32. Little Christmas Miracle: The View from Denver


One of the best and worst parts of doing a regular column is facing the necessity of keeping stuff at least a little fresh by trying new things. Sometimes the ideas work, sometimes they fall flat, but fly or crash at least there is some new trick being attempted and the monotony of the infinite rehash is averted for another day.

Today I've decided to live-blog Christmas.

"It's gonna be a disaster! I'll get you tickets..."


December 24, 2009.


4:47 PM. Started wrapping presents. Per usual, I closed the store a little after 4 on Christmas Eve and headed home. I hit the door at 4:45 and immediately headed for my book room to gather a couple presents that still needed to wrap. My wife's paternal grandparents were Italian and that serves as my current excuse for the fact that we always, always, always open presents on Christmas eve. Gifts being difficult to unwrap unless they are first wrapped, you see my time-sensitive dilemma.

The reason I bring up the nationality of deceased grandparents-in-law at all owes to the fact that I heard this past week that the unwrapping of presents on Christmas eve rather than Christmas day is an Italian tradition. I have no idea if this is true, false, or some combination thereof, but it sounds good to me. When I was a kid we used to get to unwrap ONE present on Christmas eve and the rest of the loot early the next morning. Parents of young children desiring to sleep past 6:00 AM on the 12/25 of any given year are advised to make themselves honorary Italians by getting the goodies gobbled the night previous.

8:35 PM. Gift exchange. I present AA with her first cell phone. God help us all. Me HATING to talk on the phone, I remain committed to being the last person in America without a cell — although I do acknowledge that those Blackberries™® are pretty damned sweet.

Among her presents to me, AA accidentally hits a 450-foot home run by replicating my favorite shirt, a padded flannel thing that replaces one that I broke down and finally gave to Bingo Bill to use as a blanket last week. It probably ran her $15 on sale at Freddy's™® — timing is everything finding these, price laughably incidental — but an absolutely spot on perfect replacement in burgundy for my faded and shredded 6-year old blue-plaid beauty. Also of note are 2 pairs of Levi 501s™® from my parents. I wear just about the weirdest size they make, 38/40, and they're hard as hell to find even in these days of the internets.

10:28 PM. Having noted earlier in the day that there were no games scheduled by the NBA for Christmas Eve, I choose to invest 45 minutes watching a couple of episodes of South Park. Too lazy to dig up that old holiday favorite, "A Woodland Critter Christmas," I instead run with Al Gore in pursuit of ManBearPig and see Eric Cartman tamed by The Dog Whisperer. Two terrific episodes. I head for bed.


December 25, 2009.

6:12 AM. I have an "Oh, Crap!!!" moment. It suddenly hits me that the ad that I've submitted to the Corvallis Gazette-Times for our After Christmas Sale, now past the point of no return, doesn't include my standard disclaimer language. So instead of SALE RACKS with shoes "20-40% OFF," it sounds like EVERYTHING is "20-40% OFF." And it's a relatively huge 1/4 page ad, with 2 runs, both past deadline. "Oh, Crap!!!" Despite having opened presents last night (and being over 3 decades past the point of getting adrenalinized over the idea of free toys), now I can't sleep.

I chill a little when I realize that the Worst Case Scenario is actually an enormous super sale that we hadn't planned. But AA is gonna be pissed when I break the news to her in the morning... 

6:27 AM. I decide to get up and wind up spending an hour or two snorting around YouTube for punk rock Christmas videos for this column. (They're located at the very bottom of this page, if you care...)


9:13 AM. I check my email for the first time. I find a message from someone I don't know relating to a comment I had left just a couple hours previously on YouTube under a vid by the 1990s pop-punk band SHOWER WITH GOATS. I had been the first person to rate the video, the first person to comment on the video, maybe even the first person to have seen the video, which was put up in November. "These guys were from New Jersey, yes?" I asked. "Yes they are, check out their page on Facebook," comes the reply. It's never too early on Christmas morning to be promoting one's band...

9:36 AM. I make my way into the kitchen, grind some coffee and start a pot, pour myself some Wheaties.™®  AA is at the table, eating her oatmeal and reading The Oregonian. I quickly, cowardly, and correctly decide there's no good reason to let her know about my advertising blunder at this early juncture and grab a couple chunks of the paper.

I skip Clownzano and turn to the list of games on TV today — damn! The Lakers v. The LeBrons starts at 2:00, exactly when I have to be at the horrific family dinner that I got snookered into once again this year... I've been able to successfully blow off Thanksgiving in recent years, but still keep getting conned into Christmas, even though my mom's extended family is fragmenting, with the oldsters dying off and the youngsters going their own ways (rather than getting roped into these atrocities). As "oldest grandson" I'm sort of in no man's land here, sucked into the Obligatory Annual — too old and with too many family-political ties to be able to wag my middle finger at the crowd, not old enough for the blissful release of death or dementia. Don't let this happen to you.

I tell her I wanna be home by 4:00 and AA is fully on that train as well. Maybe I'll get to see Kobe put on the finishing touches, with LeBron storming off in a huff. Lakers are gonna clock the Cavs today — book it!

I see in the Oregonian news that Frank Rudy, "Inventor of the Nike Air Sole," died on December 13. Nothing like breaking news... The former aerospace engineer had the hare-brained scheme to put an air bag for cushioning inside a shoe's sole in the late 1970s and took his idea to the upstart Nike, Inc. in 1977. The first air bag shoes were made in 1979, with the technology being ported into tennis and basketball footwear three years later. And thus was the University of Oregon football team financed...

I also see the happy news that the MRI on Brandon Roy's "tweaked" shoulder is nothing but a shoulder strain; his playing today a gametime decision. Thank goodness for that. About the first good news that Portland has received from somebody with "Dr." in front of their name in 2009...

10:09 AM. I cave in and turn on the first of 5 NBA games, the Miami Heat at the New York Knicks. Hardly compelling viewing, but whatcha gonna do? Game's not even on yet, pregame junk, Nike selling shoes. Ha ha! ESPN has a cheesy "All I Want for Christmas is You" teaser for the day's games that includes a 1 or 2 second glimpse of Brandon Roy in a Santa hat. Somebody has GOT to post a frame capture of that!!! Seriously!!!


10:19 AM. ESPN talking head Jalen Rose announces that Mike D'Antoni "only likes playing 7-and-a-half or 8 guys in a game." Maybe he has something in mind for Eddie Curry involving a chainsaw, eh? They'll get him under 400 pounds one way or another...

10:23 AM. Good! Doris Burke is going to be doing the color commentary. I found it really offensive they way ESPN tried to paint her up and make her a sideline reporter this year. Dan Shulman with the call. A couple of the best announcers for the worst game, go figure. I also discover that I actually joined this game during halftime, not pregame. 41-37 Miami, a nice time to drop in...

10:26 AM. A bit slow on the uptake, I figure out that the Knicks are wearing special green uniforms, so that it's Miami in red vs. NYK in green. Quite festive (sarcasm alert) and a good thing that I'm not red/green colorblind.

10:30 AM. The Heat have opened up a 10 point lead. New York Knick Center David Lee has a white Star of David on his uni, I notice... Wait, no, all the Knicks do. Everybody does. Gosh, that's sure inclusive... No, wait, it's a snowfake. Neo-Nazis can now rest easy about the subliminal manipulations of Commissioner David Stern. You can go back to worrying about how floride in the water affects one's precious bodily fluids, nutters...

10:46 AM. Knicks stand 2-for-20 from downtown and down by only 8 points. Miami is in deep, deep trouble today. Remember my rule: with 7SOL teams, you divide the margin of a lead by 2 to figure out the "actual " margin. Knicks are actually only down a couple buckets... They'll keep cracking 3-pointers and the law of averages will run its course.

10:56 AM. Gallinari misses again and the Knicks go to 2-for-22 from the arc. Doris Burke: "It's a simple game, isn't it? — MAKE SHOTS. Or hit makable shots, which is what the Knicks are getting..." Miami opens its largest lead of the day at 12. That means the home team is now down by 6. They look pretty bad.

11:23 AM. Knicks on their run as Gallinari hits a trey to make it a 5 point game. Knicks get a stop and Lee hits a turnaround baseline 5 footer. Three point game. (What did I tell ya about 7SOL?)

11:26 AM. Jermaine O'Neal hits a 17 footer to put the Heat up 5. Knicks brick yet another trey, Heat rebounds and fouled with 37.5 seconds. Seven point lead. Ballgame.

11:39 AM. I finally find the remote under some newspapers on the couch and flip over to the second game of the day, the Orlando Magic at the Boston Celtics. The game is just getting going, 10:30 on the clock in the 1st Quarter. I know that I'm going to be unable to see much of this one so I don't pay too much attention as the Magic pull out to a 12-6 lead. Gotta go get ready for the Obligatory Annual. Crap.


[Celtics eventually won. Crap.]

12:18 PM. Through the shower, wandering around the house in my boxers. AA informs me she doesn't remember driving directions to my uncle's new house. I call my cool aunt who lives next door for info. She knows how to get there but not precise details or street names. "You turn on 53rd and follow the curves and go through one or two stops signs and blah blah blah." Ummm, that's not gonna work.

"Maybe we can follow you?" I ask.

"We're about ready to go — are you ready yet?"

"Definitely ready as long as showing up in my underwear is appropriate."

I wonder out loud whether the strategy of making one extremely memorable Xmas appearance and thereby buying my freedom from such events for the next 20 years might be worthwhile.

My aunt, shuddering at the thought of a great white walrus parading around in front of the little aunties, thinks this is an extremely poor idea. I grumble that she's probably right and make another phone call to get proper directions and then go to get dressed.

12:47 PM. After I walk Billy, AA & I hop into her little silver car and we take off for neighboring Albany, an old mill town with a very aggressive pro-growth orientation. Corvallis, on the other hand, is a college town with the most liberal political culture in the state (Benton Co. votes left of Multnomah and Lane Counties — true fact, look it up).

"I really don't like this place," I remark as we navigate the sprawling chunk of stoplights and strip malls, heading for the clusters of Junior McMansions bunched hither and yon in the the surrounding countryside. "It's a charmless little town."

"You're being nice about it," AA replies. "It reminds me of Idaho — a little chunk of Idaho transplanted into Western Oregon." She's from Eastern Oregon, which is basically the same thing as Southern Idaho and thus knows of what she speaks.

1:08 PM. We arrive, right on time. There are more people here than last year, including a couple of my cousins. This will be survivable.

I chat up my cool uncle from next door who has recently left the employ of Bullseye, a big discount department store. In a low voice he tells the horror story of the regional distribution center where he worked being forced [by the glorious central planning of big capitalism] to ship greater volume than last year sans over 100 employees. Unemployment up, rate of exploitation up. Funny how that works.


I tell him that instead of quitting he should have started unionizing the facility and then sued their tails off when the slimers inevitably canned him for some other pretext. He allows this would have been a reasonable plan (although not easy), but says the company was already clearly planning to ice him in January. They were transparently starting to write up petty complaints against him to run into his personnel file to cover their butts when they fired him after the holiday rush was over and they needed to further trim staff. (Since he's probably pushing age 60 and has been around there longer than many of his peers, half his age, canning him probably gave the salaried scummers pause re: a possible age discrimination claim.) He mentions that he had contacted the Oregon Labor Commission over an facility-wide wage-and-hour dispute during the previous year, which I observe is probably what put the bullseye on his forehead in the first place.

He told the company to shove off sans notice right at the start of the big the Christmas rush, when his labor-power was needed most, walking away from a crappy, low-paying 60+ hour a week stint busting his hump loading trucks. Turnabout is fair play.

1:26 PM. Small talk over, our religious host says grace. Shoveling of food commences. Star of the show are the meatballs that one of the aunties made... Some kind of sweet and sour sauce on them. Tasty.

2:45 PM. Everybody is talked out. We stare into space and try to smile politely.

2:57 PM. Line of the day from my cousin (and friend) who is sitting next to me. He mutters to me, under his breath: "Yep, it's Christmas, all right. All the usual symptoms."

3:10 PM. My cool aunt offers to get a board game out that she brought, which she promises would be fun. I decline. 

"Oh, you want to leave," she says. "I can see it in your eyes."

Is it that obvious?

Of course, she actually wants to leave, too, but as my mom's kid sister she's technically from the previous generation and thus has less mobility than AA and I.

3:27 PM. We stand up and AA and I begin to slowly edge for the door. We make it past the threshold about 20 minutes later. As the door closes behind us, I am inspired by the words of the great Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

4:04 PM. Home, finally, TV on, the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Los Angeles Lakers. Hey, what is this crap? Midway through the 3rd Quarter and the Cavs are up by 13 points — 61-48. Bynum jams to cut the lead to 11 and Mo Williams gets up slowly, shaken up a bit. A timeout is taken, but things do not immediately improve for Kobe & Ko.


4:17 PM. Cleveland has passed the ball into the paint for an easy jam and expanded their lead to 18. Ugh, it's that idiot Jeff Van Gundy doing the color commentary. Mark Jackson I can take. Jeff Van Gundy either needs a lobotomy or has already had one.

4:21 PM. Lakers down 20. Sasha Vujacic drives two steps into the 3 point circle to take a long jumper. Genius! He's a foot short with the shot. This is not going well for Phil's disciples... At the end of the 3rd Quarter, the Lakershow is 17 points in arrears. Tough afternoon. Still, I'd much rather be subjected to a thunking of the Lakers than sit through another hour of Christmas post-dinner festivities.

4:46 PM. Half way through the 4th Quarter, the Lakers are still down 16 points. Ron Ron hits a trey from the corner. Lakers aren't quite dead yet. The crowd is making noise, finally.

4:48 PM. Ron Artest fouls out, banging Anderson Varejao in the mouth. I really like Varejao. Still not so big on Ron. That is all.

4:51 PM. Technical on Odom and he's gone. Lakers are down 20 and discipline is breaking down. Lakers now T'd for delay of game. Crowd begins throwing crap onto the floor. I know the feeling, Staples crowd, I was there when OSU's perfect record came to an end in the last game of the 1980/81 season versus Alton Lister and Arizona State University. Ralph Miller grabbed the microphone courtside and I still remember the words... He pointed out some drunken yob in the student section who had just chucked something and growled "I'll have YOU, Junior! These people are our guests and I expect you to act as such!" Much applause and the mob got a grip on its emotions. No more problems. That was a bad day for a Beavs fan. Really bad.

5:02 PM. JVG with a good observation: "I always liked to be a visiting team on Christmas. It's easier to get your team focused, you don't have to worry about the gifts and everything. Christmas is just a hard day for the home team." Lakers loss will make 3 home teams out of 3 going down in flames. Bad news for Portland.

5:07 PM. I'm over to the Los Angeles Clippers at the Phoenix Suns. Game 4 of 5... I'd like the Clips to take them out, but I don't have much hope. LAC are frighteningly inconsistent.

5:35 PM. After opening up a quick lead, the Clips manage to lose it. Pretty much a toss-up as the 2nd Quarter begins.

6:05 PM. Suns beating up on the Clippers. The Ghost of Grant Hill lands a three-quarter court prayer at the halftime horn. Shot counts. Big lead gets bigger. I've shut my brain off on this one.


6:20 PM. Oh crap, Chargers are on NFL Network. Instead of watching them kick booty on the Tennessee Titans, I've been ignoring a bad basketball game on the big screen in the corner. I am out of here!

6:59 PM. The 4th Quarter begins and Halfback Darren Sproules scores the third Chargers touchdown since I've flipped over. Phillip Rivers is hot and the Titans can't stop anything. Tennessee has to throw the ball and the Charger D can gear up for it. The Bolts lead the Titans by an insurmountable score of 42-10. I flip over to basketball to see how far off is the Blazer telecast. Answer: a long time. Back to football.

7:11 PM. I flip back over to the NBA. More than 5 minutes to go in the Suns game and they're up by 32 points. Pretty much the same situation that the Chargers have put on the Titans, ya know. I wonder if the Blazer game has started yet? Nope, just flashed a countdown clock showing 21 minutes until show time. So I will chill. At least the home team is actually gonna win one tonight in Phoenix — so the Blazers might have a chance after all.

7:36 PM. Here we go, the main event, Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers. Kevin Calabro and Tim Legler with the call. Blazers are wearing their alternate road red in keeping with the Christmas uniform theme we have been seeing all day. Chauncey is in after 3 games missed with a groin strain; Brandon is in after 1 game missed with his strained left shoulder.

7:39 PM. On the extra pass Marty hits an open trey from the corner and the Blazers break ice, now trailing 4-3.

7:42 PM. Blazers on fire from the field, but so is Denver. PDX 14, Nuggs 13. Still, I have no illusions about how this turns out — Denver is gonna kick their butts. Notable: analyst Tim Legler calls Roy a "Superstar" and a "very, very unselfish player."

7:45 PM. Calabro indicates that Denver is off to their franchise-best start, 20 wins and 9 losses. They are also 13 and 1 at home, he notes. Number 2 with a bullet in the Western Conference, methinks... I would be utterly unsurprised if they dump LA.

7:51 PM. With 3:32 on the clock, Nate inserts Jerryd Bayless, to a huge ovation from the Rose Garden crowd. He comes in for Roy, not Miller. Rex picks up his first assist within 30 seconds of game time. Denver puts the massive Carmelo Anthony on Rex and before a fat guy can burp he's 0-for-2 from the field on perimeter misses. It's gonna be a long night for him.

7:58 PM. The 1st Quarter comes to a close with a too-easy Anthony put-back in the paint at the horn. Nuggets head to the bench up by 7 at the break. Denver is murdering the Blazers in the paint, showing in concrete terms why this team is going nowhere in the postseason without Oden or Pryzzy — if they're able to make the playoffs.

8:02 PM. Legler calls Portland "the second best defensive rebounding team in the NBA." Now they have no Centers, obviously, which probably explains how Denver amassed SIX offensive rebounds in the 1st Quarter. LMA has a bucket waved off for lowering his shoulder on Birdbrain. Seconds later, there's a makeup call on the other end of the floor on a moving pick call.

8:05 PM. Rex is fouled at the rim by Birdbrain. He drains two FTs to break ice.

8:07 PM. Birdbrain caps Rex, triggering a fast break dunk. Nuggs are now up 9 and the ground is shaking for the Blazers. Centers are important, y'all... Cut to commercial for Amway Global, which proudly proclaims that from modest beginnings in 1959 the company has grown to a behemoth with $8 Billion in sales through its 3 Million independent representatives. That works out to just less than $2700 each, or under $225 a month. That's probably retail, since they're blowing their horn about how big they are. Not sure I'd be advertising the figures so prominently, unless your target audience is people who are bad at math who want to make less money than a paperboy.


8:17 PM. Ultra-cheesy "All I Want for Christmas is You!" Brandon pointing into the camera while wearing his Santa hat, much much longer and dumber/cooler than the flash I saw earlier in the day. No way no how THAT'S not gonna be showing soon on YouTube!

8:31 PM. Rex gets hammered in the head going to the rack by Kenyon Martin — a goomba with a well-established and well-earned reputation as a dirty player. Martin tried to wrap him up, but Rex powered through towards the rim so Martin swung at the ball, following through through Rex's face, knocking him hard to the floor. Officials call a correct Flagrant 1 against the Thugget. Legler disagrees... Rex hits one, misses one, and the Blazers take the ball out of bounds.

8:41 PM. Nate calls timeout with 17 seconds left to reinsert Brandon Roy into the game and call a play to end the half. Roy pulls up from just beyond the free throw line and hits, pulling Portland to just 2 points behind at the half, 51-49. Roy has 25 points for the half. Guess who is keeping Portland in the game? I fully anticipate that George Karl will make Portland do something else in the second half. LMA needs to step up big. And the Blazers need a little Christmas miracle.

9:01 PM. The second half begins. Chauncey is on the bench and Anthony Carter is on the floor as PG for Denver. This is good, good news for Portland's chances, obviously. 

9:03 PM. Brandon hits a short pull up from the baseline and the Blazers are on the board for the half. That's 27 for him and the Nuggs' lead is back to 2. Second highest Portland scorer is LMA with 6...

9:07 PM. Fourth foul called on Carmelo, offensive foul away from the ball. Wow. Marty nails a 3 on the other end and the Blazers lead, 59-57, with about 7:30 to go in the 3rd Quarter.

9:09 PM. Third foul on Nene and Portland is into bonus already, with 6:38 on the clock.

9:26 PM. The 3rd Quarter comes to a close with Denver holding a narrow 2 point lead after Birdbrain comes to help on a Rex drive to the rack, capping him hard and then posing for the crowd. That guy is a complete phony, I can't stand that twerp. Still, an entertaining game, with baskets traded right and left. The longer the Blazers stay close, the greater the chances that they'll be able to put a couple in the hole to eek out a most unlikely win. It is rather remarkable that Nene doesn't have 25 points by now — he's getting checked by basically nobody, unless a rookie in his third game ever or a grandpaguy in his 30th year counts.

9:30 PM. Calabro with the mandatory interview with Monty Williams. He says it's important to get LMA going. Truer words I have not heard. The quarter begins with both Roy and Melo on the bench. This doesn't last long, with both of the Superstars sent to the scorer's table and entering the game at the 11:11 mark.

9:43 PM. Blazers looking terrific. I LIKE this unit, with Roy and Rex as guards and Blake playing the Portland in the corner but not afraid to carry the ball upcourt as necessary. LMA and Howard as the bigs, which isn't optimum but probably sufficient against most teams in this league. With 6:15 to play the Blazers holding a 5 point lead with the ball. Roy nails a huge trey to crack the 40 point mark and the Rose Garden crowd comes unglued... Time out on the floor, PDX up 93-85, outscoring Denver 19-9 in the quarter. Brandon loves big TV games, I think...

9:52 PM. Portland up 10. Roy drives the ball in traffic, kicks out to Rex in the corner playing the Portland. Airball. Down at the other end Melo pushes off on Rex, who flops. No call. Melo scores it. Lead is down to 8 with 2:39 on the clock. Rex is having a rough game tonight. On the defensive end he has completely neutralized Ty Lawson, however, so his presence hasn't been a complete catastrophe. Still, if he shoots from more than 6 inches from the rim at this point, I am going to be seriously upset. Dude is cold.

9:56 PM. Blake is feeling it. Another huge 3 and the lead is 11. Nice work. Blake is a very good 3 point bomber...

9:57 PM. Blazers up 101-92. Blazers running clock. Rex drives the lane AND ONE. Rex do what he do what he do. That is dagger! Rex bricks the bonus shot, but it is still an 11 point lead with a little more than a minute remaining. Hasta, baby. Offensive foul Denver. Rex drives it again and heads back to the FT line. Bad brick on one, hits the second. Smith hits for Denver. Rex carries, runs clock, zips it to Blake playing the Portland in the corner. Swish!  Coup de grace. Final score, Blazers 107, Nuggets 96. 

Win number 20 for Portland. Roy game-high with 41 points. Nice finish to Christmas!

Okay, let's whip out the power tool. Give the good ol' Popcorn Machine GAME FLOW SUMMARY a click, if you would... 

Observation 1: Really interesting flow of the game. Blazers started strong, Denver came back and took control in the first half, then in the second half the tide turned and Portland won going away in the 4th Quarter.

Observation 2: Andre Miller played all of the 3rd Quarter and none of the 4th. Nate got excellent production out of his 4th Quarter unit, featuring Steve Blake (14 in the quarter), Brandon Roy (10 in the quarter), and Jerryd Bayless (5 in the quarter).

Observation 3: Portland effectively won the game with a decisive 13-3 run that it put on the Nuggs starting midway through the 4th Quarter.

Observation 4: LMA again played the entire second half, but only scored 4 points during these 24 minutes, on 2-for-3 shooting.

Forward and onward...


Now, back by popular demand, here's a little tune for my good pal Birdbrain and the Denver Nuggets...

"Another One Bites the Dust," starring SNOWBALL.


I congratulate you for having endured and welcome you to the real point of this article (albeit buried under about 10 screens of crap) a fine hand-selected blend of the journalism and bloggerosity from the Denver Nuggets nation...



Blake's Hot Fourth Quarter Helps Trail Blazers Down Nuggets

by Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post

PORTLAND, ORE. - Steve Blake is the Blitzen of the Trail Blazers.

But on Christmas night, the reliable reserve erupted for 14 fourth-quarter points in the Trail Blazers' huge 107-96 win over Denver, Blake's old team.

Nuggets coach George Karl's favorite former players are intangible guys, be it Detlef Schrempf, Nate McMillan or Steve Blake, and there was Blake on Friday, catching fire and hitting four fourth-quarter 3-pointers after Portland entered the quarter trailing by two.

"Steve can make shots," Karl said. "The corner 3 has always been a part of (Portland's) personality, and tonight we didn't do a great job at covering it." * * *

The Blazers' win was more impressive considering their injured players could fill a jury. Among the wounded are two of their top rebounders in Greg Oden (8.5 boards) and Joel Przybilla (7.9) and two of their top bench scorers in Travis Outlaw (9.9 points) and Rudy Fernandez (8.6). * * *



The Three-Pointers that Stole Christmas

by Andrew Feinstein, Denver Stiffs

* * *
... But when the second half began and #25 [Anthony Carter] was starting at point guard instead of #1 [Chauncey Billups], you just knew the Nuggets were in trouble. And now, what seemed like an easy division title for Denver with the Blazers decimated by injuries over the past few weeks has turned into a one-game lead for our Nuggets. This will be yet another dogfight between Denver and Portland until the very end of the season for the Northwest Division crowd. Oh, joy. * * *

Stiff of the Night: Nene: Against a team with no centers (well, they have centers but they're in the infirmary right now), Nene mustered just nine points and three rebounds and couldn't stay out of foul trouble. Nene's plus/minus was -19 by the end of the game. As ESPN/ABC's Mark Jackson would say: "C'mon big fella, you're better than that!"

Non-Stiff of the Night: Brandon Roy: What more can be said about Roy, one of the few players who belongs on my "Alpha Dog" list? Just two days removed from missing a game due to a sore shoulder, Roy unloaded on our Nuggets and had a great all-around game with 41 points (including two dagger three-pointers mid-way through the fourth), six rebounds and four assists. *  *  *



Rule #1: EVERYBODY Hates Their Coach

posted to the Denver Stiffs Gameday Open Thread

Where's all the people that support Karl tonight? They won't say anything when we get are asses kicked.

by slight31 on Dec 25, 2009 9:57 PM PST

I'm right here. How are you crybabies trying to blame Karl for this one? OR will you be telling us about how we should trade Melo tonight? * * *

by UZ on Dec 25, 2009 9:58 PM PST

Look at his rotations, terrible. The guy doesn't know [barnyard expression]. // We will have a first round exit this year again.

by slight31 on Dec 25, 2009 10:00 PM PST

And since when did an NBA game in December matter?
by UZ on Dec 25, 2009 10:01 PM PST

Tell that to the Blazers
You are an idiot man. Karl deserves some of the blame, if not all.

by runningdonut on Dec 25, 2009 10:04 PM PST

AND SO ON.......



Role Player Goes Off Again

posted by "Golden Nugget" to Denver Stiffs Gameday Open Thread

Again we, for some reason, allow a role player to go off for a career night.

Steve Blake's career high is 25, he had 17 tonight, which is one less than the most points he has had all season. He also has a career high of 6 3 pionters made in a game, we allowed him 5, most of which came in one quarter.

As for a non-role player, Roy, we allowed him to make 3 more filed goals than his season high and one more than his career high. I get that players go off for points every now and then, buy why is it always against us?!?!

All it is is solid proof that our defense is nowhere near where it should be, and you know who that's on? That's right, Karl.



Bad Trend

posted by "Siopaoboi" to Nuggets Talk message board

I'm ok with losing on the road against the good teams (e.g. Lakers, Celtics, Magic, etc), but the trend is becoming like we're losing to teams who the Nuggets are underestimating (Wolves, Clippers, Bobcats, Pistons, etc.) and we're not mentally tough.

Now, I just don't think the Nuggs can go back to the WCF, something is wrong with this lineup, last year even with DJ [Dahntay Jones] and LK [Linus Kleiza], this team played hard and tried to prove a point and won winnable games. this year, when we are supposedly a more improved team with Ty and AA [Aaron Afflalo] (and less AC [Anthony Carter] minutes, and Melo playing amazing), the team decides to suck.

I don't know if its the age factor...that CB [Chauncey Billups] and AC has started to regress, or JR [Smith] not living up to what we really want from him every game ...or its just that this is the GK [George Karl] theory altogether again. He comes in and turns the franchise around and reaches the conference finals, then players start to block him out and his team starts to suck.



Some Random Thoughts

posted by "Kokonut" to Nuggets Talk message board

Some random thoughts:

  • How come we dont explore their lack of size? They have freaking Pendergraph out there and yet we keeping going away from Nene.
  • Yes, cupcake, I know Nene was terrible tonight (3 rebounds OMG) BUT we barely got him the ball to play one on one.
  • AC and Ty were awful. Roy, Blake and Bayless abused them. And there were no help d whatsoever.
  • Pathetic effort in the second half.
  • Oh, and I thought Afflalo was a stopper. Guess not. Dude is invisible out there on both ends of the floor.



Trade Nene

posted by "Blue Steel" to Real GM Nuggets message board

[responding to a statement that "OK, we should trade Nene."]

Exactly what I thought this game. Nene gets outplayed but low competition all the time. He had trouble with some rookie out of Arizona State tonight... He puts up 9/3 against Pendergraph and Juwan Howard. Where is pitbull now?

It's probably too late to trade him for somebody but we really need some consistent post offense. Melo is all we've got, otherwise we just rely on jumpshots and fastbreak dunks.

At this point i'd gladly trade him for Marc Gasol (not that memphis would agree to that). I hope the front office stops working on Karl's extension and starts figuring out how to make this team into a true contender.



No Spirit

posted by "Snake from Hell" to Real GM Nuggets message board

This team is lacking competitive spirit, with the exception of Melo.

Once they get down, although they seem to know they can chase and win, they seem to lose interest in doing just that.

Ty needs to find how he can be effective... God damn we can get Julius Hodge or Nikoloz Tskitishvili to just bring the ball up on a rookie contract. Use your God damm asset, speed! Break down that defense.

Merry Christmas everyone! Congrats Portland on a good win.


I might be posting a few more things as they become available today, although I have a busy day at work, so it also might not happen. Check back around lunchtime Saturday and see.


The Bottom LIne:

1. Nene — you have failed us.

2. George Karl — you are to blame for Nene having failed us.

3. Despite the team's fast start, we are losing to teams that we should not be losing to on the road. This needs to stop if our Nuggets are gonna get over the hump in the playoffs this season...



Here's about as much traditional Christmas musical spirit as I can muster.. This first one is video from 1979 of a little side project between the members of Thin Lizzy (fronted by Phil Lynott) and guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. The collaboration band, called THE GREEDIES, produced a novelty single (7" vinyl): "A Merry Jingle" b/w "A Merry Jangle." I'm pretty sure it was put out in the UK by Virgin, which was the Pistols' label at the time.

It's pretty amazing what you can find on YouTube... This is from the UK music show "Top of the Pops."

"A Merry Jingle"

This one is much credited to the Sex Pistols on YouTube but it's absolutely not by them... A very good '77-sound punk rock version of "Jingle Bells" that I think is by some goofs calling themselves the "Transexpistols." This is audio only with a still photo but is worth giving a quick spin for sure.

"Jingle Bells"

And here's a fairly lame-o Christmas song by the Ramones, "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)." Not sure what year this is, middle '80s probably... Clearly a video made for MTV. No good ever came of that...

"Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)"

I think this one is a British novelty single from 1976 by Matt Black and the Doodlebugs that was recently made into a gloriously cheesy fan video. Heavy cockney accent and I'm just ad libbing a little bit here, dug this up prowling YouTube for more Christmas Fare. (They do have video of FEAR doing "**** Christmas" on there, but I never did like that band...)

"Punky Christmas"

And finally, what is a spin around YouTube without being subjected to something completely random? I present to you Maddy, Lalla, e Tere al pogo!!!

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