The Denver Nuggets, owners of the third-best home record in the NBA during the regular season, dropped the pivotal Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series against Oklahoma City 97-94 after an inspirational late comeback that awoke the spirits of many beaten-down Nuggets fans.
Only seconds after J.R. Smith hit two fade-away three-pointers from the corner with under a minute to go, those spirits were crushed back into the ground even further as the buzzer sounded at the Pepsi Center.
he Nuggets failed to find one of the four shooters they had on the floor, as Nene Hilario held the ball for about six seconds at the end of the fourth quarter.
Whether the play was Nene’s fault (who could not find an open guy) or George Karl’s for not designing a workable play, the Nuggets are now down three to zero in the series.
After the game, a gloomy George Karl stumbled into his press conference. Karl, usually one to take the fault of the team, could not have cared less. The first question was about the final play of the game. Karl only said, “I’m not here to talk about refereeing.”
Um, George, did you ever think the question had something to do with that train-wreck of a play you drew up in the previous timeout?
A little later, Karl was asked about the continual failure of the players he put on the court to mesh with one another. Once again, Karl shifted the blame. He said the team just was not hitting its open shots. I’m pretty sure Karl was being asked about his own failure to put the right players on the court, but whatever.
I think Karl’s a great coach, but is it possible that his effectiveness in Denver is no more? Maybe after finally being lifted of the burden of Carmelo Anthony, he was really looking forward to the playoffs this year.
Well, after just three short games against the Thunder, the hope is nearly all gone for the Nuggets. After some of the laziness displayed by the Nuggets so far in this series (and other playoff series in years past, for that matter), I would not blame him for being a little peeved.
Karl is under contract for the next three years, but by the next time he coaches a regular season game (assuming a lockout next season), he will be 62 years old. I don’t think that will be enough for him to retire considering he’s beaten cancer twice and stuck with coaching basketball, but he may be done with the Nuggets.
He’s desperately trying to get that NBA Championship ring that has eluded him all these years, but maybe he does not see himself earning it with the Nuggets.
Maybe spoiled superstars like J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin have pushed him over the edge. Maybe Saturday’s postgame press conference was a big hint: He’s just exhausted with the Nuggets. If he can somehow wiggle out of his newly-signed extension, it would not be much of a surprise to me if Karl does not coach in Denver again. Karl's given six years and everything he's got to the Nuggets. They just haven't given him much of an effort back.
I cover the Nuggets, Rockies, Broncos and CU Buffs for http://truefancolorado.com. You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/charlie123517