Nick is sick
Van Exel asks for trade after latest Nuggets lossPosted: Sunday December 09, 2001 3:46 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Nick Van Exel has had enough, and wants out of Denver.
Van Exel, frustrated by Denver's four-game losing streak and a promising season turning sour, demanded to be traded following the Nuggets' 109-99 loss Saturday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I'm sick of losing," said Van Exel, who has asked Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe to deal him. "I'm just tired of everything right now. I think it's time for me to move on somewhere else other than here, because I'm sick of it."
But while Van Exel didn't do much on the floor, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting, he made a spectacle of himself in the Nuggets' locker room afterward.
Van Exel said he has spoken to Vandeweghe about being traded, but promised he wouldn't quit on his teammates while the Nuggets tried to accommodate him.
"I'm going to keep playing hard," he said. "I'm not going to let them down. They already know how I feel."
Some of Van Exel's teammates can empathize with his feelings.
"He's frustrated right now, as we all are," Raef LaFrentz said. "If that's the way he feels, that's his prerogative. He's passionate and is a competitor. He's sick of losing, as everyone in this room is."
Van Exel, in his fourth season with Nuggets, came over in a 1998 trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is averaging 25.9 points, up from his 17.7 points last year.
But he has had to carry more of the scoring load with All-Star forward Antonio McDyess out until February following knee surgeries.
"If we're above .500 or Mac [McDyess] was here, we wouldn't be talking about this," guard George McCloud said.
The Cavs' sixth win in their past seven home games was especially sweet for first-year coach John Lucas, who was an assistant in Denver for three years before taking the Cleveland job.
Lucas was a visitor in Denver's locker room just moments after Van Exel's outburst.
Murray scored 13 points and Person had eight in the third quarter when the Cavs shot 70 percent (12 of 17) to pull away. Andre Miller, the NBA's assist leader, had 13 as the Cavs' set a season-high for points.
Ilgauskas, playing in just his third game since returning from foot surgery, had 10 points and six rebounds during a brief but dominant eight-minute stint in the second quarter when the Cavs turned a one-point deficit into a 15-point lead.
He has scored 40 points in 49 minutes since rejoining the Cavs.
"Z is back now and it's good to have him," Murray said. "He's blocking shots and changing the game."
The Nuggets pulled within 11 points in the third quarter, but Person drilled a 3-pointer and Murray added another as Cleveland opened an 84-65 lead and coasted in the final period.
Ilgauskas sat out the entire first quarter, but quickly made his presence felt by scoring eight points in his first six minutes as the Cavs outscored the Nuggets 35-15 in the second.
Ilgauskas' playing time is being closely monitored by the Cavs, who have had him on the court for only 29 games in the past three seasons because of injuries.
Once he entered the game, the Cavs immediately began running their offense around Ilgauskas, who planted himself on the low block. He scored eight points in a 19-8 run, and Cleveland closed the first half with an 11-2 run to take a 58-42 lead at the break.
Notes: Lucas joked around with many of the Nuggets before the game, and said he's always got one eye on how their doing. "Every night," he said when asked how often he checks Denver's scores. "That's why this is a mixed deal for me. Those guys are special to me." ... Lucas can relate to what drove Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to resign. "This is a tough job," he said. "Especially when you've been with the same organization for 13 years." ... The Nuggets have lost six in a row in Cleveland. ... Denver is 0-6 when an opposing player scores 30 or more points.