The clanking of stray shots isn't quite at freak-out level for coach George Karl and his misfiring Nuggets, but it's creeping toward the red.
Through eight games, Denver ranks dead last in the NBA in free-throw shooting (at an egads! bad 64 percent). And the Nuggets are fourth-worst in 3-pointers at 30 percent (despite shooting the second-most from long-range).
"C'mon, we're all worried about the shooting," Nuggets coach George Karl said Tuesday after practice. "It can't stay where it is for us to have any success."
In four games over the past week, the Nuggets shot 57-for-91 from the line. They missed 34 free throws in the stretch (they managed to win three games). But in their four losses this season, the Nuggets (4-4) got beat by a combined 35 points.
More worrisome, point guard Ty Lawson might have the yips. He's at 54 percent from the line this season, down nearly 30 percent from last season.
"I'm more worried about the free throws than anything else," Karl said. "It seems like even our good free-throw shooters are missing."
Where have you gone, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf?
(The Rockies on Tuesday dragged out former slugger Dante Bichette to be their hitting coach. Maybe the Nuggets should hire Abdul-Rauf — who shot 96 percent from the line in 1993-94 — as shooting instructor for uncontested shots.)
Lawson on Tuesday shot free throws over and over on the far end of the Nuggets practice court. For the record, he went three-plus minutes without missing or even nicking the rim going in.
"We need to get our free throws above 70 percent," Karl said. "And we need to become consistent with the 3-ball. Whatever that number is, it's not gonna be at the level of San Antonio or teams that are built to be like that. But it's got to be in the middle of the pack in NBA stats."
Even still, the Nuggets have bigger issues. Their next four games are against teams that are a combined 22-6, including the defending champion Miami Heat on Thursday in Denver.
The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman posts analysis, notes and more on this blog focussing on the Denver Nuggets.
Miami on Monday got 38 points from LeBron James for a 113-110 victory over Houston, despite the Rockets knocking down 26 free throws and 12 3-pointers (the Rockets' Chandler Parsons scored 15 points from beyond the arc).
Sharp shooting, against the Heat, might not be enough.
"Every game is gonna be a dogfight for us on the road," Karl said. "We haven't gotten the confidence yet that we're gonna go in and steamroll road wins. It's not gonna happen until we start shooting better."
Faried sore but OK. In a scary crash Monday night, Kenneth Faried fell hard to the floor against Phoenix and was pulled from the game.
"I saw him hit his head. That's kind of what I remember," Karl said. Official word Tuesday was that Faried had his wind knocked out — but it wasn't a head injury.
He returned later in the game, but Faried didn't practice Tuesday.
"He didn't have to practice today," Karl said. "I saw him in the hot tub and getting a massage."
Faried leads the NBA in offensive rebounds and is fourth in total boards.
"I'm sure he's banged up a little bit," Karl said. But "I have no question he'll play Thursday."