The Nuggets are in Detroit tonight to take on a Pistons team that is fresh off a 90-86 victory over the 76ers. Denver exorcised a lot of demons last season, but they let one slip away ... tonight they will try to get the job done.
The particulars ...
Detroit: 9-12 (6-4 at home, 3-8 on the road) (key wins: vs. Orlando, Atlanta and Milwaukee)
Denver: Kenyon Martin (dislocated left pinky (there you go reader KarlSucks)) is out and Malik Allen (flu) is listed as day-to-day.
Detroit: Ben Gordon (left ankle sprain) is questionable after sitting out last night in Philadelphia. Richard Hamilton (right ankle sprain) and Tayshaun Prince (ruptured disc - lower back) are both out tonight.
Opposition's Take: Motown String Music
Click the following video as you read this post ... go ahead ... click it and have a listen. It's a Tom Petty song ...
Why in the world would I start the body of this post off with a classic Tom Petty song from 1994 that was released as a single in 1995 and won the Grammy Award for "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male"? For the same reason that I'll tell you that in May of 1995 the film Braveheart was released. Also, in January of 1995 the O.J. Simpson murder trial began. On March 27, 1995 Forrest Gump won the Academy Award for "Best Picture."
But the date that should mean the most to Nuggets fans is this one: March 10, 1995. That was the date of the last Nuggets victory in Detroit. Denver won that game 99-88, led by Jalen Rose's 20 points, in front of the fourth largest regular season crowd that year for the Pistons of 21,454.
Denver has come close to winning along the way in Detroit ... like on November 13, 1996 when the Nuggets lost in overtime to the Pistons 95-94 or on March 31, 2002 when Calbert Cheaney scored 22 points in a 86-82 losing effort. But the closest the Nuggets have come to victory in Detroit since '95 was March 26, 2007.
On that fateful day in late March the Nuggets had a 98-95 lead with just 1.5 seconds to play and here is what unfolded:
Rasheed Wallace scooped up a loose ball and hit a 60-foot buzzer-beater to force overtime, then added another key 3 to help the Pistons defeat the Denver Nuggets 113-109 Monday.
The Nuggets appeared to have the game won as they prepared to inbound the ball at midcourt with a 98-95 lead and 1.5 seconds to play.
Marcus Camby's short pass, though, was tipped by Tayshaun Prince, and Wallace threw up a desperation two-handed set shot that banked in as the buzzer sounded.
Even before that Lakers series the Nuggets had a history of bad inbounds plays ...
But the good thing about the NBA is that every season you get another chance. Seems sort of odd that Melo has not been able to beat the team that should have drafted him in their own building. Most guys do all they can to try to stick it to the teams that should have drafted them, but Melo has been unsuccessful in exacting revenge on the Pistons in Auburn Hills.
The Nuggets get their first crack at the $95+ million future of the Detroit Pistons tonight. Of course I'm talking about the two big free agent signings of Ben Gordan and Charlie Villanueva, but the Pistons will probably be without Gordan again tonight as he is nursing a sprained left ankle. So who is going to play for this suddenly new look Pistons team that will be without Gordon, Hamilton and Prince?
Detroit has a couple retreads in the starting lineup with Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins back in blue and red to go along with the excitable Jason Maxiell, Rodney Stucky (the Billups replacement) and Jonas Jerebko. The Swedish second round draft pick Jerebko has worked his way into the starting lineup and is having some success early in his rookie campaign.
In his last three games Jerebko has posted a 17-10, 10-11 and 16-7 point and rebound totals all in winning efforts. The 6'10'' and 230 pounder is going to be very interesting to watch tonight. Charlie V. has been coming off the bench since returning from a broken nose and the hairless wonder will probably be wearing the Rip Hamilton mask again tonight.
The Pistons bench features two former first round busts in Kwame Brown and Chris Wilcox, Wilcox is making $3 million this season and has recorded 12 Did Not Play - Coach's Decisions this season ... pretty good way to spend 3 millon bucks. (Note: Denver is paying Antonio McDyess $3 million this season to play for the Spurs.) The bench also features backup point guard Will Bynum and incredibly skinny rookie Austin Daye who goes 6'11'' and 200 pounds.
If Detroit had health on their side they would be a pretty deep squad, but with a couple veterans out the young guys are getting some good minutes that will come in handy down the road should Detroit be in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference (right now at 9-12 they would be the 8th Seed).
If the Nuggets can pull off the win and snap their 12 game losing streak in Detroit then they will finish the roadtrip 3-1 ... pretty good considering a back-to-back was in there. The Pistons might be a little drained from their game last night in Philly and the Nuggets must take advantage of those tired legs. Denver hasn't put together a solid first half on this trip and tonight it'd be nice to see them come out with some killer instinct and tough defense.
I'll be watching Ty Lawson tonight because as Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reported yesterday:
The Nuggets traveled to Detroit on Tuesday night, but Ty Lawson said Karl let him stay in North Carolina so that the rookie can spend some time with his old teammates and coaches in Chapel Hill, where Lawson led the Tar Heels to an NCAA title last season.
That was a pretty kind thing of Karl to do for his prized rookie and we'll see if the "rook" is focused and ready to go after having some nice leisure time in Chapel Hill.
Thanks to reader Phil H. for finding the Post's story listing K-Mart out tonight. Denver is 0-2 without Kenyon this season and we all saw what happened against Charlotte without Martin. Denver's defense must not allow Detroit easy buckets in the paint and without the defensive "QB" the Nuggets must communicate on defense. The areas where the Bobcats hurt Denver without Kenyon: on the boards, points in the paint and on the pick-and-roll.
Joey Graham's defense got some talk during training camp and he must come with a good effort tonight. If Graham isn't effective, Balkman may see some minutes if Malik Allen isn't able to go and perhaps Johan Petro could see some time although a shooter like Jerebko could pose problems for the Denver bigs.
Views you can use:
- Denver's losing streak may have been 13, but thankfully they didn't have to travel to Detroit during the strike shortened 1998-99 season.
- Melo's career games in Detroit:
- 2008-09: Suspended by team.
- 2007-08: 8-15 shooting, 27 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists
- 2006-07: 6-19 shooting, 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
- 2005-06: 4-15 shooting, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists
- 2004-05: 2-13 shooting, 5 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists
- 2003-04: 9-20 shooting, 20 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Photo courtesy of AP Photos: Carlos Osorio