Denver Nuggets WiretapDecember 2001 Denver Nuggets Wiretap

Is Evans In Quicksand?

Dec 31, 2001 2:11 PM

Give Mike Evans a sledgehammer.
The Denver Nuggets' interim head coach could use one.

As the Nuggets sift through the rubble they created in December, Evans has, perhaps, the most arduous task in the organization.

"That's tough for anyone to step in in the middle of a season," injured Nuggets forward Antonio McDyess said. "Things were already down, and you try to step in and turn it around.

"It's kind of like the concrete has already been laid."

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Zone Makes for Better Game

Dec 31, 2001 2:08 PM

Monday, December 31, 2001 - Anyone who has watched Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal pound his way on the basketball court might have difficulty finding the beauty in the NBA's game.

However, Stu Jackson, the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations, contends some rule changes for the 2001-02 season have made it "a more open and prettier game."

Jackson especially is pleased that a change in rules that allows for zone defense basically has eliminated the one-on-one isolation play. When zone defenses were illegal, teams would clear a side of the court so that a dominant player could work one on one against a single defender. The other eight players stood and watched, defenders glued to the player they were guarding in order to avert an illegal defense call.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Rogers: Riley Must See Reality

Dec 31, 2001 1:41 PM

Glenn Rogers says that Pat Riley needs to forget the notion that the Heat might get back in the playoff hunt, that Larry Brown took another jab at Iverson, that Krause denies there was a power struggle between him and Floyd, that Lucas claims he'd be the best point guard ever if it weren't for drugs, and that Dan Issel got a severance package worth close to the $5 million he was scheduled to be paid this season and next.

Tags: Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia Sixers, NBA

Suns Get a Bright Light in Wallace

Dec 30, 2001 1:59 PM

PHOENIX -- John Wallace scored 15 of his season-high 23 points in the second quarter and Penny Hardaway finished with a triple-double to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 109-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Wallace sparked a second-quarter burst that propelled the Suns from a 27-25 first-period deficit to a 58-51 halftime lead.

After that, the Suns never led by fewer than five points in beating the Nuggets for the first time in three meetings this season. Their biggest margin was the final score.

Hardaway, who hit the last two baskets of the game, finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Rodney Rogers and Shawn Marion each scored 22 points for the Suns.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, NBA

Wallace Shines in Win

Dec 30, 2001 1:57 PM

John Wallace doesn't get a lot of opportunities to play for the Phoenix Suns. Wallace made the most of it when Shawn Marion picked up three early fouls.

Wallace scored 15 of his season-high 23 points in the second quarter and Penny Hardaway finished with a triple-double to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 109-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.


Box score


Afterward, coach Scott Skiles said he had a premonition that Wallace would have a big game because of the matchups against the Nuggets.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, NBA

Suns Roll Over Nuggets On Road

Dec 30, 2001 1:56 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2001 - PHOENIX - Finding an inside presence, figuring out ways to overcome a lack of size and improving defensively are among the myriad issues Denver Nuggets interim coach Mike Evans must tackle. But the toughest challenge of all might be figuring out how to win on the road.

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The Nuggets lost their eighth consecutive road game Saturday night, 109-92 to the Phoenix Suns.

Denver is 2-10 on the road this

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Clyde to Glide Into Assistant Role?

Dec 30, 2001 1:54 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2001 - PHOENIX - If the Denver Nuggets add another assistant coach, former NBA great Clyde Drexler would love to get consideration for the job.

General manager Kiki Vandeweghe said Saturday there is a "possibility" that another assistant will be hired to interim coach Mike Evans' staff but "I need to explore it more" Vandeweghe said. He declined comment on any candidates, but said he wanted someone who played the game, understands the game, is open to learning and would spend a lot of time with players.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Evans Should Listen to Brown's Advice

Dec 30, 2001 1:53 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2001 - Larry Brown, once the area's pro basketball guru when he coached the Denver Nuggets, has a formula on how Mike Evans can be a successful interim coach: win.

Easier said than done for Evans, who became the Nuggets' interim coach Wednesday when Dan Issel resigned. Evans faced Brown and his Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at the Pepsi Center. Evans took Brown's advice a little quicker than he would have liked, beating Brown's 76ers, 93-90.

"Our franchise in Philadelphia was in trouble until we started winning some games," Brown said. "Once we started winning, people came to see us play. That's the way it is. When I was here and the team was winning, there was tremendous enthusiasm. It's even more important now to win because there's more competition. There are some pretty good sports franchises here."

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Issel Put Himself On Fan's Level

Dec 30, 2001 1:51 PM

Sunday, December 30, 2001 - One of my biggest fears for some time now is making one big mistake that will ruin everything I've worked for in my life. Seeing what happened to Dan Issel reinforced those thoughts.

As far as basketball is concerned, not many people have had a career that can match Issel's.

Issel is regarded by many to be the best player in the storied history of the University of Kentucky. "The Horse" set 23 school records in three seasons, was a two-time All-American, had his No. 44 jersey retired and is still the school's all-time leading scorer. In the UK basketball museum stands a statue of Issel shooting a jumper.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, NBA

Interim tag a blessing and a curse

Dec 30, 2001 10:53 AM

Don Chaney, Brian Winters and Mike Evans each have been given an unexpected opportunity this season.

Whether they have a chance is another story.

Few jobs offer less security than interim coach, the title Chaney holds in New York, Winters with Golden State and Evans in Denver.

In recent years, Paul Silas in Charlotte, Scott Skiles in Phoenix, Jim O'Brien in Boston and Nate McMillan in Seattle have made the transition from interim to full time. But all acknowledge the precarious nature of their previous status.

"It's the hardest thing you'd ever do -- everything is against you," Silas said. "You hear all the rumors about how certain guys are going to get the job when you want it so badly. It's a horrible position to be in, but that's your shot.

"The players, they'd just as soon say, `Next! Who else is coming in?' You've got to have the hammer [of a long-term contract]. It's awfully tough if they know at the end of the year that you're probably gone anyway."

Resurrection is the key, and a quick one at that. Silas, Skiles and O'Brien promptly got their franchises back on the right track. All understood the clock was ticking.

"Sometimes," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said, "the best way to get a job is to come in and do a good job."

Saunders went from an interim role in Minnesota in 1995 to a $20 million, five-year contract. The difference was Timberwolves Vice President Kevin McHale had a longstanding relationship with Saunders.

That's why Winters accepts his vague status with the Warriors.

"Interim is to be expected," the former Grizzlies expansion coach said. "You can't expect the team to commit to me for the long term, sight unseen, so to speak. Let the cards fall where they may. If I don't do well or the team doesn't do well, they'll look for another coach. That's the way it is. I understand that."

In Denver, Evans is working amid a swirl of potential full-time replacements, from 76ers coach Larry Brown to legendary Nuggets coach Doug Moe to University of Cincinnati mad man Bob Huggins.

"I don't know if there are any good situations," Evans said of carrying the interim tag. "The most favorable, I imagine, you could end up like Phil Jackson and walk into a great situation. I have not been that fortunate."

For now, nothing is guaranteed.

For example, asked straight on if Chaney would survive the balance of the season as interim coach, Knicks General Manager Scott Layden offered only a roundabout reply.

"As you know, we have a company policy where we don't discuss our employees' contracts," he said. "But we know Coach Chaney is a fantastic coach, and he's doing everything he can to keep this team competitive. We're confident in our coaching staff, and we're looking forward to getting on to the next game."

The next game. For these three, that is all that matters, all that is assured.


In the Western Conference, the Blazers, Suns and Jazz all are starting to sweat, barely one-third into the season. The competition is that fierce.

Then there is the Eastern Conference, where Heat coach Pat Riley can talk about making the playoffs -- and not be summarily dismissed.

"Thank God for the East," Magic coach Doc Rivers said last week, as his team stood four games below .500 and was working its way through a series of injuries.

"As bad as the whole thing looks now, it's not all that bad when you think about it," Rivers said. "And we still are going to be a playoff team."

In the East, homecourt advantage in the first round is within reach of the bottom-feeders.

"After all the stuff we've been through, after feeling like we're the worst team in the league, we're still in the playoff hunt," Magic point guard Darrell Armstrong said. "Things can't get any worse. And when it turns, we won't be in that bad of shape."

Raptors forward Vince Carter echoed similar sentiments regarding his team's uneven performance.

"I'm not saying playing bad is a good thing," he said. "But it leaves us a little room to play bad [and] still be in contention."


So exactly what happened when Tim Floyd requested a specific player be acquired during his tenure as Bulls coach, a tenure that ended with last week's resignation?

According to Floyd, the response from General Manager Jerry Krause would be, "that player's not going to help you win."

So what advice did Floyd's predecessor have for Chicago's next coach?

"You've got to give Krause his territory and pretty much be content to just coach," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

The coaching fraternity quickly rallied around Floyd.

"Tim Floyd was in an impossible situation," the Magic's Rivers said. "He didn't do anything wrong -- maybe taking the job."


In throwing his name into play after Floyd's resignation, former Hawks and Cavaliers coach Mike Fratello also laid out an impressive resume to perhaps succeed Riley with the Heat. "I see no problem coaching in a rebuilding program with young people," Fratello said.

"I did it twice and enjoyed success. I did it in Atlanta. In my third year, we had five rookies on the team and still won 50 games. We went on to win at least 50 games four straight years. The same thing in Cleveland. We went through rebuilding, and we built a solid, consistent winner." ...

Dan Issel did not walk away empty-handed from the Nuggets, reportedly receiving nearly all of the $3.7 million remaining on his contract for this season and next. It is the second time Issel quit the Nuggets in the middle of his third season as coach. ...

Having taken over for deposed Dave Cowens with the Warriors, and having previously coached the expansion Grizzlies, Winters certainly has a deep appreciation for losing. "I was told once that when you're under-talented, the shot clock is too short and the games are too long," he said.


Last season, the best the Heat could come up with for the $3.9 million disabled-player exception in the absence of Alonzo Mourning was Cedric Ceballos.

This year, Philadelphia learned how little is available in the early stages of the season, as it allowed the $4.2 million disabled-player exception it received for Matt Geiger's retirement to expire. "Nothing was out there to benefit our team," Brown said. ...

Having made the playoffs 19 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in professional sports, the Blazers stand on the verge of becoming yet another unlikely postseason outsider, potentially joining a stellar lottery lineup that also could include the Heat and Knicks. "We're not the team we're supposed to be right now," forward Ruben Patterson said. "Everybody knows the Trail Blazers should be up with the top-ranked teams, with the Lakers and the Kings and everybody else, but what can I say?" ...

By contrast, Utah appears to have regained its edge. "If anybody thinks that they're not going to be in the playoffs, I think they're nuts," the Celtics' O'Brien said.


Give Celtics forward Paul Pierce credit for his candor. After going for 36 points against Utah in the teams' previous meeting, Pierce did not even attempt a shot until 7:13 remained in the second quarter of last week's rematch. Pierce first said he was "trying to feel out the defense," and then that he was "looking to get other people involved," and then that he was just trying to "feel the atmosphere." Finally, he admitted, "To tell you the truth, I was kind of tired in the first quarter." He regained his legs to go for 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting in the loss. ...

Line of the weak: Celtics center Vitaly Potapenko not only went 1 of 9 against the Jazz but had six of his shots blocked. ...

After going for 53 points in a loss to Dallas, San Antonio's Tim Duncan was more confounded how the Mavericks' Michael Finley went for 28, Steve Nash went for 27 and Dirk Nowitzki went for 26. "They get up and down and are semi-reckless," Duncan said. "They can really shoot it from anywhere." ...

As his center returns from foot problems, Cavaliers coach John Lucas said he will continue to limit Zydrunas Ilgauskas to 24 minutes per game and 40 minutes total in back-to-back sets. Lucas said there would be no change now that Ilgauskas has re-emerged as a starter.


The offensive focus continues to shift in Indiana, going from Reggie Miller to Jalen Rose and now to Jermaine O'Neal, who may just possess the best post repertoire in the Eastern Conference. "He's probably playing the best basketball of any big man in the East," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "He's so quick in the post and he handles the ball so well that it's difficult to guard him down there. He's going to get a good shot or get fouled." ...

Dan Majerle showed last week he still can get it done on the defensive end. After torching Penny Hardaway for most of his 26 points through three quarters, Houston guard Cuttino Mobley shot only 2 of 8 in the fourth quarter when Phoenix turned to Majerle for help. ...

The Grizzlies soon may be in need of some tanking. Still owing Detroit a first-round pick because of its ill-fated acquisition of Otis Thorpe from the Pistons four years ago, Memphis must forward this season's first-rounder unless it is among the first five. If it is, Memphis' first-round pick unconditionally goes to Detroit in 2003.


There is something to be said for Hubert Davis' veteran humility. Needed as a fill-in for injured Richard Hamilton, the Wizards' shooting guard admitted the obvious. "It's totally different. He's better than me," Davis said. ...

In working with Kevin Garnett on his low-post game, the Timberwolves' McHale cut to the essence of pump fakes. "If guys think you're going to make your shot, they'll jump," he said. "If they don't think you can make shots, they ain't jumping. [Jim] McIlvaine can pump fake until the cows come home and no one's going to jump." ...

Dell Curry continues to find inconsistent minutes under Lenny Wilkens in Toronto, often going extended periods before his number is called. "I've stopped trying to figure out when that's going to happen," the veteran guard said.

Tags: Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, NBA

Black & White Numbers Don't Add Up

Issel Talked and Walked Differently

Brown in Denver? To Live Not Coach

McCloud Takes One for the Team

Nuggets Get Evans First Official Win

Pressure's Off and Nugs Win

IDIOTS Office Closed

Evans Steps Into the Deep End

Kevin Willis Pities Issel

America's arenas, where the baying masses go to vent

Good News Nuggets Fans: McDyess Dunks!

Larry Brown to coach the Nuggets? Fans at fault for Bulls woes

Lucas 'saddened' by Issel resignation

Issel's Departure Correct Move

Littles Has Advice for Evans

Kiki Talks for Departing Dan

Issel Leaves a Second Time

Players React To Issel's Exit

Issel Took The Easy Way Out

Old School Dan Deserves Respect