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George Karl gives us the quote of the year (Nuggets/Knicks Recap)...

Nuggets/Knicks Recap...

After (sort of, barely) beating the Knicks at Pepsi Center tonight, giving the Nuggets their best record through 75 games in franchise history, Nuggets' head coach George Karl gave us the quote of the year. When asked about the petition www.bringbackbirdman.com, Karl responded: "It's better than firegeorgekarl.com, I know that." Well played, sir. Well played.

Before the season began, I said I'd give Karl 20 games to see if he'd back up his off-season rhetoric to "do things my way" and get tougher on our Nuggets, who had clearly run amok on Karl for several prior seasons. At the 21-game mark, with the Nuggets on pace for a franchise best 55 wins, I praised Karl for a job well done to that point. I took a fair amount of heat for that column, (and I know I sound like a broken record when I say this) but even when this site was run under a different moniker I believed that you can't blame the coach for the team's struggles and yet give him no credit when the team succeeds.

54 games later, the Nuggets are on pace to tie their franchise record with 54 wins. So even with Karl's mind-numbing misuse of timeouts, curious rotation patterns and inability to get Carmelo Anthony to stop settling for jump shots (and a lot of us freaking out when the Nuggets lost eight of 11, including five games against sub-.500 teams), he deserves a hell of a lot of credit for guiding the Nuggets into position to be the second seed in the Western Conference. In addition to beating the Knicks tonight, the big talk among fans at Pepsi Center was the Spurs losing at home to the Thunder, giving the Nuggets a half game advantage over San Antonio. But in actuality, the Nuggets are a game-and-a-half ahead of the Spurs, since we own the season series (as noted when I said the Nuggets should make Gregg Popovich pay for his arrogance last week).

I can't sign off for the night without noting my slight concern that the Nuggets gave away a 27-point lead to an exhausted, undermanned Knicks team tonight (just as they almost gave away a big lead to an undermanned Warriors team on Saturday night). But I have a long memory when it comes to Nuggets basketball, and 49-26 feels pretty damn good right now.

Nuggets/Knicks Preview...

Up until this season and ever since December 16th, 2006, a Nuggets/Knicks game meant something more than just another game on the schedule. For the uninitiated (i.e. no one who reads this blog, but you never know who drops by) that was the night former Knicks' coach Isiah Thomas sent his goons...errr players...head hunting after our Nuggets players, resulting in the second biggest brawl of the modern era after the Malice in the Palace. As the story goes, Isiah felt disrespected by Nuggets' coach George Karl for leaving the Nuggets starters on the floor in Madison Square Garden with a 119-100 lead and just one minute and 15 seconds left in the game (as an alleged get back at Isiah for firing Karl's friend Larry Brown before that season). Oh, how I wish I was blogging back then!

(On a side note, there's a rumored chance that Isiah will resurface with the Clippers. This is just too good to be true.)

But Isiah or no Isiah, the Knicks are still a garbage team on most nights. Except last night in Utah. The Knicks - that's right, these Knicks - almost beat the Jazz in Salt Lake City. After being down 24 points in the fourth quarter, the Knicks came roaring back to take the lead, before imploding down the stretch which included an Al Harrington ejection. Had the Knicks won, this would have been the ultimate win-win-win for the Nuggets: not only would Utah have lost, but the Knicks would be exhausted coming into Pepsi Center tonight and Utah would be exhausted going into Portland, ending their chances of ever catching the Nuggets. Thanks to the Knicks efforts last night, at least we got two out of the three.

Go Nuggets!!