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News » NUGGETS J.R. on tuneup mission

NUGGETS J.R. on tuneup mission

NUGGETS J.R. on tuneup mission As if preseason practices weren't important enough, they are even more so this year for Nuggets guard J.R. Smith.

In these sessions Smith will get the work he needs to knock enough rust off his game to be able to hit the floor running after his seven-

game suspension at the start of the season.

"My feeling is he's got to prepare by practicing," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think he's got to tune up and start playing every possession in practice and stay involved. So when he's not on the court, the rust that comes with that is overcome by his repetitions in practice."

Smith has averaged 23 minutes per game in the first few exhibitions, but the minutes aren't the point. Karl is going to start homing in on rotations and the combinations of players he's going to use those first seven games - five of which are on the road. That means Smith will get less playing time leading up to the season opener at month's end.

The NBA suspended Smith as a result of his guilty plea this summer to reckless driving during a 2007 auto accident that killed his friend Andre Bell.

"I'm going to have to adjust on the fly," Karl said of not having Smith. "I'm going to have to manage the first seven and then another six or seven with J.R. figuring it out."

Smith declined comment for this story.

Nuggets coaches have been generally pleased with Smith's practice sessions. His 3-point shot has been solid and he appears to be picking up where he left off last season in terms of expanding his game to make plays, defend and rebound, in addition to drain long-range shots, his specialty.

Smith has experimented with a new free throw, standing a couple steps off the line, similar to the way former Nugget Nick Van Exel shot free throws. Last season, Smith hit 75 percent from the line in the regular season but dipped to 54 percent during the playoffs.

It's not clear how long Smith will continue the new technique, but Karl isn't a fan of it.

"It makes no sense," Karl said. "It's like a 5-foot putt and an 8-foot putt. If you're an 80 percent putter from 5 feet, you're going to be a 72 percent putter from 8 feet."

Footnotes. Guard Arron Afflalo hasn't heard yet if the Nuggets will pick up the option on his contract for the 2010-11 season. The Nuggets have until Oct. 31 to decide. ? The Nuggets will have their annual open practice today at Metro State College, starting at 9:30 a.m., for 1,500 Denver public school students.

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 17, 2009


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