Golden Nuggets: Give 'em to the Greek

Let me get this straight - there were a total of 43 rebounds to be had on the Nuggets' defensive end and the Thunder gobbled up 39.5% of them? Yes, the Thunder had 17 offensive rebounds to the Nuggets' 26 defensive boards. You're telling me that the answer to getting your butt kicked on the boards is to play smaller? Your only hope to get back into the game is to stop allowing second chance opportunities and you bench the big men on your bench? As Ricky Ricardo would say, Georgey you got a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Chris Andersen played, what should now be an infamous, six minutes last night. S.I.X. 6. Seis. (If I knew more languages than Spanish - I'd continue). 

Andersen didn't have a good night in Game 2, but was his performance worthy of a being benched? Birdman entered the game at the 2:49 mark of the first quarter with the Nuggets down 20-10 and reeling from a horrific start. On the floor with him: Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Danilo Gallinari, and Kenyon Martin. A lineup that is usually capable of getting things going and a lineup that K-Mart isn't long for. At the 1:37 mark (23-10 Thunder) Al Harrington checked in for Kenyon and the Nuggets were suddenly left with one rebounder on the floor ... the Birdman.

Watching the Nuggets this season has anyone come to think of Gallo or "Big" Al as rebounders? I didn't think so. So, with the not so traditional lineup out there the OKC lead ballooned from 10 points to 25 points at 42-17 Thunder when Nene checked back in for Birdman. Now Andersen has never been known for his offensive game and shouldn't be punished for his play there. If he wasn't coming with the correct energy then Karl has to turn to somebody else. Can you tell what a guy is bringing in a 6 minute stint?

Andersen finished the night 0-0 from the field for 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, and -14 in plus/minus. 

So, in the limited stretch that Karl saw from Birdman he decided he should go in a different direction. I don't totally disagree with that line of thinking if Karl feels he might get more production from another player. But the problem last night was effort and execution. The effort part being the Nuggets lack of rebounding on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. 

Now you can tell me about how some guys haven't earned rotation minutes and they may not have big game experience and I will ask you a question. If you are going to mess with your entire rotation and game-plan then why not give Kosta Koufos or Timofey Mozgov a shot? Here me out ... 

The story of the Nuggets post-trade was the sudden depth the team had. The Nuggets were supposed to be a team that could run 8, 9, or even 10 players at your squad and wear you down. Well, last night we saw the leash pulled even tighter and the strength of the Nuggets, their depth, has suddenly been rendered useless as the coach ran a seven man rotation in the second half.

 

  • K-Mart saw his usual second half minutes all mixed up and his usual role was out of whack. 
  • Felton's role increased (36 minutes) in a game where the team needed to secure rebounds. 
  • Chandler finished the night 0-6 shooting, but his playing time was not cut.
  • J.R. finished 1-6 from the field in just 7 minutes and his role with the team is so love/hate I don't know how he handles it. If he re-signs in Denver next season our feet might become frozen to the ground.
  • Harrington was used as the scorer off the bench to the tune of 15 points in 25 minutes, but he had just 3 defensive rebounds.
So while Karl isn't opposed to jerking around his regular rotation and rotation players he does seem opposed to trying different players in that rotation. Koufos played just 2 minutes last night, but when he was on the floor his presence changed the game (or what was left of the game at that point). Eric Maynor was en route to what was a usual layup, but with Koufos in the paint he dished the ball off awkwardly at the last second so he didn't get his shot blocked. Another player sailed a shot high off the glass just moments later. And on the other end - the Thunder defenders couldn't touch the ball up in the clouds where Kosta's hands reside, as he directed the ball off the glass for an easy bucket. 

I have no issue with Karl trying different things with his team, but I do take issue with not going a bit further and trying out the big guys on the bench. How many games do we have to watch the Nuggets go small (not fast) and allow the Thunder to be the bigger team? The Nuggets are not controlling the tempo and making the Thunder play at their pace with the smaller lineups on the floor, so why not adjust and if the team is going to play slower? At least go big and let's see if that causes some errors for the OKC offense in the paint. Those missed shots going around Koufos or Moz could lead to some fastbreaks and get the Nuggets playing back at their pace. And you can't tell me that the Greek and the Moz won't change things in the rebounding department. Koufos got his hands on an offensive rebound and while he didn't come down with it, the ball did bounce free and those types of plays will lead to second chance opportunities which the Nuggets are seriously lacking right now. Asking Harrington to be a rebounder is like asking a florist to repair your engine - it isn't going to work.

I watched the game on a bit of a delay (thanks DVR) with my family. My sister Amanda prides herself as a Broncos fan and my other sister, Tess, would much rather watch Khloe and Lamar than Nuggets vs. Lakers. Tess kept asking, "Where is the Greek?" I had to tell her that Karl doesn't fancy playing him. She said, "Well he played really well the other night (against the Jazz) and K-Mart was rooting for him." My sister Amanda agreed and kept wondering why the Nuggets were not playing their bigger players and how the coach expected short guys to out-rebound the bigger OKC guys.

All we can do is wonder what is going to happen with the Nuggets in Game 3. Can Denver bounce back and alter the way this series is going by holding down the home court? Will Karl play loops of Under Armour commercials that scream, "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!"? 

Perhaps we should give Karl a Jeffrey and see if that gets him to give the minutes to the Greek? 

 

***

 

To the links ... 

Thundering start hints at future heights - John Hollinger, ESPN
Just as Jeff Morton suggested, the media is going to make OKC the darlings until the Nuggets prove otherwise.

The other guys do it as the Thunder takes 2-0 lead, 106-89 - Royce Young, Daily Thunder.com
The take on last night's game from the OKC side.

Thunder rout Nuggets behind star duo to stake 2-0 series lead - ESPN.com
Some quotes from Thunder players, Karl and such.

2011 NBA Playoffs, Game 2 Recap: Game. Set. Match??? - Kalen, Roundball Mining Company
Kalen ponders the Nuggets going forward and jumps on the "superstar ... few All-Stars ... imperative to playoff success." wagon ... Boo!

Oklahoma City blows out Nuggets, 106-89, in Game 2 of NBA playoffs - Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post
Our friends over at the Post grab some quotes from Karl and Harrington. I wanted to hear from K-Mart, but I have a feeling he didn't want to do a lot of talking...

Denver needs Nene to live up to his nickname - Chris Tomasson, NBA.com
Nene has another nickname ... great story by our friend Tomasson - go check it out.

 

 

 

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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