Arron Afflalo and the Nuggets face off for the first time since the trade - Justin Edmonds
Coming off a lackluster performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday (Oct. 31), the Nuggets travel to Orlando to take on the Magic and a former friend who is now a cornerstone of a rebuilding franchise. One only hopes the Nuggets play better than they did in Philly.
|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 2|
|November 2nd, 2012, 5:00 PM (MT)|
|Amway Center - Orlando, Florida|
|TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Ty Lawson|
|Arron Afflalo||SG||Andre Iguodala|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Danilo Gallinari|
|Glen Davis||PF||Kenneth Faried|
|Nikola Vucevic||C||Kosta Koufos|
|Orlando Pinstriped Post||Blogs||You're here!|
Al Harrington (knee) out, Maurice Harkless (hernia) out, DeQuan Jones (out)
||Injuries||Danilo Gallinari (day-to-day), Wilson Chandler (probable), Julyan Stone (out)|
|First game of the season for the Orlando Magic with former Nugget Afflalo
||Stat||Nuggets defeated the Magic in their last matchup in Orlando last season 104-101|
Let's face it, against the Sixers on Wednesday the Nuggets stunk up the joint. While they played ok defensively, their offense was completely out of sorts, and it took rookie Evan Fournier coming in to give the offense some semblance of flow and spacing. Clearly Danilo Gallinari is missed far more than people had previously wanted to acknowledge. The floor spacing was awful, and the Nuggets couldn't hit a shot to save their lives (including free throws). Gallo is listed as day to day, and hopefully he can play tonight (stay tuned).
On to the Orlando Magic. A team that had to suffer through one of the most bizarre trade dramas in NBA History. The Dwightmare! AKA: Dwight Howard cant make up his mind, wants to go to the Brooklyn Nets, can't go there, opts in to the final year of his contract, gets Stan Van Gundy fired, and then get's traded to the Los Angeles Lakers ... drama. You couldn't help but feel empathetic toward the Magic fans due to our own issues from two seasons ago with Carmelo Anthony. However, one could argue that what happened to Orlando was worse, and the return on their trade was substantially more questionable.
In a four team trade carried out in August (during the Olympics) the Nuggets acquired Andre Iguodala from the Sixers, the Nuggets sent Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo to the Magic, and the Magic sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers (the Magic also acquired picks and obviously there wree other moving parts). While the Magic cleared cap space, they also got a proven shooting guard and the ability to buy out the last two years of Harrington's contract (each year is only half guaranteed). While it wasn't the greatest haul in the world, it was certainly better than nothing.
So tonight, the Nuggets face an old friend. With Harrington sitting out because he is still recovering from knee surgery, the Nuggets will face Afflalo alone as a former Nugget. Now he is a centerpiece and a building block of a franchise that will be going through a rough couple of years. In AAA you know what you have ... a solid defensive player with a shooter's touch.
Really, there is not much about Orlando that screams "TERRIBLE" but that's not the point really. An old Hedo Turkoglu is probably no match for a semi-healthy Gallo. Glen Davis only works well when he is surrounded by great talent (ie: the Boston Celtics) and Jameer Nelson has definitely seen better days. Maybe J.J. Redick gets traded during the season? At this point who knows. The fans in Orlando merely hope for competitive basketball that points to a great direction for the future. A lot like the Nuggets of 2002.
Jacque Vaughn is entering his first year as an NBA coach. A young coach for a young team. It remains to be seen what kind of coach he is. With this new direction that Orlando has taken in the wake of the Howard trade, you need a young coach to shepherd the "flock", if you will, through the perils of, well, being just plain bad. Orlando may surprise some people, but I hesitate to call them a sleeper team.
It will be just as interesting to see Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan's vision for this team. Where will they be going, and is this just ground zero of an eventual reconstruction of a competitive team ... or will it get worse from here? At this point no one knows.
Nuggets of Wisdom
Let's face it folks, the Nuggets missed Gallo on Wednesday night. I know, I know it's painful for some to admit ... but the evidence is in abundance right now. For some reason, Gallinari makes the Nuggets offense run. This was proven last year when he was out of the lineup, as well as the first game of this season. Last season I called Gallo the "glue" of the team, and this was borne out on Wednesday. The Nuggets spacing was atrocious. They were drawing contact, but not getting to the line (curious). When they got to the line they couldn't hit their free throws (Gallo seems to be the only one who consistently can). The Nuggets need Gallo back, and hopefully he is in the lineup this evening.
On the other hand, Fournier keeps having these flashes of good play (for a rookie). If George Karl gives him enough minutes he may force himself into more playing time. He seems to work well in "context" of the offense. He flows easily with what the Nuggets are doing and he seems to be extremely intelligent. I'm excited to see more. I wish I could say the same about Nate Timmons' boy Wilson Chandler who is clearly still suffering the ill affects of hip surgery. He needs to be limited on his minutes until fully healthy.
JaVale McGee needs to have a game where he makes a difference. Just one. That will (hopefully) break him out of whatever mind-funk he has been in since camp started. The Nuggets need him to be engaged and a factor. As much as I like Kosta Koufos, I think even he would acknowledge that McGee is the superior athlete and can make a more dynamic appearance. Why McGee is struggling? Your guess is as good as mine.
Good to see basketball back! Go Nuggets!
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78
Remember to attend this Saturday's STIFFS NIGHT OUT at Jake's Food & Spirits, located at 3800 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205. We will be gathering at 5:00pm to watch the Nuggets take on the Heat in Miami. We will play Nuggets trivia to win tickets to the Nuggets/Heat game and the Nuggets/Warriors game. We will also be giving away a signed basketball by JaVale McGee and new uniform Nuggets T-shirts! And all trivia proceeds will go to Denver Hooperz, a non-profit program that brings basketball to at-risk youths in the Denver area.