|Seattle Sonics at Denver (3/21/99)|
|Nuggets win: 102-98|
|What a scary win. The Nuggets
were up in this game by 29 points midway thru the second
quarter, and were up 22-6 at one point in the first quarter
- I took a picture of it just to prove it to myself later.
Before the game started, we lined up shorter than the Sonics at nearly every position on the court. What do you do when you are undersized - you run! The Nuggets ran well, and jumped out to huge leads throughout most of the first half. Then they came out and continued a well established tradition for Nuggets teams over the past few years - they forgot to keep playing hard and let the Sonics back into it - so much that they were only down by 1 point, late in the game. For some reason, the Nuggets barely ran in the second half, and their offense really struggled. Billups who was red-hot in the first half finished the game with 16 points on 5-9 shooting. Another oddity - Billups barely played for some reason in the second half. Johnny Taylor played major minutes (40) and showed both the good and the bad of his still inexperienced game - but he played with confidence in the final minutes and hit a big shot to help secure the win. He looks like he could really be somebody special, after we got him in a trade right before the season for next to nothing. Van Exel also had a decent game - he started red hot in the first quarter and cooled off, but he helped hold off the Sonics in the final minutes as he controlled the tempo of the game.
McDyess was his usual force in this game, although he was pretty quiet most of the night with many other guys stepping up. In the fourth quarter, with the game suddenly on the line, McDyess came up with huge rebounds and blocked shots with nothing else was going right for the stumbling Nuggets. He ended up with 23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 4 assists - another amazing game for our rising star.
One other note for Nuggets fans - there was a Don McLean sighting on the Sonics bench. Remember him from a few years back - never saw a shot he didn't like! Unfortunately, he didn't see any action in this game for the Sonics.
Til next game,
|Vancouver Grizzlies at Denver (3/15/99)|
|Nuggets win: 110-84|
|Thank goodness for those home games against the
Grizzlies! Nothing like playing the last team that you beat to cure a 7 game losing
streak. The last game was amazingly close despite a 46 point effort from McDyess.
This time around we didn't need that kind of game from McDyess, and we blew the Grizzlies
out. With a 20 point lead built up for most of the second half, and with a 17 point lead
at halftime, this game was never really in doubt. Even bench warmers like Loren Meyer and
Eric Washington got heavy minutes in the 4th quarter. (Loren was good for 5 fouls in 5
minutes - he's the team thug)
After setting a new franchise low against the Spurs two nights ago with 61 points, the Nuggets had 56 points at halftime in this game, and shot a season high .573 from the field. If our outside shooters (Billups, Van Exel, Alexander) could find some consistency to go with the incredible inside scoring of McDyess, this team could win some big games. Fortson, not to be left out, has lately established himself as the team's rebounder, despite having to play Center these days with his wide, but comparatively short (6'7) body.
Til next game,
|Vancouver Grizzlies at Denver (2/28/99)|
|Nuggets win: 116-112|
|Another Nuggets home victory - these guys
are really defending the home court this year. My wife took this game off, so I was joined
by the birthday boy himself - Dane Hansen, and the Nuggets delivered an extra present in
form of a victory.
Antonio McDyess was THE MAN! Oh my goodness, did this guy just go off on the poor Grizzlies. He had 46 points (including 14/18 on the line) and 19 rebounds in this game - both career highs. He just couldn't be stopped. In the first half, he scored many of his points in transition, outrunning the Vancouver big men down the court. In the second half, he was doing things I've never seen him do. He was virtually unstoppable on his baseline spin moves, he hit nearly impossible shots over multiple defenders, and he was moving with the ball around defenders - something he has begun to vastly improve upon. Antonio has not been known to be strong off the dribble in past years.
The game (per Dane's wish) did manage to come down to the wire despite the heroics by Antonio. A seemingly insurmountable 14 point lead midway through the 4th quarter was suddenly reduced to a point with just over a minute left. Chauncey Billups helped save the day by hitting back-to-back clutch 3-pointers. On the second one, he paid for it, when he landed on the defenders foot and sprained his ankle. He had to be helped off the court, but he helped the Nuggets ice another victory thru his sacrifice.
Bryant Stith was having a good game in the first half when he was also taken out of the game with an ankle injury. According to commentators after the game - he was pushed in the air as he made a 3-pointer by Shareer Abdul-Rahim and landed awkwardly directly in front of the Nuggets bench. No foul was called on the play!
Til next game,
|Utah Jazz at Denver (2/23/99)|
|Nuggets win: 97-87|
|Oh my, the 1999 season is already off to a much
better start. Just a few games ago, I was yelling at my TV set when the Nuggets were
firing up 3-pointers galore in a loss to the Suns, and only put out some serious effort
when it was a bit too late.
Now, just a week later, the team doesn't seem to panic as often, they're suddenly playing excellent offense and team-defense, and they've just beat two of the NBA's premier teams, back-to-back! As my wife pointed out tonight, maybe this team, and their new coach just needed some time to gel, and make good use of all that talent they now have!
The Nuggets are starting to defend their home floor - a great starting point for a team trying to win back more local fans. They've now won (dating back to the end of last season) 5 out of their last 6 games in McNichols.
I love the offense this team has run the last two games, finally utilizing the talented athletes we now have. They basically do two things, and do them very well. One, they kick it in to McDyess or Fortson and let them go to work on the baseline. McDyess has added to his post-up moves, along with his jumper and fader, and has been hard to stop this season, looking everything like the franchise player we needed. Two, they use a better passing offense, or feed off of the dribble penetration from Van Exel, Billups, or Alexander, then pass out to one of the shooting guards for a wide open 3-pointer. They're are getting much better open looks, and they are nailing the shots. In both of the last two games, the Nuggets have strung together streaks of consecutive 3-pointers of 3 or more, at critical junctures in the games.
McDyess and Van Exel were the heroes tonight - scoring 24 and 23 points respectively on 18/31 shooting combined. When McDyess had to sit down with about 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter with his 6th (on a bunch of typical Jazz cheap veteran plays), it didn't look good for the Nuggs. McDyess had been scoring at will on Malone, and playing him well defensively as well. But, have no fear, because Nick at Nite is here! Van Exel took over the entire game, and not another player on either team could do anything about it but watch.
Supporting players stepping up were LaFrentz, Fortson, Stith, and little-known Loren Meyer. With both McDyess and Fortson fouled out late, Meyer came in cold off the bench and helped hold off the Jazz with 3 rebounds and a blocked shot.
Hang in there Nuggets fans - Issel has started to turn this team around with some great trades and his selection in the draft.
Til next game,
|Los Angeles Lakers at Denver (2/22/99)|
|Nuggets win: 117-133 (OT)|
|I was not able to go to this game, (trying to
finish that last Grad School class) but what an amazing comeback! 3 consecutive threes
from Billups and Washington off of Van Exel dishes brought the Nuggets from 8 down with
less than two minutes left to knot it and send it into overtime.
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