Once again we did not have any television or radio for the Denver Nuggets and their Canadian conflagration with the Toronto Raptors tonight. Once again we are stuck looking at the box score for insight into the proceedings. Once again, I do not like doing that.
There were some apparently good things staring us down in the box score. First of all, Carmelo Anthony had another nice game with the assists. He tallied six tonight and is averaging 5.2 assists a game in only 26.5 minutes a night. Melo is a tremendous passer, but that has been really the only offensive area where you can argue he has never quite lived up to his potential. A Melo averaging five assists a game is a very dangerous player.
J.R. Smith had another very productive night. Fueled by a 6-8 first half he shot 8-14 from the floor and 4-7 from downtown to put up 22 points. He added five assists and two steals while only turning the ball over twice. I hope we get to see what this kid can do playing 30-34 minutes a game this season. And I am not just saying that because he is on both of my fantasy basketball teams although I have to admit that is part of it.
Nene followed up a mediocre first half with a nice second half. In all my wisdom I erased the stats I copied down at halftime, but I think Nene had four points. He ended up shooting 7-11 for the game and posted 15 points. He only nabbed four boards, but the Nuggets still outrebounded the Raptors by six, 40 to 34.
Smush Parker fouled out in less than 12 minutes. That would be impressive if it was not so sad.
Mateen Cleaves started and has continued to garner more playing time than Parker at the point since the first preseason game. The Nuggets have some very tough choices ahead of them come roster cut down day. They only have room to keep two players who are in camp on non guaranteed deals and they have four, and maybe five, guys who can make a good case for being on the regular season roster. Then add in the fact they might not want to spend the money to carry fifteen players and there will be some late nights at the Pepsi Center in the next week. However, one thing to keep in mind though is the non guaranteed deals do not become guaranteed until early December. They could break camp with any of the non guaranteed guys on the roster and then dump him after a couple of weeks without having to pay him another dime nor would there be any luxury tax due on his salary. Such is life for NBA athletes who do not have guaranteed money.
The couple of times I have heard James Mays mentioned the Nuggets seem to like him. I seriously doubt he makes the team, but I think you can count on him being back in camp next season. (See what I did right there? I made it sound like I made a bold prediction, but who on earth will remember a year from now that I said Mays will be in camp next season? Thus ends your lesson on Better Blogging for the day.) Anyway, Mays played over 13 minutes and ended up with six points on 3-5 shooting and five boards. He will make some money somewhere this season. I bet you will hear his name called in the D-League draft coming up on November 7th. (Wow, I did it again. Who other than Matt over at Ridiculous Upside is gong to pay one iota of attention to the D-League draft?)
Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, Linas Kleiza and Anthony Carter did not play tonight. AI should be healthy by the time the regular season starts. This was the second straight game Kenyon sat out, but I beleive it is just precautionary for him and I am pretty sure Kleiza and Carter were just getting a night off.
The Nuggets are now 5-1 and we can only hope they start off the regular season so well.
Now we have only one preseason game left this Friday. The good news is it will be at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against the Clippers. No more Bismarck’s or Edmonton’s where we are in a media blackout. We will have radio coverage and probably some internet feed from some obscure website.
Update: This Denver Post article says Kenyon has a wrist injury and Kleiza has a thumb injury. Both injuries occurred in practice yesterday (Monday). Kenyon is expected to play Friday, but Kleiza might be out longer.
Double Secret Update: George Karl tells the Rocky Mountain News the Nuggets will probably be announcing thier cuts in the next couple of days.
Out of Control Craptacular Triple Update: Two video clips via NBA.com for you.
Clip one is the game recap.
Clip two is the "Steal of the Night" which you may have surmised was a clip you already saw if you watched the first video.