Nuggets hold losing hand in high-stakes poker game with Ujiri
5/24/2013 11:51:00 AM
Masai Ujiri was dealt the NBA's worst hand in 2010.
Named the Denver Nuggets' executive vice president in charge of basketball operations (general manager, in old-school terminology), Ujiri was charged with trading away intransigent star Carmelo Anthony. Moreover, Anthony's posturing had frightened away other trading partners, leaving Ujiri to deal solely with the Knicks, Anthony's preferred destination.
Normally, when a player holds a team hostage, it doesn't go so well for the team, but this time -- thanks almost entirely to Ujiri's savvy -- it did. Anthony and popular local fixture Chauncey Billups were sent to New York, in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton (who was flipped to Portland for Andre Miller one season later) and the Knicks' first-round draft pick in 2014.
Instead of sinking the Nuggets into the nether-world of NBA obscurity, the trade re-invented and energized them. A ...
Rockies will define themselves against Giants
5/16/2013 12:55:00 PM
After an opening month that found the Rockies six games over .500 and with the lead in the National League West, the following month of May has been a struggle as the Rockies have gone 5-8 and fallen two games back of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
The Rockies were swept by the Giants during their April swing through the Golden State, and weren't even competitive in two of their three losses. That's not news -- the Rockies have dropped the last 10 series against the Giants and lost 24 of their last 29 games against them. As neither team dramatically altered their rosters in the offseason, the same cast of characters will face off in Coors Field for a four-game set that begins Thursday. After that, they'll host the second-place Diamondbacks for three before traveling to the City by the Bay for three ...
Karl, Ujiri honored by -- but not satisfied with -- accolades
5/9/2013 4:50:00 PM
When your favorite NBA team possesses the reigning Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, you'd probably expect that team to either drastically overhaul a moribund franchise, or win a championship.
The Nuggets, along with their coach George Karl and general manager Masai Ujiri, did neither of those things. Instead, their team flamed out after setting a franchise record with 57 wins, only to fall flat on their face in the first round of the playoffs against the sweet-shooting Golden State Warriors.
Yes, the Nuggets had injuries, but the Warriors did too, and Nuggets' fans are understandably dissatisfied with how the season ended -- and many of them want Karl gone.
It seems an odd desire on the surface. Karl guided a selfless, All-Star-less team through a ridiculously-scheduled first two months before reeling off the longest winning streak in history and landing the No. ...
5/3/2013 12:30:00 PM
It's over too soon. Again.
After a 57-win regular season that set a new record for the Denver Nuggets organization, the team flopped in the first round once more, this time against the sweet-shooting Golden State Warriors.
It didn't have to be that way. From the get-go, the Nuggets looked like a team that had bought into their press clippings. Overconfident, they snuck past the Warriors in a tight Game 1, only to drop the next three. During each of those contests, the Nuggets seemed perplexed at the fact that they were being out-hustled and out-played.
A bizarre decision by coach George Karl played into things, as well. The Nuggets, the league's best at points in the paint, were instead subjected to lineup changes and rotations that emphasized "small ball"; the Warriors' expertise. Without injured forward David Lee, Golden State was vulnerable to Denver's greatest strengths ...
Have Bats, Will Travel
4/30/2013 3:04:00 PM
The Colorado Rockies have gotten off to a surprising 16-10 start, good for first place in the NL West and second overall in the National League. They're 7-7 on the road, which -- for the Rockies -- is shockingly good. This is a club that's historically a disaster away from the friendly, altitude-enhanced confines of Coors Field.
The pitching's been better, obviously. The Rockies' 3.75 road ERA is sixth-best in the NL, while their surprising 3.54 home ERA is ninth. The Rockies' ERA is only going up 5.9% when traveling, which isn't much of a variation. Of course, the fact that it's lower at Coors Field is remarkable.
That 5.9% variance, however, isn't that unusual. According to research by ESPN's David Schoenfield, the Rockies' ERA variance has usually been around 7.8% in the Coors Field era. Usually, however, the team's ERA is higher at Coors Field, as ...
Winter's chill hampers Colorado's boys of summer
4/23/2013 12:34:00 PM
Let it snow - not that we have a choice.
Only 18 games into the season, the Colorado Rockies have already seen three of their games postponed by snow, and as the blustery weather continues unabated on Tuesday morning, the club is scrambling to squeeze in a doubleheader with the Braves -- one that's important to complete due to the highly-compressed nature of Major League Baseball's schedule.
Postponing today's games would force the Braves to come back to Colorado and play during what would otherwise be scheduled off-days for both clubs -- a problem as the dog days linger on and teams suffer from fatigue from the long season; one both the Braves and Rockies want to avoid.
In that regard, it makes sense to do everything possible in order to get the Rockies' snowbound ballgames in. But there's another cost. Literally. One of them is ...
Nuggets continue unprecedented -- and unlikely -- campaign
4/11/2013 10:27:00 AM
After defeating the Spurs on Wednesday, the Nuggets' list of achievements this season keeps growing longer. With four games left to play, consider the following:
- 54 -- The Nuggets' current win total, tied for the most in their history.
- 21 -- Consecutive home victories, by far the most over for the team.
- 36 -- Home wins, tied for the most in team history. They have two more to play at the Pepsi Center.
On Wednesday, Wilson Chandler scored 29 points , electrifying the home crowd as he continues to pick up the slack in Danilo Galliniari's absence after a heart-breaking and season-ending knee injury. Andre Iguodala has become more of a factor since Gallinari's injury, as well, logging a triple-double against the West's best team. And Corey Brewer, as he has all year, led the bench with ferocious energy, scoring 28 points and racking up a staggering plus-30 ...
Weiss presses the right buttons for Rockies
4/8/2013 12:42:00 PM
As the Rockies head to San Francisco for a three-game set that starts on Monday, fans will quickly be able to determine how much of the team's surprising 5-1 start was a mirage. The Giants' lovely park in the China Basin neighborhood of The City by the Bay has been a house of horrors for the Rockies over the years -- even in the years when the Giants weren't the defending World Series champions.
After laying waste to the Padres at Coors Field, the Rockies lead the National league in batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.377), slugging percentage (.568), home runs (13), runs scored (39), and RBI (38). It's clear that their offense is clicking, which is why, against a top-notch Giants' rotation -- and at sea level -- this series will be so telling regarding the Rockies' true nature.
What's been made abundantly clear, however, is ...
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Rockies find themselves in a time warp
4/2/2013 3:31:00 PM
In the early, halcyon days of the Colorado Rockies, the team moved into a sparkling new baseball cathedral, played in dozens of games with 20 or more runs scored, hit home runs in bunches, and... weren't all that good.
They were highly entertaining, however, and a community fell in love with them.
Fast-forward twenty years. The Rockies' manager, hitting coach and special assistant are all former players from those good old days, but the makeup of the roster -- a collection of potent sluggers in the lineup and wobbly belly-itchers in the rotation -- hasn't changed.
The formula worked well enough with the "Blake Street Bombers", who delighted audiences in Coors Field even when they weren't winning. But today's Rockies don't have that luxury.
After the organization installed a humidor in Coors Field to normalize play there by diminishing the effects of Denver's high altitude, ...
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Colorado's colleges turn football haven into basketball country
3/19/2013 3:37:00 PM
For decades, fall in Colorado meant football -- the Broncos, Buffaloes, Rams and Falcons. On college campuses across the Centennial state, basketball seasons were largely ignored; left for only the hardest of hardcore hoop fans or cheap dates for incoming freshmen.
No longer. Colorado's main college sports export is now basketball.
For the last two years, as Colorado and Colorado State stumbled through forgettable football seasons, their basketball teams have made the NCAA Tournament. When the Rams were made an #8 seed on Sunday, it marked the first time since 1990 that they had gone to back-to-back tournaments. Colorado, a #10 seed, has now done that for the first time since the early 60's.
Colorado State is playing under first-year coach Larry Eustachy, while Colorado, under Tad Boyle, has only a single senior on its roster. Both schools have begun to cement themselves as programs with ...