J.R. Smith to Serve Hard Time

The Denver Post is reporting that J.R. Smith has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for driving recklessly in the 2007 accident that killed his good friend.

However, 60 days of the sentence are suspended and J.R. will likely only have to spend 30 days in jail as long as he performs 500 hours of community service.  The judge has ordered that the community service be spent with J.R. visiting sick children in the hospital.

In a statement released by the Nuggets Mark Warkentien responded to the judge’s ruling.  “We are fully aware of the legal proceedings involving J.R. Smith today and the judges’ decision. J.R. Smith took responsibility for his role in this tragic accident that occurred in June 2007. The legal statutes mandate that J.R. serve time for driving recklessly and he is grateful that the statutory sentence was reduced from 90 days to 30.

We will continue to support J.R. during this difficult period and will have no further comment at this time.”

Denver suspended J.R. for two games to start the 2007-08 season for the incident in an attempt to head off the NBA.  I am not sure if the NBA will look to tack on an additional suspension now that the legal proceedings have concluded.

Yahoo! Sports has some additional facts and quotes on the story (thanks to reader Ky Davis for the link).

Carmelo, Technicals, Suspensions and the Playoffs

There has been some question about whether or not Carmelo Anthony’s technical foul count (currently at 14 and climbing) will be wiped clean for the playoffs.  The following passage is straight from pages 42-43 in the Official Rules of the National Basketball Association 2008-2009:

Section VII—Fines

a. The following progressive technical foul and ejection schedules will apply.

(1) REGULAR SEASON

Technical Fouls 1-5: $1,000 fine each

Technical Fouls 6-10: $1,500 fine each

Technical Fouls 11-15: $2,000 fine each (with a warning letter sent when the violator reaches his 12th technical foul)

Technical Foul 16: $2,500 fine plus one-game suspension

Each Additional Technical Foul: $2,500 fine

Each Two Additional Technical Fouls

(18, 20, 22, etc.): $2,500 fine plus one-game suspension

(2) PLAYOFFS

Technical Fouls 1-2: $1,000 fine each

Technical Fouls 3-4: $1,500 fine each

Technical Fouls 5-6: $2,000 fine each (with a warning letter sent when the violator reaches his 5th technical foul)

Technical Foul 7: $2,500 fine plus one-game suspension

Each Additional Technical Foul: $2,500 fine

Each Two Additional Technical Fouls

(9, 11, 13, etc.): $2,500 fine plus one-game suspension

So there you have it.  The technical foul count is reset for the playoffs, but if Melo contracts his sixteenth technical foul against Portland, which could be a high intensity game, I believe he would be suspended for the first game of the playoffs.  There is no language specifying the suspension be prior to the next regular season game, just the next game.

Nene Suspended Two Games

Nene has been suspended not only for tonight’s game against the New Orleans Hornets, but the next game in Dallas as well.  According to the NBA the suspension was for his behavior during all three acts of the tantrum starting with the head butt, moving to the elbow and then for “physically confronting” referee Bill Spooner.

So much for accomnplishing the stated goal of a 2-1 road trip.

From the NBA:

DENVER NUGGETS NENÊ SUSPENDED

NEW  YORK,  Mar.  25, 2009 – Denver Nuggets Center-Forward Nenê has been suspended two games without pay for head-butting the Phoenix Suns’ Louis Amundson and physically confronting and making contact with a game official after his ejection, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, in which Nenê was assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty Two and was  also  ejected, occurred with 7:25 remaining in the fourth period of Denver’s 118-115 loss to the Suns at US Airways Center on March 23.

Nenê  will  begin  serving his suspension tonight when the Nuggets visit the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena.

No Nene in N.O.?

Benjamin Hochman is reporting “George Karl was told by someone in the league to prepare without Nene.”

Now that “someone in the league” may have been Byron Scott,  but I doubt it.  If that is the message he received I have to expect Nene will in fact be suspended for tonight’t tilt in New Orleans.  More to come in the game preview.

2008-09 Game 61: Denver Nuggets 95 – Detroit Pistons 100

Box Score | Highlights

The Denver Nuggets just cannot beat the Detroit Pistons.  They dropped another winnable game on the road and it is officially time to really start to be concerned about this team. 

The Pistons started the game off on fire making six of their first eight shots, and they were able to collect the offensive rebound on both of the misses and eventually convert.  Fortunately for the Nuggets Chauncey was making everything he threw up too.  Billups clearly felt comfortable returning to Detroit and he lit up his former team scoring 21 first half points on 7-11 shooting.  The first half was not just all about Chauncey though as Denver was able to find a lot of holes in the Piston defense on their way to 54 first half points.

The Nuggets started the second half out strong as well using the pick and roll to continue to create holes in the defense.  Chauncey made a three, his fourth of the game, with 8:26 left that put the Nuggets up 65-54 and gave him 26 points on the night. 

At that point Richard Hamilton had seen enough.  After the ensuing Pistons possession Hamilton stood under the basket, made a gesture to Rodney Stuckey who had been covering Billups that communicated, “This is not working, you guard Dahntay Jones because he cannot score” and he began hounding Chauncey all over the court.  Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess then began trapping Chauncey off of screens and that really slowed down the Nuggets attack.  For the rest of the night the Nuggets struggled to score.  In fact, from the time Hamilton started covering Billups the Nuggets only scored 12 points over the next 12 minutes and only scored 30 points over the final 20 minutes.  The only reason they managed to score that many points was because J.R. Smith put up ten points in the final five minutes of the game.

Even with the limited offense if J.R. converts on a dunk attempt, on which he may or may not have been fouled by McDyess (Altitude never showed a replay of what may have been the most important play in the game, but after watching it a few times it did not look like McDyess touched the ball at all), The Nuggets might have pulled this game out.

In a game without Carmelo the Nuggets’ supporting cast was just not strong enough.  Linas Kleiza started, but was virtually useless scoring only two points in 26 minutes proving his one point performance in the first meeting was not a fluke.  Kenyon Martin shot 3-13 and scored a measly six points.  Chris Andersen missed jumpers and tip ins alike to finish 1-8.  Even with his strong finish J.R. was a sorry 6-16.  A major key to the game was in the second half Chauncey, Nene and J.R. scored all but five points for Denver.  A team with only a couple of weapons can be easily defended.

In the third quarter Detroit only had to worry about Chauncey and Nene.  After Nene made a jumper less than a minute into the fourth quarter he only attempted two more shots and one of those was a meaningless three at the final horn.   After Nene’s final bucket early in the fourth Chauncey and J.R. scored all of the Nuggets points, but one, a free throw by Anthony Carter.  You want your best players to shine down the stretch, but the lack of diversity in the Nuggets offense played into the Piston’s hands. 

Defensively the Nuggets played hard for most of the game, but they did not play together.  Almost all of the Pistons’ shots were uncontested as defenders either blew assignments and rotations or were simply out of position.

I was worried about how the Nuggets would respond to the suspension of Carmelo and I thought they played hard.  I think that the fact it was Chauncey’s homecoming game helped keep the effort up.  Unfortunately the focus and determination just was not there, especially on defense.

Up next the Nuggets return home for a Thursday battle with the second place Trail Blazers and then follow that up the next night with a battle against the surging Jazz in Utah.

Additional Game 61 Nuggets

 

  • It was great to see Chauncey receive such a warm greeting from Piston fans.  I do not think anyone expected anything less.  Even though the Nuggets lost I was glad to see Chauncey have a nice night posting a new season high. 
  • Sticking with Chauncey I thought he provided Carmelo a great example of how to trust your teammates.  Instead of forcing his offense down the stretch Chauncey deferred to J.R. and Smith carried the Nuggets offense and almost pulled the game out on his own pouring in 14 fourth quarter points. 
  • Kleiza played 26 minutes, which was far too many, but even though George Karl gave him that many minutes it was still encouraging to see Karl use Renaldo Balkman as much as he did in an attempt to slow down Tayshaun Prince.  Kleiza played hard, but had no answer for Prince’s offensive arsenal.  Prince scored nine points in the first nine minutes of the game being guarded by Kleiza, but only three more the rest of the half being covered by Balkman.  In the second half Prince scored four points on Kleiza in nine minutes, and seven on Balkman over the final 15 minutes.  However, Prince scored a layup after Balkman had to switch off of him and he made a three when Balkman had to help on penetration, but amazingly Renaldo still managed to get from under the hoop to the corner to challenge the shot.  The final tally was 13 points off of Kleiza over 18 minutes and ten off of Balkman in 24 minutes, but as I pointed out, five of those points on Balkman came as a result of him leaving Prince through the design of the defense.  Again, we can only hope that we see more of Balkman in the next few weeks.
  • Something is wrong with Kenyon Martin.  With 4:16 left in the second quarter Martin received a beautiful behind the back pass from Chauncey under the rim.  He tried to dribble over to the left side of the rim, elevate and dunk, but he barely got the ball up to the rim.  He is also not getting his typical elevation on his push shots around the rim and they are al coming up short.  Since he sat out the Milwaukee game to rest his back he has shot 15-45 and not all of those 30 misses have been jumpers.  According to his Hotspot chart  from NBA.com over those five games he is shooting only 14 of 29 from in close. 
  • Kenyon Martin shooting last five games
  • As in the Pacer game the Nuggets inability to collect rebounds late in the game hurt them.  With 1:37 left down 94-90 they forced Rasheed Wallace to take a long three.  Rodney Stuckey jumped over Billups and taped the ball back towards half court.  Rip Hamilton chased it down and passed it to Sheed before falling out of bounds.  Not one Nugget chased after the ball.  On their next possession Prince missed a jumper with 41 seconds left, but the ball bounced past Billups and Smith to Stuckey.  Game over.
  • The Nuggets free throw shooting was another problem, especially during the third quarter.  At one point the Nuggets missed five of six free throws.  It also did not help that they only made it to the line 22 times.  

Mindboggling Game Stats

Pace Factor:  79.4 – Very slow partly due to the lack of turnovers, only 17 combined, and offensive rebounds, 28 total. 

Defensive Efficiency:  126.0 – Very poor. 

Offensive Efficiency:  119.7 – This number belies how bad they were in the second half thanks to Billups hot first half and J.R.’s hot final five minutes.

Featured Blogs:  Piston Powered | Detroit Bad Boys

George Karl Discusses Carmelo Anthony’s Suspension

George Karl has spoken with the Denver Post’s Benjamin Hochman (who is the go to guy for Nuggets news right now) and shared the events that took place that resulted in Carmelo Anthony’s suspension.  As we surmised from the game it was indeed at the timeout with 1:13 left in the quarter and reportedly it was due to the fact that Melo felt like he was finally heating up.  

The players do not sound very thrilled that they will be facing a tough opponent in a negative environment.  Some interesting quotes from the article include the following:

Asked if the suspension shows the players that the coach is in charge, forward Kenyon Martin said: “I guess that’s what they’re trying to prove.”

Will it work?

“I don’t know,” Martin said. “We’ll see. I hope it doesn’t affect anything that we have built so far this year. But you never know. Only time will tell. I hope it doesn’t.”

and:

Asked if the suspension was fair, Billups said: “I’m not going to speak on the fairness of it, but definitely there’re always rules to everything. He knows he made a mistake. I don’t think he was doing it to say ‘screw the team’. He was doing it because he wanted in the basketball game. There’s a fine line between that. There’s rules to everything and punishment to every rule. But he’s taking it with a grain of salt and he’s going to be fine. It’s something that I’m sure he wishes he didn’t do.”

The Nuggets can go two different directions on this.  Realize that George Karl is in charge and put forth a strong effort tonight or feel sorry for themselves and let this situation produce a negative impact on the remainder of the season.

2008-09 Game 61: Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons Game Thread

The Denver Nuggets have had a difficult time winning games in a couple of places around the NBA.  In recent seasons they broke a long jinx in Sacramento.  Last month the Nuggets stopped a long losing streak in Orlando.  With that victory against the Magic the Palace in Auburn Hills now fills the role as the Elm Street for the Nuggets nightmare.  Denver has not won a game at the Palace since a 99-88 win on March 10, 1995, when Grant Hill was a rookie and Joe Dumars was still four seasons away from retiring.  By the way, the Pistons had the sixth worst record that season.

As everyone knows by now Carmelo will not take part in the game tonight and even though he is suspended I found it odd that he returned to Denver instead of taking part in practice Monday and sitting on the bench to support his teammates.  We could speculate all day about the significance of his departure, but for now let’s just focus on the game tonight.

The Nuggets are struggling having lost four of their last six games including three straight on the road while after losing eight straight the Pistons have beaten the Magic and the Celtics on the road.  Coinciding with that two game winning streak is the absence of Allen Iverson officially due to a back strain, but unofficially due to the decision to move him to the bench. 

While you can make a very strong argument that the Pistons are better off without AI, it is more difficult to do so with the Nuggets missing Carmelo.  If someone else was experiencing a hot streak there might be some hope that he will step up and fill Melo’s offensive shoes, but the entire Nuggets team is in the midst of a prolonged shooting slump.  As those of you who read this blog regularly know I track various Nuggets stats from game to game and post them on the right sidebar.  For what seems like weeks the Nuggets field goal percentage has held steady at 47.2%.  Today it stands at 46.8%.  That may not seem like a significant drop off, but consider this.  The Nuggets as a team are shooting only 43.8% since the All-Star break.  When everyone is struggling like that it makes it doubly difficult to replace your best offensive player.

Carmelo missed the first meeting between the two teams due to his fractured hand and the Nuggets struggled to score so we may be able to soak up some insight from that game. 

According to the game notes Karl has selected Linas Kleiza to start in Melo’s small forward spot.  Kleiza has proven to be a streaky scorer and the Nuggets will need him to switch over from his current cold streak to a hot streak mighty quickly.  The chances of Kleiza suddenly breaking out are greatly reduced by the fact that he is going to be checked by Tayshaun Prince.  Kleiza shot 0-6, missing a couple of open layups to boot, and scored one point in over 34 minutes in the first meeting.

The Nuggets will also need a big night from J.R. Smith as well although unlike Kleiza Smith will need to do more than score.  He will need to be aggressive and attack the paint in order to create easy scoring opportunities for both himself as well as his teammates.  J.R. shot 3-13 in the first meeting.

Of course aside from Melo’s suspension is Chauncey’s first game back in Detroit since he was traded to the Nuggets.  Undoubtedly Chauncey will experience a wide range of strong emotions.  Chauncey had a nice game attacking the rim, but as the game wore on he forced some three point attempts.  Billups will have to duplicate his 11-19 effort from the first game for the Nuggets to have a shot.

It would be nice to have Nene provide some post offense although he struggled to do so against the Pistons physical front line in the first matchup.  Nene only shot 3-7, but he did get to the line 12 times.  The Nuggets will need him to step up tonight.

Kenyon is always capable of having a nice offensive game when he is getting in the lane instead of hoisting jumpers, but in the first meeting he shot a sorry 6-15.

More so than raising individual games the Nuggets must raise their collective team game.  They will need to play with the focus and desire on defense that they displayed against the Lakers and on offense they can earn good shots for each other by playing unselfishly and patient offense.  Unfortunately with Melo out the offense has a tendency to become stagnant with one pass and a jump shot as everyone is trying to make up for Melo’s absence on their own. 

The way Denver is playing right now I really do not like their chances tonight.  I am almost as down on their chances tonight as I was before the Laker game, but I will hold off on any prediction of doom so soon after being proven wrong just a few days ago.

Denver Nuggets Game Notes

Previous Matchup:   Game 38 – Den 90 Det 93

Featured Blogs:  Piston Powered | Detroit Bad Boys 

Why Was Carmelo Anthony Suspended?

I was hoping to post some video of Carmelo refusing to come out of the game, but there was no such event shown on the television broadcast.  If reports that the “incident” occurred in the third quarter the likely point in time everything went down was with 1:13 left in the quarter.  Kleiza had walked to the scorer’s table waiting to check in.  Chauncey Billups made a three to push the Nuggets lead up to seven and Jim O’Brien called a timeout.  

At the time I though it was odd that George Karl had Kleiza replace Kenyon Martin as the Pacers had both Murphy and Foster in the game.  In fact heading into the timeout the Pacers actually had Rasho Nesterovic and Foster in the game making it even less likely that Karl’s plan was to have Kleiza replace Kenyon.

I checked the game logs and it is not rare for either Carmelo or Kenyon to play the entire third quarter although the substitution took place right about the average time that Melo is removed from the game.  (Yes, I did the math and in the 42 games where Melo played in the third quarter, but was not removed due to foul trouble Melo’s average departure time in the third quarter is with 82.6 seconds left.  Fifteen times he has played the entire third quarter.)

The point of all that is that the only oddity that was noticeable was that Kleiza came in for Martin to play power forward against a big opposing front line.  There was no consternation or signs of disagreement with anyone, but to me there are some questions that need to be answered.  Why did Melo not want to leave the game?  Why could he and Karl work it out?  How did they come to the decision that Martin would be the one to come out of the game?

As far as Melo’s reasoning for not wanting to come out of the game I think it was primarily because he finally starting making some shots.  In the first quarter Melo started off ice cold missing his first three shots.  With 2:18 left in the first quarter he drove the baseline and was fouled.  He made both free throws to score his first two points and then the next trip down the floor he received the ball on the right block, got a pick from Kenyon dribbled twice to his left, rose up and hit a 14 foot jumper.  It looked like he might have been hitting a groove and then Karl took him out of the game.  

Fast forward to the third quarter and Kleiza got off the bench to enter the game at the 2:20 mark when the game was tied at 62.  Melo had just missed a contested 13 foot jumper (another one in a long line of contested jumpers he attempted that night).  However, between the time Karl called Kleiza’s name and there was a dead ball Melo hit a (contested) 17 foot jumper in transition and he made a (contested) 22 footer.  It was the first time Melo made two consecutive jumpers since the Atlanta game (and that is being generous as those two jumpers were separated by a little break called halftime).  Melo had basically played eight straight quarters without making consecutive jumpers.  I doubt that he realized that fact, but you better believe he knew he had not been shooting well and may have felt like he was finally heating up.  

Now take into account that he plays the entire third quarter about one third of the time (fact), he had done so for three straight games (fact), he had finally hit consecutive jumpers (fact) and that he may have felt like he was removed from the game in the first quarter when he was starting to heat up (speculation) and I can see why Melo would have wanted to stay in the game.  

That leads me to my next question.  If Melo is starting to feel like he is getting in a rhythm during the timeout couldn’t he and Karl have had a brief discussion and decided that either yes, Melo could stay in the game or no, he may have finally made a couple of jumpers, but they were not quality shots?  Pitchers in baseball get to lobby for why they should stay in the game all the time.  It is not that difficult of a conversation.

Finally when Melo chose on his own to stay in the game, how did it come to pass that Kenyon took a seat?  Was it voluntarily, thus putting the team before himself and showing leadership?  Did Karl tell him to sit out?  Did Melo ask him to sit out so he could keep playing?  Did they do rock-paper-scissors?  Of all the games not to have a sideline reporter.

Nevertheless, Melo did respond by hitting a (contested) three on the first possession after the timeout, but he bricked a bad (contested) drifting 20 foot jumper along the left baseline to end his streak of three straight made jumpers.  It is interesting to note that Melo remained in the game to start the fourth quarter, but Karl replaced him with Nene less than two minutes in.  There was no footage of his demeanor upon leaving the game as the play preceding the stoppage in play was a controversial charging call on J.R. Smith and Altitude was showing the replay and a closeup of the back of J.R.’s head.  

When Melo arrived on the bench, he did not sulk or go to the end of the bench in anger of being pulled from the action.  He was the closest player to Karl with only Tim Grgurich between the two of them.  There were no harsh words or apparent ill will between anyone.  The entire episode appeared to be as low key as any transgression I have ever seen a player suspended over although obviously at this point we have no idea what was said in the huddle or after the game.

Of course it is possible that the timeout at the 1:13 mark was not the point where Melo refused to exit the game, but no other point in the third quarter makes any sense. 

As I said in my initial reaction, if Melo did indeed disobey Karl, then that is an infraction that cannot be tolerated no matter how cordial the disagreement was.  We will see how the team reacts playing in an arena that they have had very little success in over the years.

Carmelo Anthony Suspended One Game

Carmelo Anthony is not returning to Denver for personal reasons as first reported.  Melo has been suspended for one game by the Denver Nuggets for an “in-game transgression” in Indianapolis.  

The Denver Post article cites sources reported in the know as to why Melo was suspended.

Multiple sources said that in the third quarter coach George Karl tried to take Anthony out of the game and Anthony refused to come out, disrespecting the coach.

It is never good for players to ignore their coach, but at least Melo’s insubordination was born out of the competitive desire to stay in a close game and not some kind of childish rage like yelling at the coach to get up and do something.  However, I think the Nuggets are right to take this step.  If the coach is not in charge of the team no one will be and that makes for a messy situation.

Obviously Melo has not been playing well lately so hopefully the game off will help him get back on track.  The bad news is no one else has been playing very well on offense either and if Linas Kleiza or J.R. Smith do not hit some shots tonight in Detroit the Nuggets will be in a lot of trouble.

Thanks to BeefySwats for the tip in the comments.