Monday , Mar , 14 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Nuggets have found their game under Karl

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – The Denver Nuggets have turned it
around since George Karl took over as the new head coach of the team on
January 27th.

When Karl became the general of the club, the Nuggets were 17-25 and looking
like they were headed for an early vacation. Denver is 15-5 under Karl and is
just 1/2 game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff
spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are just three games behind the
Memphis Grizzlies for No. 7 in the conference.

Under the leadership of Karl, Denver has been more efficient on offense and
has picked up its intensity on defense. The Nuggets have scored 90 or more
points in all but two games with Karl on the bench, and has reached the 100-
point mark in eight of those contests. Denver has allowed 100 or more points
just three times under its new coach.

Forwards Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin have both picked up their play
since Karl took over. There is a solid nucleus of players for Karl to coach in
Denver, as center Marcus Camby, forward Nene and point guards Andre Miller and
Earl Boykins makeup a very formidable supporting cast for Anthony and Martin.
The key here is that Karl was able to find the right formula to make this
group play winning basketball.

The 20-year-old Anthony, who is playing in just his second season in the NBA,
has scored in double-digits in 18 of 20 games under Karl and has netted more
than 20 in 11 of those contests. The Syracuse product is averaging 19.6 points
and 5.9 rebounds with his new coach at the helm. For the season, Anthony is
Denver’s leading scorer (20.0 ppg) and is fourth on the club in rebounding
(5.8 rpg).

Martin, who has missed two games since Karl took over, has played 30 or more
minutes in 15 of his 18 games played under his new coach. The former Net, has
scored in double-digits in 16 of those contests and has registered three
double-doubles. The 27-year-old Martin, who is a one-time All-Star and is
playing his first season in a Denver uniform, has averaged 22 points and 7.5
boards in his last two games and has posted 15.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per
game for the season.

When Karl took over for interim head coach Michael Cooper, who compiled a 4-10
mark after taking over for Jeff Bzdelik in December, he knew that he had to
get Anthony and Martin to buy into his system. If he had those two players
behind him the rest would fall into place.

Miller has been inconsistent all season and has continued to struggle at times
since the coaching change, while Boykins has flourished and has proved to
new coach that he can be counted on in crunch time. Nene is battling a knee
injury which has caused him to be on the injured list and Camby has given Karl
a solid presence in the middle on both ends of the court.

The Nuggets have a favorable schedule as they go into the stretch run. They
will play 12 of their final 20 games at home and are currently on a season-
high seven-game homestand. Nine of Denver’s games are against teams that have
records below .500.

Can Karl lead the Nuggets to the postseason?

If Anthony and Martin can stay healthy and Boykins, Camby, Miller and Nene,
who needs to come back at 100 percent from his knee injury, can contribute,
the Nuggets will continue their winning ways and should be able to earn their
way into the playoffs for the second straight year.