NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Miller argues with Shaw — This season has been a roller-coaster ride for the Denver Nuggets. After a disappointing 1-4 start, they surged to 11-6 thanks to a seven-game winning streak. It looked like the 50-win Nuggets from last season were back. But now Denver is 14-17 and in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. Emotions are as high as the altitude. So much so that point guard Andre Miller has been suspended two games for conduct detrimental to the team. Miller decided to voice his frustrations to head coach Brian Shaw during last night’s game, according to Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post:
After the Nuggets’ eighth consecutive loss, 114-102 to Philadelphia on Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center, J.J. Hickson agreed with the notion that the Nuggets have hit rock bottom. But that point may have come earlier, in the second half, when Andre Miller, headed for his first healthy scratch, decided he would verbally take it out on coach Brian Shaw.
Miller yelled about the disrespect he felt he was being shown by sitting. And if he was being disrespected, he’d do the same to the Nuggets’ first-year head coach.
“There’s a time and place for everything,” Shaw said. “In the middle of the arena in front of everyone … I just tried to calm it down.”
Asked if Miller understood the reasons for his one-game seat on the bench, Shaw said, “You’ll have to ask him.”
But by that time, Miller had already left.
Many of his teammates remained, however, to explain the free-fall the Nuggets are in.
It is the team’s longest slide since dropping eight straight to end the 2002-03 season. It is also the Nuggets’ fifth consecutive home loss. And this one came with an increasingly agitated fan base that peppered the team with boos at the end of the half and in the third quarter, and then flat-out started leaving en masse with 5:33 left in the fourth and the team down 104-89.
The fans booed again as time ran out on the latest defeat.
“We deserved every bit of that,” Shaw said.
It was that kind of night.
“It’s not even a slump right now,” Shaw said. “It’s worse than a slump.”
No. 2: Garnett continues to struggle — The Kevin Garnett acquired by the Brooklyn Nets this summer was never expected to be MVP-level Garnett from the mid-2000s. But his massive struggles so far this season were equally unexpected for the future Hall-of-Famer, even at the age of 37. Garnett is still searching for a rhythm within the Nets’ offense, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
“It shouldn’t,” Garnett said when asked if his shooting struggles have impacted his confidence. “Obviously, the most frustrating thing about me is I could see if I wasn’t hitting shots and I wasn’t in here working or taking [expletive] days off.
“I put time into my craft for it to come out, but then that’s rhythm on offense. And I don’t have that right now. I’m not [expletive] about it, nor am I complaining. I’m just trying to adjust to it.”
After missing all five shots he took Tuesday, Garnett is now shooting a dismal 36.4 percent for the season — more than a full 13 points below his 49.6 percent clip last season in Boston — and looks as if he is years removed from the player who averaged 12.7 points and 13.7 rebounds in Boston’s first-round exit against the Knicks at the end of last season.
“Honestly, I have no rhythm,” Garnett said. “I’m trying to establish some confidence, and figure out where I fit into this whole ‘where I fit into the offense’ thing.”
Garnett and Nets coach Jason Kidd were asked Wednesday if part of Garnett’s inability to get into a rhythm stemmed from him being placed on a minutes restriction this season, as he’s played less than 30 minutes in every game he’s participated in and hasn’t reached 20 in four of his last five games and seven of his last nine.
“[We’re] sticking with this,” Kidd said when asked whether the minutes limit could change, adding it’s in place to “get [Garnett] through the season.”
“He’s getting great looks,” Kidd added. “Some of them haven’t gone in, but we believe as a team they will.”
Garnett said that more than just the minutes, this season has been difficult for him because of all of the adjustments he has had to make.
“Yeah, and a lot of the offenses I’ve been in I’ve been pretty much a primary,” he said. “This has been an adjustment period. Coming here, I didn’t expect a lot of minutes, I didn’t expect a lot of touches, so I figured I would come in here and help and be a kind of liaison, or kind of attach things to where they lacked at.
“I don’t [think] the objective to bring the three of us [Garnett, Pierce and Terry] here was to play a bulk of minutes or be primaries … it’s [been] a lot of moving parts throughout the year, and it’s hard to get a rhythm with that.”
No. 3: Gordon seeks contender — It’s no surprise that an NBA player would prefer to play for a contender. But this urge must be especially high for Ben Gordon who has spent the better half of his career on the struggling Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats are finally making some noise this season, but that didn’t stop Gordon from voicing his aspirations to Lang Greene of Hoopsworld:
For Gordon, an unrestricted free agent next summer, his present and future is all about getting back into the mix of contenders as he closes out his career.
“It means everything,” Gordon told HOOPSWORLD on the importance of closing his career with a title. “That’s why we play the game, just to have a chance to get into the playoffs and see what happens. For me especially, I haven’t been to the playoffs the last four seasons so making it this year is a big goal of mine. Not only for me but my teammates as well.”
However, Gordon says he’s learned through the years free agency is based on many other factors outside of box score results and maintains he isn’t letting his looming free agency status this summer impact him mentally.
“You pretty much don’t think about,” Gordon says of his impending free agency. “It’s something I learned earlier in my career, that those situations are out of your control. A lot of times it’s just a waiting game. But the most important thing is what you’re able to control and do on the court out there. It’s the same mindset.
“I’m a veteran now so I know [free agency] relies on so many factors that are out of my control that I’m just focused on the things I can control and take it all day by day.”
The rise in the standings didn’t come as a surprise for Gordon, who credits the arrival of head coach Steve Clifford as one of the reasons Charlotte has significantly improved over last season.
“Not at all because coach has been around a really long time,” Gordon said. “He hasn’t been a head coach but he’s been around as far as being an assistant. He’s worked with some of the best coaches in basketball, so it’s not a surprise. I think with the talent we have we’re still building chemistry.
“I think that’s our focus night in and night out with the pieces we have. The Eastern Conference has allowed us to have a decent record so far. I think we still have huge room for improvement, but right now I wouldn’t say our play is a surprise at all. We expect to be a playoff team.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Kyrie Irving has a left knee contusion and is questionable for tonight’s game … Philadelphia 76ers Arnett Moultrie participated in scrimmages and may return later this month … Cody Zeller tried to dunk … Portland assigns C.J. McCollum to the D-League … Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo is expected to travel with the team soon … Some believe there is not much of a trade market for Andrew Bynum
ICYMI of The Night: The Toronto Raptors continued their hot streak last night with an impressive win over the equally hot Indiana Pacers.
VIDEO: Raptors Cool Pacers