By CHRIS BROUSSARD
There's been much handwringing over why the Denver Nuggets' have declined so much under interim coach Adrian Dantley, who's taken over while George Karl undergoes treatment for throat cancer.
The Nuggets, 41-20 under Karl this season, are just 13-12 under Dantley, including a 1-3 mark in their first-round series with Utah.
One thing that hasn't been discussed is the fact that Denver's shot fewer free throws since Dantley became the coach. With Karl on the sidelines, the Nuggets attempted 31.6 foul shots per game, making 24.4. Under Dantley, Denver's averaged just 27.8 foul shots, hitting 21.6.
There's no question that that's affected the Nuggets' W-L record under Dantley. The bigger question is why the discrepancy?
Are the Nuggets' less aggressive when Dantley coaches? Do they drive to the basket less and settle for jump shots more? In winning more under Karl, were they being fouled late in games?
Or does the fact that Karl has more stature than Dantley influence the way referees call the game? No one's suggesting for a minute that the officials have purposely given Dantley a tougher whistle than Karl. But has human nature led them to act differently?
What's clear is that the Nuggets miss Karl, and if they don't right themselves pronto, they'll miss the second round.