NBA AM: The Nuggets Are Still Fighting
Denver Is Still Fighting: Denver’s Al Harrington has been in the NBA for thirteen seasons. He was the 25th pick in 1998, the same draft that yielded Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison and Dirk Nowitzki.
It’s hard to believe Al’s been in the NBA that long, but his role in Denver is to be the veteran leader and that’s something he relishes.
“We just have to become consistent. That’s our biggest thing,” Harrington said to HOOPSWORLD.
“We have to find a way to know what team we’re going to have after every night. It seems like we play up for the big games and then in the games that we’re definitely supposed to win, those are the games that we come out and we struggle and don’t play with the right amount of energy and focus. We’re just trying to find that level where we can be consistent every night.”
Harrington smiles as he talks about his scrappy Nuggets teammates, but points out frequently how young this team really is.
“These kids, they’re something else. They think they know everything,” smiled Harrington. “Usually you’re on a team where you have a bunch of vets so the rookies don’t have a voice at all. But they have the only voice right now. They’re so loud I can’t take it sometimes. I just try to keep working with them. Talking to a guy like Kenneth, letting him know that playing a guy like Ryan Anderson is like playing Antawn Jamison. You can’t help as long [defensively]. You have to be up on a guy like that so you don’t let him get going. So I just try to help him as much as I can. “
Harrington anchors the calming second unit for the Nuggets along with teammate Andre Miller. It’s a role Al has grown to love.
“Me and Dre’ (Andre Miller), that’s kind of what we do,” explained Harrington. “Usually Cory’s (Brewer is) in that bench, we call ourselves the “Have Nots”. We just try to bring whatever’s lacking.”
“The starters to me, they play well, they start off playing fast and we try to come in and do the same thing and just try to settle the game down and make shots and get big defensive stops. Our group is big with the switching. We disrupt the offense and we are able to get a win.”
“[The starters are] the haves and we’re the have nots. We’re just not as important. That’s why we’re always angry. ,” smiled Harrington.
The Nuggets currently sit at 29-24 which puts them in 7th place in the West after two straight wins.
Harrington credits the depth of his team as why the Nuggets continue to be in games, despite the recent injuries to core guys like Wilson Chandler (strained groin) and Danilo Gallinari (broken thumb).
“We’re just deep and these young guys can play,” said Harrington. “That’s the thing about it. You can’t slight them. You got a guy like Jordan (Hamilton) waiting in the wings. If he ever found a way to get fifteen minutes consistently I think he’d be a big asset for our team. They’ve just done a great job of putting this team together and when guys do go down we have guys that can step up.”
The Nuggets youth has had an energizing effect on some of the older veterans, but in order for Denver to seal the deal on their playoff bid they need their young guys to stay consistent.
“They have to grow. They have to grow up quick,” smiled Harrington. “That’s all we can ask from them. You just have to stay demanding on them, keep pushing them, keep wanting more out of them and just see what happens. “
Harrington has logged more than 27,000 minute in the NBA. That’s a lot of mileage for a player.
It’s hard to believe Al has been in the NBA for thirteen years, you’d have to wonder if all that time is wearing on him.
“I want you to say no because I need a new contract,” joked Harrington. “That’s between us.”
If the playoff started today the Nuggets would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
The good news is Wilson Chandler’s strained groin is not too bad and he could return to action on Tuesday versus the Hornets.
Danilo Gallinari could return to action next week. The Nuggets say he is getting close to his return, which means barring additional injury the Nuggets could have 8 to 10 games to get everyone into a rhythm before the post season gets underway on April 28th.
The HEAT Continue To Be Vulnerable: The Miami HEAT got drubbed yesterday by the red-hot Boston Celtics.
The game was never really close and it illustrated exactly how vulnerable the HEAT can be when things are not clicking.
LeBron James did not record a single assist last night in part because the Celtics wouldn’t let the HEAT finish plays, but also because the HEAT got tight when the game got away from them.
After the game, Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all had the same basic message.
Time is running out to get things turned around.
“This was a good, old-fashioned you-know-what,” LeBron James said to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “We’ve got to own it, and we’ve got to get better.”
“We’ve got to figure it out before the playoffs. . . . We understand we have to fix this right now.”
“We’re mentally tough, we’ll figure it out,” James said. “Do we have the answers right now? No.”
Chris Bosh who was manhandled by Boston’s Kevin Garnett mirrored James.
“We have to fix it,” Bosh said. “We have to have a better sense of urgency.
“We still have some basketball left, not a lot, but some basketball to change it.”
“We have to challenge each other,” Bosh said. “We got smacked out there.”
The HEAT shot 34.8% from the floor and 18.8% from the three point line and a mind numbing 41.2% from the free throw line.
If you buy into plus-minus stats, James was a -30 for the night, while Mario Chalmers was -28. None of the HEAT starters logged a positive number in plus-minus.
The HEAT have a 6 games hold on the second seed in the East, but now find themselves 3 ½ games behind Chicago for command of the East.
The HEAT have 15 games left on their regular season schedule which includes 9 games versus teams with a record above .500.
The good news for Miami is that they have ten of their remaining 15 games at home, so they will have a friendly environment to work things out.
The HEAT’s next five games are at home. Their longest trip on the road is two games for the balance of the season, all of which are against Eastern conference teams.
They Get It Right More Than You Think: NBA officiating is far from perfect. But if you look at other sports, they have exactly the same issues as the NBA.
We have humans calling the games, and the rules in which they are required to follow do not always line up with what fans expect or believe to be the rules.
The truth of the issue is that NBA refs get it right far more than they get it wrong. And they do so without the aid of high-definition replay. They do it live as the action takes place.
There are a couple of things most people don’t know or more importantly do not understand.
The first and biggest thing is that NBA refs have to make a call before they can do anything.
The Ref has to blow the whistle and make a call on the play before even the consideration of replay is allowed. So the Ref has to see and call something.
They don’t have the benefit of the wide shot you see on TV, or the view you have from your seat. They are in the mix of the players, running up and down the court with them.
Good or bad, that’s going to change what they see and they have to see something to call it.
The second is that contact in and of itself is not a foul. The NBA over the years has changed the rules to open up the game and create a free flowing offense, making it so that contact is not always a foul.
Everyone in the world has been taught that if you touch me in the act of shooting that it’s a foul. In the NBA the contact is not a foul unless it impedes your athletic progress.
The NBA doesn’t want a three hour free throw contests, so contact becomes subjective and fans absolute hate that, because some contact is whistled and some contact is not.
The rules talk a lot about “impeding athletic progress”. So not all contact is a foul.
When you combine those two concepts… you have to see it to call it and that not all contact is a foul, you can see why fans, players and coaches get angry. But that does not means there are as many “missed calls” as you’d think.
There are missed calls, no one will dispute that. But the number of times Refs get it right is amazing. Especially in the split second they have to make a decision.
The other thing that gets glossed over is how aggressively NBA Refs are reviewed and evaluated.
The three guys calling the game on the floor are not the end all of the process. There is a fourth “supervisor” that watches the game in the stands.
All four parties file a report on every game, and every whistle. The supervisor then notes non-calls that they saw that the guys on the floor did not.
Every technical foul or flagrant foul is reviewed after the fact and any questionable games, plays or situations are reviewed at the league level.
NBA refs have an intranet portal that they are required to log materials through, so all of the games’ information is submitted electronically within hours of the games’ conclusion and reviewed by supervisors at several levels.
Refs also have to explain each whistle in writing.
The NBA provides its Refs with “areas of emphasis” clips on a regular basis. These are video clips of trends that are surfacing such a loop holes player might be exploiting or routine offenders.
NBA teams are allowed to submit video clips for league review, if they feel something was not called right on the floor.
It’s a daily ongoing process that the NBA spends millions of dollars a year trying to improve.
They’ll be the first ones to admit that Refs miss calls. But if you look at the number of games, plays and situations that the Refs call each week, they get it right far more than they get it wrong.
The biggest issue is that the NBA keeps everything they are doing on this front behind a curtain of secrecy and aggressively fine and punish people who openly challenge it. Fans see that negatively, as if the NBA is hiding or conspiring which is the furthest from the truth.
The NBA tries really hard not to make officiating the story and thats why they tend to be so secretive about the process.
The NBA also doesn’t do nearly enough to educate its fans on what the rules are, especially the way they expect officials to call them.
A couple of years ago the NBA rolled out online what it calls the NBA Video Rulebook. If you are a junkie and care about how the rules really work, it’s worth checking out.
This will give you an idea of what the Refs see in their intranet portal.
NBA officiating isn’t nearly as bad as everyone wants to make it out to be, and mainly it’s because most people don’t know how the system really works.
The Refs are better at calling games than we give them credit for, and they get it right a lot more than they get it wrong.
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