Dave Krieger has been a guest-host on 850 KOA since 2005. Now, Dave is heard every weekday afternoon on The Dave Logan Show.
"I've had a blast as a guest host on 850 KOA over the past several years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join their team on a full-time basis," Krieger said. "I look forward to partnering with Dave Logan, a friend for more than 25 years, in the competitive landscape of PM drive. As I've recently discovered, thanks to the web, 850 KOA's reach now includes the entire country."
Since 2009, Dave was a popular columnist with The Denver Post. Before that, he spent 27 years with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News as a cityside reporter, Broncos and Nuggets beat writer and longtime sports columnist. He won various state and national awards during a newspaper career that spanned 36 years.
Dave was named the 2011 Colorado sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He also won the award in 2010 and 2009 and shared it in 2008 with former Rocky Mountain News colleague Tracy Ringolsby.
An oft-quoted truism of baseball says good pitching beats good hitting, although the practical reality may be closer to the remark attributed to Bob Veale, the 6-foot-6-inch left-hander who pitched for the Pirates and Red Sox in the 1960s and '70s:
"Good pitching will beat good hitting anytime, and vice versa."
In other words, as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, it's always something. If it ain't one thing, it's another.
The Rockies went into their weekend series in St. Louis leading the National League in batting and runs, but there were signs of trouble. They had lost three of their previous four games, scoring a total of eight runs.
After the first two games against the Cardinals -- a one-hit, complete-game shutout by Shelby Miller and a two-hit, complete-game shutout by Adam Wainwright -- they have lost four in a row, scoring a total of three runs in 36 innings. The last time they scored was the first inning of their final game against the Yankees, meaning they take a 26-inning scoreless streak into Sunday's series finale in St. Louis.
"Wainwright commanded everything," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Saturday's second consecutive 3-0 defeat. "I think it was a combination of things -- us going a little cold and at the same time running into a couple pitchers that aren't missing."
Everybody likes to beat up on Rockies pitching, but it has surrendered just three runs in each of the last four games -- and the club is 0-4 over that span. Troy Tulowitzki, their leading hitter, missed two of the four with tightness in his groin. Michael Cuddyer, their second-leading hitter, missed the last three with a bulging disc in his neck that sent him to the disabled list Saturday.
Between Eric Young's first-inning single off Miller on Friday night and Todd Helton's fifth-inning base on balls from Wainwright on Saturday afternoon, 40 consecutive Rockies batters were retired, tying a major league record.
Between Young's hit and Nolan Arenado's eighth-inning single Saturday, which broke up Wainwright's no-hit bid, the Rocks went 0-for-49 at the plate. Fifty consecutive batters, counting Helton's walk, went hitless.
Dexter Fowler is 1-for-21 over the past six games -- he broke an 0-for-20 skein in his final at-bat against Wainwright -- his batting average falling from .310 to .264.
Carlos Gonzalez is 0-for-15 since homering against the Yankees on Tuesday, accounting for both runs in a 2-0 victory, the last time the Rocks won. His average has slipped from .322 to .288.
In the space of ten days, the Rocks have gone from first place with a record of 17-11 to third place at 19-17. The first of the bandwagon fans are already looking for landing spots. After all, we've seen this before, right?
In 2011, the Rocks were in first place from April 6 through May 10. By the end of May, they were below .500 and in third. After going 17-8 in April, they went 8-21 in May to give it all back. They ended up 73-89.
This year, they went 16-11 in April. In May so far, they are 3-6.
They are off to an excellent start on the mound, where they had the best bullpen earned-run average in the National League before Josh Outman gave up a single run to the Cards on Saturday. A team that had 27 quality starts all last year has 15 already.
They were off to an excellent start offensively before this last week, when they faced good Yankees pitching and great Cardinals pitching.
"Both guys we've faced these first two games have pitched on the edges of the strike zone with all their stuff, which makes it very difficult," Weiss said.
So now comes the test. Are the Rocks tougher than they've been the last couple of years? Will they shrink from adversity and fold up their tent or will they fight back?
"These guys do their work every day," Weiss said. "They prepare for the game. Everyone gets beat up a little bit in this game at some point. But our guys will keep grinding and will come out and try to turn it around tomorrow."
They get another good Cardinals starter, Jaime Garcia (2.25 ERA), on Sunday. Then they move on to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are struggling but will deploy three starters who are pitching pretty well -- Travis Wood (2.33), Carlos Villanueva (3.02) and Jeff Samardzija (3.70).
Baseball may seem understandable merely by swimming through its ocean of numbers, but at times like these numbers are not that helpful. The numbers say the Rocks are pretty good. They have hit well and they have pitched well in the season's early going. But it is not yet enough of a sample size to tell you much.
Now they face some adversity. Cuddyer, one of their best hitters in the early going, is on the shelf.
"You feel like you're leaving your teammates, but it is what it is," said Cuddyer, who has had issues with his neck twice before during his career. "Injuries happen and you can't do anything about it. You just try and get healthy and get back on the field."
Helton, their other veteran leader, is no longer capable of leading the team offensively. So the weight falls on the younger stars -- Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and Fowler.
Can they carry it? Is this the fragile team of the past couple of seasons or has it grown up enough to bring a little fight to the party?
We'll know soon enough.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was playing to the three guys who will suit up as referees for Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night. Otherwise, Mark Jackson's whine about the dirty, dastardly Nuggets following the Warriors' 107-100 loss in Game 5 sounded like the indignation of a schoolyard bully who finally got his.
For their part, the Nuggets should take it as a compliment. It's the first time in history they've been mistaken for the Bad Boys.
"They were the more physical team," Jackson said. "They were the aggressor. They hurt us in the first half scoring the basketball, points in the paint. Made us pay for our turnovers. They tried to send hit men on Steph. But give them credit. It wasn't cocky basketball. They outplayed us. It wasn't magic. They outplayed us."
Uh, hold on, you sort of buried the lead there, Mark. Hit men?
"You know, some dirty plays early," he said. "It's playoff basketball. That's all right. We own it. But make no mistake about it: We went up 3-1 playing hard, physical, clean basketball, not trying to hurt anybody."
Self-righteousness has always been a Jackson trait , but this was a dizzying passive-aggressive two-step in which every allegation of malfeasance was accompanied by an assurance that it was fine; to be expected, in fact, in playoff basketball. Thus his assessment of Kenneth Faried's performance:
"He set some great screens, and some great illegal ones, too. He did his job. Hey, I played with guys like that. You're paid to do that. Dale Davis, Anthony Davis, Charles Oakley. You're paid to do it. So give 'em credit. But, as an opposing coach, I see it, and I'm trying to protect my guys."
It is not clear, exactly, how whining in public about one of the softer teams in the NBA protects his guys, unless it's an attempt to influence the next officiating crew, in which case it might be delivered more effectively the day before Game 6 so it's all over the media during the 24 hours those referees are in town preparing to do the game.
Jackson takes many things personally and this was one of them. That line about how the Nuggets' win wasn't magic? That had been simmering 48 hours. Nuggets coach George Karl used the word after Game 4 to describe the Warriors' incredible shooting -- .530 through the first four games, .576 in their three wins.
"The next 48 hours is going to be difficult, to say the least," Karl said then. "They've found some magic and we got to somehow take it away from them."
Apparently, this qualifies as disrespect these days. I don't know who described the Warriors as "cocky," but Jackson got back at him, too.
The Nuggets were by turns perplexed and amused.
"They play dirty every night," said Faried, who was shoved to the floor beyond the baseline by Warriors center Andrew Bogut in perhaps the most replayed scene of the series so far. "And they target me. Every rebound, they try to hit me and try to hurt me. It's basketball."
Faried, like Steph Curry, the Warriors guard Jackson said was targeted by hit men, is recovering from a sprained ankle.
"I think I've taken the hardest hit throughout the series," said Andre Iguodala, the star of the Nuggets' Game 5 victory. "I think it was Game 1 or 2. Bogut leaned into me. Fullcourt screen. And I didn't remember what happened the rest of the game. So I think they kind of brought the physicality to the series and we've just stopped being the receivers and we're starting to hit back a little bit."
The only specific play Jackson cited was a glancing collision between Faried and Curry at the free throw line that sent Curry sprawling. From my vantage point, I couldn't tell if Faried tripped him or gave him a little hip or knee check on the way by. Either way, it was a message that Curry no longer had a letter of transit through Denver's defense.
This is pretty mild stuff by NBA playoff standards, as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith confirmed in their conversation on TNT later that night. They agreed nothing particularly heinous had occurred in the Nuggets-Warriors game and that Jackson's remarks were ill-advised. Then they showed video of truly dirty playoff fouls.
Jackson's fusillade did manage to divert the Game 5 storyline from the fact that his marvelous shooters did, for one night anyway, lose their magic touch. The Warriors shot a rather mortal .432 and Curry, the star of the series so far, made just one of seven three-point attempts.
Superficially, at least, the difference was that Karl went back to a standard NBA lineup. He had abandoned it first when Faried sprained his ankle just before the end of the regular season and then because center Kosta Koufos was such a stiff in the first two games of the series, especially the second, when the Warriors became just the fourth visitor all season to win on Denver's home floor.
After Jackson lost power forward David Lee to a torn hip flexor in Game 1, he moved small forward Harrison Barnes to power forward and added guard Jarrett Jack, making it a three-guard lineup. In Games 3 and 4, Karl followed suit, keeping small forward Wilson Chandler at power forward, a position he'd assumed during Faried's absence. Faried moved from power forward to center and Koufos moved to the bench. With Faried still hampered by the ankle, this lineup was so small that it was obliterated on the boards, usually a Nuggets strength.
Jackson got a lot of credit for this tactical move, which was shrouded in a strangely transparent ruse. In each of the Warriors' wins, he offered for pre-game introductions a lineup in which a traditional power forward, Carl Landry, was in Lee's place. Then, when it was time to actually start the game, he deployed the one with Jack in Lee's place and Landry on the bench. If Karl took offense as easily as Jackson does, he might have viewed this odd gamesmanship as an attempt to deceive him.
In any case, Karl went back to a standard lineup for Game 5, but substituted JaVale McGee, his erratic but athletically sensational backup center, for Koufos. The Nuggets led 36-22 after one and 66-46 at intermission.
When I asked Jackson about this tactical move, he declared it irrelevant.
"We lost the game because they scored in the paint, we turned the basketball over, they got it going in transition and we made mistakes," he said. "No matter who's on the floor, when we play our brand of basketball, we'll be just fine. We put together a run with small guys on the floor, so it has nothing to do with size. We have to stay true to who we are."
When Jackson went small in the second half, Karl matched up and the Nuggets' big lead -- 22 at its height -- melted away. The Warriors got within five three times in the final minutes. I asked Karl why he thought that happened.
"We can go to switching more of their pick-and-rolls and play smaller or we can go bigger and try to rotate," he said. "That's a game-time decision for us most of the time. I think we actually slowed down more in the second half. We only scored 41 points in the second half. We somehow got to get enough energy on the court to keep the tempo and pace fast."
As if anticipating Jackson's allegations, which came minutes later, Karl closed his interview session with a joke, an unprompted rhetorical question:
"Did Draymond Green play football or basketball at Michigan State?"
Green is the Warriors' 6-foot-7, 230-pound, rookie defensive specialist. He managed four personal fouls in 14 minutes of action.
The Nuggets desperately needed a big game from somebody other than Ty Lawson and they got it from Iguodala, who put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The last Nugget to post 25 and 12 in a playoff game was LaPhonso Ellis. Throw in the assists and you have to go back to Fat Lever.
"Honestly, I didn't really change anything from the last two or three games," Iguodala said. "I felt like Game 2, the shot felt really well. Same with the two games in Oakland. I feel really good in that arena. So I didn't change too much. I just tried to be a little more assertive once I got the ball because either I'm going to make a play for someone else or I can make a play for myself. So the guys relied on me to do that tonight."
In fact, Iguodala has been shooting well in the series -- he was at .512 from the field and .400 from long distance going into Game 5; those numbers are .534 and .429 now -- but not to nearly as much effect. He was averaging 14.8 points a game before his 25-point explosion.
The Nuggets also got a big first half from Chandler, who struggled through the first four games, shooting .356. Chandler's splits alone may account for the big first half lead and the disappearing second half lead. He had 16 before halftime, three after.
Still, the big story heading into Game 6 will be the allegations of dirty play, even if Jackson's coach on the floor, Jack, didn't seem to share the perception.
"It was good defense and we welcome good defense," he said of the Nuggets. "It felt like good defense. We liked it. There is nothing further to it. We're a close-knit bunch, a battle-tested bunch; nothing can get us out of our character. I don't even know what you're talking about."
Iguodala knew, and he was pretty sure it went both ways.
"Are the Warriors taking cheap shots?" he asked, repeating a question. "I think it's just part of the big game of basketball. I've been hit a few times and I've wondered who it was or how they caught me. I had to go back on tape because I've been hit with some shots and it wasn't a ghost hitting me."
In Mark Jackson's brain, there was a certain intrigue to the starting lineups for Game 2 of the Nuggets-Warriors playoff series Tuesday night.
Kenneth Faried, the Nuggets' power forward who missed Game 1 with a sprained ankle, was cleared to return, but his coach, George Karl, told reporters he would bring him off the bench rather than return him immediately to the starting lineup.
Karl tends to be more transparent about such things than some coaches because he figures his opponent will know soon enough anyway. If he says he's not starting Faried and then he does, it would be a simple matter for Jackson to alter his own lineup in response, or to substitute early if he felt the matchups were going against him.
But Jackson, in his first playoff series as a head coach, thought Karl, an old hand, might be trying to snooker him. Knowing the visiting team's lineup would be introduced first, he sent out a group that included Carl Landry at power forward, replacing the injured David Lee. Landry would be a suitable matchup for Faried.
When the Nuggets did what Karl said he would do, starting Wilson Chandler in Faried's big forward spot, Jackson called Landry back and replaced him with guard Jarrett Jack, giving the Warriors a smaller, three-guard lineup.
Why didn't Landry actually take the floor after being introduced with the starters?
"I'm not really sure," Jackson said. "He may have had to go to the bathroom or something."
So Jackson didn't change his mind between introductions and tipoff?
"No," he said. "Just covering all the bases."
In other words, if Faried was in the Nuggets' lineup, Jackson had Landry ready to match up. If he wasn't, Jackson would make a last-minute switch. The decision had actually been made earlier in the day.
"I came to my coaches early this morning," Jackson recounted. "I said, 'Am I crazy to start Harrison (Barnes) at the four (big forward)? I mean, somebody talk me out of it.' They all just smiled and they co-signed it. And I knew it was the right thing."
If Karl or any member of his staff was surprised by the last-minute change, it didn't show. The effect of Jackson's decision was to go small against a small Nuggets lineup that also featured three guards -- Ty Lawson, Evan Fournier and Andre Iguodala. The Nuggets held their own early, winning the first quarter 28-26. It was their only competitive episode of the evening.
"Did it throw us off?" Karl asked, repeating the question. "I mean, we play small as much as any team. The first quarter, we actually had somewhat control of what was going on. So we kind of knew what was going on."
Whatever happened after that, it should have been accompanied by alcoholic beverages of some kind. The Nuggets saved their biggest stinker of the six-month season -- a 131-117 blowout that was even worse than it sounds -- for the first round of the playoffs. It's like an allergy or something.
The game takes its place in the Nuggets' book of dubious records. It was not only the most points scored against the Nuggets this season, it was the most scored against them in a playoff game in 23 years. It was the most scored against anybody in a playoff game in 18 years.
The Warriors' 14 three-pointers were a new record for a Denver playoff opponent. The Nuggets collected a total of 26 rebounds, their most meager postseason total ever. Faried, the rebounding Manimal, had two in 21 minutes.
You get the idea. The Warriors made nearly two of every three shots, an astounding shooting percentage of .646. It's been 22 years since anybody had a bigger number in the playoffs.
When I asked Karl if it was his team's worst defensive performance of the season, he didn't argue.
"I would think so," he said glumly. "I can't recall another one. We didn't do very much of anything very well. Pick and rolls, give up the paint, three ball, transition.
"We let their shooters get into the game, and the frustration of covering shooters making shots broke down our team concepts some. Our shot selection offensively broke down and that gave them the fast break a lot of times. I don't think I've ever coached a game where a team got three 35-point quarters, maybe in my career. I don't remember that."
After that first quarter, the Warriors' shots rained down from everywhere and everyone. Jack hit 10 of 15, Barnes nine of 14, Klay Thompson eight of 11 and Steph Curry 13 of 23. Success energized the Warriors. Failure drained the Nuggets. The Warriors moved the ball until the Nuggets quit chasing it, then made the open shots.
Iguodala had the hot hand for the Nuggets early, hitting five of six first-quarter shots, including two three-pointers, and doing his part to fire up the full house as he ran back up the court. He got only five more attempts the rest of the game, and he didn't seem that happy about it.
"We have so many guys who are attacking," he said. "We've got to stick with some things that if they're working, we've got to continue to go with it. But they went zone in the second half and kind of threw us out of our rhythm a little bit. And it kind of takes away from one guy being able to attack."
Chandler, in particular, suffered in Golden State's switch at big forward to Barnes from the injured Lee.
"We matched up better on defense," Curry said. "Wilson had a huge game last game. D. Lee did a great job guarding him, but when you have Harrison able to defend him, that's a better matchup for us."
Chandler took one more shot than Barnes and scored 10 fewer points. Matched up against another natural small forward, he lost the quickness advantage he has against bigger, slower power forwards.
"Harrison Barnes, for a rookie, hasn't been getting the respect that he deserves," Jackson said. "A rookie that starts for a No. 6 seed all year long, defends, doesn't kill you with numbers but does everything the right way."
Barnes said Jackson didn't tell him he was going to play big forward until he was about to walk out on the court for the opening tip.
"I think Carl even came out in the starting lineup when they announced it," Curry said. "So I think Jack knew right before the game started that that was what we were going to do. He was ready for it. We had that lineup a lot during games, but just a different look to start with it. But defensively I think it helped us to start the game that way."
Having removed the Nuggets' matchup advantage, the Warriors proved better, for one night anyway, at pretty much every position. Curry put up a dazzling line of 30 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, three steals and one turnover. Thompson scored 21 points on only 11 shots. He took six threes and made five.
"We've got guys that can knock down shots," Jackson said. "When you talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion they're the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game. And I'm a guy that's just not throwing that out there. I followed basketball my entire life. Not only played, covered it, but I was a fan as a kid. I watched the great players. And these two guys are absolutely off the charts. I would have put Reggie Miller and myself in there, but I held him down."
So the Nuggets got smoked. What do they do now? Games 3 and 4 are in Oakland this weekend. New schemes? New lineups? Try harder?
"We're going to have to play harder," Karl said. "There's no question that to win in Golden State is going to take much more energy than we've put into these two games. I'm not saying we didn't try hard. We played hard. But we didn't play hard enough. They played harder than we did.
"They made shots, they get cocky, they get enthusiastic, they get into it. They were urgent and desperate. I can't say that we didn't play hard, we just didn't play playoff hard. A little bit, I think they were more physical than we were. Their big guys hit us more than we probably banged them. The momentum and pendulum of urgency and desperation comes on our side in Golden State when we get there."
Speaking of big guys, if anybody has seen center Kosta Koufos, please alert local authorities. Somehow, the Warriors managed to outscore the Nuggets by 18 points in the 14 minutes he spent on the floor. Might this be an opportune time to start JaVale McGee? Or does Faried, who was ineffective off the bench, return to the starting lineup?
"I'll evaluate everything," Karl said. "We will evaluate everything. And we will try to make the adjustments that put the best team out there for more minutes than we did tonight, and that won't be that difficult."
Each playoff game is its own story, and one doesn't necessarily influence the next. But the Warriors were the more aggressive, skilled team in the first two games of the series. Only Andre Miller's miraculous 18-point fourth quarter in Game 1 prevented the visitors from winning both.
"This series is far from over," Jackson said. "We've got a tremendous amount of respect for them and they're more than capable of coming into Oracle (Arena) and beating us. So we've got to relax, and then we've got to get back to work."
The Warriors are much better outside shooters, so the Nuggets have to do what they did all season, which is get to the rim. But they aren't rebounding, the catalyst for the fast break, and the Warriors are frustrating penetration by turning to a zone defense at times that turns the Nuggets into jump shooters or turnover machines.
Curry has been better than Lawson. Thompson has been more efficient than Iguodala. Barnes outplayed Chandler in Game 2. And Koufos vs. Andrew Bogut has been no contest.
"This process has just begun," Karl said. "We've beaten this team four out of six games. Someone's always said the series doesn't begin until someone wins on the other team's court. Now the series in a lot of ways, the process has begun."
Well, if we're in a battle of cliches, the pressure is on the Nuggets now. They do not look like the team that finished the regular season on a 24-4 roll. Their 24-game home winning streak is over. Now we find out if they know how to counterpunch.