This blog may have a few biases. The Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are stories we hit a lot. The reason is pretty simple. I live in Colorado, and my interest in basketball, which dwindled during the terrible 90s, was rekindled with the drafting of Carmelo Anthony and the NHL lockout. And this means the Nuggets are always a close subject to me. As a case in point, my father-in-law and myself went to see the Wolves play the Nuggets last night. Warning: many photos and a George Karl rant follow!
My father-in-law John was kind enough to accompany me. He doesn’t watch a lot of basketball but was happy his first trip to a pro-game was in such nice seats. He was quite patient with me as he put up with me saying not to applaud bad shots, even if they went in!
Have to get a shot of me in my jersey by the court!
Close enough to see Iguodala and Miller looking silly.
Alright, last photo, then some analysis. Corey Brewer caught me snapping photos. This may be the most hilarious photo I have!
Tangental note. Thanks to man in the grey suit (I’ve been trying to track down his name, any help is appreciated). I tried to convince him to get Iguodala to sign my jersey. He informed me that unfortunately players get fined if they sign stuff during the game. Oh well!
I’ve got a few more that I’ve posted to the Wages of Wins Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/wagesofwinspage) Alright, onto the analysis. The Nuggets got beat and they shouldn’t have. The Timberwolves were playing a back to back at altitude, which should be death. Except, of course, for a common problem…
George Karl has no idea how to coach. Nope, I’ve seen it in the boxscore, I’ve seen it in person. It wasn’t all Karl. I have to admit that Andre Iguodala had a bad game. He missed 6 of his 7 free throws and was 1-5 from behind the arc! Also Barea and Ridnour went off in the fourth scoring 21 points on ridiculous efficiency. Alright, back to George Karl.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the key stats (that I can blame on Karl):
- Turnovers – Denver 7, Minnesota 13 (+6 Denver)
- Blocks – Denver 11, Minnesota 3 (+8 Denver)
- Rebounds – Denver 39, Minnesota 52 (+13 Minnesota)
The Nuggets were pretty good at getting the ball from Minnesota and we were pretty good at keeping them from getting it in the hoop. We failed at rebounding. Or did we?
Now, Kevin Love is a beast to be sure. In a mere 24 minutes he pulled down 17 boards! However, the Nuggets actually have some decent rebounders. Kenneth Faried (12.4), Timofey Mozgov (11.2) Kosta Koufos (10.2), JaVale McGee (9.7) all pull down close to 10 boards per 36 minutes in parentheses next to their name. Last night they pulled down a combined 20 between the four of them. I did some quick math, if each player had played 36 minutes AND rebounded at the rate they did in last night’s game, the Nuggets would have earned 38 rebounds from those players. (I’m aware that some of the defensive rebounds would have been shared, but still!)
And here was a breakdown of how much each player played, taken from Popcorn Machine
I’ve done a quick sketch analyzing some of Karl’s moves. I was looking forward to a Faried vs. Love rebounding duel. Sadly, Faried was on the bench due to foul concerns. Karl “took an option” on Faried, saving him for the end of the game. And in doing so he took our top rebounder off the floor in a game that was arguably decided by rebounding!
Equally confusing was taking Koufos out for the entire fourth and not having a center on the floor for the entire final five minutes of the game! Denver has three 7 foot centers. There is no excuse to ever not have one on the court. As Patrick has said many times, small ball is not a strategy! It works when your best player is LeBron James.
So to reiterate – George Karl has some big players that can do the things to win. He has decided to focus on things like lineups, to the detriment of this team. And I’m still mad about it. Yes, a bad game by Iguodala and a ridiculous fourth quarter by Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea helped lose a close game. However, that’s the key in good strategy. A lot of basketball is random and uncontrollable. Some players have good or bad nights. What you need to do is minimize the things that lose games for you. And unfortunately, as we’ve been saying for years now, George Karl is one of those things.
p.s. one fun note. I did get to see Andre Miller record his 15,000 career point. While not that impressive to me, Miller is a very good player that is often underrated. As points gets you recognized, I’m glad he was able to hit this milestone to hopefully get more mainstream love.