Game Notes: Nuggets v Raptors

by March 26, 2007
3

by Marcel Mutoni

I was lucky enough to have someone accompany me on the trip from Ottawa to Toronto. My buddy Fernando’s girlfriend bought him a ticket to the game for his birthday, so we took the bus together in the afternoon. With my own birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks, I hope my girlfriend realizes that the pressure is definitely on to get me a kick-ass gift. Kidding! Not really…

Pre-game:

  • Seen outside of the Air Canada Centre on a billboard promoting The Fan 590, a local sports radio station: “Radio With Balls”. The genius who came up with that should be given a hi-five, and then a pink slip.

  • Iverson and ‘Melo didn’t make themselves available to the media before the game, however, J.R. Smith, Blake, and Camby were all milling around, but no one approaches them.

  • I noticed that J.R. has wings tatted on his shoulder blades, which I had to admit was original. Smith’s nameplate above his locker reads “Youngrich”. Hilarious.

  • TV personality Cabbie was in the Nuggets’ locker room hoping to shoot something with Carmelo. Cabbie swore a lot when he realized that Anthony wasn’t gonna be available. Cabbie was talking to his camera crew and said that Kenyon was wearing “church shoes”. Of course, he made sure that Kenyon heard none of this. He also called me “young fella” for some reason, even though he’s only something like 2 or 3 years older than I am.

  • Meal: Pork slices, lightly seasoned rice, corn. De-licious. B+

  • While I ate, I noticed that media people are a gossipy bunch. Talk of office back-stabbings, mayhem, scandal and adultery floated around the room. Not that I was listening or anything…

  • During the shoot around, everyone stops in their tracks and watches when A.I’s A Jumpshot Can Get You…ad comes on the jumbotron. Everyone except for the star of the commercial. Iverson also gets the biggest cheer when the starting lineups were announced.

First Q:

  • TJ Ford curls around a screen and wets a 15 footer to open things up.

  • The Nuggets can’t buy a bucket, they start out something like 0 for 8. It’s 10-0 Toronto when George Karl takes his first timeout. He looks like he’s about to blow a gasket.

  • Out of the timeout, the Raptors block three straight Nuggets shots from in-close. Ford then finds Bosh with a beautiful no-look over the shoulder feed on the ensuing fast break. It looks like it might be a long night for Denver.
  • ‘Melo FINALLY scores for the Nuggets on a three-point play with a just over 7 minutes to go in the first. 14-3 Toronto.

  • Mo Pete, as always, gets a huge hand from the crowd when he checks into the game. I wonder how they’ll take it when he jets this summer.

  • With 4:34 remaining in the first, Iverson cans his first shot of the game. Good of you to join us, Bubbachuck.

  • Yikes. CB4 takes a dump on Nene’s head with a filthy one-handed dunk in traffic. Nene then plows into Bosh on the other end, picking himself up an offensive foul. Interesting strategy.

  • Alright, the Nuggets look hung over. In fact, I think some of them are taking swigs from bottles of Grey Goose on the bench.

  • The only Nugget who apparently didn’t spend the previous night drinking himself to death, Steve Blake, pulls out a nice crossover on TJ Ford and buries a jumper. 27-9 Rapts.

  • Peterson hits a tough buzzer-beating three to end the first quarter. 36-15 Rapts.

Second Q:

  • Toronto’s in-game entertainment is going to drive ME to drink one of these days. There are these two guys who call themselves The 4 Korners Sound Crew. These dudes wear matching (and tight-fitting) Bosh jerseys, matching red hats and armbands, and have their own DJ booth with lights flashing all around it. They’re in charge of the music throughout the evening, and spend the whole game dancing. Positively creepy.

  • Blake and Jorge Garbajosa trade threes to open things up.

  • It should be noted that the in-house announcer sounds depressed whenever the Nuggets score. Good thing they’re not doing it too frequently.

  • Also, whenever Garbajosa hits a three, the announcer yells “Uno, Dos, TREEESSS!!!!” I think a tic is developing just above my right eye.

  • Good news: J.R. Smith leaks out and gets a reverse dunk.
  • Bad news: The Raptors still lead by 23. Feel the excitement!

  • Some dude walks into the arena wearing an amazing outfit: Black Georgetown hat (a tribute to AI?), white do-rag, dark sunglasses, a tight-fitting black sweater, white button-up shirt, AND a loooooong white tee. I stand up and applaud this brave man. While others might see an insane person, I see a man of vision!

  • Toronto up 54-31 with just under 6 minutes to go until the half.

  • Jamal Sampson, who claims to be one romantic son of a bitch, spends a lot of time looking at the jumbotron during stoppage in play. I’m scared he might strain his neck, which would be really embarrassing to explain to the team’s medical staff.

  • The Raptors look really sharp. The ball swings around the perimeter very quickly, and it seems that they only shoot whenever someone has a clean look.

  • Denver, well I’ve already told you about their drunken play. Not a good look, fellas.

  • My buddy Fernando has incredibly nice seats for tonight’s game. We’ve been text messaging throughout the game, and he sends along the following message when he spots me way up in the press box: “Damn (son), you’re really far away!” Thanks, jerk.

  • Two more Garbajosa threes. The Spaniard has hit six from the land of beyond so far. Not bad for a guy who looks like he hasn’t showered or shaved in about 3 months.

  • The Raptors are leading by 25, and I’m scanning the crowd for beautiful women taking notes diligently.

  • Here’s a play that’ll tell you everything you need to know about Denver’s effort tonight: Ivey has an isolation on the wing against Rasho Nesterovic, and instead of breaking him down off the bounce, he forces a pass into a Nene who loses the ball when the double team comes. Fast break the other way. Beautiful.

  • 72-43 at the half.

Third Q:

  • I took my sweet time getting back to my seat. The reason is because I noticed that the ACC has an incredible amount of good looking women walking around with absolutely no interest in the game that’s being played. It’s like everyone is getting ready to hit the club, which I fully support.

  • Oh right, the game. 83-46 with 9 minutes to go. You could cut the tension with a knife.

  • Halfway through the third, the Raptors are leading by, get this, thirty-five points!

  • The Nuggets, after yet another timeout, fall into an aggressive 2-3 zone. Well, that was the idea, until Reggie Evans (aka The Nut Grabber) decided to start closing out on the perimeter shooters instead of staying near the hoop. Perhaps thrown off by Reggie’s revolutionary defensive techniques, the Raptors miss three straight shots.

  • ‘Melo and A.I., the two stars everyone came out to see, have 10 and 12 points apiece.

  • Tonight’s leading scorer, much to the announcer’s delight, is Garbajosa.

  • As I’ve mentioned before, Raptors fans are extremely supportive of their squad. Even with an insurmountable 31 point lead, they’re still in their seats and remain involved in each possession. I can’t wait to see what this building is going to be like in the playoffs. They might blow the roof off the sucker.

  • 95-64 after 3.

Fourth Q:

  • A lesser man would have gone home by now.

  • Something called the Raptors Groove comes out before the quarter begins. They’re a bunch of embarrassingly uncoordinated white guys who attempt to breakdance for 60 seconds. That is one minute of my life that I did not deserve to have taken away from me.

  • Nasty dunk by J.R. Smith on the fast break. Even Raptors fans applauded that one.

  • Sam Mitchell is still pacing up and down the sidelines and shouting out instructions. George Karl, though, has yet to rise from his seat except during timeouts.

  • Joey Graham has an alley-oop spill out, so J.R. decides to show him how it’s done: Smith rises to the heavens and brings down a one-handed alley that has everyone on their feet. A dude sitting next to me, after losing his shit for a second, sums it up nicely: “That’ll be all over the highlights tonight!” Couldn’t agree more.

  • Jose Calderon knocks down a jumper and the announcer says something like, “Calderon para dos!” I will punch him in the eye socket if I run into him. Hard.

  • Ah, now I know why everyone is still here. Thanks to a Graham jumper, they’re all getting free pizza because the team reached the 100-point mark. Greedy bastards.

  • For some reason, Mo-Pete cracks Reggie Evans in the mouth, resulting in some blood and a none-too pleased Evans. Mo Pete earns himself a flagrant for his efforts.

  • This just in: J.R Smith can sky. Three times tonight, he’s gotten up higher than a man should be able to, the last leap resulting in a crazy rebound over three big guys. Smith then found Blake for a baseline three ball.
  • 106-77 with 5:10 remaining.

  • It’s clear that Smith is now working on his scoring average, as he seems to shoot whenever the ball comes anywhere near him. He’s got 18 points.

  • The Raptors Groove comes out again, hopefully for the last time. It’s hard to tell, but two of the guys might be Asian. I’m not sure if this makes their dancing better or worse.

  • Pape Sow has entered the game to thunderous applause. Your guess is as good as mine, folks. Darrick Martin, who looks 51 years old and plays like he’s 70, has also gingerly made his way into the game. I love Martin’s mustache. It’s classy.

  • Out of George Karl’s doghouse comes Yakhouba Diawara. He might be the worst shooter in the entire Association; I’ve seen arm amputees with a better jumpshot.

  • After Pape hits a jumper, it takes the announcer about 70 seconds to say Sooooowwwwww. Dear Lord, please take me now.

  • Final: 121-94

Post-game:

  • Karl, wearing a gray long-sleeved Nuggets sweatshirt, comes out to face the press. He doesn’t look too beat up about the loss: “Our gas tank was empty, and their gas tank was full.”

  • “We were also hung over”, he doesn’t say.

  • Karl then goes on to say that the Raptors might be the most talented team in the East, which isn’t as crazy as it might sound.

  • In the Nuggets’ locker room, Blake is wolfing down some fries and crispy chicken. Healthy!

  • Marcus Camby, who didn’t play tonight, is really talkative. Jerome Williams (JYD), who has a job with the Raptors, comes in to say hello. The two big men exchange pounds and hugs, and ask about each other’s families. Love.

  • After he’s done talking to Williams, I roll up on Camby to solve the mystery of the back-handed hi-five that all the Nuggets seem to give each other after made baskets. I tell him that my money is on him for having started the trend: “Yeah (laughs), I been doin that for years, man. I mean, you never know if people’s hands are clean or not.” We both bust out laughing. “Just to be safe, I just give everybody dap on the back of the hand.”

  • “Let me see you bounce right to left and let your shoulder lean!”

  • Ladies and gentlemen, Allen Iverson has made his way into the locker room. A.I., who I’m seeing in person for the first time, is TINY. He’s nowhere near 6 feet tall. His height and slight build makes you appreciate his career that much more. Iverson also looks younger than 31.

  • I then hear Camby busting Nene’s chops because of the gray pin-stripped suit the Brazilian is wearing tonight. “That makes you look thin, yo. Boy done lost a lot of weight.” Everyone laughs.

  • As he applies lotion to his body, Iverson starts freestyling loudly, something about getting his hustle on. Media members, most of whom are middle-aged white guys, don’t seem to know what to do with themselves and fidget nervously as they wait for him to finish. Since I can no longer keep a straight face, I figure this is probably a good time to bounce. So I do.