The Denver Nuggets have lost six of their last seven games, and head coach Brian Shaw appears to have reached his boiling point. After Friday night’s 117-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls, Shaw ripped his players for their lack of effort.
“As a coach and coaching staff, it’s our job to try to find five players that want to go out and play and want to have some pride and not decide night-to-night that ‘I’m going to play this game and I’m not going to play this game,'” he told reporters, per Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I felt like tonight we had some guys that just decided they weren’t going to play tonight, they weren’t going to put forth any effort to try to get the job done.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s a nationally televised game that we’re professionals and as a staff we have to beg guys to give effort when they play.
The Nuggets have had their ups and downs in Shaw’s first season as head coach, but they have not played well since the start of the season. The team was 14-9 on Dec. 15. They have gone 11-20 since and are fading from playoff contention.
“I told our team I wish paychecks were predicated on night-to-night performance,” Shaw continued. “So if you play like a star on a given night then you get paid like a star. If you play like an uninspired player, then either you don’t get paid or you get paid like an uninspired player. And you can’t just pick and choose when you want.”
Shaw added that his team acted like the “big bad wolf” by beating the Milwaukee Bucks — the worst team in the NBA — on Thursday night and following it up by getting blown out in Chicago.
The Denver Nuggets are off to a respectable 14-9 start this year, but you have to wonder if their record could be even better with improved play in the first quarter. The Nuggets have been slow starters. In 14 of 23 games this season, they have found themselves trailing after 12 minutes. That has been the case in each of Denver’s past eight games.
Last week, head coach Brian Shaw blamed his team’s slow starts on the junk food his players were eating in the locker room before games. He replaced pizza and tacos with fresh salads, cold cuts and chicken breast before last Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards. The Nuggets were outscored 22-18 in the first quarter of that game, 33-28 to start the following game and 27-24 the game after that. Shaw now has a new theory.
“We are done with our talk, and chalk talk and board work and film session, usually with about 23 or 24 minutes left on the game clock before the game starts,” Shaw said Monday, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “They are supposed to be ready and out on the floor to get a good 20-minute workout. And what we’ve been finding as well as we’ve been researching what the problem is, is we come back in the locker room a lot of times and it’s 16 minutes on the clock and there’s a lot of guys still in the locker room.
“We’re trying to get them out there and make them understand that’s what it takes. You’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to get loose, you’ve got to get warm. We’re hitting every angle that we can, and hopefully it will be remedied soon.”
Apparently Shaw believes four extra minutes of loosening up makes a huge difference, and he could be right. Or, it could just be a mental problem for many of the players.
Basketball is a game where you can easily erase a 10- or 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the Nuggets are relying on that truth a bit too heavily. Ditching junk food and warming up sooner may help, but ultimately the players have to want to give a full 48-minute effort. Had Denver done that more often this season, they would likely have a few more wins.
The Denver Nuggets have a much different look heading into the 2013-2014 season. They have lost Andre Iguodala via free agency and the team chose not to give George Karl a contract extension. Simply put, the Nuggets have a lot to overcome.
Last season, Karl was able to lead Denver to a 57-win season despite have very little star power. That’s what made the team’s decision to let him go so surprising, and point guard Andre Miller is expecting Denver to take a step back in Karl’s absence.
During a recent interview with NBA TV that Ball Don’t Lie shared with us, Miller was asked if the possibility of winning 57 games again next season still exists. The 14-year veteran was brutally honest.
“You know that ain’t gonna happen again,” Miller said. “I’d like to say we’re gonna win 57 games and have a better home record than last year, but that was a great year for us. I wish we could do it again and we want to build from there, but it’s gonna be tough. We’ve got some new guys and some new veterans coming in, and the good thing is we’ve got guys who are willing to work.”
He’s probably right. Karl was able to do a lot with very little over the past few seasons, and there is no guarantee new head coach Brian Shaw will be able to do the same with less. Having said that, the younger guys on the team might not benefit from hearing that they have no chance of winning 57 games.
At age 37, Miller is expected to be a leader. Part of leading is being realistic and tempering expectations, but he probably shouldn’t be counting the team out before the season even begins — whether it’s true or not.
The Denver Nuggets made a shocking move on Thursday when they fired head coach George Karl. The 62-year old coach had been with the team since 2005. What really made the move puzzling is that Karl was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2012-2013 season back in May.
Karl took the Nuggets to the postseason every year in his eight seasons with the team, though they did lose in the first round of the playoffs the past four seasons. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the issue had to do with Karl’s contract situation more than the team’s play on the court.
Karl was entering the last season of his deal with Denver, which is a situation that has made him uncomfortable throughout his career. Rather than coaching the team under a one-year contract, Karl was likely going to pursue an extension during the offseason. Apparently the Nuggets were not comfortable giving him one and decided it was time to part ways.
At least two players who are currently on the Denver roster, Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson, were left scratching their heads after the move.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were locked into an incredibly close game with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, but that didn’t stop Russell Westbrook from taking some time during the fourth quarter to harass the Nuggets mascot.
The mascot, who is known as Rocky, was attempting a couple of backwards over-the-head shots from half court when Westbrook decided that the shots were not going to fall on his watch. According to Eye on Basketball, one of Rocky’s attempts would have even won the crowd a free snack if he hit it. Westbrook jumped up and goaltended it anyway.
Apparently Westbrook just felt that he could do whatever he wanted and no one could stop him. That seemed to be true throughout his 36-point night in which he hit a clutch three-pointer to help send the game to overtime, so why not carry it into commercial breaks as well? Denver won the game in overtime, but thanks to Westbrook their fans missed out on the potential of free queso.
By now you’ve surely heard about the tragedy in Aurora, Colo., where a gunman opened fire on moviegoers early Friday during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Reports have the death toll at 12 with many more left wounded.
The Denver Nuggets’ summer league team paid tribute to those victims by wearing black headbands for their game against the Blazers in Las Vegas on Friday, as pictured above. Prior to the contest, a moment of silence was also held.
The suspect law enforcement has in custody has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Maybe it’s just me, but I kind of like these backpacks. Children’s-themed backpacks seem to have emerged as one of the favorite forms of hazing across sports. The latest victims — if you want to call them that — are the Denver Nuggets rookies. As you can see from the photos above and below, the Nuggets forced their rookies to carry around Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty backpacks this week. It could be much worse, right?
The Nuggets lost to the Jazz at home on Sunday, 106-96. Denver head coach George Karl has a theory as to why. When a team loses in the NBA the excuses usually range from a lack of focus to turning the ball over too much. Karl, however, believes that beating a certain team from South Beach on Friday had a lot to do with Sunday’s loss.
“I probably blame it on our NBA cool,” he said according to the Denver Post. “We thought we were cool after kicking Miami’s butt, and we got embarrassed. The NBA game does it quite frequently. If you think you’re better than you are, or think you’re cooler than you are and you don’t think you have to put in the hard work to win games, you get embarrassed. We got embarrassed.”
He may have a point. Everyone wants to beat the Heat — especially a young team like Denver that is looking to silence the critics and prove they can win games without Carmelo Anthony. That being said, I’m not sure how embarrassing a loss in game 13 of an NBA season can be. It’s a long year, and I doubt anyone thinks the Nuggets are pathetic for dropping an early-season game to the Jazz.
If I beat a team with a guy who says stuff like this and does stuff like this, I’d probably take a couple days off too.
Chest bump to I Am a GM for sharing the story with us
Tim Tebow the basketball player? Why not? The guy seems to do everything else right. When the Broncos went on their mid-season winning streak, it appeared as though Tebowmania had reached its peak. After Denver lost its last three regular-season games and completely backed into the playoffs, many expected the Steelers to hand them a beating and Tebowmania to fizzle out until further notice. We now realize how wrong those people were.
After the Nuggets lost to the Hornets on Monday night, Denver G.M. Masai Ujiri said he wished his team had Tebow to help them win.
“I wish we had Tebow tonight,” Ujiri said according to Chris Tomassan of FoxSportsFlorida.com. “He would have saved us tonight.”
Ujiri’s comments came in the wake of the Denver crowd erupting while the Nuggets were trailing by 18 points late in the game. The home fans became ecstatic because the Nuggets’ mascot, Rocky, sauntered onto the court wearing a Tebow jersey. These days — especially in Denver — that’s all it takes.
With late-night talk show hosts recreating Tebow moments using peanuts and mayors losing bets that force them to Tebow, I think we can officially say Tebowmania has reached a new level. If the Broncos are able to secure themselves a spot in the AFC Championship game by beating the Patriots in Foxboro on Saturday night, the universe could very well explode.
Last season, the Nuggets lost Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. The move left the team without star power, but Denver still finished the season with an impressive 50-win total. The Nuggets lost to the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, but head coach George Karl remains excited about this year’s team despite its lack of a true superstar.
“I think, I hope, as I am preaching to the team is the Denver Nuggets is going to be out being a team” Karl said in an interview with KKFN in Denver that Sports Radio Interviews shared with us. “It has nothing to do about individuality and basically screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship. I’m just not into the hype. … I’m excited because if Oklahoma City is the darlings of the NBA and we are not that far from them.”
Denver recently inked Nene Hilario to a five-year, $67 million deal, so he is obviously someone who is being paid like a superstar that they think they can build a contender around. With a mix of young players like Ty Lawson and veterans like Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets should be far from a punching bag in the Western Conference.
Teams with superstars generally succeed in the NBA — especially in a seven-game playoff series. That being said, a superstar can emerge over the course of the season. If Chris Paul went to the Lakers the Western Conference picture would be a bit clearer, but instead he was traded to the Clippers which should make them a contender as well. Karl is a good enough coach to keep the Nuggets in the hunt and lead them to the playoffs once again.