, in defense of my lack of faith, this was following a blowout loss against the Bulls and Tyson Chandler was healthy and looking strong and Manu Ginobili had not yet been injured.

Prediction: A big thanks to Detroit and Boston for blowing games against the Spurs and Jazz tonight.  Way to go bozos.  I will forgive the Celtics as long as they lose to the Nuggets next Monday.

Verdict: Incorrect, Boston beat the Nuggets, but I actually found it in my heart to forgive them, but I am not going to count it one against myself.

Prediction: With the talent on this team and with the schedule providing them with a plethora of winnable games I feel very good guaranteeing that the Nuggets will make the playoffs [03/10/09].

Verdict: Correct.

Prediction: With the stink bomb the Nuggets dropped on us the past couple of weeks they have almost completely destroyed any chance of earning home court advantage in the playoffs. I have a difficult time envisioning a scenario where they catch the Spurs, Jazz or Hornets. Plus with the loss last night they have lost the season series to the Rockets making it even more difficult to surpass them in the standings.  In order to earn home court advantage the Nuggets would have to overtake two of those four teams.  At this point almost any best case scenario we can construct leaves the Nuggets playing either the Spurs, Jazz or Hornets in the first round.  Because of that I am afraid there is little hope of Denver reaching the second round [also 03/10/09].

Verdict: Absolutely 100% incorrect. Out of all the incorrect predictions I made, this is the one that bugs me the most. I wrote it following the Nuggets two point home loss to the Rockets that was their fifth loss in six games. Of course they went on to win 13 of 14 to push themselves into second in the conference. I hate that I wrote it, but thank God I did because it clearly turned the Nuggets season around. Honestly, I try my best to not get caught up in the emotion of a season, but I also have to write what I believe. If I end up with egg on my face, well, when life gives you eggs, break them and drink them like Rocky (Balboa, not the mountain lion or the squirrel).

Prediction: The Nuggets will beat the Hornets in seven games because Chris Paul will not lose game 6 at home.

Verdict: Incorrect, although I still do not think Paul would have let the series end in New Orleans.

Prediction: Should the Nuggets win [Game 4 versus New Orleans], I think they win game five to close out the series.

Verdict: Correct…

Prediction: Logic tells me tonight [Game 5 versus New Orleans] will be nothing short of a formality.

Verdict: Correct, Denver rolled over the Hornets by 19.

Prediction: David West will not make another All-Star team.

Verdict: It may be presumptuous of me, but I am going to call this one correct.

Prediction: The Denver Nuggets will beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Verdict: Incorrect, the Nuggets won in five, but they did win.

Prediction: I expect the Nuggets to close this series out [versus Dallas] just as they did against New Orleans and six hours from now we will be celebrating the Nuggets’ first appearance in the conference finals since 1985.

Verdict: Correct, the Nuggets did indeed close out the Mavs in five games, although it was a little closer than game 5 against the Hornets.

Prediction: My official prediction is the Lakers in seven games.

Verdict: Incorrect, partly due to the Nuggets late game ineptness the Lakers won in six.

Prediction: I do believe the Nuggets will win [game 2 versus the Lakers].

Verdict: Correct, despite literally throwing game one away, Denver won game two.

Prediction: As you would expect I think the Nuggets will win [game 6 versus the Lakers] tonight.

Verdict: Um…really incorrect. The Lakers rolled the Nuggets in game 6 at the Pepsi Center.

The final tally for the first section of projections is 12 out of 23 were correct, good for a rate of 52.2%. Not bad, but not great either. Part two coming tomorrow.

My Second Favorite NBA Team

Editor’s Note:  You all know I like love the Denver Nuggets, probably a little more than a psychiatrist would condone.  Well ESPN.com asked bloggers from the TrueHoop Network to weigh in on what team, other than the team we blog about, holds a soft spot in our heart.  If the Nuggets were no more, who else could suck me in?  Below is my submission, please do not think less of me.

Many people have a vice that they may not be particularly proud of. Some take drugs (I still love you mom!) others commit arson and of course there are the Kobe Bryant fans. My vice may not be illegal, but it is every bit as despicable.

I like the Golden State Warriors.

For years I have longed for the Denver Nuggets to pay half as much attention to defense as they did offense, work for good shots and take care of the ball. The Warriors do none of those things so why on earth would I fall for their no discipline die in a hail of bullets style the Nuggets used to drive me crazy with?

I love the back and forth games where no lead for either team is ever safe. The offensive talent comes at you in waves and when Stephen Jackson and/or Monta Ellis are on it is a thing of beauty. Youngsters like Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright and (future MVP candidate) Anthony Randolph are fun to watch and next season they get to add Stephen Curry to the mix. The icing on the cake is Don Nelson flipping out on the sideline, regardless of how correct the latest call might have been.

If the NBA decides the Nuggets should stay in Taipei this October and the Denver Nuggets cease to exist, I doubt I would latch onto the Warriors long term. After all, they are not the kind of team you bring home to momma and give access to your daughter (God created Kevin Durant for that). However, right now their freewheeling style where the big guns roam the court unfettered by the responsibility of taking quality shots is a perfect vice to indulge in late at night when no one else needs to know what is going on in the privacy of my home.

Update: Here is the TrueHoop post compiling all the various responses.  To my surprise there were a lot of Warriors supporters.  I expected quite a few to select the Oklahoma City Thunder, but no one did.  Sadly, none of the other bloggers are closet Nuggets supporters.

2008-09 Game 74: Denver Nuggets 129 – Golden State Warriors 116

Box Score | Highlights

After predictably sleep walking through the first six minutes of the first quarter and falling behind the Golden State Warriors by 14 in the first quarter the Nuggets were able to rouse themselves and run away for an easy win. 

George Karl called a timeout with the Nuggets down 19-6 after the first 6:25 of the game.  From that point on the Nuggets played with more intensity, but it was not until Chris Andersen entered the game with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter and Denver behind 23-11 that the Nuggets took off.  Less than seven minutes later Birdman threw down a vicious slam as he cut down the lane to put the Nuggets up 37-29.  In Birdman’s seven plus first half minutes he was a plus 20.

As soon as Andersen went to the bench Golden State actually briefly recaptured the lead 42-41.  It would be their final lead of the game though as Linas Kleiza hit his first three point jumper in over three weeks on the very next possession to put Denver back up 44-42. 

The run that put the Nuggets in complete control of the game was split between the second and third quarters.  Denver scored the final six points of the first half and the first 13 of the second half turning a 60-57 game into a 79-57 rout.  The Warriors did not get a shot within 18 feet of the rim as the Nuggets did a great job of collapsing on penetration and then rotating and running at shooters.  The Nuggets run actually even extended out to a 44-15 stretch ending with 28 seconds left in the third quarter with the Nuggets already having earned three tacos for a dollar on Sunday at participating Taco Bell’s even with more than a quarter to play.

The key to Denver sweeping the remaining games against sub .500 teams will be energy.  I would like to add focus too, but I do not want to get too greedy.  There was a point just a couple of weeks ago where I did not think we could count on the Nuggets to win any of these games and they still have to avoid falling into the trap of taking things for granted.  It definitely took the Nuggets some time to wake up tonight, but the fact that they erased the early 14 point deficit by the end of the first quarter was very impressive.

A lot can happen over these final eight games, but if Denver can keep playing like they have over the previous three games I may be in for eating a lot of crow and I will not mind one bit.

Additional Game 74 Nuggets

  • Carmelo continued his offensive renaissance.  Once again his jumper was falling, but he played a complete offensive game.  He was going to the rim, posting up and his passing was very nice.  He shot 12-21 and made mostly very good decisions with the ball.
  • The Nuggets captured the lead twice towards the end of the first quarter.  With the Nuggets behind 25-23 Denver forced a turnover, Andersen saved the ball to Melo who threw a long cross court outlet to J.R. smith just outside the Nuggets’ three point line.  Smith spotted Kenyon flying down the middle of the floor.  Smith him Kenyon in stride and Martin threw down a massive jam on top of poor Rob Kurz who was not only emasculated, but was also called for a foul.  Kenyon made the free throw to give Denver their first lead at 26-25.  At the other end Birdman sent back a shot by Azibuike, but was called for goaltending (after watching it several times, it looked like a good block to me) putting Denver back down 27-26.  The Nuggets had the ball with ten seconds left with a chance to reclaim the lead.  Anthony Carter missed a three with about two seconds left and both Kenyon and Birdman rammed the ball down on the rebound.  The play by play on both ESPN.com and NBA.com say Kenyon made a tip shot, but Andersen collected an offensive rebound.  Not sure how that works, but it looked pretty cool. 
  • I abandoned the Nuggets game in favor of watching the Phoenix Suns roar back from a 21 point deficit in Utah to take a late seven point lead only to see Grant Hill make mistake after mistake as the Jazz came back and won in overtime.  When I saw the final score I pictured a dismal effort in the fourth quarter by the Nuggets that would make me sick to my stomach.  The Warriors scored 42 points, how badly did Denver roll over?  After actually watching the play on the court I was surprised at how hard the Nuggets did play.  They were still scrambling, tipping passes, forcing turnovers and going after loose balls.  The Warriors did not see many open shots, and the ones that were wide open usually came off some kind of scramble or turnover not a dereliction of duty by the Nuggets defense.  After all the lineup on the floor was Carter, Smith, Kleiza, Balkman and Birdman.  We know Carter, Balkman and Birdman do not take plays off.  Smith and Kleiza were playing hard too.  My only real gripe with the Nuggets’ play in the fourth was J.R. took a couple of bad threes early in possessions that were not very wise.  The warriors just caught fire. 
  • Part of the Warriors’ comeback was an amazing individual spurt by Jamal Crawford.  With 9:26 left in the game Jamal Crawford nailed a three and Renaldo Balkman was called for a foul on the play.  Carwford hit the free throw for a rare four point play.  The next trip down the court Crawford hit another three with 9:14 left to play and Andersen was called for fouling him on the shot and Crawford made the free throw.  Back to back four point plays by the same player 12 seconds apart.  I am guessing that is an NBA first.  I have submitted an email to the powers that be to see if they can have someone look into it.   Scoring eight points in 12 seconds can be a good way to end up with a 40 plus point quarter.
  • Poor C.J. Watson probably got a kick out of Crawford’s four point plays, but he paid a heavy price for it.  Both fouls could be considered relatively weak calls, especially the one on Andersen, so a couple of minutes later when Watson was absolutely wiped out by a soaring Birdman in the left corner on a three point attempt all three refs turned a blind eye.
  • In the game recap of the win in Dallas I talked about earning things on the floor.  If you do a little something extra, something unselfish, you tend to get rewarded.  Linas Kleiza caught the ball on the left wing and Nene began to go to the weak side when Kleiza waived him back over and he had Nene post up and Kleiza passed him the ball.  Nene tried spinning into the middle of the lane and had to throw a bail out pass to Chauncey who took a three right before the shot clock expired.  Kleiza crashed the boards and collected the offensive rebound.  He then rose up and threw down a powerful dunk right in front of Ronny Turiaf.  It was the first basket of the Nuggets 19-0 run that spanned the second and third quarters.
  • Anthony Carter once again showed he is at his best in a fast paced game.  He ended up with 13 assists and only one turnover.  Seven of his 13 assists lead to layups or dunks.
  • I can handle this Linas Kleiza.  He did force four three point attempts, but can you blame him?  He actually made one.  However, he scored 14 of his 22 points on layups or dunks and shot 8-10 on two point attempts.  Lose the four three point attempts and we can talk.
  • How impressive is Anthony Randolph?  He is all over the court and thanks to his athleticism and length is already a great offensive rebounder.  In 30 minutes he pulled down eight offensive boards and had an amazing possession where he blocked back to back shots at the rim.  He is also an emotional player who wants to win.  I think he has an amazing future.
  • If one of Karl’s big objections to playing Balkman is his lack of a jumper Renaldo decided to make a case for more playing time tonight.  He was 4-4 from the floor, but two of those shots were from 15 feet and one was a three.  What do you think of that George?
  • Right now Denver and Houston are tied in the standings and although Denver lost the season series to Houston I kept seeing them in the third seed and Houston in the fourth seed.  I thought that was flat out wrong and almost wrote about how messed up the standings were.  Tonight Altitude taught me that if two teams are tied the first tiebreaker is whether or not one of those teams is a division winner.  That means all the consternation about Denver losing the season series to Houston is really meaningless.  As long as the Nuggets can hold onto the Division lead they can be the third seed and avoid the Lakers in the second round.  And here I thought I knew everything.  It was people like me who built the Titanic and said it was unsinkable.  When will I learn?

Mindboggling Game Stats:

Pace Factor:  102.9 – Lightning fast.  It was the fastest paced game since the Nuggets game 36 home win against Indiana.

Defensive Efficiency:  112.8 – Not terrible for such a fast paced game.  The Warriors scored 17 fast break points and nabbed 19 offensive boards which both hurt this number.  I imagine it was much better before Golden State’s offensive explosion in the fourth.

Offensive Efficiency:  125.4 – No complaints.  Remember, the Nuggets had six points more than six minutes into the game and still managed to score 129.

Featured Blog:  Golden State of Mind

2008-09 Game 74: Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors Game Thread

The Golden State Warriors are coming to town tonight, but it will be difficult to recognize them.  Stephen Jackson and Andris Biedrins are both out and Corey Maggette is unlikely to play.  While Golden State may only have one big name player on the court, Monta Ellis, they still have players who can put up big numbers. 

Shooters like Anthony Morrow, Rob Kurz and Marco Belinelli can catch fire.  Keleena Azibuike is a versatile scorer, Brendan Wright can score in the paint and C.J. Watson is a solid player as well.  The player to watch however is Anthony Randolph.  The beanpole thin rookie has tremendous instincts and when he plays at least 20 minutes can really fill up a box score.

The point is if the Nuggets take this game for granted the Warriors can still pump in the points.

Tonight will be the first back to back game the Nuggets have played in almost three weeks (March 9 at home against Houston).  It will be interesting to see how they react, especially following a physical and emotional game last night in Dallas.  Not only do I want to see an easy win, but I want to see Carmelo Anthony continue to play like Carmelo Anthony.

Oh yea, and Nene is back from suspension.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes

Previous Matchups:  Game 4 – Den 101 GSW 111 | Game 23 – Den 123 GSW 105

Featured Blog:  Golden State of Mind

Take this with you:  Of the Nuggest final six games against sub .500 teams this one worries me the most because of the tough game in Dallas last night and the seemingly depleted Warriors lineup.

« Previous Page