Renaldo Balkman and the Fighting Irish
Cub Scouts the Daily Hoops Scene.
by Cub Buenning
-To say that the Denver Nuggets entered last night’s game in Minnesota a bit short-handed would be an understatement. Out still was Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington, who were joined by Kenyon Martin (2nd half of a back-to-back) and Nene (a few nagging issues). Eight uniformed players, however, were enough to take down the Timberwolves, 119-113. Continuing his hot scoring streak, Chauncey Billups poured in 36, which included some big threes late in the 4th quarter. Things were so dire for Coach George Karl, that even Renaldo Balkman played a huge role getting some easy transition baskets during a key 3rd quarter run, appearing in just his third game of the year. Oddly enough, the Nuggets trailed at every key juncture of this game, but used a 12-0 run in the 4th to take control on the scoreboard. As usual, the TWolves were again limited to just the stellar play of Michael Beasley (33 points) and Kevin Love (26/14), but got little help elsewhere. At least defensively, as this game was not one to be used as a case-study on playing defense in the game of basketball.
–30 points and 12 rebounds by Blake Griffin was enough for his 20th straight double-double, but not enough for his LA Clippers to overcome the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz. Griffin’s averages continue to trend upwards and now after 30 professional games (30 starts) he sits at 21.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and an impressive 3-plus assists per game.
–After a couple weeks of dormancy, NCAA basketball is really gearing up. Notre Dame was the big winner last night with their impressive win over a very strong Georgetown team. A close game was blown open in the second half with a strong mix of balance and inside-outside ball movement. As the ever astute Fran Frischilla noted during the telecast, this Irish team might move the ball even better now with all-everything forward Luke Harangody in the NBA.
–The Fighting Illini of Illinois shook off the stench of their Missouri loss to dispatch their neighbors from across the Mississippi River, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Big nights from their usual suspects as some hot perimeter shooting early allowed them to cruise to an 87-77 win.
–I’m warning you all now; Arachnophobia is a healthy and wise phobia. At least, a fear of the kind of spiders that play basketball in central Virginia. The Richmond Spiders have officially become the mid-major team that no one wants to face in March. With wins already over Wake Forest, Virginia Commonwealth, Purdue, Arizona State and Seton Hall, they’ve served plenty of notice around the power conferences.
–Around my parts, the Colorado Buffaloes got their 9th win of the year and have two more cupcakes left before opening Big 12 play next week when they host the Missouri Tigers. Speaking of which, Mizzou (which somehow dropped in the rankings after their Illinois win) have a tough one tonight when they face the Monarchs of Old Dominion (another “tough out” come tourney time).
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.