So I'm checking out a close Cavaliers-Hawks game, Atlanta is up 87-86 with just over 5 minutes left, and what do you know, Larry Hughes, yes our Larry Hughes, asks out of the game as he limps to the sidelines. I wonder what the Cleveland coaches think every time the see L-Smooth get injured. As Hughes gimped by, Mike Brown barley gave him the time of day; he and another coach were concentrating on the referee. The trainer goes over to check as a courtesy. And eventually, after the timeout, they show Hughes walking gingerly to the locker room on his own power. Not sure what the coaches think, not sure what Larry’s teammates think. No one likes to see a good guy get injured and I've always been under the impression that Hughes is a good guy. After all, he has won the Austin Carr "Good Guy" award. It just seems like it's now to the point where the frequency of injury has created an environment of indifference. Regardless, I know how I feel.....Ernie Grunfeld is a helluva GM.
The Andray Blatche – Carmelo Anthony matchup will be very interesting.
10:43 - Stevenson air balls a wide open jumper, but Andray gets the long rebound and the Nuggets just watch him do this. So, Blatche aggressively takes it down the lane for an uncontested lay-up. Gotta love that. 2-2
Washington’s not really limiting the early fast break points for Denver...especially off turnovers. Stevenson hits a 3 and Micro-fracture Martin gets a long pass on the break, a basket would have been easy had Martin not traveled. Phil Chenier calls the Nuggets a better version of what we saw in Philly. Great, are you telling me we won't have a lead to blow this game?
7:51 - Blatche Good & Blatche Bad. His lazy pass leads to a turnover and fast break for Denver, but Andray hustles back and swats Carmelo's runner into the stands....who, but the way has the first 9 points for Denver, up 9-5.
The Wizards are giving shots to their feet on offense. When they don't put pressure on Denver's D, it's easier for Melo & Co to go up 13-5. Anthony has 11 and is welcoming Andray Blatche to his show. If you're watching Comcast instead of ESPN right now, you are treated to Carmelo local high school highlights.
6:20 - Melo is in the zone....he literally "rattles' a long jumper on the Lock Smith. 15-7 Denver.
Stevenson throws the ball away, and wonders why his teammate isn't taking the blame, by putting his arms up in the air. Meanwhile....ESPN is talking about AD's shaky ankle. Mason gives him a rest after 7 minutes. Andray Blatche is also compared to Tim Thomas…."Great"
3:30 - 4 turnovers from the Wiz are not helping, neither is shooting 25%. From there, it’s easy to deduce that the Wizards are down by double digits, 19-8. Prada's boy Kleiza checks in. Andray is the lone bright spot with 4 points, 3 rebounds and a steal, yet two turnovers.
Level 3 Ugly Alert:
- Carmelo Anthony has 18 points.
- Marcus Camby just led an end-to-end fast break that resulted in K-Mart going to the FT line.
- Denver is up 24-12.
Hey, the Wiz have 4 offensive rebounds and the Nuggets have 0. Oh yea, the Nuggets have only missed 4 shots, the Wiz have missed 14.
Hubie Brown doesn't like the Wizards body language to start. Someone needs put that on the bulletin board, tell Eddie Jordan.
0:25 - Eduardo Najara, aka the Big Mexican, checks in the game at the very end of the first. He's not a Reggie Evans, maybe not even a Matt Harpring, but he still has the potential to put the Wizards trainer to work. The quarter ends with the Nuggets up 30-16. 'Melo is on pace to score 80, the Wizards are on pace to score 64. Raise your hand if you want to rest Jamison and Daniels now. (I'm raising my hand by the way.)
Ric Bucher is stumbling and bumbling his way through an interview with Eddie Jordan....let me paraphrase Eddie: "We can't really stop them in any aspect of the game. The key to stopping Melo? Uhh....outside of fouling him every time, there's not much we can do."
Ladies and gentlemen, I present your lineup: Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire, Nick Young, Roger Mason, and Darius Songaila. Wow.
ESPN sideline report: Antonio Daniels is done. The ankle is too bad. You can tell that Hubie Brown is a caring grandpa...as soon as Bucher announces the AD news, Brown gives us a sympathetic "ohhh"....I'm willing to bet he was clutching his heart and thinking about other tragedies which have occurred during his lifetime, such as WWI.
9:30 - D-Song Explosion. He scores 4 straight trying to show out for his Lithuanian boy Kleiza.
9:06 - I thought I'd never see a guy jab step a defender out of his jock. Nick Young, meet Carmelo Anthony. Melo nails a jumper, he's 11-12 with 26 points and the Nuggets are up 39-22, timeout. George Karl, Iverson, all of them are just smiling and laughing as they huddle up....like they are aiming for Melo to top Kobe's 81.
If the Wizards don't win another game on this road trip, I’ll take the under on 72 before another Tony Kornheiser 'Curse O' Les Boulez' column.
8:38 – Three game minutes later, Steve and Phil get the news about AD.
6:55 - This might get worse than either of the games at Cleveland or Toronto. Najera just threw a touchdown pass to Kleiza for a dunk, 43-25 Denver.
6:35 - A.I. makes a behind the back pass to JR Smith on the break. Basket, And 1. 46-25 Nuggets.
5:58 - Stevenson has already said "Eff it, I'm just going to start shooting 3s." He goes 1-2 from long distance in 22 seconds only to be stopped by a timeout. 46-28 game.
There's an Amber Alert out for Brendan Haywood. In about 13 minutes, he's 0-2 with 2 fouls and a rebound.
3:18 - The Nuggets go a stretch of missing easy shots and Nick Young caps an 11-0 Wiz run with a jumper, Wiz cut the lead to 10, 36-46.
2:53 - The Wizards simply are not in a mindset to get back on defense. AJ hits a nice jumper and Melo gets a lay-up within 6 seconds. 51-38 Nuggets.
1:57 - Haywood with a crazy runner high off the glass. If he had missed it, I would have said that he was forcing it.
The first half ends and the Wizards are able to cut the lead down to 9 after trialing 21. Four main contributors in terms of scoring: Songaila, Jamison, Stevenson and Young. I give it to Nick Young, he made some nice, aggressive moves. Overall, while his shot selection can be described as ill-advised at times, he has a confident offensive game and he rarely appears out of control as a result of trying to do too much.
- On ten occasions, the Nuggets have answered Wizards points with points of their own in less than 11.8 seconds, on average.
Knowing how the Wiz were on the verge of getting blown out, these stats are interesting:
- The Wizards have 4 less turnovers
- The Wizards have 5 more steals
- The Wizards only have 3 less made FGs
But the real story:
- Denver is shooting almost 15% better than the Wizards.
- The Nuggets have 8 more assists (18 total on 23 FGs)
- Denver has 8 more points in the paint, and 12 more fastbreak points
- Denver Leaders: Melo - 29 points, Camby - 9 rebounds, Iverson - 8 assists, Camby - 3 turnovers
- Washington Leaders: Songaila - 11 points, Blatche - 5 rebounds, Mason Jr. - 3 assists, Blatche - 4 turnovers
Comcast mistakenly leaves Caron Butler off their halftime injury bug list…. but Etan, Gilbert, and Antonio are covered.
Comcast also gives us more retro highlights, Iverson from G-Town. ESPN gives us a Ric Bucher report: Eddie Jordan said that the Wizards started clicking offensively towards the latter part of the 2nd by going free lance and away from the sets.
Eddie also said that the Wiz intended to double Melo more, but were unable to get to him in time. Hubie Brown laughs that off.....he only counted one whole-hearted double attempt.
10:44 - The Wiz cut the lead to six with an offensive rebound from BTH who hit a cutting AB for a lay-up. The Nuggets then score within 9 seconds. Jamison comes back and hits a trey. 58-52 Denver.
9:07 - The Wizards have surprisingly made this a game.......scoring goes back and forth as the Denver lead hovers around 6.
8:40 - Then again, the Nuggets easily score on a 3-on-4 break of all things. A once deficit of 4 goes back to 8 in the blink of an eye.
8:10 - Blatche gets blocked and then tries to unsuccessfully pressure Melo on the other end. He easily drives to the basket. Yea, I'm not sure what you're supposed to do AB. You certainly can't give him room either. 66-56 Denver, 31 for Anthony.
6:11 - So much for the audacity of hope....Iverson is the gun-powder that fires and 13-2 Denver run, pushing the lead back to 15. 73-58.
3:51 - Timeout and the Denver ship has righted itself. 79-62 Nuggets, 35 points for La La Vasquez's baby daddy
The gist of Gil's sideline interview with Ric Bucher: Gotta bring that swag back to the team.
Ehh....more of the same. 88-72 after 3 quarters, Melo has 40 points. Yea, the Wizards had a nice start to the 3rd, but inexperienced kids are only good for spurts.
We knew the Wizards didn't want to try to run with this team....but only 1 fast break point?
10:49 - Roger Mason just got fast break points 2 and 3. 88-76.
9:34 - After a turnover, Phil Chenier says that Nick Young will eventually learn not to expose the ball to the defender. Everyone take notes.
9:01 - A.I. driving against O-Pech was a funny sight. Iverson went baseline and the Nuggets got to passing around the horn, but they couldn't do anything with it. It's only a 13 point game at 92-79.
I am glad that Gilbert, Caron and Etan have all made the trip to lend some support to their teammates; an encouraging sign for the franchise. Meanwhile, Nick Young hits a shot to get the Wiz within 10 with 5:46 left. That's 17 points for him in 21 minutes.
5:41 - 96-84 Denver, Melo comes back in to try to push his 40 points to 50.
5:06 – 42 points, turnaround J. 98-84.
2:49 - The Wizards certainly aren't quitting, but they're not getting anywhere. Down 12, 102-90.
1:52 - 44 points, 1 point away from a ‘Melo career high 45. 106-92.
1:24 - Step back, juking three pointer for ‘Melo...47 points. 109-94. Why not go for 50?
1:15 - D-Mac with a wicked put back dunk over a couple Nuggets.
1:04 - Wizards give Melo 2 FTs, 49 points. 111-96.
0:28 - It's just a circus. Melo is trying for 50, the Wizards are doubling him, Melo gets an offensive foul. Wiz get the ball back...and it looks like Nick Young will run the clock down, but all of a sudden, since there’s 4 seconds between the shot and game clocks, Young takes the ball down the lane for a huge dunk.
0:11 – Intent on not letting him drop 50 points, the Wizards double Melo off the ball. The crowd, and probably the Nuggets as well, doesn’t take too kindly to this act……I’m sure Eddie Jordan didn’t think too kindly of Melo coming back into the game just to get 50 points.
…..aaaaaand the game ends. 111-100 Denver. Wizards fans can’t be too disappointed. With AD, Caron, Gil and Etan out, I might even say that they performed better than expected.
My ‘At Leasts’:
At least it wasn't ugly.
At least the Wiz didn't quit.
At least Carmelo didn't get 50.
At least February is a short month.