On Friday, I informed the family that (for the first time all year) I wouldn’t be exclusively glued to the TV for the weekend’s Bronco game. Then, Tim Tebow was named starter on Saturday and the Mrs. immediate quipped, “So, I guess, we are watching the whole game now.” Pretty much. I’m sure we weren’t alone on that shift.
Nor were the Broncos the only story from a busy weekend.
DOUBLE HIGH TEN!
10. Saturday night, the Northwest Division doormats, the Minnesota Timberwolves came to Denver to face a Nugget team still seething from the last-second loss to San Antonio. Fortunately for Denver fans, the team came out hitting on all cylinders, before taking a comfortable second-half lead (20 in the 3rd quarter). Unfortunately, those hoping for a smooth easy win were a bit disappointed as the Nuggets followed their early season pattern of playing “stinker” 4th quarters. The defense was a little shaky and one gentleman by the name of Kevin Love decided to single-handedly will his team back into the game. The Nuggets were able to hold on (if there was another minute or so added to the game, I don’t think they would have maintained the advantage) and eek out a 115-113 victory. Love finished the night with a career-high 43 points to go with his requisite 17 rebounds. The Nuggets again, played without Chauncey Billups, but got more impressive play from the developing Ty Lawson, who finished with 23 points/9 assists/3steals.
Wins are wins; they all count the same come playoff time; there are no style points. I’m assuming that’s an acceptable refrain for a 16-10 team. It also appears we may see the return of Chauncey, Kenyon Martin and Birdman all this week!
9. Before we get into another amazing Avalanche weekend, I want to discuss further the merits of Minnesota’s Kevin Love; in relation to our favorite Los Angeles Clipper, Blake Griffin. At first glance, the two power forwards do not appear to have many similarities, but at this point in their careers, we might be looking at two of the most prolific players of their time. Statistically speaking, the two players are almost identical at this point. The 22-year-old Love, in his third pro season, stands at 6-10 goes 265ish and is currently boasting averages of 21 points/16 rebounds/2.5 assists. The 21-year-old rookie Griffin, on the other hand, is 6-10 260 and has his numbers up to 21 points/12 rebounds/3 assists. Both are exceptional passers (Love’s outlet passes are already legendary/Griffin has point-guard vision in the half-court) and extremely unselfish despite having the ability to drop 40 on any given night (which they both have). In addition, with all due respect to Dwight Howard, the pair is the league’s top double-double machines as both are currently standing on 15-game streaks.
Aesthetically, the pair might not seem so similar, as Griffin is far more apt to end up on SportsCenter’s top plays than Love, but that might be more indicative of Love’s perimeter skills as apposed to Griffin’s propensity for finishing at (OVER) the rim. Love is far more athletic than most give him credit for and Griffin’s developing perimeter game is much farther along than I even thought. Now if he can just get consistent from the free-throw line.
Unfortunately for their respective fans, each team entered Saturday with 6-21 marks. While Love's 43 wasn't enough to get his team a win, Blake's 29/12 spurred the Clip-Joint to an impressive win over the Chicago Bulls.
8. Could last night’s 3-2 Avalanche win over Montreal be considered a let-down? Considering the Avs’ string of high-octane/energy/suspenseful play, the solid 1-goal win (and now 6th straight) might have seemed pedestrian, by comparison. On the contrary, however, the Avalanche must be commended for continually coming back after each Hab goal and for the second time in as many games back (after missing 27 games), young forward TJ Galliardi scored a goal, with last night’s late 2nd period tally being the game-winner. Last night’s win comes on the heels of Friday night’s thrilling 6-5 OT win over Ottawa. The Avs were staring down a 5-4 deficit with just a couple minutes remaining, when the teenagers decided to flex their youthful muscles. First, it was Ryan O’Reilly (The Factor) who tied the score with a fabulous rush and finish. Just a few minutes later into overtime, it was his fellow 19-year-older, Matty Duchene who started then finished a full-ice attack with an amazing game-winner. Of course, the youngster went to his now-patented “glass leap,” much to the delight of the Pepsi Center fans. The wins put the Avs now at 42 points (4th highest in the NHL) and their 3.6 goals/game is tops in the league. Not too bad. We will have a huge contingency in the house a week from today when the “beloved” Detroit Red Wings come to town!
7. A slow NCAA hoops week (those blasted finals getting in the way!) turned into a busy weekend with all of the big teams in action. My boys from Gonzaga bounced back from a tough start to the season (with their incredibly difficult pre-conference schedule) to get an impressive win in Dallas over a talented Baylor team (remember the name Perry Jones III). Our guys from UC-Santa Barbara were beaten soundly by a REALLY good team from San Diego State.
Illinois and Missouri were not able to make it to Wednesday’s Braggin’ Rights Game with identical records as the Fightin’ Illini played an uncharacteristic sloppy (and not veteran-like) game in losing up-state in Chicago to UI-Chicago. While the Illini have dominated the Chicago-land region in recent recruiting cycles, that win will surely help the fate of the Flames of the Horizon League.
Our local Colorado teams are grabbing some wins in preparation for the start of conference play. Colorado secured a pair of easy victories (making it 4th and 5th in a row) while DU beat the Bears from Northern Colorado.
6. So, is it OK that I admit to watching the new reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska? I do watch it. While each episode is longer than it needs to be (a lot of repetitive ho-hum stuff) it can be an interesting watch. At the same time, Palin comes across like a real person and one you could get behind and at the other, she comes across…. well, let’s just say, differently. With out going into too much detail (as this is not a politico blog) the former Alaskan governor is a little excessively affectionate about her home-state. It seems the former Vice Presidential-candidate thinks that the “Last Frontier” is also the last place that has hard-working people that like hunting, shooting guns and camping. We also surmised that it would be a pretty fun drinking game to partake every time Palin mentions, ‘Alaska.’ For the record, I would have been hammered after last night’s episode.
5. Hey, SVEN, get back to work, eh?!!! But maybe leave some really icy/rock-hard/slippery spots on the field for the Bears’ #6.
4. This NFL is a fickle beast! The (fakers) New York Jets win at Pittsburgh is a little confusing. Baltimore bounced back with a good win over New Orleans. Luckily for my sanity, New England held on to beat a scrappy (and Aaron Rodgers-less) Green Bay Packer team. Let’s call them, the cream of the crop!
I will continue to doubt the Atlanta Falcons/New Orleans Saints/All NFC East teams. Although, that NYGiant/Philly game yesterday was historical.
3. The AFC West Round-up is now being replaced with the “Chase for the #1 pick.” What a perfect Sunday for Denver fans hoping for a top pick in next spring’s NFL Draft? The Broncos’ nearest “competition” (Detroit, Cincinnati, Carolina, Buffalo) ALL WON! With just two games left, things currently shake out with the Broncos currently holding down the #2 pick. C’mon guys! Keep it up! I also just read some Mel Kiper takes about how even if Carolina gets the #1 pick they should look into that cheap-shot expert, Fairly, from Auburn. ELWAY, HARBAUGH, LUCK. ELWAY, HARBAUGH, LUCK.
2. The defense, again, was largely at fault for the Broncos’ 39-23 loss at Oakland. They, again, gave up big plays; got gashed in the running game (gave up 200 yards in the first half, which was the most by any team all year); BUT they did finally force some turnovers. In fact, without those first-half changes in possession, this game might have been more like that abomination that took place at Invesco a few weeks back.
“Some of these guys don’t even look like they are trying…” was uttered by the Mrs. as that Raider fullback “juked” David Bruton on that crushing 450-yard screen pass for a touchdown. Worst attempt at an open-field tackle, EVER!
1. TIM TEBOW TIM TEBOW TIM TEBOW! I saved him for last. Despite much of the criticism of the young quarterback, I thought it was as positive a performance as could be expected. The issues for this team are still UP-FRONT where the offensive line got dominated by the Raiders’ front-seven. Tebow rarely had time to throw (when he did, he was pretty stellar and made the pro throws down the field that I was told he couldn’t make) and the running backs had little space to run…. Or even get out of the backfield.
All in all, it is obvious that Tebow has some limitations, but for his first outing to be in abysmal conditions and in the hardest road environment possible, he was surely NOT the reason that the Broncos lost on the scoreboard.