In the real game of the night, Ben Roethlisberger was making the kind of heady plays on the field he can never seem to make off it, plus Rex Ryan’s level of disgust on the sidelines was surprisingly entertaining.
But this is an NBA blog. And so our actual Game of the Night had to be the only Game of the Night:
Nuggets 121, Pacers 107: That score makes it seem closer and more interesting than it actually was.
Indiana fans should have known they were in trouble early on. Denver started out missing a series of layups and tip ins. Carmelo Anthony missed his first six shots. Indiana has six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone. And yet the score was always close. Everything went right for the Pacers and they were up just three after one quarter.
Eventually things were going to start going wrong, eventually Nuggets shots would start to fall. And they did. Carmelo Anthony knocked down six three pointers in the third quarter (note to the Pacers: You may have wanted to close out on him a little better at some point) on his way to 36 points. He was so good he was not even booed after the game. Denver killed the Pacers by just knocking down their looks — they hit 15 of 22 spot up opportunities (according to Synergy Sports). The Nuggets also were strong in transition. The Pacers seemed to go to the post a lot but that was less effective and they didn’t have another gear to keep up with Denver’s scoring.
This was the kind of game some might point to and say that with Anthony the Nuggets are contenders in the West. They’re not. And we’re not saying that just because of how the Lakers dismantled them on Friday night (but that gave you some clues).
Denver has a powerful offense — they came into the game second in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). But their defense is 20th in efficiency and that will not get it done. They won this one because they could just simply outscore Indiana — the Pacers finished with six more points per 100 possessions than they average on the season. The Pacers are not a good offensive team but they had a pretty solid night against Denver.
The Nuggets are fun while this lineup lasts. But they are not contenders. With this kind of defense they are a first round playoff exit under the best of scenarios.
In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.
Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.
Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea.com.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?
In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.
I’m a fan of the Pistons’ alternate uniforms in general — their “Motor City” ones may be may favorite alternates around the league.
Now they have a new one — Detroit Chrome.
The Pistons will break these out for seven home games this season. From the official release:
The inspiration for the Detroit Chrome jerseys came about as a way to honor our coolest cars from the past and the cars of the future. Detroit is universally known as the auto capital of the world, where chrome leaves an indelible mark on the cars we create. The uniforms feature a matte chrome base color with clean simple lines inspired by the classic muscle cars that have roared up and down Woodward Avenue for decades. The navy trim and Detroit emblazoned across the chest represent the blue collar work ethic that the auto industry and region was built on.
Clean, simple, cool — I like it.
That would look good in the first round of the playoffs, too. (I’m predicting they get the eight seed.)