Melo and Double-Double Streaks
Cub scouts the daily hoops scene.
by Cub Buenning
–The national narrative continues to turn, twist and snake in the entire Carmelo Anthony “melo-drama.” (It was kind of funny that the guys on yesterday afternoon’s SportsCenter/this morning’s ESPN.com used that term and started feverishly gesticulating about the need to trademark the expression.) Things have now evolved from the Nuggets being patient this offseason/start of the season, to Melo holding up potential deals due to his lack of desire to sign the contract extension, to Melo holding up deals because he wanted more talent to come with him, to the Nuggets being difficult because they “want too much,” to now the New Jersey Nets pulling out of his discussions, due to seeming frustration surrounding the Nuggets’ greed. This time, the “sources” have established, Nets’ rookie forward Damion James (and a long-time favorite of mine) as the newest object of the Nugs’ desire and the final straw to break Nets’ owner, Mikhail Prokhorov’s camel-like back. Nuggets’ Head Coach George Karl said his team (and his superstar) looked distracted at Tuesday’s practice and then yesterday, Prokhorov decided his team was through with the whole shenanigans. Blaming the whole situation (and his team’s poor recent record) on the Nuggets/Carmelo’s lack of desire to get the deal done: too drawn out; too public (which oddly the Nuggets had previously blamed on New Jersey); and in the words of Prokhorov, “simply too expensive.”
Like many things in life, though, the cautious mind would be wise to not bury this deal. Sometimes, these are the exact types of posturing and public displays that foreshadow the capitulation of the very deal that was given no chance of occurring.
–All trade distraction aside, the Nuggets had a pretty important game last night with divisional heavyweights, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in town. While Melo’s demeanor on the court (and in the post-game interview) wasn’t great and he looked detached from his teammates (and the fans that took their turns cheering/jeering) his on-court fire was amazing in the Nuggets’ 112-107 win. (In a bit of irony, a side “thank you,” must go out to Prokhorov and his Nets who did the Nuggets a big solid in taking down the divisional rival, Utah Jazz.) In the individual match-up with Kevin Durant, Melo dominated the young forward, blowing by him with ease off the dribble when he wasn’t facing up and burying jumpers. A big win to be sure, as the League nears the All-Star break and with the season at its midway point, the Nuggets are now winners of four of five, sit at 24-17, and stand just 2.5 games behind both Utah and OKC, as they welcome Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in tomorrow night.
–Speaking of basketball in L.A., Blake Griffin and the Clippers hosted Kevin Love and the Timberwolves for a match-up of the League’s top young power forwards. Oddly enough, Blake’s double-double streak was snapped at 27, but his night of 29 points/8 rebounds/6 assists was plenty to propel his team to a 126-111 win. The Clippers are now 16-25, have won three in a row and seven of their last 10 games. I watched the entire first half of this one and was continually impressed with the non-flashy parts of Blake’s game. Yes, the athletic dunks are fun/impressive/jaw-dropping (pick your adjective) but the little things like finding open guys, not giving up on offensive rebounds and getting his hands on loose balls cannot be ignored.
I hope this doesn’t come out sounding loony, but if he is able to keep this kind of play up, is Blake (now 23 points/13 rebounds/3.5 assists) going to garner some MVP consideration? I bet Clipper fans think he’s pretty darn valuable.
–One night after the Colorado Buffaloes dropped their first conference game in a rough-and-tumble encounter with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Buffs’ neighbor to the north was taking down a conference titan on the road. The Colorado State Rams were surely not expected to make much noise when they ventured to Sin City, but last night’s road win over the UNLV Rebels will be a huge resume point as they continue to posture for a post-season invite. The well-balanced Rams have somewhat flown under the radar, not only here in Colorado, but also in the highly touted Mountain West Conference where they sit at 13-5 and 3-1 in conference. The stakes get considerably amped up this weekend as the big, bad BYU Cougars (and Jimmer Fredette) pay a visit to Fort Collins.
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.