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News » Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-11-10

Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-11-10

Denver Nuggets Getting Inside 2009-11-10Late last season, Nuggets coach George Karl anticipated J.R. Smith would be his starting shooting guard this season. But that's not going to happen, at least not right away.

Karl said Smith, second last season in voting for the NBA Sixth Man Award, will come off the bench Tuesday at Chicago when he returns from a seven-game NBA suspension.

"Right now, I'm not a big believer that starting him is as important as some people are writing," Karl said.

Several things changed for Smith during the offseason. He was involved in several situations that resulted in his maturity still being questioned. That included a 23-day stint in jail, although that came after pleading guilty to reckless driving due to a 2007 accident that killed a passenger in his car.

But mainly Smith's seven-game suspension to start the season, which was because of his 2007 accident, changed things.

"There's a rustiness that comes with not playing in NBA games that he's going to have to fight through," Karl said. "We have not had a lot of practices, either. He's been playing one-on-one with my assistants and shooting 500 shots a day and running to try and stay in shape. That's different."

It remains to be seen whether Smith will continue to come off the bench the rest of the season. Anthony Carter, normally a point guard, had started the first six games at shooting guard, but was replaced by Joey Graham for Saturday's 125-100 loss at Atlanta.

Much of what Karl will do could depend on whether either Graham or Arron Afflalo can emerge as the starting shooting guard much like Dahntay Jones did last season before departing as a free agent. Then Smith, who says he doesn't care if he starts, could continue with his role off the bench.

HAWKS 125, NUGGETS 100: Another trip to Atlanta, another loss.

The Nuggets on Saturday lost for the 18th time in their last 20 trips to Atlanta. And this one wasn't close.

After winning their first five games of the season, the Nuggets have dropped two straight. They have two more games before they conclude a six-game East Coast road trip.

The Nuggets fell behind by eight after the first quarter to the Hawks and were outscored in each of the final three quarters. By the fourth quarter, Nuggets coach George Karl had emptied his bench.

Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points and Chauncey Billups added 27. They combined for 57 of the team's 100 points as nobody else could get much offense going for Denver.

Reserve guard Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 25 points.

The Nuggets didn't play much defense, allowing Atlanta to shoot 51.7 percent. But the Hawks didn't forget about defense, blocking nine shots, including six by forward Josh Smith.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 10, 2009


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