Nearly 72 hours between games could work in Denver's favor
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Nuggets believe time is on their side.
Not only did two days off between playoff games give Denver’s ailing players extra time to recover, but the layoff also allowed the pain of a Game 1 loss to linger and provide motivation for Game 2 Wednesday.
“I think two days is probably better for us because of our heath and the mental health of getting beat by kind of a tough call,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “It lingers with you in your subconscious.”
Despite nagging aches and pains, the Nuggets should have everyone except shooting guard Arron Afflalo (strained hamstring) available for Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder (6 p.m. MDT, Altitude/TNT).
Denver forward Danilo Gallinari is ready for the opening tip.
“Two days between games and you’re waiting to play the second game, so they definitely are going too slow,” he said.
ACCEPTING CHARITY: After missing 10 of their first 19 free throws in Game 1, the Nuggets settled down to go 12-for-14 the rest of the game.
Karl repeatedly has pointed out that Denver’s accuracy dipped after trading Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Anthony was an 82.3 percent free-throw shooter, while Billups was at 92.3 percent at the time of the trade.
“It’s a realization that the media is overreacting to it,” Karl said. “We must just admit that Melo and Chauncey made us a great free-throw shooting team. We’re not a great free-throw shooting team anymore. We should be better than we are now, but we’re not going to be where we were.”
Oklahoma City led the NBA in free-throw percentage (.823) during the regular season but went 22-for-28 (.786) in the series opener.
EFFECTIVE ANDERSEN: Chris “Birdman” Andersen played through a partially torn patella tendon during last year’s playoffs, but he is playing at full strength in 2011.
Andersen scored eight points and blocked two shots in 14 minutes in Game 2. Four of his points came on back-to-back jumpers that helped the Nuggets stay close in the third quarter.
“I think Birdman did a very nice job for us,” Karl said. “He made some shots in the third quarter that I think gave us some confidence at a time when our offense was struggling a little bit.”
As for the back-to-back 18-footers, Karl reserved comment.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to go there,” he said. “I’m afraid he might read the paper.”
LOUD AND PROUD: As a college town with only one major pro team, Oklahoma City has an atmosphere and fan following that Karl compared to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
Karl’s life partner Kim Van Deraa is a Packers fan, and she and their daughter Kaci were planning to wear ear plugs for Game 2.
“I have a 6-year-old girl that was at (Game 1), and she was crying because the noise was too loud,” Karl said. “That’s a bad thing for a 6-year-old girl, but it’s an awful good thing for an NBA basketball team to have that emotion and that enthusiasm in the building.”
QUICK STAT: The Nuggets are 3-5 in Game 2s dating to the 2005 playoffs. They had won three in a row before losing to Utah in Game 2 of the first round last year.
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...