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george karl

Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today. Under Karl’s stewardship, the Nuggets finished with a league-best 38-3 (.927) mark at home and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra finished second in the voting, followed by New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson who finished third, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich fourth, and Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel fifth.

In earning his first NBA Coach of the Year, Karl totaled 404 points, including 62 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The award was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

The Nuggets went 57-25 (.695) – the league’s fourth-best record – despite beginning the season as the league’s third-youngest team with an average age of 24.9 years, and not having a player score more than 16.7 points per game during the regular season. According to NBA.com/Stats, the Nuggets ranked third in assists (24.4 apg), generating an assist on 60.0 percent of their made field goals. Denver ranked fifth in player impact estimate (53.8 percent), offensive rating (107.6) and net rating (+5.6).

The Nuggets’ 38-3 record at Pepsi Center was a franchise-best and tied for the 14th best home record in league annals. Additionally, their .927 winning percentage at home was the highest since 2008-09 when the Cleveland Cavaliers went 39-2 (.951) at Quicken Loans Arena.

In his 25th season as an NBA head coach (ninth with Denver), Karl earned two Western Conference Coach of the Month awards during the 2012-13 campaign. He won for March after leading Denver to a conference-best 13-2 (.867) mark, which included wins in the first 12 games of the month, feeding a 15-game, franchise-tying-best winning streak. He earned his first monthly nod in January after the Nuggets opened the New Year with a 12-3 (.800) record. During January, Karl passed Larry Brown for sixth place on the all-time coaching wins list and notched his 1,100th career win.

The sixth-winningest coach in NBA annals and the active wins leader, Karl has amassed 1,131 career victories in the NBA, including a streak of 21-straight non-losing seasons – tied with Phil Jackson (21, 1989-90-2010-11) for the most in NBA history.

The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honored as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.

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When it was over Thursday night in Oakland, Calif., each man in a suit found a nook in the concrete back hallway of Oracle Arena, lost in what-ifs.

Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri. The front-office duo that restructured the Nuggets. The team’s biggest fans.

Each man took extremely hard the loss that knocked the Nuggets out of the playoffs. But on Friday, it was back to work. Meetings and media, phone calls and texts. Kroenke and Ujiri are committed to getting the Nuggets deeper in the playoffs, and it appears they are committed to each other as work partners.

Ujiri’s contract as general manager is up at the end of June. Kroenke, the team president, said Friday: “For the fans, they should know that Masai wants to be here, and I think he enjoys working for me. I think we make a pretty good team, along with Pete (D’Alessandro, vice president of basketball operations) and Dan (Tolzman, scouting director) and the rest of our scouting staff. So I wouldn’t anticipate any issues there.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets has been voted the 2012-13 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named after the second commissioner of the NBA and presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community

Faried won the NBA’s “Community Assist Award” for February in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work, including his efforts to champion equality and bring awareness to the importance of respect and inclusion. Faried recently became a member of Athlete Ally, an organization that works to encourage acceptance of others and end homophobia in sports. In a show of support for equal rights, he attended the launch party for One Colorado to celebrate the passing of Senate Bill 11, The Colorado Civil Union Act. Faried also supported the message of inclusion by participating as an honorary coach at the 2013 NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game during NBA All-Star in Houston.

The Nuggets forward has been an integral part of the team’s community outreach efforts this season, having purchased a block of season tickets for distribution to children from Special Olympics Colorado, Denver Public Schools and the Denver Rescue Mission as part of the team’s community ticket program. Faried also joined the giveSPORTS Equipment Drive to provide inspiration and joy for individuals affected by the Colorado wildfires and the tragic shooting at the Aurora movie theater. As part of the NBA Cares Pediatric Cancer Awareness Campaign, Faried brought smiles to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patients and families by treating the group to an unforgettable Team Fit clinic. Faried also donated and personally delivered 44 pairs of sneakers to a local middle school basketball team for use during the upcoming season. During his visit, he met with the team to discuss the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship and education.

“Kenneth’s commitment to equality and inclusion is praise-worthy,” said Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “He has reached out to so many areas in need and touched so many different communities in Denver and Colorado that it is only right to celebrate his efforts.”

The PBWA comprises approximately 125 writers for newspapers, Internet services and magazines, who cover the NBA on a regular basis.

Other finalists nominated by PBWA members this year were Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks, Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls, Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks, David Lee of the Golden State Warriors, Jason Terry of the Boston Celtics and Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus damage in his left knee.
The procedure was performed Monday at the Steadman Clinic in Vail.

After a short-term rehabilitation, a date will be scheduled for Gallinari to undergo surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Gallinari suffered the injury on April 4. He averaged 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds – both career-highs – and made a team-leading 135 3-pointers in 71 games this season.

javale mcgee

The Nuggets did not pay center JaVale McGee a $10 million salary so coach George Karl could let him rot on the bench in the playoffs.

After being good enough to be in the starting lineup 81 times for a 57-win team during the regular season, center Kosta Koufos lost his job after one loss to Golden State, as if it were his fault the Nuggets cannot defend 3-point shots from Warriors guard Steph Curry.

Anybody know where the Nuggets can find two psychiatrist couches in an extra long? The Denver centers are 14 feet of head case.

Want to know why the Nuggets are unexpectedly trailing upstart Golden State 2-1 in this best-of-seven playoff series?

Denver is afraid to be the bigger team.

– Reported by Mark Kizla of the Denver Post

Stephen Curry helps Warriors tie series with Nuggets

The Golden State Warriors hardly missed much of anything Tuesday night.

Not their shots.

Not their injured All-Star.

Stephen Curry had 30 points and 13 assists and the scrappy Warriors handed the Denver Nuggets their first loss at home in more than three months, a 131-117 stunner that evened their playoff series at a game each.

Rallying around injured David Lee, who cheered on the bench in street clothes, the Warriors got 26 points from surprise starter Jarrett Jack, a career-high 24 from rookie Harrison Barnes in his debut at power forward and 21 from Klay Thompson.

The sixth-seeded Warriors, who became the second road team to win in the postseason following Chicago’s victory at Brooklyn on Monday, wrested homecourt advantage from the NBA’s best home team in the series that shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Friday night.

”They were knocking down shots,” Denver’s Andre Iguodala said in an understatement.

Better than they ever had before in a playoff game, a franchise playoff-record 64.6 percent from the field (51 of 79)…

Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer each scored 19 points for Denver and Iguodala and Miller both had 18, but the Nuggets were playing catch-up from the middle of the second quarter and couldn’t keep up with so many of the Warriors’ shots falling, negating Denver’s league-best transition game…

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Kenneth Faried day-to-day with sprained ankle

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried underwent an MRI today on his left ankle. The exam revealed a sprain of the Anterior Talofibular ligament but no fractures.

Faried, averaging 11.5 points and a team-leading 9.2 rebounds per game, will miss the final two games of the regular season and be listed as day-to-day as the Nuggets prepare for the Western Conference playoffs.

The Nuggets play tonight at Milwaukee and conclude the regular-season Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Suns.

Kenneth Faried

The Denver Nuggets are getting good at bittersweet moments.

Andre Iguodala scored 28 points and the Nuggets set an NBA franchise record with their 55th win Sunday, beating the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 118-109 but losing another starter.

On the day Ty Lawson (right heel) returned to Denver’s starting lineup for the first time since March 27 and played an encouraging 31 minutes, forward Kenneth Faried sprained his left ankle in the opening minutes while driving for a layup and didn’t return.

”We’re dropping like flies, man,” Lawson said. ”Well, it’s not too serious, I heard, so he might be out for a week or so. He’s a tough guy.”

Although X-rays were negative, coach George Karl stressed that he didn’t want to guess about Faried’s availability for the playoffs that start next weekend until after his top rebounder goes for an MRI on Monday…

Iguodala also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out nine assists, blocked three shots and had three steals to go with his 28 points, marking the first time in his career he’d posted those numbers in a game.

And rookie Evan Fournier scored 24 points in his second career start, sinking a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the closing minutes after the Trail Blazers had cut a 20-point deficit to 104-101 with 3:33 left.

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Kenneth Faried

No matter what happens the rest of his career, Nolan Smith has accepted that he will always be linked to Kenneth Faried.

After every mammoth dunk, every dizzying double-double, every hustle-infused highlight-reel moment Denver’s “Manimal” unleashes, somewhere, some disbelieving Trail Blazers fan will curse under his breath: “He should be a Blazer.”

“I don’t blame them,” Smith said. “I don’t blame them at all. Seeing what he’s doing, seeing how he plays when he’s on the court with his team, it’s very easy to say, ‘Damn, we could have had him.’ But they could have had Michael Jordan, as well. It’s part of the draft. They’re mad at Greg Oden, too. So you can just add me to the guys they can be mad at.”

And there’s no question Blazers fans are mad. The team’s decision to select Smith one spot ahead of Faried with the No. 21 overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft is one of several personnel moves that led to last season’s roster implosion and this season’s rebuild.

– Reported by Joe Freeman of the Oregonian

Danilo Gallinari out for season with ACL tear

With the NBA Playoffs mere weeks away, the Denver Nuggets just lost a crucial part of their team to major injury.

An MRI exam today revealed that Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Fortunately, the MRI showed no signs of other ligament or meniscus damage. He will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season.

“We’re extremely disappointed for Gallo. He was having a career year in scoring and rebounding and was a huge reason for our success,” Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. “We will obviously support him and be there for him throughout his recovery.

“Knowing his work ethic and commitment to getting back on the floor, we are confident he will come back stronger than ever next season.”

Gallinari, 24, averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 71 games this season.

Surgery will be scheduled at a later date, and a prognosis for a full recovery is excellent.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, they have a deep roster, and should certainly remain very competitive during the 2013 postseason. But this is still a large blow to their squad.

denver nuggets

The Denver Nuggets’ success runs deep, especially on their home floor.

With playmaking guard and scoring leader Ty Lawson sidelined by foot problems, rookie Evan Fournier had a season-high 19 points to lead a strong showing by Denver’s reserves, and the Nuggets extended their home winning streak to 18 games by beating the Brooklyn Nets 109-87 Friday night.

Denver improved to 33-3 at the Pepsi Center this season, the best home record in the league, and hit the 50-win mark for the fifth time in the last five full seasons.

Wilson Chandler had 16 points, and Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos added 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who need one win to match their longest home winning streak, from Jan. 28-April 20, 1989, despite missing Lawson. He was ruled out for the third time in four games after an exam Thursday of his strained heel also revealed a plantar fascia tear in his right foot…

Andre Miller started in place of Lawson and finished with 12 points, but the Nuggets also anticipated that Fournier would get additional playing time and produce given the opportunity…

Deron Williams scored 19 points for the Nets, who missed a chance for their team-record 21st road win of the season. Especially hurt by an off night at the free throw line - Brooklyn converted only 18 of 36 - the Nets lost to the Nuggets for the sixth straight time in Denver…

Andray Blatche had 16 points and Reggie Evans added 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Nets, who are trying to finish a season with a winning road record for the first time in team history.

– Reported by Dennis Georgatos of the Associated Press

Tim Duncan, Spurs edge Nuggets 100-99

Tim Duncan

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich treats the stretch run of the regular season like a series of final exams for his team.

The Spurs passed their latest - just barely.

Tim Duncan had 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks and the San Antonio Spurs escaped with a 100-99 win over Denver on Wednesday night when Nuggets veteran guard Andre Miller missed a short jumper at the buzzer.

”The schedule that we have is something that should be embraced and considered a great opportunity,” Popovich said, ”because it’s like taking a final exam every day or most days. To get ready for the playoffs, understanding the physicality, aggressiveness and competitiveness that’s necessary night after night in the playoffs.”

Denver dished out a heavy dose of that playoff intensity.

Danny Green added 20 points and Tony Parker had 18 points and 11 assists for the Spurs, who remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and Tiago Splitter 10.

JaVale McGee had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Wilson Chandler scored 15 points and Miller 14 for the Nuggets, whose reserves outscored their Spurs counterparts 59-18. Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari added 12 points apiece and Andre Igoudala had 10.

– Reported by Raul Dominguez of the Associated Press

Kosta Koufos delivering as post man for Nuggets

His fans don’t know how to spell his name.

Nor do some opponents.

But word is getting around about Kosta Koufos.

A benchwarmer much of last season, Koufos has blossomed as the Nuggets’ starting center. He is coming off his best week of the season with dominating performances against the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies, which led to numerous fans texting on that postgame scroll on Altitude. Fans praised his game but often misspelled his name. There was a “Koufas” a couple of times and a “Koufus.”

And even Wednesday, on the pregame dry-erase board in the Knicks’ locker room, a New York coach had written “Koufas.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

kosta koufos

The Denver Nuggets plodded along for three quarters before beating Memphis at its own game.

Hardly known as a half-court team, the high-flying Nuggets had to resort to set plays and setting picks to finally break free.

Turns out, they’re pretty good at it, especially when they dump the ball inside to Kosta Koufos.

Koufos scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, helping the Nuggets rally to knock off the Grizzlies 87-80 on Friday night for their 11th straight victory, their longest streak in 30 years…

Then along came Kenneth Faried, providing a much-needed spark with his energetic play. The player known as ”Manimal” was blocking shots, hustling for rebounds and pestering Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies’ force up front who had 18 points and 18 rebounds.

With the Nuggets trailing 66-58 heading into the fourth quarter, Faried helped them go on a 17-4 run and seize back the momentum. That’s exactly why he’s on the court…

The Grizzlies have been on a 15-5 roll since a three-team deal on Jan. 30 that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto and landed Tayshaun Prince in Memphis. … Denver has won 26 of its last 28 home games against Memphis. … The Nuggets are 28-3 when allowing 100 or fewer points.

– Reported by Pat Graham of the Associated Press

Chauncey Billups and Denver still share love

He’s forever Denver’s.

“At guard, from Park Hill Colorado, No. 1, Chauncey Billups!”

And as in the glory days of 2009, the Pepsi Center crowd cheered with pride.

Chauncey was back home Thursday night, and PA announcer Kyle Speller gave the Clippers guard a special shout-out during pregame introductions.

Billups plays for Los Angeles, but he’s always this town’s guy, a former George Washington High School standout who starred at Colorado and had two stints with the Nuggets, the second featuring a trip to the 2009 conference finals.

“I just think Chauncey’s a winner — he’s a class human being, he cares about the game, he cares about the city of Denver,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He’s just one of those guys, whenever he retires, I’m sure the Nuggets will figure out how he can be part of the Nuggets organization if he wants to be part of the Nuggets.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Nuggets love fast-break basketball

Nuggets love fast-break basketball

The Nuggets, led by the super speedy Ty Lawson, are really fast. Denver entered Thursday’s home game against the Clippers as the No. 1 team in the NBA with 19.7 fast-break points, 57.7 points in the paint and ranked second to the Clippers with 19.5 points off turnovers.

Asked about defending this type of offensive onslaught, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said, “You have to load up, and when our guys shoot 3s, we have to start getting back, especially if you are in the corner you have to start sprinting back and loading up and finding a man. It doesn’t particularly have to be your man, but you have to stop the ball and find where the threats are. It can’t be a once in a while thing; it has to be every time.”

I asked George if there’s a certain way to coach hustle, notably with his big men. Here’s how he put it:

“The best way to coach it is, they get rewarded if they stay on the court if they run and they don’t stay on the court if they don’t,” Karl said. “That’s the simple philosophy. Big guys have to run and rebound, and if they don’t, we play small.”

– Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Ty Lawson

The Denver Nuggets routed the surging Los Angeles Clippers 107-92 on Thursday night, riding 21 points from Ty Lawson and 20 from Danilo Gallinari to their 12th straight home win.

Seven Nuggets scored in double figures as Denver won its seventh straight overall and improved to 27-3 at home, tied with the Miami Heat for best in the NBA.

Despite 19 points from Matt Barnes and 17 from Blake Griffin, the Clippers saw their five-game road winning streak come to an end.

More importantly, they lost the season series to the Nuggets 2-1, a tiebreaker that could come into play if Denver can catch them for the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Right now, the Nuggets are in fifth, behind Memphis…

Both teams had 11 turnovers, Denver outscored Los Angeles by a dozen points from long range and Paul was good, not great, scoring 16 points and dishing out 10 assists, one fewer than Lawson had…

Jamal Crawford, who had a game-high 22 points in the Clippers’ win over Denver on Christmas Day, sat out with a sore left ankle that he injured Wednesday night in L.A.’s 117-101 win over Milwaukee in which he scored 25 points…

Denver is 27-11 against Western Conference teams. … The Clippers have won six of the last nine games against the Nuggets.

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Corey Brewer

Denver’s bench is giving the Nuggets’ starting five a push for playing time. At this rate, the reserves might be just as good as the starters.

This time, it was Corey Brewer scoring 22 points and being, as his coach said, ”a pest defensively,” and Wilson Chandler chipping in 13 points in the Nuggets’ 104-88 win over the depleted Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Starter Ty Lawson had 18 points and Kenneth Faried had another double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, but it was Denver’s bench - which outscored Oklahoma City’s reserves by 60 points in their last game - that provided the effort and energy that helped the Nuggets finally shake the Hawks.

Behind their reserves’ 50-point night, the Nuggets won their 11th straight game at the Pepsi Center and matched Miami’s NBA-best 26-3 home record…

With Chandler and Brewer providing the scoring off the bench, JaVale McGee chipped in some more amazing dunks to go with five electrifying blocked shots and Andre Miller dished out nine assists…

Al Horford scored 18 points for Atlanta, and Josh Smith chipped in 15 points, becoming the 24th player in league history to collect 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. His milestone came on a night when many of his teammates were spectators as the Hawks were without Kyle Korver (toe), Zaza Pachulia (sore right Achilles) and DeShawn Stevenson, who skipped the second game of this back-to-back like he normally does because of balky knees.

Then, Jeff Teague (15 points) sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and Ivan Johnson dislocated his left middle finger in the second quarter. Both returned.

– Reported by Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press

Nuggets may chase Kyle Korver this summer

Korver, an unrestricted free agent in his 10th year in the NBA, is expected to be one of the Nuggets top targets in the offseason as the team actively courts players who can fill that shooting void. Denver won’t be the only team looking to gain his services, but if the money is right (Korver makes $5 million this season) the situation might be hard for the sharpshooter, who grew up in Pella, Iowa, to turn down.

Shots figure to be much easier to come by in a system where guard Ty Lawson’s driving is so respected that he sucks defenders into the lane, and other players capable of hitting from long range – Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer – make it so that he would be difficult to devote additional resources to slowing just Korver down in the manner that the Nuggets are expected to try tonight.

– Reported by Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (Blog)

monta ellis

Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis and Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson today were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Feb. 25 through Sunday, March 3.

Ellis led the Bucks to a 3-0 week with averages of 24.0 points (sixth in the conference), 9.0 assists (fourth in the conference) and a league-leading 5.0 steals. Ellis collected back-to-back six-steal games in road victories over the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 26, and the Houston Rockets on Feb. 27. In the win over the Rockets, Ellis, who led all scorers with 27 points, hit an off-balance three-pointer just before the final buzzer to secure the win.

ty lawson

Lawson led the Nuggets to a 3-0 week behind averages of 21.0 points, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals. Lawson hit a game winner of his own on March 1 with 0.2 seconds remaining to give the Nuggets a 105-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also tallied a 30-point effort on Feb. 27, during a win against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Al Horford, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Indiana’s David West, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and Portland’s Damian Lillard.

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