Posts Tagged ‘James Naismith’

Nuggets’ Problems Go Beyond Historic Bad Night In Portland




At least no one had to spend a lot of time climbing the ladder to get the ball out of the peach basket.

What?

That game was actually live Thursday night, not some historic footage transformed into 2012-quality viewing by modern technology? George Karl coached the Nuggets, not James Naismith?

Denver's shooting vs. Portland, 12/20/12 -- Red=misses, Green=makes

Denver’s shooting vs. Portland, 12/20/12 — Red=misses, Green=makes

That really was live. That really did happen. An NBA team, Denver, a good NBA team at that, really did make one basket from outside the paint the entire game. The Trail Blazers really did beat the Nuggets 101-93 in Portland in a game for the ages.

The Dark Ages.

Not scrounging a hoop outside the paint until the 17-footer from Ty Lawson with 38 seconds remaining was incomprehensible enough. That doesn’t happen. That it happened to the Nuggets, though, increased the level of disbelief.

Yeah, if there was a list of candidates to miss every shot from 3-point range, 22 in this case to set a league record for futility, Denver would have been near the top – it began the night 25th in long-range accuracy. But to go 47 minutes, 22 seconds without tripping over a perimeter basket? Mind boggling.

The Nuggets were sixth in field-goal percentage when they stepped on the court Thursday and someone turned out the lights. They do not have an efficient offense, with turnovers and free throws becoming a real problem, but they do have veteran perimeter players known for something other than defense. Danilo Gallinari, Andre Igoudala, Andre Miller, Lawson – at some point, someone has to accidentally make a bad shot from 15 feet.

And yet, one make from outside the paint, allowing Portland to win on a night it shot all of 35.9 percent.

“You recognized that, did you?” Karl deadpanned afterward when a reporter mentioned the freak statistical happening.

Assume a few others will as well and that the discussion of a Wednesday night in Portland in 2012, or 1957 or 1891 or whatever it was, will continue. That, the 3-point record and the perimeter scoring as a whole, can be written off as a numerical anomaly for the Nuggets, of course, but it should also put a big-picture spotlight on an offense that it struggling.

Getting a grip on rules ‘change’

I go back and forth on the new rule that puts a muzzle on players who feel they’ve been shortchanged by the refs. On one hand: They really should shuddup and play. On the other: It’s hard to bite your lip in a tense, emotional moment. Somewhere, there’s a compromise that should satisfy everyone.

But that’s really not the point here. I wonder if eventually, say in about a month or two, this new “rule” will suddenly grow old and quickly vaporize. You know, like the NBA’s supposed crackdown on palming violations 10 years ago. Whatever happened to that rule?

Back in the Allen Iverson days, the league became alarmed with the evolution of the dribble. You can blame it on Tim Hardaway, the unofficial inventor of the crossover. Hardaway’s sleight-of-hand was perfectly legal, if you saw it in slo-mo, because he was that good at pulling it off. But it spawned millions of poor imitators who lifted the ball underneath while changing directions. That’s a palm, or a carry, as they called it back in the day.

It got so bad that today, they actually teach “palming” (ahem, crossover) to little kids. Yes, pretty soon, an entire generation began lifting the ball, pulling the ball, dragging the ball, everything but legally dribbling the ball. And the high schools and colleges looked the other way. Eventually, so did the NBA, for a while.

When Iverson violated every dribble rule in the book to gain an unfair advantage on his defender, the NBA decided to crack down. The “Iverson Rule” was put to test during the preseason and, just like now, players protested. The rule was enforced for roughly two months. Then, it was back to business as usual. Only once in a while, when a palm is just too obvious to ignore, does the whistle blow. Never with two minutes left in a tight game, however.

Basically, the players took ownership of the dribble and rewrote the rule book, and the NBA essentially allowed it to happen. Jamal Crawford, the Sixth Man of the Year, owes his career to palming. So does Dwyane Wade and countless others. And it’s even gotten worse: Now players are lifting the ball for a split second, and just as the defender thinks the player is about to stop dribbling, that player continues his dribble, clearly gaining an advantage because the defender is now off-balance. Phil Jackson calls it the “discontinue dribble” and it is rarely enforced.

The league really needs to uphold the basic rules Dr. James Naismith created. Send a message to teenagers that palming will not be allowed on the highest level. And while you’re at it, clean up traveling, too (the two-steps-and-bunny-hop is especially insulting to the memory of Dr. James). And treat these obvious violations the same, whether the game is a minute old or there’s a minute left. The game will survive, because players will simply adjust, if they want to get paid.

And just think: calling players for palming will really get them steamed at the refs.