|Dejected Nuggets try to keep chins up|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 27 April 2008 13:27|
But the rookie reserve thought better than to rib his father on Sunday.
``Today is not a day for trash-talking,'' Coby said as he prepared for the Lakers' practice at the Pepsi Center, followed by dinner with dad.
George Karl's team trails 3-0 in the best-of-7 series and in their 102-84 blowout loss at home on Saturday night, he was heckled on the bench by none other than his All-Star forward, Carmelo Anthony.
``Just don't sit there!'' Anthony bellowed as Karl watched his bench players hustle in the fourth quarter while his ineffective starters watched dejectedly from the bench.
Afterward, Anthony, who is 4-15 in the playoffs in his career, accused the Nuggets, from Karl on down, of quitting.
Karl said his hearing's so bad that he never realized 'Melo was heckling him, and he demurred when asked if he had a clear-the-air meeting Sunday with his disgruntled All-Star who had accused him of quitting.
``I didn't hear his comments other than I thought we played a pretty good fourth quarter,'' Karl said. ``Statistically and on film the fourth quarter was one of our better basketball performances. I don't quite comprehend the connotation other than fighting through frustration and being emotional after the game.''
Karl's other All-Star, Allen Iverson, said he was insulted at playing just over one minute in the fourth quarter, when Marcus Camby didn't play at all and Kenyon Martin played just over four minutes.
``I have to coach the game,'' Karl said. ``There's no personal thing there. I wanted to try a different look. If the game would had gotten back in hand, I would have put him back in the game.
``In some ways I'm happy he's angry because he wants to play and that's fantastic.''
Unlike the Lakers, who practiced for 90 minutes, the Nuggets never got onto the court Sunday.
``It's a day of regrouping, re-energizing,'' said Karl, who showed his team 10 minutes of film, then opened the floor to assistant coach Tim Grgurich for a pick-me-up talk.
Eduardo Najera said the mood in the locker room was like a funeral until Grgurich lifted their spirits by reminding them what ``a great life we have.''
``It's just the energy of getting the cloud away from heads and get the sunshine out by tomorrow,'' Karl said. ``Tomorrow the scoreboard starts 0-0.''
Still, A.I., 'Melo and Martin all ducked reporters as they bolted out of the building.
``I would probably prefer them to be more commentary and professional. But it's a frustrating business and it's a very difficult place to be,'' Karl said. ``And I think we've got to respect their emotions.''
Camby stopped to talk, telling The Associated Press: ``I think we regrouped today. There was a lot of frustration last night. The odds are definitely against us. But we'll just go out there and try to get a win. You get that one win and you never know what can happen and in the next game.''
The thing is, nothing the Nuggets have done has worked against the Lakers, who are 6-0 against Denver this season.
``Right now, we've just got to play with pride and forget about Xs and Os,'' Najera said. ``Forget about the triangle. Forget about guarding Kobe. Forget about everything.''
And while they're at it, forget about 'Melo's accusations of surrender, too.
``I don't think he meant it. Nobody quit,'' Linas Kleiza said. ``Nobody quit on each other. It's just him being the competitor he is. Sometimes things like that come out of peoples' mouths after tough losses.''
Kobe Bryant said the Nuggets team he expects to see Monday night is the one that won 50 games for the first time in 20 years, not the anguished bunch the Lakers have dominated in the playoffs.
``Close-out games are always very, very tough,'' Bryant said. ``They play loose and they tend to fight a lot more. It's going to be tough.''
The Nuggets may be motivated to avoid their first sweep since the Spurs beat them 3-0 in a best-of-5 playoff series in 1995, but Bryant said the Lakers are just as driven to end this series on Monday night.
``Absolutely. You never want to give a team any kind of momentum,'' he said.
Coby Karl said he felt sorry for his dad, having tagged along in previous years when the Nuggets were bounced out of the first round.
``I know how he feels right now because I've been through it with him,'' the younger Karl said.
On the other hand ...
``I think it's great for us. We've got a couple older guys on the team. Hopefully we can shorten the series. That would help them a lot.''
Notes: Karl, who has two years left on his contract, declined to address his job security: ``It's crazy to be talked about. I think we've had a great year.'' ... Bryant on the ``MVP!'' chants he got at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night: ``Absolutely awesome. It felt like home.''