Could one of the most unselfish players of all time actually be one of the more selfish at present?
The last thing I wanted to do today was write a negative column about our streaking, gutty, fun-to-watch, put-the-NBA-on-notice Denver Nuggets. In fact, win or lose in Boston I had targeted today's column to be about George Karl and his legitimate candidacy as a Coach of the Year recipient. After all, if we're to vehemently criticize Karl when things go south (as we did often in November and December), we must equally applaud him when things go well for our Nuggets ... as they have, and then some, lately.
And despite Sunday's heartbreaking loss, and the fashion with which it was lost, Karl should be commended for doing a great job this season.
But after watching backup point guard Andre Miller chuck two separate ill-advised, game-killing three-pointers (one near regulation's end, the other at the end of overtime number three) at the TD Garden in Boston on Sunday night - days after Miller made a series of deplorable comments to a Colorado Springs Gazette reporter that included bitching about his (perceived lack of) minutes - I think it's fair to question whether or not Karl's loyalty to his favorite point guard is hurting the Nuggets more than it's helping it.
There's no confusion about Karl's love for Miller. After all, it was only last month that Karl suggested that a) Miller was one of the best NBA point guards of all time, and b) deserved consideration for this year's All-Star Game. And Karl's love of Miller often comes with good reason - the 36 year old point guard has probably kept the Nuggets in as many games as he has lost for them. One need look no further than the game against the Celtics on Sunday when it was Miller's attempted put-back of a missed Kenneth Faried free throw at regulation's end that put the Nuggets in position to send the game to the first of three overtimes. If anything, with that single play Miller atoned for his first errant three-point attempt.
But when Miller - who is shooting an unremarkable 21.1% from behind the arc this season and has a career three-point shooting average of 20.5% - repeated the mistake to close out the third overtime, there was no opportunity for atonement again.
It was game over.
Their magical nine-game win streak coming to an abrupt thud late on Sunday in a freezing cold Boston.
And with Danilo Gallinari clearly cementing himself as the man to take a big three-pointer, and Ty Lawson (finally!) demonstrating that he can be counted on to take a late-game drive to the basket, Nuggets fans who watched that game were collectively yelling at their television screens: "WHAT THE @#$% IS ANDRE MILLER DOING SHOOTING THAT THREE-POINTER?!! OR ANY THREE-POINTER FOR THAT MATTER?!!"
Sadly, Miller has done this to Karl, his teammates and the fans before. At Utah in late November, Miller tied the game up at 102 apiece with 54 seconds remaining with a bold shot. But with 5.9 seconds to go, and no need for a three-pointer or even a shot at that point in the game, Miller decided to attempt his lone three-point shot of the game and missed it badly, leading to a Derrick Favors rebound and ... a ... game over. And now Miller has done it again.
Remarkably, Miller has only attempted 38 three-pointers this season and yet almost half of those (16 to be exact) have come in the fourth quarter or overtime, where Miller is now 1-3. So it's bad enough that Miller attempts threes early in a regular season game, but why would he ever, ever, ever think it's okay to shoot a three-pointer in the fourth quarter or overtime?
As a 36-year-old point guard who ranks 10th all time in assists, Miller has certainly earned the right to some autonomy on the court. But these disastrous late-game three-pointers, combined with his recent negative comments about the team that will pay him nearly $15 million over the next three years - a team, mind you, that Miller didn't have to re-sign with - shows me that Miller is taking Karl's loyalty for granted.
And now Karl, who has perhaps been overly loyal to Miller to the detriment of his own team, must decide if these catastrophically bad decisions come with repercussions or not. Because if Miller is allowed to run rampant with no accountability from this point forward, the Nuggets hopes for a four-seed or higher might go the way of a Miller three-point shot - way off to the left without striking anything whatsoever.
On to the links ...
Red-hot Nuggets still missing one key ingredient, veteran says | klee, veteran, missing - KLEE - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
Andre Miller whines to the press about playing time and questions the Nuggets chances of winning a title sans a superstar.
The Denver Nuggets have won eight in a row. Are they for real, and right for the road? | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
Kelly Dwyer thinks the Nuggets are for real and could wreak havoc on their opposition for the remainder of the season.
Mile High Sports | By the Numbers: Andre Miller needs to get a grip
Zach Fogg tells it like it is and asks Miller to demand a trade if he doesn't want to buy into what the Nuggets are selling.
NBA: 25 Least Known Records That Will Shock You | Bleacher Report
Believe it or not, the NBA once had a six overtime game.
Denver Nuggets not sweating NBA trade deadline - The Denver Post
Chris Dempsey gets George Karl's thoughts on the trade deadline ... and why the Nuggets should stay put.
What is Larry Brown doing coaching college hoops? - Grantland
What is former Nuggets coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown doing down at SMU? The answer is complicated. Very complicated.