Cub scouts the daily hoops scene.
by Cub Buenning
–In an inevitable turn of events following the bad game that Carmelo Anthony played on Sunday versus New Orleans, the Denver Nuggets overcame a slow start to mercilessly pound the visiting Phoenix Suns, 132-98. Arron Afflalo had a career-high 31 and the team put together a dominating performance after trailing by 12 to end the first quarter. For the record, Melo really was the only guy who showed up in the two California road losses and he (again, somewhat predictably) finally laid an egg against Hornets. Personally, I know that one game (whether bad or good) doesn’t mean that much, but boy, does that one game have over 90 percent of basketball fans in Denver in full-on “hater mode” of the seven-year vet. Seven years of quality hoops, Playoff appearances and prolific scoring. Granted most of these “fans” are predominately football diehards, so every in-game action is dissected like a fourth quarter series in the AFC Championship Game.
I can’t hate on Melo. I like him; always have. I know he’s not perfect on or off the court but I also know that the local basketball team has been increasingly better off because of his presence.
–On the actual reported trade rumors, now “sources” are reporting that Melo will never agree to the contract extension with New Jersey (which would be a deal breaker). Yesterday, much was made by the Nuggets about New Jersey leaking information about possible trades; today it’s those pesky, “league sources” at it again. Unless you really read about/know the League, you might not know that most of these guys are just associates/friends of certain players. For example, in this case, one of Melo’s buddies mentions to ESPN writer Chris Broussard that he had never heard Melo ever talk about wanting to play for the Nets. This is then disseminated to the public as ‘Melo won’t sign an extension with New Jersey.’ Crazy.
Although I write about this situation on a daily basis, I would be fine if nothing else was “rumored” until a deal is actually in place.
–Just three days after the fact, I must amend my statement that Alec Burks’ game in Colorado’s weekend win over Missouri was the best individual performance I had seen in the college game all season. I wanted to change it 20 minutes into last night’s BYU/Utah game, just as BYU’s Jimmer Fredette threw in a buzzer-beating half-courter to give him 32 points for the half.
The PLAYER ALERT watched as the senior point guard finished the night with 47 (missing a break-away dunk in there, too) in the Cougars’ 104-79 win, but did his damage in a variety of ways. He obviously was flexing his ridiculous range, hitting several deep threes, but he was also penetrating and finishing among the trees. I have been a big fan of Fredette’s since he first arrived in Provo (I watch WAY too many MWC games), and I have always thought of him in comparative terms with former Piston guard Isiah Thomas. A deadly scorer who plays well beyond his diminutive size, a ferocious competitor and a confident leader, Fredette will be a solid professional player who will instantly give a team a perfect back-up point to bring in some scoring punch off the bench. While Jimmer will probably struggle initially with defending the bigger guards of the NBA, his offensive skill set is so highly evolved that his stock will only rise from now until the Draft this summer. One last note, for those assuming that was a magical once-in-a-lifetime performance by Jimmer, the 47 was not even a career high.
–In other college news, the Big Ten flexed its collective muscles again, with Penn State’s final-second home win over the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Lions’ senior point guard, Talor Battle was instrumental hitting big shots in the game’s final few minutes, but it was his driving miss that led to Andrew Jones put-back dunk with less than a second to break the tied score. The win was the second in a row against a ranked-opponent for PSU and proves the power of home-court advantage in a competitive conference. By season’s end, I foresee an 11-team tie at 10-10 atop the conference. (Side note: I wonder if our former editor-in-chief got trampled in the ensuing on-court student celebration.)
–Big game tonight for those hoping that there may finally be some legitimate college basketball in Colorado, as the Buffaloes of CU travel to Manhattan (the Kansas version) to take on the struggling Kansas State Wildcats. To say that the Buffs of the last decade have not fared well on the road, in-conference would be one of the biggest understatements. This should be a great measuring stick game and one that tips at 7 p.m. MST on ESPNU.
This post was a segment of Cub’s blog at milehighsportsview.blogspot.com. The Mile High Five is a daily portion of his blog that covers several aspects in the world of Denver and national sports and pop culture.