Are the Nuggets an Elite Team or an Enigma?

February 22 2010, 9:09 AM
The Denver Nuggets were coming off the biggest win of the year this weekend, when they then promptly lost to the one of the league's worst teams, the Washington Wizards. But the next night they turned around to beat one of the league's other powerhouses, the Boston Celtics. Denver cruised past the Celtics yesterday afternoon at the Pepsi Center, 114-105, but not without some hitches. The Denver Post points out that the Nuggets were a woeful 8-for-18 from the free-throw line at halftime, and finished at just 25-for-40. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups were a combined 18-19, but the rest of the team was 7-for-21. Ouch. And although the Nuggets sit at second place in the Western Conference, a disproportionate number of their 19 losses have come to sub-.500 teams. According to USA Today, the Nuggets are 9-1 against the league's top five teams but have lost eight times to teams with losing records. If the Nuggets had won those games, they'd already have 45 wins and be three games up on the Lakers for first place in the Western Conference. Lakers head coach Phil Jackson says he doesn't consider the Nuggets a rival, despite having played them in the Western Conference Finals last year and despite the playoff atmosphere exhibited each time the two teams play. Anthony says the Nuggets feel disrespected by the media when it comes to stories about the league's top teams, and he thinks the Nuggets could probably win every game they play if it wasn't for traveling on the second night of back-to-back games. While the team may indeed be feeling media disrespect, coach George Karl has been receiving much goodwill since announcing last week that he's battling neck and throat cancer. The avowed liberal says he's received support from players and coaches around the league, as well as some unexpected sources. "The one I laughed at---George Will sent me a nice e-mail. Two people on the extreme ends of spectrums in politics. It made me laugh because I always thought he was the new William F. Buckley of the Republican Party or the right side of the brain thing" (via NBA Fanhouse). But, "Rush [Limbaugh] hasn't called yet."