Nuggets’ Karl: We can beat anybody | AspenTimes.com

Nuggets’ Karl: We can beat anybody

Chris Tomasson
Rocky Mountain News
Aspen, CO Colorado

Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups, right, shoots over Sacramento Kings defender John Salmons during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008. The Nuggets won 118-85. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

DENVER ” There’s a song titled “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” and another, “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime.”

Either one might be suitable as George Karl’s theme song.

The Nuggets coach is so confident these days he believes his team, if it plays to its capabilities, can beat all comers. That’s what having Chauncey Billups as point guard can do for a team.

“I think the team and the coach and the organization and the city all feel that we can win every game,” Karl said of what it’s like with Billups, who has led Denver to a 13-4 record since his Nov. 3 acquisition from Detroit. “I don’t think we were there even in our best moments. But now, even with San Antonio and the Lakers, on the road or at home, we feel, if we play at a good level, we can beat anybody. And that’s a good feeling.”

The Nuggets (14-7) have split with San Antonio, losing at home and winning on the road, although the Spurs were without stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. They have won at defending champion Boston.

As for the Lakers, it still hasn’t gone well. In their only game against them since Billups’ arrival, the Nuggets fell behind by 27 points and lost, 104-90, on the road for their ninth straight loss to the Lakers.

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Nevertheless, Karl is undeterred. While many previously had picked the Nuggets to miss the playoffs, since the acquisition of Billups many now consider them Northwest Division favorites.

“It’s a good place to be,” said Karl, not minding the extra pressure. “We were talking the other day about how San Antonio has all the psychological things on their side. … We have put ourselves in a position [where] everybody thinks that, if we play well, we have a hell of a chance to win the game against anybody.”

Nobody’s doubting the Nuggets have a heck of a chance Wednesday. They’re an overwhelming favorite at home against lowly Minnesota (4-15).

Forward Juwan Howard is on the verge of signing with Charlotte, Nuggets center Nene told the Rocky after practice Tuesday. It’s disappointing news for Nene, a teammate of Howard’s during Nene’s rookie season of 2002-03 and for a month earlier this season.

“He was very important to this team, and now we’ve lost him,” Nene said of Howard, who’s expected to sign with the Bobcats soon.

The Nuggets signed Howard early in training camp and he made the opening- night roster on a nonguaranteed contract. But he was waived Nov. 3, when the Nuggets needed to clear a roster spot when they dealt Allen Iverson for Billups, Cheikh Samb and Antonio McDyess.

After McDyess’ contract was bought out Nov. 10, Karl requested Howard be re-signed. But with the Nuggets about $900,000 over the luxury-tax line and seeking to get under it, his request was denied.

“I’m disappointed,” said Nene, who believes the Nuggets need another big man such as Howard, 35, a 15-year veteran. “He showed everybody he’s in shape. He can bring a lot of things to the team, but he’s not here now … I don’t understand.”

McDyess made it official Tuesday. He’s back in the Motor City.

McDyess had to wait a month if he wanted to return to the Pistons after deciding he did not want to play in Denver. The Nuggets bought out about $6 million of the two years and nearly $15 million left on McDyess’ contract.

McDyess will receive from Detroit this season the full biannual exception of $1.91 million. He has a player option next season worth $2.06 million but could opt out and re-sign for a larger amount in order to recoup more lost money.

“I’m just happy for him to be back playing no matter where he is,” Billups said. “That’s my buddy.”

Speaking with reporters in Detroit, McDyess didn’t offer specifics why he didn’t want a third stint in Denver.

He joked he didn’t sign with Boston because he wouldn’t “look good in green and white.”

“[Detroit] is a team that I want to end my career with,” McDyess said.

Before McDyess’ return, the Pistons were only 9-8 since the trade.

“He’s going to help them a tremendous amount,” Billups said. “He brings a veteran that is familiar with everybody on the team.”

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