The regular season is upon us, ladies and gentlemen. On Tuesday six teams began their 2013-14 campaigns and the altered roster of the Denver Nuggets will go through their initiation Wednesday evening. The first confrontation of the year will come in the form of the Sacramento Kings.
As if things couldn’t get any worse or more chaotic in Denver at the moment, Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Nuggets Vice President Pete D’Alessandro has agreed to become the new general manager of the Sacramento Kings.
D’Alessandro had been rumored to be the front runner to take over for the departed Masai Ujiri but apparently he has decided the Kings job for one reason or another is the better fit.
It becomes just another blow for Denver as they now must widen the search for a new GM again, while also interviewing coaches and preparing for the upcoming NBA draft.
It also continues to make the offseason in Denver look completely disorganized and confusing as it had been reported since the departure of Ujiri that D’Alessandro would become the new Nuggets GM yet no news ever broke of any kind of offer.
The Denver Post has a bit more about D’Alessandro and why his departure is a loss for the Nuggets and also mentions that former 76ers executive Tony Di Leo as a name to watch, though the situation remains very fluid.
Keep on eye here at RMC for more news and reaction as this tumultuous offseason continues in Denver.
It’s not often that Roundball Mining Company covers anything outside of the Denver Nuggets. This however, is an exception and one we’re proud to be a part of.
Our fellow TrueHoop cohorts over at Cowbell Kingdom have notified the network of a movie titled Small Market, Big Heart. It is an feature-length amateur film produced by Kings fans and bloggers which documents Sacramento’s attempt to keep the Kings stationed in the capitol of California for the foreseeable future. It was made on a budget of close to $10,000 which came from a kickstart campaign and will not gross a profit of any kind. This is nothing more than a all-out, last-ditch attempt by the city and its fans to keep the Kings in Sacramento and it’s done so in a poignant, passionate and artistic manner.
If you have the time, I strongly recommend you watch Small Market, Big Heart. Remember, many of the issues covered in this movie are ones Nuggets fans could potentially see down the road as part of a small market NBA franchise. It’s free to stream on YouTube. You can watch it at Cowbell Kingdom or at the movie’s website. We’d also encourage you to share this through social media, word of mouth or any other way you can think of, as the only way this movie is going to bring awareness to the rest of the world is through thoughtful people like you!
If you have anymore questions or comments, feel free to post them and we’ll try and get back to you in a timely fashion.
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2
With Gallo and Nene back in the mix, I was worried about Brewer being able to ease up on his shooting. The Nuggets have needed him to produce points with all of the injuries, but double figure scoring from Brew typically means 10 plus attempts and around 40% shooting. The good news is Corey shot a lot less but still took most of his attempts outside the paint and just didn’t produce a lot in the hustle categories, where his true value lies. Despite the struggles, Brew gets a birthday bump for his grade on the night he celebrated his 26th with an utterly fantastic team win.
|Kenneth Faried, F 34 MIN | 7-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -4
When you get a career high 20 points and a double-double for the third time in four games, you get an ‘A’. What’s remarkable about Faried’s last few games is the fact he’s been struggling like all rookies do. Faried was noticeably outhustled and outworked on the boards on several occasions. Just take a look at his gaudy statline and realize this was far from a complete performance. What the ‘Manimal’ is showing us in his short time as a rotation player is quite special — it’s just rare to see a rookie become such an important part of his team’s success is such a short time on the floor.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -3
This is the third game in a row Mozgov has tweaked his ankle and he has yet to sit out for some rest. The young Russian played only 7 minutes and kept the offensively-challenged Nuggets afloat in the first quarter. Shortly thereafter he again came up gingerly on his left ankle and Karl wisely kept him out of the game as a precaution. While Mozgov was solid in his extremely limited stint, there’s not a whole lot here to draw from in terms of a grade.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 45 MIN | 9-20 FG | 10-11 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 32 PTS | +3
Incredible. Afflalo set a new career high with 32 points and his clutch heroics need to be experienced to be believed. It was one of the more spectacular finishes I’ve seen in professional basketball, because these players and coaches have seen it all and they definitely weren’t prepared for Afflalo’s performance tonight. Those six points at the end of regulation came off some of the most cold blooded shooting I’ve ever seen at the close of a Nuggets game, even in the era of you-know-who. If you didn’t see it, stop what you’re doing now and go watch.
|Ty Lawson, PG 43 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 13 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Another near triple-double, another game-winner, another up and down night where Lawson shined brightest with the game on the line and his team in utter despair. And this was the second night of a back to back. No big deal.
|Al Harrington, PF 35 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +12
Harrington’s production remains some of the steadiest on the team. He turned in another solid game, nearing another double-double but struggling with efficiency and missing most of his fourth quarter attempts. Harrington played the final 16 minutes of the first half and was fatigued in the fourth quarter. Harrington gives you a solid effort night in and night out, but the increased workload is taking it’s toll. Harrington played “waist-up” basketball down the stretch and had trouble getting his legs under his shot and moving his feet on defense.
|Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 11 AST | 2 PTS | +8
Miller bounced back in a huge way, considering his second half in San Antonio was probably one of the worst shooting performances in a half by any player this season. Miller played much better tonight, notching 11 quality assists and making a fantastic play on what should have put the game away with 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Bad calls aside, Miller made solid decisions all night, perhaps the only downer being his 4 turnovers.
|Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4
He was great in the pick and roll, great in the open floor and superb in the energy categories, where Birdman tallied 2 blocks and 5 free throw opportunities limited minutes. Birdman is doing all he can to debunk the “Anthony Carter” theory stating that he needs a multiple days rest to be effective on the court.
|Nene, C 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1
The good thing is Nene looked healthy and showed no problems making lateral cuts or elevating. The bad news is it appears Nene has gone the better part of a month without practicing much basketball. The game was moving a little too fast for him and Nene had trouble catching passes and getting his shot off. Nene should work himself up to speed with some more practices and conditioning sessions under his belt.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +6
It’s tough for me to tell if Gallo is all the way healthy yet, because he certainly wasn’t moving about the court at his normal speed. On the other hand, Gallo made some nice shots and never forced anything. Gallo still seems to be testing his ankle and feeling out his ability to go full speed, which is fine. Like Nene, the team just didn’t know how to adjust to him being back on the floor yet, especially having played a tough game last night in San Antonio.
With the 2011 NBA Draft only hours away, things are starting to heat up, as the Nuggets have reportedly increased its desire to trade Felton for a top 10 pick. (more…)
For months, Denver Nuggets fans have pondered over a wide variety of trade scenarios involving Raymond Felton, and in nearly every one it seems a different NBA team is involved. Up until this point, all of those dreamy trade concoctions were nothing more than fun, time-killing fabrications. But now, for the first time since obtaining Felton from the Knicks, the Nuggets have two teams that have gone public in expressing their interest in our current backup point guard: the Lakers and Kings. (more…)
In Arron Afflalo’s first game since coming back from re-aggravating his hamstring injury, the Denver Nuggets withstood a scrappy effort from the soon-to-be Anaheim Kings to once again win by a comfortable margin. (more…)
What started out as a potential “trap game” full of sloppy ball-handling, atrocious shooting and nonexistent defense ended up being just another solid win for the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night. Though Sacramento came into the contest on a four-game winning streak, and appeared determined to make it five, the Nuggets simply turned it on like only the very best do when crunch time hits. (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…)
If I was a teacher and the Denver Nuggets were students in my classroom, I would go to the school board and demand they get sent back to kindergarten. They keep failing to learn a lesson that has been taught to them over and over and over again this season. You cannot build a modest lead and mail in the rest of the game and expect to win in the NBA. Another lesson I thought they had learned that went completely out the window was that they needed to move the ball and be patient on offense in order to score consistently.
The Nuggets played the kind of solid team oriented offense in the first half that they have displayed since Melo was injured and the result was an 11 point halftime lead. For some reason as soon as the halftime buzzer sounded Denver forgot everything they had been doing the previous four and a half games. The second half turned into a sickening display of one on one basketball with little movement and no attention to detail.
The guards rarely looked to drive (Chauncey was the only one who ever tried to get in the lane, but when he did he was always looking for the foul instead of to score or dish and as a result all he had to show for it was a fat lip). The bigs slipped far too many screens and at no point did anyone on the court seem to stop and wonder why things were falling apart around them. You would think with as many games as this team has given away on the road they would recognize the symptoms. I sure as heck do. I bet every Nuggets fan does.
Stats can be misleading and it is not often you can find one number that defines a game, but tonight I believe we can. Here is the number.
That is the number of assists the Denver Nuggets had in the second half and one of them came 45 seconds into the third quarter. Over the final 14 minutes of the game they had one assist. Maybe that should be the number. OK, make the new number 1.
If Denver fails to earn the second seed in the west and fails to return to the Western Conference Finals it is games like tonight that will be the reason. I do not care who is on the floor or who is out of the lineup, everyone can play smart basketball.
Sacramento is now 2-7 over their previous nine games and both wins have come against Denver.
Additional Game 37 Nuggets
(Hat tip to Cowbell Kingdom for the video)
Even if J.R. Smith was stalked, fouled and grabbed to the extent he did not a shot at tying the all time NBA record for most three point shots made in a game it was still a historic night at the Pepsi Center. The Denver Nuggets clinched the Northwest Division title, a top three seed in the Western Conference Playoffs including home court advantage for the first time in any playoff series since the 1988 post season and they tied the all time franchise record for most wins in a season at 54. J.R. Smith’s 45 points set a new career high and tied the Nuggets’ team season single game high Carmelo set against the Timberwolves in his 33 point quarter game.
The Nuggets deserve a great deal of credit for getting to this point. Before the season they had been written off by a majority of the NBA. They were picked to finish third in the division by a group of Northwest Division bloggers and were thought to be lottery fodder. The front office deserves a great deal of credit for not only acquiring players like Chris Andersen, Renaldo Balkman and Dahntay Jones at bargain basement prices and of course for pulling the trigger on the Chauncey Billups trade. George Karl deserves credit for demanding a little more organization on both ends of the floor and the players deserve credit for getting the job done on the court.
As much as I wish I could celebrate tonight’s historic win it is entirely possible the finale in Portland could determine how far the Nuggets go this season. In a conference where so many teams are so closely bunched home court advantage in the semifinals could be the deciding factor in who makes it to the conference finals (although I do not feel completely comfortable penciling the Nuggets into the semis just yet). In order for the Nuggets to have home court against the Rockets they may very well have to win in Portland. The Blazers will be fighting for home court advantage themselves and would love to knock the Nuggets down to the third seed. If Denver loses and Houston wins on Wednesday no matter what the Spurs do Houston will be the second seed and Denver the third.
Even with only one game in the regular season remaining there are three potential playoff partners for the Nuggets. Bachelorette number one is an underachiever who has the whole package. Say hello to the Utah Jazz. Bachelorette number two has been used and abused, but appears may be getting her act together. Give a big Dating Game welcome to the Dallas Mavericks. Bachelorette number three was last year’s darling that everyone wanted to get their hands on, but has managed to stay in the news thanks to the diva in her that leads the way. Let’s hear it for the New Orleans Hornets (that’s right, I just called Chris Paul a diva).
The Jazz close out their season tomorrow night in Los Angeles against the Lakers who have nothing to play for. Houston heads to Dallas and a victory by the Mavs would give the Nuggets the second seed regardless what happens in Portland. The Hornets finish up in San Antonio against the banged up Spurs who can still finish anywhere from third to fifth in the west.
There you have it. Denver is the Northwest Division champion and will be hanging at least one new banner in the Pepsi Center next season. Congratulations to the Denver Nuggets, but do not go thinking any of us are satisfied yet.
Additional Game 81 Nuggets
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 96.0
Defensive Efficiency: 102.1 – Pretty good considering the competition although the first half was a nightmare.
Offensive Efficiency: 122.9 – Pretty good considering the competition although when one of your players hits 11 threes you should have a pretty good offensive rating.
Featured Blog: Sactown Royalty
I do not think we need to worry about the Denver Nuggets overlooking the Sacramento Kings tonight. Not only are the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers pushing the Nuggets in the standings (with the bruised and battered Spurs hanging in there by a thread too), but the last time these two teams played the Kings handed the Nuggets an embarrassing 114-106 loss. It was perhaps the low point of the Nuggets’ season.
A win tonight clinches the Northwest Division title for the Nuggets as well as a top four seed and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Should the Hornets beat the Rockets in Houston tonight a win would also lock Denver into the second seed in the playoffs and render the final regular season game in Portland meaningless.
Sacramento will be playing without leading scorer Kevin Martin, but the Kings still possess enough shooters that the Nuggets cannot afford to fall asleep on defense. Francisco Garcia, Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes, Rahsad McCants and Bobby Jackson can all hit the long bomb. Rookie Jason Thompson, who has given the Nuggets a tough time on the offensive glass, is finishing the season strong. Thompson is posting averages of 14.3 points and 10.9 boards for the month of April and over half of his rebounds (5.6 a game) have been offensive. Keeping Thompson from corralling missed shot after missed shot will be a good exercise for Denver as they attempt to remember how to rebound as a team.
The excuse of playing without Kenyon Martin will expire tonight. George Karl is on record as saying Kenyon will play 25-30 minutes against the Kings so that should provide a boost to the Nuggets’ hemorrhaging interior defense.
The Nuggets are riding a season high nine game home winning streak and I expect them to come out of the gate fired up and basically pile drive the Kings tonight. The Nuggets can taste the post season and have had a few days of rest since the Lakers game.
Denver Nuggets Game Notes – The Nuggets have not won three games in one season against the Kings since the 1992-93 season! Dang.
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Take this with you: How sweet would it be to have a Hornets win on the scoreboard and the starters waiving towels on the bench during the fourth quarter as the Nuggets wrap up the second seed?
Sorry for the belated and brief post. The Nuggets deserve to be skewered for their performance last night. Sadly I just do not have the time to go all out on them. The four games in five nights is not only tough on the players, it is tough on the bloggers too.
I have no idea how the Denver Nuggets could play the way they did in Sacramento knowing that a loss drops them out of first place in the division. You could tell as the game wore on that they realized they were in danger of losing to the worst team in the Western Conference and they tried to crank up the intensity as time ran down. The problem was the Kings realized early on that it was their night. As the threes started to fall the entire team was filled with confidence. By the end of the game when the Nuggets were finally challenging the Kings’ shooters, it was too late, they were all dialed in.
Offensively the Nuggets played their lazy perimeter game involving one or maybe two passes and a jump shot until the final minutes when Chauncey Billups realized he better start going to the basket. Last night I thought at key portions of the game Chauncey was trying to force his offense by posting up on Will Solomon, which resulted in the offense becoming even more stagnant. Billups finally started going at the rim during the fourth quarter and the Nuggets shot 15 free throws in the final stanza as a result, but it was too little too late.
After starting the season dominating the lesser teams in the NBA Denver has now lost to five sub .500 teams since the All-Star break and Detroit was under .500 when they beat Denver earlier in the week. I listed out the sub .500 teams left on the schedule and Denver has a great opportunity to take advantage of those games and reinsert themselves back amongst the elite of the west, but if they continue to play uninspired ball in the first quarter and give these teams hope they may not be able to take advantage of their relatively easy finishing schedule.
Additional Game 64 Nuggets
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 94.6
Defensive Efficiency: 120.5 – I am guessing that is one of the worst defensive efficiencies the Kings have dropped on someone all season long.
Offensive Efficiency: 112.1 – That should have been good enough.
Featured Blog: Sactown Royalty
Here is a partial list of teams the Denver Nuggets will play over their final 19 games. Sacramento (twice), Oklahoma City (twice), the Clippers (twice), New Jersey, Memphis, Washington, Golden State, New York, Minnesota. Those are twelve games the Nuggets should win. It starts tonight with the Kings.
Featured Blog: Sactown Royalty
Tell me you weren’t freaked out when the Kings were up 34-24 early in the second quarter. Denver was coming off of a very frustrating loss the day before and they looked flat and disinterested. I kept thinking to myself that they could not let Houston beat them twice. I wish I could say all of a sudden they cranked up the defensive intensity and just blew the Sacramento Kings out of the building, but I cannot. While they did blow the Kings away finishing the second quarter on a 33-13 run, but it was not because of their defense.
The Nuggets chose to switch almost every perimeter screen all night long and the result was mismatches and a fast start for the Kings. I realize there may be some readers who are new to my blogging after the introduction of the ESPN/TrueHoop Network so I will make sure everyone understands from the get go that I hate switching screens for the sake of switching screens. Why a team would ever intentionally create two defensive mismatches for themselves makes no sense to me. It makes even less sense than my wife buying a bunch of clothes for my daughter and then getting upset that we do not have any money. It also fosters a lazy attitude and I think it was a big reason why the Nuggets came out lacking energy.
Getting back to our 34-24 conundrum the key to the Nuggets rally was that the Kings flat out went ice cold from the floor. After earning their ten point lead the Kings missed eight of their next nine shots. Almost all of those nine shots were open jumpers. I cannot credit the defense with that change in events, but the flurry of misses by the Kings was all it took to get the running game going. As the offense began to put the pressure on Sacramento the defense slowly came to life. Denver began playing with more enthusiasm on defense and by the end of the quarter they began clicking on both ends of the floor.
The key to Denver’s ability to switch screens and overcome the self imposed mismatches was the guards did a great job of fronting the Kings big men and the Nuggets’ weak side big was always ready to help on the lob pass. On the rare occasions when Sacramento did get the ball inside the Birdman was ready to swoop in and challenge the shot. A dominant shot blocker will always alter many more shots than he actually blocks and that was true tonight for Andersen. He was credited with three blocks, but continually forced the Kings into taking shots at awkward angles and having to release the ball when they were not comfortable (either too quickly or too late when they were on the way back down to the floor).
As nice as it was to finally see a game where the Nuggets pretty much clinched a win well before the end of the third quarter I am afraid that all they did was what they were supposed to do. However, Denver once again took care of business against a non-playoff team and hopefully built some confidence up for their showdown with the Hated Utah Jazz on Sunday.
Holy crap, what am I going to blog about until Sunday?
Additional Game 43 Nuggets
Mindboggling Game Stats
Pace Factor: 99.8 – Pretty fast even for a Denver home game.
Defensive Efficiency: Wait for it…here is comes…99.2! – That is right it is the first time the Nuggets have posted a single game defensive efficiency of below 100 since 1846. Just kidding, it only seems like it has been that long. They actually did it last at Dallas on December 15th. Keep in mind it would have been even better if not for the buzzer beating four point play to end the first quarter and Sacramento scored 11 points in the last minute and a half of the game.
Offensive Efficiency: 118.2 – Very good, even considering the competition.
Featured Blog: Sactown Royalty