We officially have a new nickname for a 40-point blowout: MOZGOV!
On top of the point guard controversy that's brewing in Denver, Nuggets head coach George Karl now has some serious answering to do as to why he hasn't played rookie center Timofey Mozgov. Because even though Mozgov had just six points and four rebounds in 10 garbage time minutes, he showcased why the Knicks were so excited to have him and so reluctant to let him go in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Mozgov has good basketball instincts, a soft touch and he's a giant. An absolute giant. Listed at 7'1", Mozgov is at least two inches taller than the supposed seven-foot Kosta Koufos, but he clearly has more game than the third year pro out of Ohio State.
So curious was the Pepsi Center crowd to watch Mozgov play that most of us stayed through the fourth quarter despite this game being over at halftime. And Mozgov didn't disappoint as he set some tough screens, cut to the basket and worked his way into the paint against the Bobcats' joke of a backup frontline.
Beyond the 10-minute Mozgov cameo, the best thing about the Nuggets victory over Charlotte was their balanced attack. Every player scored in this game and seven did so into double digits. And that's without Danilo Gallinari playing, arguably the Nuggets best scorer alongside Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith. I think I'm in agreement with Nuggets fans everywhere when I say we're excited and anxious to see how Gallinari fits in with this team as it grows together.
Of course, any positive spin put on this game has to be done with a grain of salt thrown in. After all, we played a dreadful - and I mean dreadful - Bobcats team. How this squad was within earshot of the Eastern Conference playoffs even with Gerald Wallace is beyond me. It's more a testament to how pathetic that junior varsity conference continues to be than anything else.
But even though I should have been all smiles after watching the Nuggets post a 40-point victory on the board, I couldn't help but be a bit sad about the current state of the NBA. Seeing the Pepsi Center half empty (don't for a second believe the Nuggets' recorded attendance number of 14,255), I thought this might be a microcosm of what's to come as more and more "stars" collude to play in the league's biggest markets. With Wallace gone, there isn't one compelling reason to watch the Bobcats play. And scarily, I can say that about 10 teams right now.
I'll dwell on the negatives another day. For now, we in Nuggets Nation should be proud that our new-look Nuggets are 4-1 since Carmelo Anthony's departure and pro basketball in Denver is worth watching again.
The View From the Not-So-Cheap-Seats...
...the Nuggets seem to scrambling to bring back their season ticket holders. A season ticket holder brought out the game ball. Another was featured during one of the stupid timeout gimmicks hosted by "Big" Mark Randall. And the reminder that season tickets can be renewed by tomorrow was served up on the scoreboard repeatedly throughout the game. I wasn't swayed. It's not the Nuggets fault that NBA tickets across the board are way too expensive, but the Nuggets could help start a trend of bringing the prices back down from the price stratosphere.
...when the Nuggets had 20 points with five minutes still to go in the first quarter, you just knew they'd be putting up big offensive numbers tonight.
...when Arron Afflalo went down with a nasty twisted ankle in the first half, you could hear a pin drop inside Pepsi Center. If there's one player beloved by all, it's Afflalo. Fortunately, AAA was able to recover and play well in the second half...but that ankle's going to be sore on Thursday.
...D.J. Augustin is smaller than Ty Lawson, making it even more remarkable that Larry Brown and Michael Jordan saw fit to draft him over Brook Lopez a few years ago. At best, Augustin is a career NBA backup.
...when Gerald Henderson clobbered Afflalo on a layup attempt in the second half, I couldn't help but be reminded of this infamous moment in Henderson's Duke career. Maybe the guy is just a dirty player.
...I saw a number of replica Nuggets jerseys from the 1990s, like Jalen Rose, LaPhonso Ellis, Rodney Rogers, etc. Could it be that real basketball fans are back? If so, great! But how will they pay for these tickets?!
...the entire atmosphere felt like an ABA game: a sparse crowd, cheesy, poorly thought out in-game promotions, unrecognizable players on the opposing team, etc. The Nuggets - and the NBA - are going to have some serious work to do after the lockout to bring fans back to this great game.
...and yes, no one was happier than me to see Mozgov and Koufos on the floor together. Maybe Karl should try playing Lawson and Raymond Felton together plus Mozgov and Koufos, and throw Rocky in as the fifth?
Non-Stiff of the Night
-Too hard to choose. As we've seen for several days in a row now, the Nuggets are too balanced to pick one "player of the game". Kenyon Martin had another great game...as did Nene...as did Afflalo...as did Chandler...as did Lawson...as did Birdman...as did J.R....
Stiff of the Night
-Stephen Jackson: "Captain Jack" showed up just long enough to bitch at the refs, shoot 3-10, turn the ball over four times and finish with a Bobcat-high plus/minus of -22.
Many will point to the Nuggets loss of a true superstar as a problem, but I'm loving watching the balanced contribution of this team...and so are the players. Seeing these guys play up-close, it's clear that they're all on the same page and want to win now. And hey, the four-seed is just a few games away...