Last night, your Denver Nuggets defeated the San Antonio Spurs, one of the NBA's elite franchises. But afterward, coach George Karl (pictured) blistered his players in private before expressing his disappointment in their performance to the collected media. And good for him.
First of all, the Nuggets were at home, where they need to be able to beat squads like the Spurs on a regular basis if they're going to develop into a legitimate championship contender. Secondly, the Spurs sat their three biggest stars -- not just Manu "Super Flopper" Ginobili, hampered by a hip injury, but also Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, who were worn out from an overtime game against Golden State the night before. That's a sign of disrespect for the Nugs, who should have responded with make-them-pay vengeance despite being a bit shorthanded themselves (Kenyon Martin was sick). Instead, they let the Spurs hang around and hang around before finally winning by eight points, 104-96.
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In his post-game session, Karl told the press, "I don't think I had anything on my mind except anger. And how, what's a good word, immature, we played... We should have attacked this game with a professional attitude and intensity and probably should have gotten the game over by the fourth quarter."
Amen to that. The Nuggets have played much better team basketball this season thanks mainly to the addition of Chauncey Billups, who richly deserved the All-Star nod he's received. But the team still seems a bit insecure when facing the NBA's top dogs. Grinding the Spurs under their heels last night would have been a great step toward overcoming that issue. Instead, it was an opportunity lost.