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dirt_dobber
12-17-2007, 11:00 AM
Open shots make it breeze for Blazers
Portland fires, and hits, at will against Denver's defense
By Benjamin Hochman
The Denver Post
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_7739223

The only suggestion of defense was the helpless chant from fans at the Pepsi Center.

"De-fense!" they screamed.

Defenseless, they got.

In Denver's 116-105 loss to Portland on Sunday, the Trail Blazers shot a scorching 54.5 percent from the field, hoisting jumpers with ease, be it a point guard or a power forward. Denver's defense was last-season scary.

"They whooped us," said Nuggets guard Allen Iverson, who scored a game-high 38 points. "From the beginning to the end of the game, they beat us up and down the court, and did whatever they wanted to do on the offensive end."

This season, only one team shot a higher percentage against Denver: Boston, now 20-2.

The Blazers (12-12) won their seventh straight game. Though the Blazers average just 94.6 points per game, they overwhelmed Denver at home, where the Nuggets (14-10) are just one of four teams with double-digit wins. Portland hadn't won in Denver since the 2003-04 season.

Playing in the second game of a back-to-back, the Nuggets' defense was "soft," coach George Karl said. At their best, the Nuggets can slow down top teams. At their worst, well, let's just say they didn't have an answer for Channing Frye, one night after they didn't have an answer for the Spurs' Fabricio Oberto.

Frye, if you didn't know, plays for Portland. He averages 6.1 points and 3.4 rebounds. And against the Nuggets, he had 14 points and five rebounds in the first quarter. The lanky Frye was outstanding, hovering around the perimeter and hitting jump shots over lethargically lunging Nuggets.

"I don't think our challenges were very aggressive," Karl said.

Frye had 18 points by halftime, when the Blazers led 61-49, and he finished with 20 and nine rebounds, both season highs.

In the second game of a back-to-back, Karl played only seven players until the final minute, and even then, guard J.R. Smith wasn't used. Sunday was the first game this season for which Smith was active and did not play.

"I was shocked," Iverson said about Smith not playing. "Shocked, honestly."

Asked why Smith didn't play, Karl said: "Would you have played him? Did you see him play last night (at San Antonio)? We're in a bad defensive game (against Portland) and you want to play a guy who hasn't played defense in a week?"

Smith is fourth on Denver with 10.2 points a game, but lately he has been inconsistent and insignificant.

Generally a 3-point threat, he made two of his past 19 3-point attempts, and he played 14 or fewer minutes in the four previous games (he averages 20.6).

Iverson, who seemingly could play back-to-back-to-backs without a problem, scored 38 points on 11-for-22 shooting and 13-for-15 from the free-throw line. The 32-year-old exudes energy, but said that his team, overall, lacked defensive intensity.

"Being tired, that's not an excuse," he said. "That's the nature of the game. I don't care if you're tired and the other team had three or four days off, you still come in with energy. This is your job. Every time you step out on the basketball court, it's an honor to play in this league."

Denver forward Carmelo Anthony, fifth in the NBA with 24.6 points, scored 19 on 6-for-17 shooting. He has shot less than 50 percent in each of the past six games and declined to give a postgame comment.

Instead, after every other Nugget had left the locker room, Anthony remained slumped in his chair, wearing only a towel, head down.

me770706
12-17-2007, 03:23 PM
exactly why denver, although they have all the key pieces for a contender, will never be one. NO depth and NO chemistry