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Game 66: Nuggets 112 - Thunder 99

 

 

The Crime Stopper

 

Think Ghostbusters theme song here:
When Kenyon's hurt ... his back don't feel good ... Who you gonna call?

Johan Petro CRIME STOPPER!

The Crime Stopper or as you may know him, Renaldo Balkman drew the start last night for KMart and logged 30 minutes on the night and recorded his first double-double of the season. The Crime Stopper even has his own Facebook fan page here apparently they are the "Witnesses of the Crime Stopper."

Balkman scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, pretty good on paper for a guy who has recorded 29 DNP-CDs (Did Not Play - Coach's Decision) on the season.

In his last three games with extensive minutes Balkman has recorded 38 rebounds and 17 of those have come on the offensive glass. Denver improved to 6-1 when Balkman starts.

In fact ... look at the following breakdown of Balkman's action and lack there of thanks to coach Karl this season:

  • The Nuggets are 16-13 when Balkman does not play
  • The Nuggets are 10-4 when Balkman plays 10 minutes or less
  • The Nuggets are 15-8 when Balkman plays 11 minutes or more

So the Nuggets are 25-12 in games where Balkman sees some court time. The most telling stat to me is the last one. These stats beg the question that every Nuggets blogger and fan has been asking: WHY HASN'T THE CRIME STOPPER BEEN PLAYING???

This is how the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman has relayed Balkman's situation through Karl to the fans:

Coach George Karl likes Balkman. By no means is Balkman in any doghouse. But Karl has admitted at times that he's wary about Balkman's defense. Even though the dude brings energy, sometimes he lets up layups, and Karl finds that unacceptable. And though Balkman attacks the boards really well on the offensive end, he's not much of a mid-range shooting threat.

Hochman's entire mailbag can be found here.

 

Well Karl I have news for you. If you are basing playing time off guys who have wary defense and sometimes let in layups then perhaps you should consider sitting Melo and the rest of the team! This does not seem to be an isolated incident. The Nuggets can at times play good defense, but come on they are not a great defensive team and to penalize one guy for it is inexcusable. Especially when that guy is hauling in 42.3% of his rebounds on the offensive end.

Yes, Balkman is leading the team in offensive rebounding percentage. Of his 144 total rebounds 61 of them have come on the offensive end. Good for just over a 42% clip. Consider the rest of Denver's rebounders.

Here is the player and the percentage that his rebound comes on the offensive end:

  • Chris Anderson 37%
  • Nene 30%
  • Linas Kleiza 27%
  • Johan Petro 27%
  • Melo 24%
  • KMart 21%

I do realize that there is a need to get back on defense and not be on the offensive glass, but for a team that misses 53.5% of its field goals and 63.8% of its 3-point shots I think having a weapon under the glass is a major asset.

In saying all of this, I do not think Balkman is a star. He's not a savior, but last night proves to me that his an above average contributor. He gives this team what it lacks with his energy and rebounding.

I have been reading a lot recently about a player that gave his teams this same type of contribution and collected 5 Championship Rings in the process: Dennis Rodman. Scary name I know, but probably the best rebounder in the history of the NBA.

Rodman won five rings in his day. Two as a member of the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990 and three with the Chicago Bulls in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Dennis averaged double digit rebounds in the NBA for 10 straight seasons and even averaged above 16.8 rebounds per game from 1991-92 through 1994-1995 - a truly remarkable talent.

Both Rodman and Balkman were late first round draft selections. Rodman went to the Pistons at #27 overall. Balkman was selected by the Knicks #20 overall. Rodman stood 6'8'' tall (or so he was listed) same as Balkman. Both guys have that wiry frame at just over 200 pounds. And both guys know their job on the floor is to rebound and hustle. Last night Balkman passed up a few open jumpers because he knows that is not part of his repertoire.

In one instance last night Balkman found himself on the offensive glass battling for a rebound behind 7'1'' Robert Swift. Now I admit that a bottle of beer probably has more hops in it than Swift, but watching Balkman tip the ball three times (twice off the backboard) and then gain possession for a layup is an added tenacity that this Nuggets team needs.

The Crime Stopper was all over the floor last night. In the first quarter on the first play of the game Balkman fed Nene for an 18-footer and recorded one of his three assists 2-0 Denver. Just moments later JR Smith fed Balkman for a nice dunk 6-2 Nuggets.

In fact Balkman went 4-4 in the 1st Quarter, scoring 8 points as the Nuggets raced out to a 31-19 lead. I'd say Denver played a great first period, but we all know it has been the rest of the game where the Nuggets have lost their focus.

In the 2nd Quarter there was a scary incident where when Birdman was diving for a loose ball the farm boy Robert Swift rolled over the back of Bird's right leg. Birdman looked to be in agonizing pain and I feared the worst thinking perhaps from the replay that it could be a Achilles tendon injury. Anderson disappeared to the locker room after getting up under his own power and luckily just strained his calf and returned to action later on in the game.

The Nuggets at one point got out to a 19 point lead and then things started going to hell. I still do not know why Karl refuses to call timeouts to prevent these momentum swings and I'm guessing he's not going to start anytime soon. The Thunder utilized a 21-11 run to end the second period and at the half Denver led by just 9 points (53-44.)

The best news for the Nuggets all night was the team recorded 18 assists in the first half. 20+ assists typically equals a win for the Nuggets so I was not too worried about the Thunder in the second half. Denver was playing inspired and unselfish basketball pretty much all evening.

Anthony Carter returned to action and recorded an array of assists and finished with a season high 12 dimes. Billups followed suit and finished the evening with 9 assists. This was the kind of basketball that led to the Nuggets being one of the elite teams.

The Nuggets did allow the Thunder to crawl within 8 points (55-48) in the 3rd Quarter, but they were able to keep them at bay and earn a much needed win 112-99.

I really thought that Russell Westbrook would provide a bit of pop for the Thunder. He finished the night with a quiet 13 points in only 29 minutes and a team low -22. Jeff Green led the Thunder with 19 points, but finished -6. In fact the only player for the Thunder to record a positive +/- on the night was former Nugget Earl Watson who finished +3 and scored 18 points. I realize the Thunder were short on big men, but why give 27 minutes to Malik Rose who now resembles Jared before the Subway diet. Why not toss those minutes to Swift?

Denver needed the win last night and they got it in pretty good fashion against a team that was 5-1 in their last 6 games (18-47 overall). It was a big win for Denver, not just because they beat their first sub .500 team in awhile, but because the Jazz, Blazers, and Rockets all lost last night and Denver made up some ground in the playoff chase.

About the only thing I would have liked to see Karl do last night was insert Balkman into the lineup towards the end of the game just so he could sub him out and allow the crowd to give The Crime Stopper his proper ovation. For the effort he put in last night he and the fans deserved that much.

Let's just hope it wont take KMart's bad back for Karl to call upon Renaldo Balkman.

Balkman's final stat line: 30 minutes, 6-13 shooting for 14 points, 14 rebounds (8 on the offensive glass), 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and a team high +18.

Views you can use:

  • The Nuggets recorded 33 assists last night - the first game they've recorded above 20 assists since defeating Portland on March 5th
  • All Nugget starters scored in double figures - led by Melo's 22 points
  • Dahntay Jones recorded just his 2nd DNP-CD of the season - his last one coming November 1st in the third game of the season
  • Denver (41-25) now sits just half a game behind the Jazz (41-24) along with the Blazers (40-24)

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com