The Denver Nuggets were, most likely, only ever dealing with the New York Knicks as a trade partner this season. But the guys who were rumored to be heading Denver's way in a possible New Jersey Nets deal somehow wound up in Utah, and Nuggets fans will get to see Devin Harris and Derrick Favors up close tonight. I don't know about most of you, but this blogger is relieved a deal with New York went down as tonight's game should serve as a what could have been reminder.
The particulars ...
Denver: 36-26 (10-19 on the road)
Streak: Won 2 and 6-4 in last 10 games.
Utah: 32-29 (17-14 at home)
Streak: Lost 2 and 2-8 in last 10.
Denver: Danilo Gallinari (left big toe fracture) and Melvin Ely (sprained right ankle) are out. Arron Afflalo (left ankle sprain) is probable.
Utah: Mehmet Okur (strained lower back) is out.
Season Series: Tied 1-1 both games were in Denver, the next two (tonight and 4-13-11) are both in Utah.
Opposition's Take: SLC Dunk
Derrick Favors is a 19 year-old power forward prospect. His addition to the Nuggets would have left Denver with 6'9'' Nene, 6'9'' Kenyon Martin and 6'9'' Favors in the frontcourt with Chris Andersen and Melvin Ely left as the tallest players on the team at 6'11''. Ty Lawson would be running things at point guard and splitting time with the skinny and quick Harris. The Nuggets would have been forced to use a heavy rotation of J.R. Smith and Al Harrington at small forward and Arron Afflalo and Gary Forbes locking down the shooting guard position.
Does that Nuggets lineup strike you as a deep team with the potential to climb the playoff seeding ladder? The prospect of that team sends shivers down my spine and makes me want to give both Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke a couple man-hugs.
Instead, it's the Jazz who are left with a logjam at power forward as Favors accompanies 6'10'' Al Jefferson and 6'8'' Paul Millsap in the lineup. Favors is averaging 8.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 fouls in 15.7 minutes per game with the Jazz.
Harris is trying to fill in some pretty big empty shoes left by the trade of Deron Williams aka The Nugget Killer. In his three games with the Jazz, Harris is averaging 16.7 points, 7.3 assists and 3 turnovers in 31.3 minutes per game. Now with his third NBA team, Harris is quickly becoming a journeyman point guard with above average talent. He puts up nice minutes, but since he left Dallas he has struggled to harness that potential of being a difference maker that left me thinking the Nets got a pretty nice deal when they gave up the aging Jason Kidd.
Harris is an example of a guy who was a nice player on a good team. And after he was traded to the Nets, a team without a lot of pieces, Harris gets labeled, by guys like me, as no longer being a difference maker. Well, the NBA has never been about one guy and never will be about one guy. It's teams that make the difference and maybe now that Harris is back on a team that has some depth and experience he will get back to helping his team win.
Everyone wants to talk about one guy being able to carry a team. When was the last time you played a game of hoops and lead your team to victory single handedly?
The thing I keep hearing during player interviews and broadcaster interviews from the Nuggets players and announcers is how the team is now back to playing team basketball. The defense has been active, we've even seen some full-court pressure. The offense has been relying on working for the best shot and sharing the wealth.
Last night against the Bobcats the Nuggets scored 120 points and it was Matt Carroll of the Bobcats who was the game's leading scorer with 19 points. Let me repeat that ... the Nuggets scored 120 freaking points and didn't have a single guy score over 20 points! Heck, the leading scorer for Denver was Wilson Chandler with 16 points. All five Nuggets starters scored in double-figures and four bench players scored over 7 points a piece (two with double-figures). Scott Hastings mentioned during the broadcast that there were probably people at home who think this style of team basketball will have to end at some point, but he doesn't think it will.
The late start tonight will be featured as the second game of the TNT double-header. Get ready to hear new Nuggets supporter Charles Barkley say some good things about our Nuggets. Can Denver get their second win of this young month?
The Nuggets face a tough test on the second of a back-to-back in Utah. The Jazz's home floor has always been a difficult place for road teams to win, but if the Nuggets play the way they are capable of ... they should earn their second win of March tonight.
Views you can use:
- The Jazz finished February with just a 3-9 record. They have lost 7 of their last 8 contests.
- Timofey Mozgov will get to see his friend Andrei Kirilenko this evening. Will they get to see each other on the floor during the game? Ahhh, don't bet on it.
- The Nuggets notched a season-high 34 assists against the Bobcats last night and Lawson led the way with 10 of them, but Raymond Felton (7 assists) and J.R. (5 assists) were not far behind.
- Last night marked the first time Wilson Chandler failed to make a three-point shot while in a Nuggets uniform (0-5), but what was impressive was that after figuring out he didn't have his longball going, he passed up a couple open looks to get his teammates better chances.
- Despite losing free throw attempt monsters Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets have maintained frequent trips to the charity stripe. Against the Bobcats, the Nuggets were 22-27 (81.5%) from freebie-land.
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