Leaving the brutally and unusual cold of Boston for the weekend to check out the Pepsi Center for the first time was an opportunity not to pass on. Having visited Denver during the offseason, I became infatuated with the beautiful city. Falling into luck that the Nuggets are in town the weekend I am visiting a friend, I jumped on the chance to attend a game against the Kings for my first time covering the Nuggets in their own building.
Boston was doing its best northern Canadian impression with temperatures in the single digits with snow scheduled for the weekend. Denver on the other hand is hosting modest temperatures of 55 degrees for the weekend.
Flying Jet Blue is always a pleasure because I get to enjoy the nonsense on ESPN such as Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith debating Mae t’eo ‘s religion and sexuality. These are perfect topics for a sports network to cover. Fortunately for me, I switched to a Pimp My Ride marathon for the remainder of my Denver bound flight.
The day starts early for the press on game days. Most media arrive to a game around 2 hours before tip off. The Press arrive through an adjacent entrance from the players parking lot at the Pepsi Center. Believe it or not, the arena security perform a more thorough check on us than they do for the fans at games with a metal detector and a guard search.
Unfamiliar with the arena, I decided to take a quick lap around the arena. After, I decided to pop out onto the court where players from both teams are working on their games. Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mosgov can be seeing goofing around with Ryan Bowen on the court. On the other end, DeMarcus Cousins is chatting it up with Tyreke Evans sitting in some seats while Jimmer Fredette puts up three point shots.
I venture off to the Press Room, which is located next to the visitors locker room and across the hall from the Nuggets locker room. The Press Room is filled with serving trays with food with fountain drinks and plenty of coffee for these night owls. In the Press Room they provide a packet of information on the Nuggets as well as their opponent. They give you a few box scores from the two teams previous game and the last time they played.
After dining on some food before the game, I decided to take on the mission of finding my seat. Luckily, Tim Gelt from the Nuggets front office gave me a great seat right behind the local beat writers. The one tip I can give if to anyone obtaining press credentials is to never get in the way of the local beat writers. They run the show. And if the Nuggets writers are not nuts, one of them has a Twitter avatar that would suggest otherwise.
The crowd starts to fill in as I work on a couple of posts and radio spots. The Nuggets entertainment is getting the crowd geared up and it’s time for me to run down to the locker room for the pregame press conference with the head coaches of tonight’s game.
Denver has been playing very well in the month of January holding a 9-3 record coming into the game against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings on the other hand have a 5-9 record in January.
The Nuggets hope to make the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference as they currently sit in the 6th seed. As George Karl said before the game, “we will need to win at least 60% of our games the rest of the way, Ideally we’d like to win 7 out of our next 10, if we do that, we will be in good shape, and if we don’t do that, we won’t be.”
The first half belonged to Ty Lawson as he led the way with 15 points and 5 assists as the Nuggets jumped to a 39-25 lead. Denver shot a remarkable 73.9 percent from the field while holding the Kings to 34.5%. Keith Smart used 10 different players in the first quarter while searching for a lineup that works. The Kings used 3 time outs in a span of 3 game minutes in the first quarter.
Sacramento was unable to slow the Nuggets down in the third quarter as the lead jumped to 22 points. Denver’s ball movement accountant for 23 assists on their 29 made baskets, a rate of 79.3%. The most interesting events during the second quarter were Cartman starting the Defense chants and Andre Miller informing us that he has never played video games.
Keith Smart only played DeMarcus Cousins 8 minutes and Tyreke Evans 7 minutes in the first half. Neither player were able to establish themselves in this game. Keith Smart spoke before the game regarding his rotations. “Our team is trying to find itself as well as our players are trying to find themselves.”
Things have turned from bad to worse for the Kings. The Nuggets jumped out in the third quarter, increasing their lead by 10 points by the end of the quarter. Ty Lawson put up 11 in the third as every Nugget starter scored in double figures. Hidden from the score is Andre Iguodala’s three point attempts, 8 through the first three quarters. DeMarcus Cousins has three points through three quarters.
The Nuggets won this game before it even started. The final score being 121-93 didn’t justify the outcome as the Nuggets led by 30 at one point and never trailed. Sacramento playing on the second of a back to back didn’t play any players over 25 minutes. The game ends with the Nuggets throwing their shoes into the crowd.
The game ends with one team continuing their push for the playoffs and the other trying to figure out what they have with their roster. This is a story of two teams heading in opposite directions.