With a tough west coast road trip underway what better time to shake up the roster? I don't expect much out of these next three games since we've got new pieces in place but here's hoping for the best.
As expected it was a rough first outing with this new group. LaMarcus Aldridge and some home cooking landed Greg Monroe on the bench for all but 18 minutes with foul trouble and getting Monroe out of the game is the most effective way of slowing us offensively. Aldridge finished with 27, 10 boards and 3 blocks. Jerebko and Stuckey combined for 32 off the bench for us.
So how about our new players? Sefolosha did an admirable job in the start at small forward. Nic Batum is not an easy matchup given his length and offensive ability and Thabo held him to 6 points on 1 of 7 shooting. That is very encouraging and hopefully this will signal the end of opposing small forwards abusing us on a nightly basis like they would do to Tayshaun. Collison had 7 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench and Maynor was quiet with 4 points in 11 minutes. Drummond was a major disappointment - 5 points, 5 rebounds in 28 minutes and allowing JJ Hickson to score a good chunk of his 20 points on him. I'm a big proponent of playing the rookies to allow them to develop but maybe Andre just needs to come off the bench for a bit. We won't make any changes on this trip but it's time to start thinking about that.
In non game related news Corey Maggette got off a rant after the game about not playing. He's being paid nearly 11 million dollars to sit in warm ups. Then again if he was of any use to us he would be playing. He's simply an expiring contract to me. I had the opportunity to respond in the media but I chose to no comment it. One its not worth potentially causing the 12th man to engage in further morale lowering tirades but more importantly I want to keep him at least in a decent mood in case we can and want to trade him. Maybe he can help a contender or better yet maybe some rebuilder would like to clear some space and would take him. I've worked hard to clear our books for next year but that's only half the battle -we still have to convince players to take the money and sometimes in a place like this its easier to just trade for guys already signed.
Game #34 Detroit 84, DENVER 111
Denver and us are inextricably linked through recent history. It was the prior regime that drafted one Darko Milicic allowing Denver to draft Carmelo Anthony with the following pick and that same regime then later gave them Chauncey Billups and Aaron Afflalo while taking Allen Iverson, who by that point was no longer the answer to anything, off their hands. Needless to say I think they owe us a few.
Unfortunately the Nuggets didn't share the same sentiment. The Nuggets dominated us on the boards with a 51-38 advantage leading to a 25-5 edge in second chance points and a 56-26 drumming in points in the paint. Stuckey was great again off the bench for 21 and that role has really suited him well. The worst news was that Ty Lawson didn't even play as he's still recovering from a broken foot. Andre Drummond got abused by Javale McGee 22 points and 12 boards, Gallinari torched Sefolosha and Jerebko for 22 and Faried held Monroe to 11 points on 3 of 12 shooting. I really like this Denver team. Any time you can 58% from the free throw line and have more turnovers than your opponent and still win by 27 points you must be a pretty decent squad.
Given our recent rebounding struggles I came into this game expecting a massacre on the boards. But with Favors still recovering from his broken toe and the chance Millsap would not pass his concussion tests in time to play maybe we would have a chance to steal one game on this west coast swing. We're now 16-18 and falling out of playoff contention in the East. Then again it's the East - everyone's in playoff contention most of the year.
Well it turns out Millsap did play but only played about 24 minutes with a very quiet 5 points. Monroe finally got back on track with a huge night of 27 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Knight, English and Stuckey combined for 45 points and Nick Collison gave us 10 off the bench. One guy I haven't mentioned is Lamar Odom. He shot a combined 6 for 20 on this four game roadie with only 14 rebounds in four games. The game he has been able to log 30-35 minutes he has been very productive but apparently 20 minutes or so isn't enough to get him moving. And Andre Drummond just continues to be lousy. He blocked one shot on this trip - he's got potential through the roof but maybe its time to cut back the minutes a little for now and see what he can do coming off the bench. As tough as it is to believe at 17-18 we hold the final spot in the East so we might as well see if making a lineup move helps get a few extra wins. I'm sure the fans would like to see some playoff basketball here again.
Charlotte comes in to The Palace with seven wins on the year - two of them courtesy of us but we've got a new lineup once again and are ready to kick some Bobcat tail. We decided the best course of action was try to get Lamar engaged again and move him into the starting lineup sliding Moose over to the 5 and Drummond to our first big off the bench.
Now I'm not going to declare the new lineup a success simply because we beat the lowly Bobcats but there were some positive initial impressions. Odom played through a sore wrist and scored 12 points to go with 4 rebounds in 29 minutes while Drummond had 10 points and blocked 2 shots off the bench in 21 minutes. Monroe had a feast on the Bobcats interior D scoring 34 points to go with 10 boards, 2 blocks and 4 steals. That's player of the week material there. The most impressive stat though was the 21 point lead we let Charlotte accumulate before wiping out that deficit and then some with a 70-43 second half. No time to celebrate though - time to hop a plane to Indy for another game tomorrow.
Last time we met we dropped a close one to the Pacers because Danny Granger dropped 37 on us - hopefully with Thabo Sefolosha in tow that would not be the case on this trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Well this time was completely different - we decided to lose by 25 instead of 5. On the bright side Danny Granger only scored 29 this time so that was an improvement I suppose but watching David West put up 24 on Lamar Odom all night wasn't fun.
Greg Monroe had 30 for us and Jerebko got 19 off the bench but that was it scoring wise. Not another player hit double figures for us. We shot an abysmal 4 of 22 for three and an equally horrid 12 of 22 from the line. We're just not good enough to shoot that poorly and win games. Drummond was solid with 7 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. Being there has let him come in when everyone's a little winded and be able to play against some reserves instead of always just opposing starters. He did take a nasty shot to the head late in the game and had to leave. Turns out he has a mild concussion and might miss our next game at OKC which undoubtedly is setting up to be another point barrage by some of the league's elite players.