HANG TIME, Texas — Leave it to George Karl to enjoy running a gantlet of four games that started at home against Miami and now goes to San Antonio, Memphis and Minnesota.
“I just think I’m a sadistic guy,” he said.
Or more likely a just a coach that likes a challenge.
Karl’s Nuggets were a trendy pick by many to make a strong push up Western Conference standings following the offseason deal that brought Andre Iguodala to Denver.
This was a team of no true superstar that was going to get out in the open court, apply defensive pressure like a vise and run, run, run it’s way into the role of a real playoff contender.
But to date, instead of cranking things up a notch, the Nuggets have regressed, as Karl admitted to our buddy Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post:
“There’s no question we’re not wearing teams out like we did last year,” said Nuggets coach George Karl, whose team, for much of the night, looked like it was the one that played the night before in L.A., not the Heat.
LeBron James finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists, playing point forward for much of the game.
“They made their run, they’re a great team at home,” James said, “but we were able to withstand it.”
The Heat was without guard Dwyane Wade, who sat out because of an ankle injury he reaggravated in Wednesday night’s loss at the L.A. Clippers.
Meanwhile, Andre Miller played like Ty Lawson, while Ty Lawson played pathetically. Lawson went scoreless, 0-for-7, while Miller scored 19 points with a pair of 3s.
“It was a game we definitely needed to win before we go out on this three-game road trip,” Miller said from a nearly empty losing locker room. “We talked about their 3-point shooters, we just didn’t play a good floor game.”
Now the Nuggets stand at 4-5 because they have been the picture of mediocrity. Their offensive rating (103.8), according to Basketball-Reference.com, stands 15th in the league, while their defensive rating (103.3) ranks 17th.
This was supposed to be a newer version of the 2004 Pistons who won a championship without one big dog pulling the sled all season. But instead they have too often looked like Iguodala’s old team that he left behind in Philly, where he leads a team in scoring that for the most part does not a singular focus, except fo the rebounding monster that is Kenneth Faried.
We can cut the Nuggets some slack because they have an absolutely brutal schedule. They opened with six of their first nine games — and 17 of 23 — on the road.
“I’m kind of happy with how we’ve played. I’m not happy with how well we’ve played. But as a coach, how is probably more important than how well.”