Nuggets/Bucks: Carmelo Anthony apparently still a Nugget

2010/2011 NBA Season

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vs.
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21-33 (13-12 home) 31-25 (9-18 road)
February 16, 2011
Bradley Center
8:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: ESPN
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Chauncey Billups
John Salmons
SG Aaron Afflalo
Carlos Delfino
SF Carmelo Anthony
Luc Mbah a Moute
PF Kenyon Martin
Andrew Bogut
C Nene Hilario

(29th) 101.2 - OFFENSE -  112.7 (1st)
(5th) 102.7 - DEFENSE - 110.4 (18th)
(25th) 89.8  - PACE -  95.7 (3rd)

On the Nuggets: 

Denver Stiffs / Roundball Mining Company / Denver Post

The Bucks hope to head into the all-star break on a high note when they host Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets at the Bradley Center on Wednesday.

Retro Monday. The Bucks have been rocking those nice throwback home jerseys of late, and they turned back the clock a year by going for extended stretches against the Clips with last year's preferred starting lineup: Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute and Andrew Bogut. But before everyone gets all teary-eyed thinking about the glory days of 1970 2010, it's worth noting that the "old" starting lineup managed only a modest 23-20 advantage against the Clippers. Positive is good, but for the season that lineup has actually been outscored 88-77 in 44 minutes. Still, with Corey Maggette (back) and Ersan Ilyasova (eye/possible concussion) potentially out of the lineup, we could see the Bucks start with their old school lineup for the first time this season. 

Buckets o' Nuggets. You'd expect the Carmelo Circus would prove a major distraction for George Karl's gang--four losses in five games might be evidence of it--but apparently there's no distracting this crew on the offensive end. The Nuggs lead the league in both points per game and points/100 possessions, thanks in large part to their sharp-shooting ways and penchant for getting to the stripe. They rank second in eFG%, fg%, free throw rate, and free throws made/game and third in three point percentage (39.0%). Not bad. They also play fast, which goes against everything that we've seen from the Bucks this year--though that may not be a bad thing.

This is my subtle way of suggesting the Bucks and Nuggets don't have much in common. Another example: while Carmelo (he of the 24.9 ppg) and Kenyon Martin are the only Nugget starters with a true shooting percentage under 63%, the Bucks have just one starter with a TS% above 51% (Corey Maggette at 57%). Namely, the "big three" (I'm not capitalizing that) all sport TS%'s of 49% or less. Yikes. 

JS: Luc takes the Blake challenge
Blake Griffin got his numbers on Monday (19 pts, 12 rebs, 6 ast) but the Bucks made him work for it--as his 7/19 shooting suggested. The Bucks regularly doubled and sagged their perimeter defenders to help keep the presumptive rookie of the year off balance, but it also had a lot to do with Mbah a Moute's ability to hold up against Griffin on the block.

"Luc has a knack laterally that a lot of people don't have," Skiles said. "If you put him in some sort of lateral race, I doubt he'd win too many of them.

"But he anticipates; he's in a stance. That's why he can guard people at multiple positions. And he's got enough thickness to his body that he can battle somebody like that."

GoErie: Temple returning to D-League
Garrett Temple was able to snag a pair of 10-day deals with the Bucks, but John Hammond and company passed on signing him for the rest of the season Tuesday, instead opting to let Temple return to the D-League. Despite a surprisingly impactful debut in a home win over the Hawks, Temple otherwise offered little in his limited opportunities, which is about par for the course when you sign a 15th man out of the D-League. Temple had previously been selected for the 2011 D-League all-star game, so I guess that might offer some consolation? Good luck, Garrett.

Tracking Brandon. No matter what happens with the Bucks from here on out, my biggest concern is Brandon Jennings. Sure, it'd be nice if John Salmons got his mojo back and Drew Gooden actually played, but it's Jennings and Andrew Bogut who are the real keys to the Bucks' future and they're the ones. And with Bogut looking like he'll need a full summer off before he (hopefully) gets his offensive game back together, the focus largely shifts to the Bucks' mercurial point guard to help turn things around and offer some hope for the future. Jennings' 20 points on 17 shots against the Clippers marked the first time since returning to the lineup 10 games ago that he managed more points than shot attempts, which in case you're curious is not a good sign. But while I may come off as a skeptic at times, please make no mistake: I desperately want this kid to figure things out.

Hopes were admittedly higher the last time Denver came to town. Three days before dropping 55 on the Warriors on November 14, 2009, Jennings put everyone on notice by scoring 32 and dropping nine dimes in a 108-102 win over Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets. 

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