Denver Nuggets

1999-2000 Nuggets Game Summaries


Game: Seattle Sonics at Denver (4/8/00) Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 105-97
Sonics

Nick and Co. finally found a way to beat nemesis Gary Payton. Until Saturday night, Gary had owned Denver this year. (Picture from previous game in Seattle)

Nuggets upset Playoff-bound Sonics

Finally, the Nuggets got the best of Gary Payton, beating the Sonics for the first time all season.

In an effort to thwart one of the growing and consistent problems of the Nuggets play this year - extremely slow starts - Issel shook up the starting line-up for this game. He started Popeye Jones at Center, McCloud and forward with McDyess, and Posey and Van Exel at the guard positions. It worked for the first few minutes of the game, as the lineup jumped on Seattle for the first 7 points of the game. Seattle called a time-out to stop the bleeding, and then poured 30 points on Denver the rest of the quarter, while Denver responded with only 11 of its own. All in all, another extremely slow start put the Nuggets in jeopardy of a third straight loss. Why do the starters or whoever else Dan decides to put in there never seem to come out of the gate fired up? Yes, the playoffs are out of reach, but most of the Nuggets claim to still be playing their butts off, yet this consistently happens. Let's not kid ourselves either, this lack of effort at the start of games has been happening since well before we were out of the playoff picture this year...

So, the Nuggets found themselves playing to stay in the game. At least they are used to that, and they generally respond to make things interesting. Not to spoil the surprise, but the Nuggets outplayed the Sonics the rest of the way in this game. Not bad for a consistent 3 quarter effort, I guess. Issel's other coaching ploys in this game did help make the difference - namely, have Posey and Bowen guard Payton, not Van Exel. Van Exel was then free to provide a little more of the offense we desperately need from him, to the tune of 18 points. With leading scorer McDyess only providing 10 points on 2-12 shooting, all the offense was needed to hold off the Sonics. Posey was awesome in this game, guarding Payton who scored 30 points, but needed 26 shots to score them, and providing 19 points in the winning effort. Posey scored 9 straight points on threes to start out the 3rd quarter with a bang. LaFrentz and McCloud provided 15 points and 20 points respectively. McCloud has been red-hot from behind the arc in the past few games, hitting 4 of 6 in this game.

On a positive note, the other main problem plaguing the Nuggets this season was not a factor in this game - failing to execute offensively down the stretch. The Nuggets held off every late Sonics challenge, with Van Exel and McCloud providing most of the late baskets and free-throws.

I apologize for the negativity in this game summary, the season is starting to drag, and I didn't get to writing this review until after I saw the Nuggets get pummeled by the Warriors tonight... By the way, what exactly does Steve Javie have against Issel and the Nuggets anyway? Can he not ever ref us again, please!

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Utah Jazz at Denver (4/1/00) Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 112-92
Jazz

Nick and Co. showed Stockton and the Utah Jazz that Denver is not going to roll over even after being eliminated from playoff contention for the 1999-2000 season...

Nuggets Bring Back the Intensity

The Nuggets lose back to back games against Washington and Chicago, and it looks like it's time to start thinking about next year. Then, the Nuggets win two out of three on the road against New Jersey and Washington. The win in New Jersey was the first signs of life from a team that had truly struggled since the All-Star break. In that game, they were up by 17 points in the first quarter, and as they've been prone to do this year, they gave up that lead and then some, finding themselves down 19 to the Nets in the 4th quarter. Then they found the three-point shots fall for them, and they made a furious, and miraculous comeback, finishing with a buzzer beater from Chris Gatling to give them the win.

Now, with 9 games left in the season, the Nuggets have a chance of notching 35 wins - their highest win total in over 4 years. Yes, the Nuggets are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they suddenly have found the intensity needed to win ballgames. The win against Utah, with the 20 point margin of victory tying for the largest ever against the Jazz, was the latest in a series of late season games, that are too late for the Nuggets to salvage their season. But on the positive side, Issel has to be happy that his team is determined to be the thorn in several playoff teams sides these last few weeks. If only they could have found this level of intensity more often when the games really mattered for the Nuggets.

The two things the Nuggets have lacked this season can be summed up pretty quickly, and they both start with one thing - consistency. Consistency of intensity, consistency of execution on the offensive end - especially late in games, and consistent defensive efforts. Find a way to address those three things, and this team is easily a playoff contender. We finally have the talent for it again. Karl Malone, fresh off the 20 point loss to the Nuggets, paid the Nuggets a sharp but truthful compliment,

"If you guys had played like this all year, you'd be going to the playoffs."

Antonio McDyess took this for what it was - the truth. He added that it made him feel good, because he know the talent the Nuggets have, but at the same time he was frustrated because he can't go back to the beginning of the season and play as Karl mentioned.

As for the game, it was dominated by McDyess with 33 point and 10 rebounds, Van Exel with 27 points and 14 assists, and the red-hot rookie James Posey, with 20 points and 5 assists. McCloud also added 14 points, and LaFrentz, who has played better in the past 8 games or so, added 9 points and 11 rebounds.The Nuggets outscored the Jazz in every quarter of the game.

With the loss of Chauncey Billups, and the season ending injury to Tariq Abdul-Wahad, James Posey has had to move from his normal position of small forward to shooting guard. Initially he struggled there, because he had not been called upon for much offense this season. But the shooting guard position is expected to score, and recently Posey has more than filled expectations there. With 25 points against Washington, 21 at New Jersey, and 20 points against the Jazz, he is gaining confidence in himself and from his teammates. Against Utah, Posey hit 6-8 from behind the three point arc. I'd say our once defensive minded rookie has found a way to score, wouldn't you?

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Washington Wizards at Denver (3/23/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 86-100

Jordan's Boys, although bottom dwellers as the Nuggets again are, had no problem dispatching us on our home floor...

Finishing out the Season Weakly

For the second time this season, my wife returns for a guest commentary spot, after she took a girlfriend to the game. Sorry to say that the Nuggets didn't do much for the money or the entertainment of the game, but they did some provide some good material for another interesting summary: - Alan

Wow! What to say about the game last night against the Wizards? A few facts:

  1. It was the worst game I have been to all year.
  2. The crowd was thin and quiet.
  3. Even Rocky was mellow. No "Go Nuggets" cheers near the end.
  4. Steve Javie....GET HIM OUT OF THE NBA!
  5. And NO MICHAEL JORDAN SIGHTING!!!

I went with a girlfriend who I hadn't seen in a while. It was a good thing too because if I had been more into the game, I would have taken off my boots and thrown them at the ref. Javie that is. There were lots of boos and yelling fans. Not yelling for the Nuggets, but at the refs. The incident with Issel getting two technical fouls happened SO fast, that most of us had to read in the paper what really happened. Javie happened. The Javie factor. Boo hiss!!!

Speaking of factors, the Bowen factor was the highlight of the game! After Issel benched the starting line up, Bowen came in an played his heart out. He hit the floor a few times scrambling for the ball, knocked around some guys underneath the basket, made a few points, and really fired up the crowd. When a time out was called, the fans roared loudly for Bowen and Issel gave him a hug of gratitude for playing hard.

Let's talk about playing hard and leading the team. I use to think that Van Exel was the best point guard around! Well he's not! He has become a victim instead of a motivator. I have played point guard, and it isn't about making the best passes, or shooting the three pointer. It is about being the play maker, getting your team fired up, and making a win happen. I think Van Exel needs to watch some of the NCAA tournament. Now I don't want to seem prejudice since my alma mature is Michigan State! Okay I am! Mateen Cleaves took MSU from a 26-36 score in the first quarter to a whomping victory of 75-58 last night. GO SPARTANS!!! Cleaves went into the locker room at half time and chewed his team up one side and down the other. Especially the Seniors! Cleaves for President!!!

So Mr. Van Excellent, I suggest you come to terms with your role on the Nuggets team. It isn't going to be Antonio, or Cory, or even Bowen. It is you my friend who is the leader. You're from L.A., and it's past SHOW TIME!!!

Thanks to my loving husband for letting the "girls" go again! We did have fun, but it wasn't because of the game!

Sincerely,

Carrie "Let's Go Green" Switzer

 


Game: LA Lakers at Denver (3/13/00) Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 108-118
Lakers

When Shaq is hitting his free throws, he is truly unstoppable. The Big Man even dished out 7 assists for the Lake Show.

Lakers unstoppable in Denver

Antonio McDyess. Raef LaFrentz. Popeye Jones. Chris Gatling. Keon Clark. All of the available big men for the Nuggets tried - and all of them failed.

The only player who had a chance at stopping Shaq was Shaq himself, and even with a hamstring that has been nagging him since last week, he didn't slow down much. O'Neal even hit 12 of 16 free throws and dished out a team high 7 assists. But enough about the immovable force that is Shaquille O'Neal.

The Nuggets fought hard in this game, despite being outsized and outgunned by a frightening Lakers team that came into town riding an 18 game winning streak. The last time the Nuggets saw a team withe a 18 game winning streak (Bulls in '96) they amazingly ended it. Not this time though. The Lakers now own the third-best winning streak in NBA history. Gatling put in 25, Clark 18, and Van Exel 17 points in the losing effort. The Nuggets started off the game hot, but the Lakers came alive and ended the first quarter up 2 points. In the second quarter, the Lakers threatened to break it open many times, but the Nuggets scratched and clawed and hung on for dear life. It reminded me of a crack opening in the Hoover Dam, and the Nuggets players were all taking turns trying to stem the leak before it turned into a massive flood of force. Shaq, Kobe, Rice, and the rest of the squad were that inevitable force of nature tonight - look out NBA, they are on a mission. In the second half, the Nuggets clawed back, outscoring the Lakers in the 3rd quarter. Shaq kept pouring in points, and Kobe was starting to heat up. The Nuggets closed the margin to 1 point on several occasions, but each time the Lakers would pull away, seemingly toying with the Nuggets. When the Nuggets aggressively double and triple teamed Shaq, he dished out to wide open teammates for back breaking three-pointers - Brian Shaw being on the receiving end on three possessions. The Nuggets just couldn't keep up that pace, having to work so much harder for every offensive possession of their own.

There were some high points. Keon continues to put on game after game of impressive effort at both ends of the floor - doubling or more his scoring average in each of the games he's been back since becoming a new Dad on the 3rd of March. Van Exel found a bit of his game that he had lost recently - putting in 7 of 16 shots and adding 15 assists. He's been dishing the ball very consistently, but it was nice to see him find a bit of his offense again - the Nuggets desperately need it. Herren struggled in the first half, but found a nice groove in the third quarter when Nick needed a rest. At one point, he lost a shoe, then ran down the court without it on a fast break 2-2 opportunity with James Posey. When Posey stumbled and passed it back to Herren, he calmly drained a three before hobbling back down the court looking for his shoe and a 20 second time-out. Herren used his quickness on several possessions to drive into the lane, then kick out to teammates for better looks on offense.

Side notes: George McCloud sat this game out after his tussle with ex-Nugget Ron Mercer after the Orlando game earned him a one-game suspension from the NBA front office. His pocket was also lightened $5000. Thanks for sticking up for the team, George, but we do need you for the big games! Shooting guards Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Bryant Stith are still suffering the effects of recent injuries. It's not sure when either is expected back, but Bryant may miss the rest of the season with a deep thigh contusion that has showed no signs of healing. The officiating sucked in this game. I get really frustrated with what I perceive as unfair foul calling against the Nuggets this season, as officials consistently foul out Antonio McDyess, yet seem to give the star treatment to every big man he guards. There were several plays late in the game where contact was made under the basket with the Nuggets on offense, and no call is made, yet the Lakers were bailed out nearly every time on the other end. The worst 2 calls were a blocking foul that Antonio was called for on a Glen Rice drive, when he was in position and still for a full second before Glen crashed into him, and a collision between Nick and Kobe at half-court that Nick was clearly in position for, and no foul was called on Kobe. Did the NBA tell the officials to help make sure the streak stayed alive for the struggling NBA marketing machine? Makes you wonder!

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: New Jersey Nets at Denver (3/01/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 81-94

Tariq was one of the few Nuggets playing with any kind of energy in this game...

Lifeless against the Nets

This is one of those games that leaves most Nuggets fans frustrated. I was fortunate enough to not be at this game in person, which I hate to have to say. The Nuggets never really showed many signs of being interested in playing this game.

All of the signs pointed to a Nuggets win before the game. The Nuggets were 23-3 against New Jersey all-time. New Jersey struggles on the road this year, with a 5-22 record going into the game. The Nuggets usually play very well at the Pepsi Center with a 19-10 mark there. The Nuggets had three days off since their last game. Even ex-Nugget great and Hall of Famer, David Thompson was in attendance. So much for the signs.

Instead, the Nuggets looked lifeless, and dismal in the effort. They were out-hustled, out-shot, out-played, and couldn't play defense. At the half, they were already down 15 points. They came out in the third quarter, determined to make a run, but for all their efforts, they could only cut into the New Jersey lead by 15 points.

McDyess had 22 points, but it took 24 shots to get them, only making 9. He looked completely out of sync in the 2nd half, when they needed him to have a chance to get back to the game. Time after time he would receive the ball in the post, only to pass it back out, without even looking to make a move to the basket. He made a few of his patented fadeaways from the corner, but it was too little too late. Van Exel was completely outplayed by his counterpart at the point guard spot - Stephon Marbury. Marbury had 20 points, 8 assists, six rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Nick made just 1-9 but added 11 assists. Without Nick being a bigger part of the offense, the Nuggets don't have too much of a chance this year. The few bright spots in this game were George McCloud, and new Nuggets Abdul-Wahad and Gatling, McCloud was one of the few Nuggets shooting the ball well, hitting 7-13 for 22 points, and Abdul-Wahad and Gatling were two of the few showing any hustle and life on the court for the Nuggets.

To add insult to injury, we also lost 2 of our "energy" guys in this game. James Posey, a constant fireplug this year of hustle and at least defensive effort, went out with a severe contusion to his right fibula (shin) at seven minutes into the game. Bryant Stith went out with a right thigh contusion after he drove into the lane and ran into NJ's Keith Van Horn during the 3rd quarter. Both players left the game and did not return. Both players left the Pepsi Center on crutches, although Posey is expected to not miss any games. More will be determined after they have been looked at again today.

Side Notes: Keon Clark missed the game with Issel's permission to tend to his newborn son in Denver. Congratulations Keon, and come back when you're ready. Basketball can wait. I had the honor and privilige of meeting new Nugget Chris Gatling this past Sunday at Tommy Tsunami's, in downtown Denver. Not only to he agree to my interrupting his dinner to pose for a quick picture, but he went out of his way to wish my buddy Dane Hansen a Happy Birthday. Thanks Chris, and we're glad you're a Denver Nugget.

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Sacramento Kings at Denver (2/21/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 123-117 OT
Kings

Van Exel and Co. fought back into this war with the Kings, and won it in overtime...

Kings fall at the Pepsi Center

Now this was a great, great game to be at, as a Nuggets fan. With an announced attendance of 18,527 - lots of other Nuggets fans made it to this game too. The atmosphere was electric in the 2nd half, as the Nuggets staged a major comeback to tie the game and send it into overtime. For the first time in the entire game, the Nuggets grabbed the lead in the overtime session when McDyess hit 2 free throws. But, I'm getting ahead of myself...

This was a matchup of one of the leagues best offenses (and worst defenses) against a Nuggets team that has regained some of its confidence that it had lost right before the All-Star break. Van Exel, the veteran point guard, with talent and skills, against the young, brash, sometimes too fancy, Jason Williams. Denver's main man - Antonio McDyess at PF against Chris Webber, one of the league's best at the position. Oh, this was going to be good. With the season series between these two teams at 2-1 in Sacramento's favor, with both teams holding home court in each game, it was the Nuggets turn to even the score. For three plus quarters though, it didn't look like that's how it would play out.

The starters began the game slow and cold, spotting the Kings an early 10-3 lead. Issel tried to stop the bleeding several times with time-outs and line-up changes. He finally found a guy to get it going - Chris Gatling. Gatling had 21 points in the game off the bench, but 18 came in the first half. He didn't play much in the 2nd half, and he turned the ball over 2-3 times in a row at one point, but he sure did get the Nuggets going in the first quarter, when nothing else was working.

The Kings are a scary good offensive team. They have an array of weapons from C Web inside, to guys like Stojakovic, and Barry on the outside. The Nuggets made it easy for the Kings in the first half, rotating to open shooters slowly - and the Kings made them pay. At one point the lead was 19 for the Kings, but the Nuggets kept clawing away, making it a bearable 13 points at the half. Van Exel was awesome all game long running the offense and ended up with 15 dishes. When Van Exel was out for a few minutes of rest here and there (he logged 47 minutes) Posey or McCloud ran the point, but the offense usually faltered until Van Exel came back in.

The entire 2nd half was a game of spurts and runs. The Nuggets closed the lead at the beginning of the 3rd quarter to just 9 points, but then the Kings answered and pushed the lead back up to 15 points. Issel called and time-out, and got his team playing with defensive hustle and energy. Suddenly the Nuggets were flying and rotating at shooters as a team, doing their best to deny open looks. They kept this level of effort up most of the rest of the game, but most of the time it just didn't matter, as Kings outside shooters, especially Stojakovic got red hot - hitting threes with guys right in their face. But, the Nuggets started to do the same, and they started to have more scoring runs than the Kings - slowly closing the gap. They went into the 4th quarter only down by 6 points. The Nuggets hit 12-21 three pointers - many in the second half. B. Stith came off the bench to score 21 points, and he hit 2 key three pointers in the 4th quarter. With just over 6 minutes to go, the Nuggets pulled within a point. But Sojakovic single handedly put the Kings back up by 9 with 4 minutes to go. Then Van Exel took over - hitting back to back three pointers from the right arc, after bringing the ball up the court.

A couple of possesions really defined the game. After Webber hit a 2-pointer, the Nuggets were still down 3 with just under a minute left. Van Exel drove to the basket, passed to Stith, who stumbled and drove, who passed to Posey, who drove and finally kicked it to a wide open Stith, who calmly buried the three to tie the game, and eventually send it into overtime. That sequence of passes was what a lot of this game was about - patience... on the Nuggets part when they had the ball on offense. Their patience, during an emotional and frenzied second half is what helped them win this game. The crowd's energy and noise as the Nuggets staged the comeback didn't hurt either! Also, the 2nd half was played with an intensity that was missing in the 2nd half, and in many losses this year is never found. Most of the Nuggets players have it, but some typify it better than others. Take a play by James Posey in the 4th quarter. He missed a shot, but followed his rebound, and tipped the ball 3 separate times to keep the Kings from grabbing the defensive rebound. He finally fell down as he tipped it to Van Exel, who dribble around in the confusion and ended up hitting a three-pointer to reward Posey's effort.

Random notes: Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was in the crowd to observe the game, sitting in a box just behind my seats.This looked like the biggest crowd at the Pepsi Center that I've seen - even bigger than opening night, and it really sounded like it too. As the fans watched the Nuggets stage their comeback in the 4th quarter, the Pepsi Center was rocking louder and louder with each minute. My wife and I agreed that this was the most fun we've had at a Nuggets game since game 6 of the Utah playoff series in the 94-95 season. It was that much fun! The Nuggets don't look like they believe the playoffs are just a dream this year, despite what the media has been saying lately. Minnesota is back in striking distance again, and the Nuggets are capable of beating anyone in the league when they play like they did tonight.

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Denver at Toronto Raptors (2/18/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 95-91
Nuggets

Mr. Air Canada was flying in the 2nd half, but the Nuggets kept Vince and his Raptors just out of reach...

McDyess/Van Exel Hit in the Clutch

With three road games in one week, you already have to set your expectations low, as a Nuggets fan. Yes, the Nuggets are much, much better this year, but they are still struggling to find themselves on the road. When you look ahead to a week with the Timberwolves, Cavs, and Raptors, you think... maybe a win against the struggling Cavs would be good! Instead, the Nuggets struggled mightily against the Cavs, but had big wins against the T-Wolves (who we're still fighting with for that 8th playoff spot in the West) and the Raptors. Throw out the Cavs game, and it was a very good week

Against the Raptors, the Nuggets totally outplayed them throughout most of the first half. Although they had one of their inevitable let-downs at the end of the 2nd quarter, the half-time score was 49-38, an 11 point Nuggets lead. The Nuggets shot 49% in the first half, compared to the Raptors chilly 31%. The lead at one point in the 2nd quarter was 23 points. As with most NBA games, and especially with the still inconsistent Nuggets, the 2nd half was a different story. Vince Carter went off for 27 second half points, and the Nuggets found their big lead had dwindled all the way down to 2 points late in the 4th quarter. Even with their paltry 4-18 road record, the Nuggets did not cave in hostile territory. McDyess hit a tough fading shot in the lane with two Raptors in his face, with 49 seconds left to put the Nuggets up by 4. Van Exel then hit 6 of 8 free throws down the stretch to hold the Raptors off. Key contributors in this game were McDyess, with 24 points, 8 rebounds, LaFrentz had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and Van Exel had 17 points (8-8 from the line), 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Random thoughts and notes: George McCould sat this game out with a sore ankle that he sprained against Cleveland. He said his condition was much improved, but it still wasn't ready for running up and down the court quite yet. Antonio McDyess injured his right ankle against the Raptors, in the 4th quarter, but was able to return to the court. The Nuggets have to find a solution to their point guard woes - Van Exel continues to have to play big minutes if the Nuggets hope to win, and the drop-off in play when Issel goes to his backup is too great to overcome most games.

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: San Antonio Spurs at Denver (2/09/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 97-106

James Posey was one of only a few Nuggets that played hard when they were on the floor in this game...

Nuggets Rally Falls Short

As I've said before, I really hate writing game summaries when the Nuggets lose. I do this for fun, and what's the fun in writing about a loss? Well, when you lose 4 heartbreakers in a row, I guess it's time to stop whining and write.

After giving up big leads late for 3 games in a row to the Warriors, T-Wolves, and the Lakers, the Nuggets starters were determined to make sure that didn't happen again. So, they turned the ball over time after time to help the Spurs build a 25 point lead in the first half.

The Nuggets starters - McDyess, Posey, LaFrentz, Wahad, and Van Exel helped dig a large hole in the first half. They were outscored 37-22 in the first quarter alone. Then in the 2nd quarter they were again outscored 27-19. It just didn't look like they came to play on the last game before the all-star break. This was talked about an important game to set the tone going into the break, but it didn't look like anyone told most of the starters that. So, with Van Exel still nursing sore groin muscles, and the big guys not playing so big, Issel shook things up a bit in the second half. Going with a unit of Alexander, Gatling, Clark, Sith, and McCloud, the Nuggets started making things a bit more interesting. Finally, in the 3rd quarter they gained back some of the lead by outscoring the Spurs 30-24, going into the 4th quarter with a score of 71-88. Issel stayed with mostly the same group of guys, subbing in Posey and Wahad who played with increased energy along with the core 2nd unit. Suddenly it was getting interesting. The Nuggets came within 5 points, but could not get any closer. They got their on a 17-3 run by forcing Spurs turnovers and playing solid defense when the starters just didn't seem to have it in them. Unfortunately, for a lot of the good plays they made, the 2nd unit also wasted opportunities, turning the ball over several times when they could have sliced the lead to less than 5 points. That was all the Spurs needed behind the veteran play of guys like Terry Porter and David Robinson to stop the Nuggets in their tracks, and put the game away with a 7-0 run late in the game.

It was a valiant effort, but way too big of a hole against the defending NBA champs. The Nuggets set a season high with 26 turnovers. It became painfully obvious in this game that without a healthy Nick Van Exel, the Nuggets will have a hard time getting the job done late in a game. The Nuggets dropped 5 games below .500 (21-26) for the first time all season. I hope the All-Star break brings rest to tired guys like LaFrentz and Clark that need to give their young, but weary legs a break. I hope Nick Van Exel finds lots of rest for his groin injury. Good luck to Posey and LaFrentz in the All-Star rookie challenge, and I'll see all the Nuggets fans in the 2nd half of the season!

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver (2/2/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 135-112

Nick was on fire against the Bucks, and so were his teammates... who shot 63% for the game... the Nuggets highest total in 12 years!

It's a little early, but for at least the first night, let it not be said that the Nuggets missed Ron Mercer's offense in any way, shape, or form.

This was the most fun I've had at a Nuggets game in quite some time - they gave the Bucks an old-fashioned whomping, and make it look fun and easy. They started off the game making the first 6 shots they took, thanks to some tasty dishes served up by Nick the Quick. The Nuggets were "en fuego" the entire first quarter, shooting 70% as a team, and scoring an NBA high so far this season of 45 points. That's more points they had in the entire first half against the 76ers the other night!

Bryant Stith started in place of the departed Ron Mercer at shooting guard, and played well. Heck, the whole team played well tonight - everyone that played except for LaFrentz had at least 1 assist tonight, with 41 as a team. That's a lot of great passing, and sharing the ball. A lot of people have said a lot of things about Mercer not sharing the ball, since he was traded Tuesday morning - maybe more of it was true than I realized. Then again, this is only one game. I'll give it a few more games before I'm willing to run along side the "what a great trade" bandwagon. :)

Here's some of the more impressive lines:

  • McDyess, 11-15 from the field for 26 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Van Exel, 10-17 shooting for 28 points, 11 assists, 3 steals
  • Stith, 6-10 shooting for 17 points, 8 assists
  • LaFrentz, 7-11 shooting for 16 points, 10 rebounds

How about those new guys? Well, after much speculation during the day that we wouldn't see Wahad and Gatling in uniform until Friday at the earliest, there they were during the pre-game shoot-around, wearing their shiny new Nuggets duds. Both were introduced to the crowd before the Nuggets starters were introduced, to a very warm round of applause. Gatling made all 4 shots he took, including a three-pointer late in the game - ending with 9 points in only 8 minutes of play. Wahad had 7 points in 14 minutes but fired the crowd up when his first two baskets as a Nugget were dunks. Welcome to the Nuggets, guys!

So, what made this game the Nuggets blow-out that it became? They came out intense, but relaxed and focused. They scored the first 9 points of the game before the Bucks could even get on the board. They caused turnovers and made steals early in the game. They passed the ball around and shared the rock, making for easy basket after easy basket. Once their confidence got up, they were hitting shots from everywhere on the court, and were only threatened once in the game, when the Bucks closed to within 7 points early in the 4th quarter. Van Exel promptly put away any hopes though, scoring the next 8 points in the game. On one of the early possessions for the Bucks, Nick literally shadowed Bucks point guard Sam Cassell the entire length of the court, denying him the ball until the Bucks threw it out of bounds trying to get it into the hands of Cassell in desperation. I've heard that some Nuggets were angry about the sudden trade of Mercer and Billups, but I've also heard that they won't miss Mercer as a teammate because of his selfish attitude on offense. They sure seemed to be more relaxed and having more fun than they've had all year.

Side notes: There were many Bucks fans in the audience, including two literal cheese heads sitting just a few rows behind me. They seemed good natured and didn't seem to mind seeing their team get crushed. Several obnoxious Nuggets fans kept yelling at the Bucks Ray Allen, calling him Jesus whenever he shot the ball, in reference to his character in the movie "He Got Game" with Denziel Washington. Nuggets super-mascot Rocky made yet another behind the back, half-court shot at the end of halftime. The Nuggets announcer then stated that Rocky had just hit that shot in his sixth consecutive game. Sounds like a bit of Rocky Mountain magic if you ask me! After he was fouled at the start of a drive, Bryant Stith continued on to the basket to lay the ball in before stepping back to the line for his free-throws. Former Nuggets Ervin Johnson decided to get a little rough, denying Stith the basket that everyone knew would not have counted. This fired Stith up, who before handing the ball to the ref, flexed his bicep in Ervin's face to let him know that he couldn't be stopped. This got the Nuggets bench rolling with laughter and fired up all at the same time. Most of you probably heard the history behind George Karl and his public comments about Nick Van Exel not being worth the fat contract Denver gave him this year. Well, don't give Nick extra incentive like that, if you want a chance at beating the Nuggets. Van Exel put up long range threes from way behind the arc, hitting 6 of 9, and once turned to Karl afterwards, stared him down, then shadow boxed his way back down the court. Nick got the last word in, no doubt.

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Houston Rockets at Denver (1/28/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 104-98
Rockets

Houston/Denver
Olajawon blocked this shot from Popeye, but he couldn't stop the Nuggets...

Hakeem Olajuwon passed Nuggets great, Alex English, for 10th place in the NBA's all-time scoring leaders. With seven points, in this game, he now has 25,616 points in his career. When this achievement was announced during the 3rd quarter, "the Dream" received a fair amount of applause, because, thankfully the Nuggets were winning this game, and looked like they would not let this one slip away. Although Hakeem is currently coming off the Houston bench, and he looks a bit gimpy when moving on the court, he can still play Center with the best of them - he just can't dominate like he used to.

With Hakeem hobbled, Barkley gone with a career ending injury, Pippen traded to Portland after just a short stint with Houston, where does Houston get its bite from, to scare other teams it faces? Look no further than rookie guard Steve Francis, who is looking more and more like a lock for rookie of the year honors this season.

The last time the Nuggets faced the Rockets, the night ended in a 122-115 loss. The Nuggets double teamed Francis most of the night, and with open looks the Houston shooters made them pay. In this game, Issel went back to playing Francis straight up, using guards Van Exel and Herren to share the responsibilities of guarding the quick Francis. This time it worked. Francis had some open looks, but couldn't hit the big shots until it was too late in this game, and his teammates couldn't provide much scoring help other than another hot game from three-point shooting Bullard.

As for the Nuggets, Mercer and Van Exel did most of the offensive damage. Mercer put in 24 points on 8-18 shooting, and Van Exel added 21 on 6-15 shooting. McDyess added 18 points, but fouled out for the second game in a row, after only playing 26 minutes. With McDyess missing almost half the game, the Nuggets were outrebounded 52-37. The Nuggets shot well to compensate, hitting .471 of their shots compared to .420 for the Rockets.

With Roy Rogers healthy again, and Chris Herren's knee healed, Issel had a choice to make. To get the roster back down to 12, he decided to move Forward Ryan Bowen to IR. Ryan was an early-season fan favorite, but has not played as much of late, and his effectiveness seemed to be diminished from what he was able to do with sheer hustle early in the season. I could heard fans calling out for him during the 4th quarter, but maybe they weren't able to see that he was sitting next to Chauncey Billups on the bench, in street clothes.

It wasn't a particularly pretty game, but it was a Nuggets win, and that's what matters. The game was never much in doubt, although the Rockets hung close thru the 4th quarter just to keep things interesting, but they never made a serious threat at taking the lead.

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Vancouver Grizzlies at Denver (1/24/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 110-98
Grizzlies

Mercer was unstoppable in the second half, scoring all 24 of his points, 20 in the third quarter...

For the first time in three weeks, the Nuggets can head out of the gym as winners of an NBA basketball game. You have to go back to the end of last year's dismal season to match the 6 game losing streak that the Nuggets had suffered thru in most of January.

It was fortunate, that the Grizzlies came to play on this night in the Pepsi Center. Most of the solid teams we've played in the past few weeks would have beat us again tonight.

The win started with better defense, throughout most of the games. The Nuggets out-rebounded the Grizzlies 48-40, and held the Grizzlies to .451 shooting, and under 100 points. Those kind of stats are nothing to brag about, but they are an improvement upon the past few weeks that created the losing streak.

Although Ron Mercer was the offensive star of this game, scoring 20 of the Nuggets 36 points in the 3rd quarter to build a commanding lead heading into the 4th quarter, Popeye Jones deservers to be the star of the game, in my book. Popeye has recently returned to the line-up after sitting most of the early part of the season with lower-back strain. He's now starting to show why we acquired him from Boston in the Danny Fortson trade, and more importantly - why we kept him. He was the catalyst and difference in this game. He provided 12 points off the bench on 6-12 shooting, and added 6 rebounds and 2 assists. His hustle was a major factor in getting the win tonight. McDyess continued his double figures scoring streak (over a 100 games now) with 16 points, and LaFrentz added a double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds.

I've been harping on Van Exel's inconsistent play of late, but from what I've heard and read recently, he's been playing with strained hamstrings the past few weeks that have been nagging him and keep getting restrained. He's been putting in big minutes, as Chris Herren learns the game and comes up to speed. Unfortunately, our point guard woes took a big blow tonight when Herren went out with a left knee injury in the 2nd quarter. He's scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday, so we'll know more then on how extensive the damage is. Van Exel had a better than average night with 18 points on 6-14 shooting, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. Not bad for a guy that relies on his quickness, and just can't explode into his first step like he wants to. Hopefully, with no game until Friday, the extra rest this week will do him well. Issel has already been pulling him out of parts of practice lately to help let Nick heal. Cory Alexander, the remaining point guard on the roster had an ugly line, with 6 minutes played, no points, no rebounds, 4 fouls and 2 turnovers. Cory was the main reason we avoided setting the record for losses in a season just 2 seasons ago, but his game has all but disappeared in this season. Yes, he's not getting as many minutes, but he needs to figure out how to keep his head in the game when he's called upon and help out the team.

Although the losing streak is behind us, I still plan on writing this week in my Nuggets News section about the 6 game losing streak, and some of the reasons I see behind it.

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Seattle Sonics at Denver (1/12/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lost: 93-103
Sonics

McDyess played well, but needed his buddy Nick to show up for this game to get another Nuggets victory...

I hate writing a game summary about a loss, but hey, sometimes you have to just do it. (Must be why I didn't write as many summaries the past two years!) Besides, I'm going to be out a week, and I'm missing some great games, so it's my last chance to express my thoughts for a few games!

This wasn't a poorly played game, except if you were just watching Van Exel. Antonio played a good game with 11-21 shooting for 26 points. Mercer was close behind with 25 points on 12 of 20 shooting. McCloud added 19 points off the bench. From there, production and effectiveness on the court dropped off drastically. LaFrentz and Posey provided some decent defense, but not much offense. This game boiled down to one major factor - the Sonics were hitting there three's (11 of 20) while the Nuggets weren't (5-17). That helps explain why the Nuggets lost by 10 points when they made 5 more baskets and shot the ball 14 more times. The Sonics also made a sizzling 22 of 23 free throws while the Nuggets only made 8 of 13.

So, why the big difference in three point shooting? 2 reasons - Nick couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in this game (2 of 11 shooting) and the Sonics were getting wide open shots most of the game. Why, because when the Nuggets play without the energy they need to win (and defend the home turf) they usually do a poor job on their defensive rotations, and the opposing team ends up getting wide open looks. The Sonics are an older, smarter team, and they took full advantage of these defensive lapses. The Nuggets did play good defense at times in this game, especially after coming out of timeouts after an earful from Issel and the coaching staff. They just didn't do it throughout the game, and especially when they needed to the most - late in the 4th with the game still hanging in the balance. The Sonics hit consecutive threes to put the Nuggets hopes for a win to rest.

Problems I see, in the frustrating play of the Nuggets the past two weeks.

  • Van Exel's inconsistent play. Okay, he's always been this way, either extremely hot or extremely cold, but how do you not get up to play a guy like Gary Payton? Yes, Payton can put a defensive strangle-hold on most guys, but Van Exel has the quickness and talent to at least put up more than 4 points against him!
  • McDyess's posting up. McDyess has been getting his game back to where it was last year, but his post up game still isn't as consistent. He's worked on his passing, but at times he's a little too unselfish, giving up the ball and forcing teammates to hit tougher outside shots. There's times when he needs to be a bit more aggressive and take it towards the hoop. Also, he needs to work on his finish at the basket, when he takes it strong to the hoop, he has the quickness, strength, and moves to get by his man, but at that last moment, when he's hanging near the rim, his shot is often to strong to go in. Hopefully the coaching staff can work on this finishing touch to his already great skills.

Fun side note on this game. Gary Payton, the league's premier trash talker, and Coach Issel got into a war of words in the third quarter. Payton had been jawing with Issel while he was heading to the line, when Issel finally said something to the affect of "Shut up, and shoot your free throws". Payton took exception to this advice, and spouted of some more, earning double technicals for him and Issel. Payton then went on to score 16 points in the third quarter and help his team outscore the Nuggets by 7 in the quarter.

Up next, Miami, then Phoenix twice, and Houston next week. Good luck Nuggets, I hope you can back on track, and regain that winning feeling!

Til next game,
Alan



Game: Charlotte Hornets at Denver (1/08/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 97-92
Hornets

Nick was getting his shots off against whoever Charlotte put on him, and more importantly - they were going in...

After losing three of the last four games, it was time for action. The high knee socks that Nick Van Exel helped initiate just weren't working anymore. The Charlotte Hornets were coming to town, and had beat us the last eight times we had faced them, and won three straight against us here in Denver. So, Nick, a Nuggets tri-captain, called a players-only meeting on Friday.

It worked, at least for Nick, Ron and Raef. Nick exploded for 32 points on 11-19 shooting and 8 assists. Ron added 24 points and 6 assists. Raef looked like he had a quiet night - but look again, because he was only 1 block away from his first career triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocks.

With Charlotte rookie Baron Davis playing 24 minutes at the point, Coach Issel kept rookie Chris Herren on the bench, and played 6'8 George McCloud at the point several times in the game, to give Van Exel some needed rest. Issel also started Keon Clark in James Posey's normal spot in the line-up to give the Nuggets some more front-court size to match-up with Charlotte big-men Anthony Mason, Elden Campbell and Derek Coleman. Unfortunately, the experiment didn't last long, as the Charlotte big-men quickly put most of the Nuggets front line into foul trouble. Posey was quickly in for Clark after he picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter. McDyess had a very quiet game, with 13 points on 5-10 shooting, thanks to some questionable calls from the foul-happy referees in this game. McDyess did contribute some key offensive rebounds late in the 4th when the Nuggets were holding off the Hornets down the stretch.

This was a hard fought battle, and the referees were calling things very tight, throughout the game. The Nuggets and Hornets hung with each other throughout most of the game, knotted it at half-time, and just a five point lead for Charlotte heading into the 4th quarter. The Nuggets made the adjustments they needed to, playing physical underneath, taking charges (a brave one by Posey against Campbell) when needed near the basket, and contesting or blocking shots down the stretch run. Van Exel and Mercer provided nearly all of the offense, as most of the rest of the team was quiet. This was a much needed confidence boost heading into a tough upcoming week against the Lakers, Sonics and Heat.

Side notes on the game. Roy Rogers limped off the court in the fourth quarter, after spraining his right knee on the offensive end. George McCloud had to foul Charlotte on the defensive end to to safely get Roy off the court. X-Rays turned up negative on Roy, so he hopes to not miss any upcoming games. That's good news for the Nuggets, because we'll be in Shaq country on Monday, and we need all of the healthy big-men we can get. Also, I've been harping on free-throw shooting this season, and most people responding to Poll #6 have agreed so far, that the Nuggets need improvement in this area. The Nuggets made 21 of 28 free throws against the Hornets, which works out to 75% - I'll take that most nights!

One final thought to end on. With most of the top teams of the Western Conference up in the .600 range for win-loss percentage, the battle for the 8th and final play-off spot is starting to look like it might be between the Timberwolves and the Nuggets. Head to head, we are 1-1 with 2 games remaining against them.

Til next game,
Alan

 


Game: Dallas Mavericks at Denver (1/04/00)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 98-96
Mavs

Mr. Underrated did everything he could to beat the Nuggets when the Mavs visited the Pepsi Center. Fortunately, he was one shot short...

Trying to be a good husband, I gave up my half of our Nuggets season tickets for the Mavs game, so that my wife could take a friend. Part of the deal was that my wife and her friend provide their "summary" of the game, so here it is: - Alan

Well it was girl's night out! I took my girlfriend Alice (mother of "priceless" son Trey Hansen) to her first game at the Pepsi Center. We weren't expecting a great game since it was against Dallas, but we were expecting a win! Good thing the Nuggets squeaked it out, and it WAS a nail biter, because we knew the guys (my husband and his buddy Dane) would NEVER let us go to another game together if they had lost to Dallas.

The first and second quarters were pretty uneventful. The Nuggets moved very sluggish and didn't appear very motivated. Alice and I figured it might be the heavy knee socks they were wearing. It was a fashion battle, the knee socks verses the ankle socks. We are assuming that under Issel's pants there are also knee socks.

The third quarter started out like the first and second. It was hard to watch missed freethrows and Nick not passing the ball. But then, with a couple of minutes left in the 3rd, a spark was lit and the Nuggets took the lead. Not a commanding lead, but a lead.

The fourth quarter was a true nail biter. It was basket for basket. The Nuggets just couldn't shake the Mavericks. My husband told me to keep an eye on Dallas' #4, Michael Finley. He had 28 points and definitely carried their team. Keon Clark (who Alice described as having Manute Bol sized ankles) had some great dunks as usual and McDyess had a season high of 27. Thank goodness for George McCloud. He really saved the Nuggets at the end. His last 2 buckets where shot with the confidence of Michael Jordan. If he had started out like that, we would have scored in the 100s.

Not the most dynamic game, but a win is a win! And for those of us that have sat through the bad, ugly, and really ugly (Bernie Bickerstaff years), it was nice to have a "good" night!

Until next girl's night out (we are only allowed one a year),
Carrie and Alice

 


Game: Vancouver Grizzlies at Denver (12/26/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 109-86
Grizzlies

Milt Palacio, a hometown boy from my alma mater up at CSU, looks wary of going up against Keon Clark, for good reason...

Mark this game down as another checkpoint reached in the maturing process of these 1999-2000 Denver Nuggets. You might ask why this was an important game, when it came against a team like Vancouver. But that's just it, now that we are showing the league that the Nuggets are a team to be reckoned with again (as San Antonio, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Portland have learned) we also have to learn how to beat the teams that we should beat on a nightly basis - like Vancouver, Dallas, and the Clippers, who we play tonight.

Vancouver has had our number so far this season, with two of their 5 total wins coming against us in Vancouver, although the last one was a one point buzzer beater just last week. So, they came into our house on Sunday, and played us tough throughout the first half. The Nuggets at least weren't sleepwalking, as they have in some games this year against lesser opponnents, they just were letting Vancouver hang with them, trading baskets most of the first two quarters. In the third quarter, the Nuggets took over, and for once, they never looked back. McDyess who sat most of the first half thanks to questionable fouls and a temper with the refs from them, dominated in the 3rd, scoring 10 of his 22 points and sweet plays from the low block. The Nuggets kept running the same play, and McDyess just kept scoring. When McDyess needed a rest, Van Exel took over from there, pouring in 22 also and 13 assists. Raef LaFrentz also had another great game, following up his career high scoring night of 29 points in the loss in Vancouver, with 16 points and 8 boards in this one. For once, the Nuggets showed good intensity throughout a game against a team they know they should beat this year, and the starters got to rest the last 4-5 minutes of the game because of it. That's always a good thing, but especially when it means that Keon Clark gets extra minutes, who if you hadn't noticed is becoming more and more of a force to be reckoned with both on offense and defense. Last year, Keon was all about wild energy and a few exciting dunks, but his game is getting refined, with better moves around the basket, and better all-around defense. He's becoming the back-up Center we didn't think we had.

This game didn't have near the excitement of the last few Nuggets victories, but it was just another proof of how much better these Nuggets are this year. In the past few seasons, I would have sat there worried in my seat, with a 20 point lead and 5 minutes left to play. We used to find ways to lose, and pressure would usually cause a collapse at the end of games... but not these Nuggets. These Nuggets play with confidence and energy nearly every night, and they are fun to watch, no matter who they are playing.

On a side note, nearly all of the Nuggets players were wearing white knee socks for this game. (someone forgot to call George McCloud) My wife and I surmised that either Coach Issel put them in each of his player's stockings, or it was some kind of team unity thing. Either way, they didn't look so hot on most of the guys, but hey, who cares - it was another fun to watch victory!

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Portland Trailblazers at Denver (12/20/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 86-84
Blazers

Don't look now Schrempf, but the Nuggets have "stolen" another victory from a Western Conference powerhouse...

Okay, Nuggets fans - let's review what's just happened: we just completed a 3 game win streak against Sacramento, San Antonio, and Portland - 3 of the best teams in the Western Conference this year. Throw out the blow-out loss to Seattle, and we're one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now!

The Nuggets are defending their new home turf this year at the Pepsi Center, with an impressive 9-3 record there. They don't even let the bugs in the new building get to them, winning against San Antonio the other night after waiting out a nearly 30 minute light outage immediately following the start of the game. You could see Issel's lips moving to the words... "someone must have forgot to pay the electric bill". Well, the Nuggets have seen some of the best teams in the NBA come into their building, and most of them leave as losers. This winning atmosphere is starting to show itself on the road, as the confidence from these impressive victories spreads. Issel has his troops playing their hearts out.

This was a game a bit atypical of recent Nuggets victories:

  • They never fell behind by a big margin in this game. Portland is not the kind of team you can get away with that against, which the Nuggets seem to usually make a habit of doing. The Nuggets trailed in the 2nd quarter by 7-8 points, but closed right before halftime to within 2 points at 46-44. The Nuggets then dominated most of the second half, surviving a few surges by the Blazers without making the fans have an ulcer.
  • Nick Van Exel did not have to produce big number offensively, although he did create a lot of baskets for his teammates. He had 12 points and 13 assists and held off the 4th quarter full court press of the Blazers. The rest of the Nuggets provided balanced scoring - 22 from Mercer, 20 from McDyess, and 16 from LaFrentz.
  • The game did not come down to the wire, although early leaving fans didn't start pouring out until about a minute left. The Nuggets have been the apitomy of theatrics of late - winning games within the last 30 seconds. They dominated the Blazers in the 4th period, and held off their press by relying on McDyess's post-up game.

McDyess was amazing in this game, but you wouldn't have said that without his 4th quarter effort. The Nuggets were riding a great game from Mercer and support from teammates throughout the first 3 quarter. McDyess was sitting on a quiet 10 points and no rebounds until the 4th quarter came along - then he came alive. He started driving by Sabonis at will for layups, then Grant and Wallace and anyone else the Blazers tried to throw at him. McDyess ended up putting most of the Blazers big men in foul trouble, all by himself.

Another great Nuggets victory to savor - we're 2 games over .500 for the first time in nearly 5 years! It's great to be a Nuggets fans these days, and I just have to say thanks to one guy - Dan Issel, who helped bring back the talent as the GM, and then bring back the heart and the determination to the team as its Coach. Thanks Dan, for making it truly fun to be a Nuggets fan again.

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: San Antonio Spurs at Denver (12/18/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 86-84
Spurs

McDyess fought thru lower back pain to give the Nuggets just enough for a big win over the Spurs...

Two big time home wins in a row - the first over Sacramento on Thursday, and then again over San Antonio tonight. Do you remember when the Spurs just dominated the Nuggets last season? Okay, so the Spurs had the Nuggets number for 12 straight games before this one, and we weren't that good last year, but I vividly remember the Spurs just dominating us last year when we played them - usually by 25 or more points.

Well not this year! The odds were stacked against us from the start. First, our only true center on the roster, Raef LaFrentz sat out the game with nausea - still suffering the effects of dehydration from the win over Sacramento. Second, 6th man George McCloud sprained his ankle after only 11 minutes. Third, McDyess played with continuing lower back pain, suffered 2 games ago during the loss in Seattle. Also, Back-up point guard, Chauncey Billups separated his shoulder against Sacramento.

So, for the second straight game, the Nuggets were looking for scoring and help from other guys. With Nick having an off shooting game after his amazing 38 points against Sacramento, how were we going to win this game? With heart, energy, and determination from other guys on this squad - something Coach Issel has been producing more and more from this team.

The game came down to a couple of incredible plays at the end. After a time out, with the Nuggets trailing by 1 point, Nick hit one of only 3 shots he connected on during the game, but his tough 15 footer was clutch. San Antonio called a time-out now that they were trailing by 1 point with 21 seconds left. Surely they would work it into Duncan for a bucket in the paint or a foul on a drive, as he had been producing for much of the 4th quarter. McDyess sat on the bench after having just fouled out on such a play from Duncan. Ah, but it never happened. The Nuggets denied the passing lanes and the Spurs were struggling to get it in, finally the ball went into Terry Porter, who had been killing the Nuggets from outside in the 2nd half, but Bryant Stith streaked in front of the pass and made a lay-up while being fouled. He missed the charity shot, and Duncan scored to make it a one point game. Roy Rogers added a free throw, and Duncan finished off the exciting game with a miss at the buzzer, preserving a Nuggets 2 point victory over the defending NBA 1999 champs. How sweet it is!

Til next game,

Alan

 


Game: Denver at Milwaukee Bucks (12/11/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 101-99

Nick torches the Bucks
When Nick catches fire, even two guys aren't enough to stop him...

The Nuggets bounced back from a crushing loss to Boston, and a close loss to Charlotte by beating the Milwaukee Bucks. This marked the 3rd road win of the season, significant because the Nuggets failed to reach that number in both of the last two entire seasons.

At first I didn't like it, but now I'm into it. The statement has been made in many different NBA venues around the league this season -

"As goes Nick Van Exel, so goes the Nuggets"

Why am I suddenly into it? Partly, because it's true, and partly because I realized it's not such a bad thing. For whatever reason, McDyess isn't as dominating this year as he was last. Maybe it's because he doesn't have to be, because he's got a much better supporting cast around him this year. His defense is not talked about as much, but I think it's better than it was last year, and one of the keys to our success on team defense this year. McDyess is still a huge presence in the low post, and he demands double-teams from most teams the Nuggets play. His passing out of the double team is getting better, as he tied a career high assists with 6 last night against the Bucks. His pass to LaFrentz for the open 3 pointer with less than a minute to go was one of the keys to the victory. McDyess just hasn't been taking over offensively in games this year.

Okay, Back to Van Exel. When Van Exel shoots poorly, the Nuggets rarely win, but when he catches fire for a quarter or two, the Nuggets have dominated games. Bear in mind, the Nuggets still don't dominate entire games, but they often find themselves deep in a hole at halftime or midway through the 3rd quarter, and they ride the shoulders of Van Exel nearly every time to get out of those holes. The Milwaukee game was a perfect example - down by 16 with just under 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Van Exel scored 12 points himself in a 30-13 run to get the Nuggets up by 1 with 6 and a half minutes left in the 4th quarter.

Van Exel was also playing with some extra incentive in this game, for two reasons. His hometown is nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin.The other reason is what Bucks Coach George Karl had to say after Van Exel's contract extension in September:

"He's a talented player when he wants to play, but he does not have a serious enough attitude to lead a team to a lot of success. He can play on a given night. He really is good, but I have trouble giving Nick Van Exel $70 million and thinking that's going to motivate him, when he hasn't been motivated in the past". Care to rephrase that now, Coach Karl?

Side notes: Ron Mercer sat out his 5th game in the last 6, still feeling the effects of a sinus infection. Good luck healing, Ron. McDyess scored his 5,000th career point, in just his 4th NBA season. Posey continues to play excellent defense, and provide consistent energy in the first unit, but he also added in 16 points in this game on 5-10 shooting.

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Denver at Boston Celtics (12/8/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 90-115
Celtics

Tony Battie as a Celtic
Tony, why didn't you do this more for us while you were a Nugget?

Ugly, ugly, ugly. I don't often write about losses, because I'm usually too depressed, but I was more angry than anything after this one, and that seemed to be something worth writing about.

The score ended up a lot closer than one would expect if they had watched this entire game. I couldn't even bear to watch the entire thing - switching to the Lakers/Kings game from time to time was much more exciting. Embarrassment is the emotion I would expect most Nuggets players and fans are feeling today, after last night's fiasco in Boston.

The game started off on the wrong foot from the start. Mercer took the opening tip from McDyess, sprint down the court with three Celtics trailing him, and missed the slightly contested lay-up. On his next couple of possessions, he was blocked twice by his Boston replacement - Paul Pierce. The first quarter ended with the Nuggets down by 5, and it felt like we had a game on our hands. Then the bottom dropped out in the 2nd quarter, and just kept getting worse.

Coach Pitino likes to have his 2nd unit press, and he liked like a genius when using it against the Nuggets. Turnover after turnover turned into dunks, and lay-ups for Boston players. It began to look like playground ball, with the Nuggets as the 6th graders, and Boston came in with its 12th graders. After a few turnovers changed the complexion of the game, the Nuggets began to do just about everything wrong. Inbounds passes were lazy, and streaking Boston players cut into the passing lane time and time again for easy breakaways. Defense became non-existent as nearly every time Boston had the ball on offense, they had a dunk, lay-up, or a Denver foul. On offense, Denver became stagnant, occasionally working it into McDyess who looked unstoppable in the first quarter, but couldn't make free throws on this night to save his team.

This game was truly over midway through the 3rd quarter, with Boston threatening to expand on a 30 point lead. Billups saw extended minutes in the 4th, and made a bunch of shots in garbage time to get the final margin to 25. It really was a lot worse than that though.

What really went wrong here, against a beatable team, when the Nuggets were riding high on confidence? As Dan Issel has already said many times this year - this team just isn't good enough to just show up and win. (except maybe against the Bulls) This was an over-blown, emotionally charged game, with all of the ex-players on each squad and Boston responded to that, and Denver went into a team-wide funk.

Let's look at some of the numbers of this game:

  • Ron Mercer - 1-6 shooting, 0-2 on free-throws, 1 assist, 2 turnovers. His worst game as a Nugget, but we still won't be trading him back to Boston. Bad combination of events for Ron tonight - just coming back from missing 3 games from a severe sinus infection, he really wasn't in tip top shape. Then he pushed a little too hard at the start of the game, to prove to Pitino and Boston that they made a mistake in letting him go - and never recovered.
  • Van Exel - 2 assists, 7 turnovers. As many are saying these days, as goes Nick, so go the Nuggets. I wish it weren't true, but as a point guard, he does control the flow of this team - good and bad. Normally, Nick is excellent at handling the ball. Against Boston, he was sloppy with the ball and so was the team, and nearly every turnover resulted in easy baskets for Boston.
  • 11 minutes without a basket. There was a stretch from late in the 2nd quarter, until midway into the 3rd where the Nuggets went without a single basket. That's called a total collapse

Final thought - does this game damage the fragile pschye of this Nuggets team, or do they bounce right back on Friday? At least we fans don't have to wait too long to find out...

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Denver at Philadelphia 76ers (12/6/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 94-77
76ers

McDyess looks to pass out of the double-team
Nick was unstoppable on offense, shooting 13/22 with 34 points. He took over the game in the 4th quarter.

Break up the Nuggets! Forgive my giddiness, but this team just won back-to-back road games for the first time since January, 1996. This was the biggest margin of victory on the road since 1995, when we had Mutombo, Adbul Rauf, and the high scorer was Reggie Williams. That was a long time ago! This has been a season of breaking long standing trends, and the first time in years that it's been the positive kind of records. Well, this is why we stay fans, through the good times and bad, because when your team starts to rise again, you can say to all the people that jump on board - "Welcome back, where have you been?" :)

This game was won with the red hot shooting of Nick the Quick, and solid team defense. Issel and the coaching staff realized that Nick had broken out of his shooting slump in this game, and kept calling isolation plays for him early in the 4th. Nick responded with 12 points in the first 3:30 of the 4th, and broke open a close game. For once, the Nuggets never looked back, and the lead kept growing until the final margin of 17 points. Chauncey and McDyess added good supporting numbers with 17 points each. Chauncey has been huge in the absense of leading scorer Ron Mercer, who has been out for 3 games with a sinus infection. Ron is expected back against his former team on Wednesday, in a game against Boston.

As for the team defense, a new concept for the Nuggets this year, Issel has been coaching a scheme that forces the other team to the sidelines and baseline where other Nuggets then rotate to help out. Against the Knicks, the Nuggets finally got the hang of the scheme and played some of their best defense of the season, against two scoring machines in Houston and Sprewell. To prove that it wasn't a fluke, they went out and did it again against Philadelphia, who had won two games in a row.

The match-up against Boston should be fun, with several ex-teammates playing against each other for the first time this season.

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Denver at New York Knicks (12/5/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 80-78
Knicks

McDyess looks to pass out of the double-team
The Nuggets found a way to win outside of Denver for the first time in 17 years. Okay, I exaggerate a little bit. :)

Wow! Finally a road game victory, and not an easy one, by any means. This was a great, gutty performance from a team that hasn't won on the road in quite a long time, was without their leading scorer (Mercer) and was down by 15 at one point in this game.

The Nuggets player of the night was Bryant Stith, who also had the play of the night. With less than 12 seconds to go in the game, and no fouls to give, Bryant was guarding Latrell Sprewell. Latrell went to his right, and Bryant went flying past him in the other direction. Latrell took one more sidestep, then went up for his jump shot. Somehow, Bryant recovered, changed directions, and threw a hand up as he caught up to Latrell, blocking his shot at the last possible second. Keon Clark hauled in the rebound, was fouled, made one of two, and the Knicks missed a desperation shot at the buzzer to tie the game. Bryant's line for the night 7 pts, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block in 22 minutes played. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure those are all season highs for Bryant. Bryant also did an excellent job on the defensive end, holding Sprewell to just 14 points - below his scoring average.

Bryant had some help from teammates McDyess, Van Exel, LaFrentz and McCloud. McDyess had another solid effort, looking better and better as the season progresses. He's still not looking as good on his baseline moves to the basket this year, but he's finding ways to score when the Nuggets need a basket. Van Exel had another poor shooting night, but kept the Nuggets in the game single-handedly in the 3rd quarter with 14 points on some clutch baskets. LaFrentz rebounded well, but was quiet offensively until he hit a three-pointer with less than a minute to play to put the Nuggets up by a point. McCloud is becoming a consistent boost off the bench, hitting big baskets in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to keep the Nuggets close when the Knicks were threatening to run away with this game.

After the debacle in Denver on Friday night against Orlando, the Nuggets looked like they were going to even have a worse fate in this game, during the first half. They were down by 9, and suddenly found themselves down by 14 early in the third quarter. The Nuggets responded with energy and hustle the rest of the night, getting it to 8 by the 4th, and then a see-saw battle at the end. Issel gave several bench players extended minutes - Stith, Clark, and Alexander, and they responded for him.

It was yet another contrevsial officiating night. Even the normally unbiased commentators on Fox Sports were talking about how bizarre some of the calls were that went against the Nuggets. But, enough about that, they overcame that, and won on the road, in one of the hardest of all unfriendly NBA arenas to win at - Madison Square Garden. What a great way to start off a crucial 6 game road trip, and restore confidence after the game against Orlando. Mercer should be back Monday night. One last comment - their was speculation that Ewing would return to the Knicks line-up for this game, but instead, the Knicks activated Larry Johnson off the injured list.

Til next game,

Alan


Game: Detroit Pistons at Denver (12/1/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 100-96

First of all, Happy Birthday to my Dad. Our first Nuggets game together in over a year, was a nail-biter. A Nuggets victory is always a great thing, but this was not a thing of beauty. It was a hard-fought, grind it out kind of victory, that showed this team's character and toughness in the face of adversity.

The first half was your normal Nuggets home game. There were ups and downs, runs for both teams, and with it all said and done, Van Exel missed a shot just before the buzzer, and the Nuggets went into the lock room up by two points. The officiating was already bizarre, with many questionable offensive fouls on both teams, a carry call or two, and even travelling was called 4-5 times. The refs were trying to over-control the game, and both teams were having trouble adjusting to the tight game the refs were calling. Definitely not NBA officiating at its best, from a fans perspective.

McDyess looks to pass out of the double-team
McDyess held the Pistons at bay, and had one of his best games so far this year.

Then the second half started back up, and it was time for the Nuggets to pull away for another exciting home victory. Not so fast. After being called for a questionable offensive foul, Nick Van Exel let the ref know how he felt with a few choice words on the other end of the court. The ref quickly threw Nick out. Okay, Nick didn't touch him, didn't yell in his face, just said something the ref didn't like, and he was gone with a quick technical and no warning. Fine. Nick's first ejection of the year, didn't get much argument from Nick himself, as he slowly walked off the floor in disgust.

Chauncey Billups quickly stripped off his warm-ups and ran onto the court to take over the point-guard responsibilities. Chauncey was a great point-guard at CU a few years back, but he's looked rusty so far in his new role for the Nuggets this year, in the few games he's played. Last year, he played shooting guard. Anyway, back to the game. Chauncey dribbles the ball up the court and gets stripped of the ball by Lindsey Hunter. There was contact both before and after the steal, but Chauncey ended up getting called for the foul. At this point, Dan Issel shot up and yelled something at the ref from half court, about 20 feet away from the ref. This was a different ref than the one who had just finished throwing Nick out, but he threw Issel out just as quickly, with no warning, and seemingly little provocation. Score one more for the power-tripping refs. Issel went ballistic, as most would in that situation, was restrained by McDyess and Posey, and gave the reigns up to John Lucas. Lucas did a great job managing the team, bringing supercharger Ryan Bowen in for 4 crowd thrilling rebounds in 9 minutes of action, and keeping McDyess in the game at just the right times with 5 fouls. Bowen took just one shot, an open three-pointer from the wing, but it wasn't a pretty thing. Mr. Hustle is not Mr. Accuracy. As Nugz Fan put it, why does Bowen, shoot, ever? He should not shoot!

The game came down to a few great plays in the final minutes, and the Nuggets made the big plays while the Pistons came up empty. McDyess hit two big free throws, then tapped a miss a minute later from buddy George McCloud, who then got fouled again and made two more. Raef LaFrentz blocked the final shot from Grant Hill, who went off for 39 points.

Some random thoughts, both complaints and praise. Rookie James Posey, who has been used as the defensive stopper against some excellent players so far this year, met his match tonight. He could not stay with Hill at all. Not to worry Posey, you'll get more chances, and no one can shut down a guy like Hill every night. McDyess had one of his best games of the season, especially considering that Van Exel was in the locker room most of the second half. Nothing super-studly stats-wise for him (24 pts, 11 rbds, 3 blks) but not too shabby either. He just stepped up big down the stretch when the Nuggets really needed his offense and athleticism.

One final thought, for any fans that caught this game in it's entirety, please remember that Detroit Piston John Crotty was putting on a clinic on how not to shoot the basketball. I'm nothing more than a playground hack, but I do think I could beat Crotty in a game of horse, 2 games out of 3. :)

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver (11/26/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 114-105
Minnesota

Ron Mercer puts the pressure on the Raptors
McDyess still isn't playing at the top of his game, but the rest of the Nuggets are.

I feel compelled to write about being at this game, especially since it was blacked out on TV in Denver. Besides, 4 wins in a row is something that's fun to write about, because it's been over 4 years since it has happened hear in Denver.

This game was another great team effort for the surging Nuggets, both on offense and defense. No one player "went off" at the offensive end, but 5 players had 17 points or more each: Mercer (27), Van Exel (21), McCloud (21), LaFrentz (19), McDyess(17).

There were a couple of key moments in this game.

  • Kevin Garnett went down with a sprained ankle with 8:36 left in the 3rd quarter and never returned to the game. The Timberwolves played well in his absence, but definitely lost their main force.
  • Van Exel had the defensive play of the year thus far. Terrell Brandon was on his way to the basket for an easy lay-up after picking up a steal at half-court. Van Exel raced back and surprised Brandon by contesting his shot, and forcing a miss. Van Exel then tipped the ball away from another Timberwolve, and Mercer picked the ball up near half-court again. Van Exel successfully defending a 2-on-1 fast break was just a microchasm of the improved defense that Issel has this team playing, compared to the past few years.
  • George McCloud finally had the kind of game that we hoped he would have when we signed him away from Phoenix this year. He made two huge shots in the 4th quarter when he was the open man to put the Timberwolves away. He really played well in this game.

Now the longest homestand of the year is over. Can we take some of this confidence, bottle it up, and use it to get a rare road win?

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Toronto Raptors at Denver (11/24/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 109-84

Ron Mercer puts the pressure on the Raptors
Mercer, and the rest of his Merry Nuggets band played great defense in this game.

Three wins in a row! Does it feel strange, Nuggets fans? It should - that's the first time we've done that in nearly 3 long years. I'd say we're turning the corner here... and two of these wins came against above .500 teams - Lakers and tonight the Raptors.

What's happened? 3 things have changed here in Denver:

  • Better coaching - Dan Issel coming back has been better for this franchise than we all thought. He brings a Hall of Fame kind of respect, a love for this organization and produces a hard working attitude from his players. All things we've been lacking the past few years.
  • Better athletes- it all started rolling with McDyess coming back. Then Issel swung the trade for Van Exel, and most recently for Ron Mercer. He drafted Raef LaFrentz, a player built much like Dan was, that keeps getting better and better in a Nuggets uniform. (career high in rebounds tonight - 18 in only 28 minutes)
  • Better attitudes. This is really a product of the first two things. Wins produce confidence and confidence can help produce harder work and finally what we're all shooting for - victories!

Okay, on to the game! First of all this was the best looking game the Nuggets have played all year. Solid every quarter, with consistent effort and solid defense throughout. Good thing - because the energizer bunny, Ryan Bowen, was in street clothes for this game. (He was out for one game while team doctors investigated his known irregular heartbeat problem) It was only a 5 point lead at half time, but the Nuggets turned it up a notch in the 3rd quarter, and the Raptors couldn't keep up. Key factors were our overwhelming numbers of shots thanks to huge advantage in offensive rebounds (18-4) and turnovers. (8-24)

Nick was asked by the coaching staff this week to stop trying so hard to get everyone else involved in the offense as he did against Chicago, and get his own offense going tonight. He did exactly that, nailing his first 3 shots (all 3-pointers) and scoring 19 points in only 28 minutes of action. The whole first team didn't have to play much in the second half, as the second team unit just kept expanding upon the lead.

One bright spot in watching the second team is the continued growth of Keon Clark. Last year he was raw, but you could see glimpses of his tremendous athleticism. This year, he's putting it to work, and becoming one of the top scorers off the bench for the Nuggets. He's always had the ability to block shots and hustle on defense, but now he's making acrobatic lay-ups and finger rolls around the basket using his long arms, to go along with his thundering throw-it-straight thru dunks. He's fun to watch.

I could go on and on about all the great things in this game, but it's time to go get ready for Turkey Day. Just send an email if you want to hear more! One last observation - Vince Carter, the human highlight film of 1999, had only one thundering dunk in this game, with about 20 seconds left and his team down by over 20 points. He followed up a missed shot with a dunk, one of the few rebounds the Nuggets failed to gather in all night, and then proceeded to showboat for a few seconds... until he remembered to look up at the scoreboard... sheesh.

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver (11/18/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 93-82
Lakers

Shaq scores 36, but misses when it's needed the most
Duh, that free throw line is too far away. It's not fair, I can't dunk from there!

How sweet it is! The was a great victory for the Nuggets. Yes, every victory is great, but this was special because it came against a great team, who had a 7-2 record coming into Denver, and it came during a homestand that could make or break the Nuggets season.

No, I'm not getting carried away... I really think this game, and the victory that the Nuggets earned was critical to the entire season. Lose to many early on, and the Nuggets players lose confidence and get quickly sucked into the quagmire of the last few seasons misery. Every win right now is a huge boost to the Nuggets confidence, something the team needs to build on. Okay, on to the game.

This wasn't my night to have tickets, and I knew I would miss most of the game. So, as any extreme Nuggets fan would do - I taped it. I told myself, if I see the one the game, then I can go back and watch the whole thing (of couse while fast forwarding thru the commercials) and see how they got the win.

The key factors in this game, and why it didn't turn into a repeat performance of the loss to the Knicks of two nights ago, were two things: hustle and killer instinct. This game looked very similar to the Knicks game - very winnable going into the 4th quarter, with the momentum in the Nuggets favor. The Nuggets now have two guys that are the X factor in these hard fought games - Bowen and Posey. Most of you who follow the Nuggs have heard of Bowen's heroics in the second unit. Most local tv stations airing the games have taken to keeping stats on the Bowen +/- factor, aware that the Nuggets almost always go on a run when he comes into the game. Posey, especially tonight, is becoming that kind of guy on the first team unit - diving after balls, making the hustle plays. Posey really had a knack for driving to the basket when the Nuggets were struggling in their offense, drawing fouls and making his free throws. He had a Sports Center highlight of the night when he stole the half court inbounds pass at the end of the 3rd quarter, dribbled up to the arc and nailed a 3 pointer at the buzzer.

Van Exel and Mercer were other key factors in this game. Mercer was the offense for most of the night, hitting shots from all over the court, and finishing fast breaks with authority. Mercer finished with 24 and is leading the Nuggets in scoring at this point in the season. Van Exel was outstanding. He scored 12 of his 23 points in the 4th, keeping the Lakers always more than 10 points from the Nuggets lead. He also had 8 assists and no turnovers.

So finally, the team played a full four quarters, and hustled themselves to a victory. The players have confidence in being able to beat every team they go up against, but they hadn't proved it in most games yet this season. Hopefully this one burns in the long-term memory, and they use it as torch to carry this season. No, I'm not looking for miracles, but if this team plays close to .500 ball, we're in a hunt for the 8th playoff spot, and we're back on the NBA sports map as a team to reckon with in the future. If McDyess gets back into the form he was playing in last year, watch out! Who knows, maybe even Mercer will want to stay in Denver when his contracts ends this year! Okay, now I might be dreaming...

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Denver at Sacramento Kings at Denver (11/14/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 116-126

Nick puts it up over Jason Williams.
Nick airs it out over Jason Williams. Is this guy hitting the 3's this year or what?

It was a good balanced attack from the Nuggets offense, producing 116 points and 6 players in double digits. But, when you play defense like we do, and have more than one major collapse in the game, you don't end up winning.

First off, kudos to Van Exel and LaFrentz for stellar games. Nick could have shot the ball better, especially his layups, but he played another great game at the point with 7 assists and 2 turnovers. He hit the big three's win the Nuggets produced a few good runs offensively. LaFrentz had a breakout game, thanks to having to play against Vlade Divac, an undersized big man, compared to some of the bigger guys he's gone up in the past few games. LaFrentz had 23 points on 10-15 shooting with 13 boards. McDyess also had a good game with 18 points and 12 boards, but I'm still expecting more from him. He hasn't had a monster game yet this year, and that's starting to worry me, since he showed signs of being a potential MVP last year.

Chris Herren played the first minutes of his NBA career, giving Nick a breather at a few points in the game. He looked overmatched most of the time, but I'm not giving up on him yet, don't fret. He just needs some time to grow.

The main thing to be concerned about in this game were the total team breakdowns at the end of the first half, and the start of the 4th quarter. That, along with poor team defense again, is what put another notch in the loss column, when the Nuggets were poised this game with the score all tied up at the end of the 3rd. This team has to figure out how to rotate to shooters. Sacramento is good, but they have one major inside prescense in Chris Webber and a couple of dead-eye shooters if you leave them wide open. We obliged by leaving them wide open, by not rotating agressively to the open man when Sacramento passed the ball.

Next up - the Knicks. We've got to get tougher, and the Knicks are a tough team to do it against...

Til next game,

Alan



Game: Atlanta Hawks at Denver (11/8/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 115-100
Atlanta

Editor's note: The entire summary for this game is a generous contribution from a die-hard Nuggets fan, and true friend. He's given up his time to create this enthusiastic column so that I can continue studying for a big exam this weekend. Alan (Twiz)

  • Two Killer Seats to the Nuggets vs. Hawks game…..$104
  • Two Pizzas and Two Beers…….$20
  • Spending a perfect evening watching hoops with your 5 month old son (his first game ever) and one of your best friends……….PRICELESS!!!!

Nuggets/Hawks actionThe NUGGETS are back ladies and gentlemen!!!!! This is a team filled with youthful athleticism and brimming with confidence. It is truly amazing what a few off season acquisitions can do for a team and their performance. Dan Issel's praise of Mr. Van Exel has paid off greatly. The kid has been given the go ahead to play ball, and that is what he is doing….MVP numbers so far.

Last night's game against the Atlanta Hawks was indicative of the way things are going to be in the future. A group of extremely athletic players, basically out hustling their opponents and willing themselves to victory. The old arch nemesis known as the 3rd quarter has become the quarter where they stake their claim to victory.

Can you say significant progress???? I can….I can also state here and now that the Nuggets will make a strong push for a playoff spot this year. It's so very exciting to see a team which has been so far in the dumps climb back out and begin to believe that they can hang with and actually beat a majority of the teams in the league.

The major difference between this team and last years is the depth and overall options we have as far as go to guys on the floor. The moment, which really stands out in my mind last night, was the point where Mercer and Jim Jackson got into a bit of a smack down. The NUGGETS will no longer be the doormat for the NBA. They are for real and will not back down any longer. Even at the end of the game, a little bit of showboat and razzle dazzle from the boyz. You've got to love it!!!! NUGGETS 115 Hawks 100….2-2.

A footnote to the game. I was a bit disappointed at how the Nuggets fans responded to Dikembe Mutombo. He may have left this team, but it was not out of any ill will. I can't help but reminisce about the glory days with him in the middle. Here's hoping we make another run at signing him at the end of this season (the missing piece for this team lies in his size 22 shoes).

Thanks to Twiz for the awesome time (as usual…are there any bigger Nuggets fans alive than him and I…I think not!!!), and to my son Trey who made his Nuggets debut. Your Pop was very proud of the way you conducted yourself, a true fan and future #2 guard!!!!

That's my angle!!!!!

HANSEN



Game: Phoenix Suns at Denver (11/2/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets win: 107-102 (overtime)
Suns

Wow.

Let it soak in a bit, Nuggets fans. The Nuggets have won their season opener for the first time since 1994. 1-0 feels darn good, doesn't it?

For those of you that might have said to yourself this offseason... Nick Van Exel, big fat new contract, big mistake... at least for one game, you were big time wrong. The Nuggets won this game because Nick wanted them to. Make no mistake about it, he did it with heart, intensity, and ability tonight. Nick led the team in points scored, assists and tied with George McCloud for rebounds. He was just 1 assist and 1 rebound away from a triple-double. Van Exel, scored his 34 points when the Nuggets needed them the most. He scored 9 straight points to help send the game into overtime, and helped them catch up from a 5 point deficit during the overtime session.

Bright spots... Ryan Bowen will lead this team in steals this year, even while averaging 8-10 minutes a game. This guy has a knack for getting the ball, and he was a fan favorite tonight. His hustle and emotion helped get the Nuggets back into the game late in the 2nd quarter when they were down by 16 points. Rookie James Posey started at small forward and played well. He had some great plays on both offense and defense and looks to get good minutes this year and really help this team. (Phoenix note - Rookie Shawn Marion from UNLV looked scary good tonight - watch out for him this year)

Downers... McDyess had an off-game, but he played hard for over 40 minutes while limping around the court on his still sore ankle. McDyess got pushed around a lot (more about the darn refs in a second) but he has to stand up to that and play more physical. As a post player, he's going to take a pounding most games. Where was Bryant Stith tonight? He played only 5 minutes, missed 2 shots and sat on the bench the rest of the night. Looks like he's fallen out of Issel's playing rotation for the moment. Those refs were horrible at times tonight, calling fouls on the Nuggets for every ticky-tack touch, then letting the Suns bully them around at the other end. Luckily, the Nuggets fought through it and rose above the bad calls.

Favorite moment... Van Exel dancing off the court after he tied the game in regulation with a huge three with under a minute to go... and he chest-bumped Coach Issel on the way to the bench.

Til next game,

Alan

Today's guest writer:
Guest Writer

The Nick Van-Excellent show was simply amazing.

 



Game: Preseason: Seattle Sonics at Denver (10/22/99)
Nuggets
result.gif (1312 bytes) Nuggets lose: 100-117 Sonics

It was the first Nuggets game ever played in the Pepsi Center, even if it was a preseason game. The atmosphere must have been electric, and the jam-packed crowd was pumped up to see there team in the new stadium.

Ha, ha, ha.... nope. Maybe we fans were all in awe of the beautiful new stadium we have (which it truly is, by the way) but you could have heard a pin drop for most of the second half. As it was, I could hear Vernon Maxwell of the Seattle Sonics cursing, and the players yelling to each other for defensive assignments on nearly every play. The problem is, I sit nearly 20 rows off the floor! Two factors:

  • Only 8,122 fans showed up to see this exhibition game when the stadium now hold 19,800.
  • Antonio McDyess only played about 5-6 minutes in the first half, and then rested his still sore ankle from a bad sprain a few games back.

Okay, but we still have a bunch of other players on this team, don't we? Offense really wasn't the problem in this game anyway - it was the complete lack of defense and hustle. Issel was red in the face from lashing out at his entire team near the end of the game for the lack of these two critical things that this team desperately needs. He put it very well when he said that this team seems to be waiting for the return of McDyess, but this team is nowhere good enough to just magically turn it on.

Here's a few positives:

  • Raef LaFrentz - he didn't have a great game, but his knee didn't seem to keep him from driving to the basket like he did last season.
  • George McCloud - man this guy can really shoot.

Til next game,

Alan

 

Today's guest writer:
Guest Writer

It was nice to see them run the ball more. I think Dan Issel will demand excellence this season.


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