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NBA Update - 15th Edition

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NBA Update – Issue 15


Good evening one and all and welcome to the 15th edition of the NBA Update, this week I will be focusing on the Denver Nuggets, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, and the usual news, game focus and Bulls Babble. Welcome aboard!


Down In Denver


Miami and Cleveland were not the only teams last year to pick superstars in the 2003 draft, the other team was the Denver Nuggets who picked up Carmelo Anthony then made the playoffs. During the summer they added Kenyon Martin from the New Jersey Nets in an attempt to take the team further into the post-season than last year. The team contains years of experience thanks to Bryon Russell, and loads of young talent in Martin, Anthony, Andre Miller and Nene, so they do have the talent to progress.

One of the main aspects of the Nuggets season so far is their coaching woes. Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik was relieved of his duties early on in the year after a poor start to the season, and then assistant coach Michael Cooper was put in charge until a suitable replacement was found. During that period of time Denver were not winning a significant amount of games, but they hope that their new coach can help change that. The Nuggets brought in veteran coach George Karl, who had been out of the NBA for nearly 18 months before becoming Denver’s new Head Coach. Karl was a successful coach of the Seattle Supersonics, taking them to the NBA finals, and has coached the Milwaukee Bucks as well.

The beginning of this season was not too bad, however it wasn’t the mark of a playoff team either as the Nuggets lost 5 of their first 7 games, including double-digit losses to Utah and Seattle. But a quick 6 and 1 run helped by victories over Chicago and Dallas meant that November for Denver was finishing with an 8 and 6 record.

Some consistent scoring from Carmelo Anthony and Andre Miller helped extend Denver’s record to 12 and 7 in early December, before losses to New York and Philadelphia reduced it to 12 and 9. After a one point victory over the Celtics, Denver fell to a 6 game losing streak over Christmas, which left them with one more game in 2004 and a 13 and 15 record. The New Years Eve game was against the 76ers, and Denver came out on top ending the year with a much needed victory.

2005 began extremely poorly for the Nuggets, as they lost 7 of their first 8 games of the year, beating only the Lakers by 12. Victories over Memphis and Seattle helped the team regain some momentum, however Denver fell to Chicago, Dallas and Detroit on the road shortly after to knock them straight back down again. Hard-fought victories over Milwaukee and Indiana helped the Nuggets finish January strongly, and they haven’t done too badly during the opening weeks of February either, wining 4 of 6 including wins over Utah, Golden State and Atlanta. Tonight the Nuggets face the Charlotte Bobcats before the break of All-Star Weekend this week.

With a 24 and 28 record the Denver Nuggets are sitting just outside the playoff spots in the Western Conference, and they will need every one of their players to be at their best during the final stretch if they are to make the post-season.


King James the First


LeBron James was the number 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, snapped up by the Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school under huge amounts of publicity. At the time James was only 18 years old and heading to the big leagues of the NBA.

During his rookie year LeBron played in and started 79 games for the Cavaliers, and averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game whilst doing so. His powerful play and excellent leadership qualities helped LeBron earn Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honours every month during that season (November to April). And after his amazing performances all year round he was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Cavalier and the youngest player ever to do so. He did have some competition for the crown though, as Miami’s Dwayne Wade and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony were both having excellent seasons for their respective teams. But they couldn’t match up to “King” James, who became only the third player in history to average over 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in his rookie year.

It seemed as though LeBron couldn’t stop making records, as he became the youngest player to score 1000 points on February 9th 2004, then shortly after became the youngest player to score 40 points in a game when the Cavs played the Nets on March 27th.

After that extremely successful year LeBron was asked to represent his country by playing for Team USA in the 2004 Olympics in Greece. Of course he accepted the offer and helped lead the team to a Bronze medal.

This season James has been even more outstanding, playing some of the best basketball in the league all year long. Even after his nose was injured in a collision with Dikembe Mutumbo, LeBron wore a face mask and continued playing with power, determination and skill, leading the Cavaliers into the Eastern Conference playoff spots. Currently averaging over 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game, LeBron James is showing everyone that he was not just a one year deal. He has shown hints of MVP magic in more than a few games this season, could that be his next award on the horizon? Well ask the fans in Cleveland, they seem to think so!


Game Focus – Denver Nuggets @ Cleveland Cavaliers


In the 2003 NBA draft, Cleveland picked LeBron James, and Denver picked Carmelo Anthony, two rookies who were said to be on the verge of greatness. Well that season they both shone brightly, but it was LeBron’s star that shone the brightest, taking home the Rookie of the Year award. This season has seen LeBron go from strength to strength, however the same cannot be said for young Carmelo, who has had a tough time so far this season. On Friday the 11th of February, Cleveland hosted Denver in what promised to be an exciting encounter.

Denver began the game strong, moving out to a 6-point lead early on, mainly thanks to the play of Andre Miller. However Cleveland then went on a 7-0 run behind the scoring of LeBron James and Jeff McInnis. The score remained close throughout the period, as the teams exchanged the lead again and again before Traylor put the Cavs up by three with 3 minutes to go in the quarter. Drew Gooden increased the lead to four with a free throw, but Martin and Buckner combined for 5 points to give the Nuggets a 30-29 lead at the end of the period. The second quarter began in much the same way that the first finished, with both teams exchanging baskets and changing the lead repeatedly. LeBron and Gooden were the ones scoring for the Cavs, whilst Buckner was doing the business for Denver. That was until Pavlovic dropped in 6 points to extend Cleveland’s lead to 7. Zydrunas Ilgauskas began putting a few in, as he helped Cleveland cancel out a couple of Carmelo baskets and move 10 points ahead at the end of the half.

Drew Gooden hit the first basket of the second half, but it was Kenyon Martin and Nene combining for 11 points which brought the game to within 5 points with just over five minutes remaining in the period. LeBron and Big Z were scoring for the Cavs to keep them in the lead, however Earl Boykins began to hit everything he threw up and brought the game to within one. It was a Boykins two pointer that closed out the quarter with the score at 76-75 in Cleveland’s favour. Little Earl kept his form going into the final quarter as he helped put Denver up by 3 early on. McInnis tied the game up for the Cavs, but Carmelo retook the lead for the Nuggets shortly after. Anthony and Martin hit some important baskets to extend the Nuggets lead to seven with less than 4 minutes to play in the game. Now would be the time that you would expect the score to get really close and give you a nail-biting finish, well it didn’t happen that way at all. Both teams traded baskets back and forth as neither were able to gain a significant advantage over the other during the closing moments of the game. The match finished with a score of 106 to 101 in Denver’s favour.


NBA News


As the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline nears, Hawks forward Antoine Walker becomes a more and more popular figure in different trade rumours. From New York to Los Angeles and all parts in between, Walker's name continues to surface. However, Hawks GM Billy Knight isn't interested in adding to the glut of misinformation, choosing not to address the rumours or detail the specifics of his pre-trade deadline activities.

Chris Bosh continued to wear a sleeve on his right knee Wednesday night, but the forward said there is no reason for Raptors fans to panic. Bosh's knee swelled up after a game Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks. However, Bosh told reporters that the doctors checked it out and they said it's not that serious.

Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller, the most popular and recognised athlete in the city's sports history, has made it official: He will retire at the end of this season. Miller informed Pacers' coach Rick Carlisle of his decision early Thursday evening. The public announcement was delivered through his sister, Cheryl, on a TNT broadcast later in the evening.

Raptors GM Rob Babcock said he has not talked to disgruntled forward Eric Williams about a trade, and is disappointed in his player for sounding off to the media before talking to him first. Williams railed against the organisation prior to Wednesday's game against Milwaukee, saying that he wants out unless he receives more playing time.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank was given one more place to turn in his quest to take some of the burden off Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. Finally adding needed frontcourt help just a week before the trade deadline, the Nets acquired veteran forward Cliff Robinson from Golden State for two 2005 second-round picks. Now in his 16th NBA season, the 6-11 Robinson will add a different dimension to the Nets frontcourt.

Speaking of the Nets, they spent only one night in Minnesota -- losing to the Timberwolves on Tuesday -- but Jason Kidd probably would have preferred to stay longer. According to multiple sources, Kidd has let management know that he wants to team up with Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett, the reigning MVP. Kidd believes that lethal combination would give him a good chance to win the championship ring that has eluded him in his 11-year NBA career.


Bulls Babble


Chicago had a tough game last Wednesday as they travelled to Houston to face the strong Rockets team. Kirk Hinrich scored 17 and rookie Chris Duhon added 12, but they couldn’t stop Houston from powering to a 105-92 victory. The Bulls had yet another tough game on Sunday night as they faced the Minnesota Timberwolves. This time the Bulls came out victorious behind the 21-point haul of rookie Ben Gordon off the bench. Why he remains on the bench game after game is beyond me, as he has shown that he can play from the start and contribute fully to the team. After what had been a long road trip, the Bulls returned home last night to host the Sacramento Kings. Eddy Curry scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as he and the Bulls moved to a 107-102 victory! Tonight we face the Raptors before taking a break for the All-Star Weekend.


Season Records

Eastern Conference

Miami Heat 39W 14L Detroit Pistons 31W 19L Philadelphia 76ers 26W 26L Cleveland Cavaliers 29W 20L Washington Wizards 30W 22L Orlando Magic 28W 24L Chicago Bulls 25W 23L Boston Celtics 26W 26L Indiana Pacers 24W 26L New Jersey Nets 22W 30L Milwaukee Bucks 20W 29L Toronto Raptors 21W 31L New York Knicks 20W 32L Charlotte Bobcats 10W 39L Atlanta Hawks 10W 40L


Western Conference

Phoenix Suns 41W 12L San Antonio Spurs 40W 12L Seattle Supersonics 35W 14L Dallas Mavericks 34W 16L Sacramento Kings 33W 19L Houston Rockets 32W 21L Memphis Grizzlies 30W 22L L.A. Lakers 26W 24L Minnesota Timberwolves 26W 27L Denver Nuggets 24W 28L L.A. Clippers 23W 29L Portland Trail Blazers 21W 29L Utah Jazz 17W 35L Golden State Warriors 14W 38L New Orleans Hornets 11W 41L


Wrap Up


It’s the All-Star Weekend this weekend, make sure you don’t forget it. The Rookie Challenge will be shown on Sky Sports at 10 am on Saturday, whilst the All-Star game will be shown live at 1 am on Monday Morning. That means its going to be a great weekend for basketball fans, as both these games are always great fun to watch. As for this weeks standings, well the Phoenix Suns have returned to the top of the West, whilst Miami are still dominating the East (will anyone catch them?). Only one game focus again this week, but it seems as though I cant manage any more so there will be just one a week. Next week I will give a run-down of the events of All-Star weekend, listing all the winners of the various events, and until then remember those three letters N B A.

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