2010-11 Game 65: Denver Nuggets 116 – Phoenix Suns 97

Tonight the Nuggets notched their first win in Phoenix since 2004, and for George Karl it was his first win in the desert since 1997. Whatever has kept the Nuggets from winning in the US Airway Center in years past certainly was not preset this evening as the Nuggets took it to the Suns from the get-go, and did not let up all game.

I can’t exactly recall off top of my head the last time the Nuggets had such a large break in-between games, but I remember we played disappointingly bad  coming out of the hiatus, and as a fan there’s nothing more frustrating to watch. Thank goodness that was not the case tonight. What the Nuggets showed us in this blowout is that they’re not just playing HORSE in their spare time, but in fact actually learning things. Maybe George Karl was finally able to relax his mind and get everyone on the same page. Maybe the guys just needed a rest. Whatever it was, it worked because the Nuggets totally extinguished the blistering hot Suns tonight from beginning to end.

Things that were evident in tonight’s win: great ball movement, sticky hands in the passing lanes, excellent protection of the rim, great shot selection for the most part, perfect execution of the run-and-gun offense and most importantly static energy. No matter how you slice it the Nuggets simply came prepared to play tonight and no matter who that was, they were likely in for trouble.

Perhaps the highlight of such a “feel good” win was the play of Ty Lawson, especially when combined with Nene. The Ty-to-Nene combo should be one that Nuggets fans will see much of throughout the future, and tonight we really got our first does of just how potent that combination can be. When you combine Ty’s blazing-fast speed, superior court vision and lighting-quick hands to go with Nene’s bulky, athletic finishing ability, the end result is almost always going to be an emphatic jam. Just like any great PG, Ty seems to be starting to understand the concept of making others around him better, and what better person to first feel this affect than Nene. It’s interesting because Nene’s potential for a long time has been promising, yet never fully fulfilled. Maybe all along a great PG is what Nene needs to take his own game to the next level. We see this so often with bigs, where guys like Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Amare Stoudemire are prime examples. Keep an eye out for this connection the rest of the season, as it may continue to blossom just in time for the playoffs.

Now though the Ty-to-Nene combo was indeed in full-effect tonight, lets not overlook the “Ty-to-everyone else on the team” connection either. Ty simply had a superb outing tonight, and the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced this was his best game as a pro. I’ve been a huge supporter of Ty’s ever since the day we drafted him (I can still remember jumping up and down in my living room like I had just won the lottery.) and continue to believe that one day he’ll be an elite PG in the NBA. Tonight was affirmation on the highest level. Although he’s still got a lot of work to do, his biggest flaw (lack of assertion) seems to be fading with each passing game as a starter. Tonight we saw what Ty Lawson is like when he takes control, picks up his baton and orchestrates a masterpiece. The result: a nearly 20-point win a place we haven’t won in seven years, not to mention free tacos from Taco Bell. Ty finished the night going 8-13 from the field and 2-5 from downtown, all while netting 20 points, a career-high 11 assists and four steals.

The Nuggets are now 6-2 post-Carmelo, and continue to play solid, team basketball on a nightly basis. Next up is Detroit on Saturday and after that only 16 games remain for the Nuggets in the NBA’s regular season. Oklahoma City continues to appear elusive but if the Nuggets stay at the pace they’re going anything is possible.

Advanced Stats

Pace Factor: 106.7 – This team has been trying to play faster and really got it together tonight. Fastest game of the whole season
Offensive Efficiency: 108.7 – It was against Phoenix, but still exceptional considering there were 19 turnovers
Defensive Efficiency: 90.9 – Another great rating nearly unthinkable before the trade. Denver’s average now at 106.0

Additional Game 65 Nuggets (by Charlie)

  • Kalen did an excellent job detailing his play already, but Ty Lawson lead the charge on offense and defense. He displayed a remarkable array of passing ability we haven’t seen from Ty yet. He dominated the game in multiple ways while taking and making big shots when needed. One of the best games I’ve ever seen him play without a doubt.
  • Gary Forbes started for Arron Afflalo and continued to struggle offensively going 1/5 from the field. He did lead the team in rebounding and while always exhibiting hustle, appeared lost at times on both ends of the court. I can’t help but think he would fit in better with the bench unit .
  • Phoenix misses Channing Frye, who is out two to three weeks with a shoulder injury. Their spacing was horrible all night and while Marcin Gortat and Hakim Warrick did a fine job filling in with paint production, Frye is a guy who’s burned Denver in the past and drawn Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen away from the paint and out of their comfort zone. Without him it seemed Nash had a lot less to create with and Denver did an excellent job frustrating Steve into one of his worst games in recent memory (7 points, 7 assists, 6 turnovers in 27 minutes).
  • Denver scored 33 fast break points and 66 points in the paint. That’s pretty wild and indicative of how the Nuggets never trailed winning this one wire to wire. Much of it was due to Denver destroying the Suns’ zone defense by attacking it before they could get set up. Nene and Chris Andersen combined for 15 makes on 18 shots, most of them dunks.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.
  • magster

    Thanks for getting a detailed recap up so quickly! Great win…can’t sleep.

  • Kalen

    I think a lot of the credit towards Nash’s bad game has to be given to Ty. From what I saw he was constantly pressuring him, nearly in his face at all times. It’s one thing having a PG with great court vision and lighting-fast speed, but when you add a pesky defensive mentality on top of all that, you then have something special.

    I’m not sure how the front office wants to play this out with Felton and Ty going forward. If Ray accepted a back-up role that would be awesome, but I don’t see that happening. Bottom line: Ty is special. The more he asserts himself on the floor the better we are as a team and the brighter our future.

  • Kalen

    Also forgot to mention…

    It was SOOOOO nice seeing us finally take it to an opponent on the road. We’re obviously still a team that thrives on the Rocky Mountain high we get at the Can, but if we can just manage to hold our on away, we’re gonna be in really good shape come playoff time.

  • Ernie

    It just feels like the offensive goals are different with this team. A month ago the goal was to get Melo a 15 foot contested shot as often as possible. Now the goal is to get Nene (or another big) a dunk. When bigs get dunks they are so much more willing to rebound and run the floor. Much more fun to watch.

  • Kyle

    One interesting thing I saw in the Box Score was that all but 2 Nuggets who entered the game grabbed an Offensive Rebound (Felton and Mozgov). There has been too many times in the past when they settle fo the mid range to long range jumper and the ball bounces out for a long rebound but at least 4 sometimes all 5 of the players are already on the other half of the court getting ready for defense. They showed an improved effort on simple things like rebounding and boxing out, and other than Gortat for some reason kept the Suns in check and got many second chance points. I really love the imporved and increased effort.

    Also on the 2 steals right before the half ended, great heads up play by Nene and Ty. I think some of the credit should go to Nene for the second one as well because as soon as he dunked it he got in the passing lane for a second allwoing Ty to come in and get in better position to deny the ball.

  • Kyle

    I also had a question that I wanted to just get the opinion of some people that follow the team closely. Do you think there will ever be a time when we see a combo of Mozgov/Nene or Koufas/Nene on the court? Especially since Harrington has hit a bit of a slump (though he played a little better last night). I get so nervous when no starters are in the game. Also why doesnt he play Nene wth Birdman? I guess i just want to see what Nene could do as a PF some of the time.

    • Kalen

      Kyle, those are the types of things I’ve wondered about for a long time with Karl. The other day when fellow Nuggets blogger Andrew Feinstein asked why this was, Karl explained how five bigs is too many to have in the rotation because it takes away from other bigs’ confidence. I have absolutely no clue where he came up with this theory, but Karl is quite the philosopher, and when he believes in something it seems hard to change that belief.

      A MOZ and Nene front-court would be deadly at times, or even a MOZ and K-Mart front-court too. Karl just seems to stuck in his ways, and it’s frustrating for fans sometimes.

  • Kyle

    I guess that is a sound theory, I personally feel that Nene should be getting more playing time as it is. But i guess since the trade we have had quite a bit of success, so I guess Karl shouldn’t try to fix something thats not broken. And maybe he might be forced to make that move if we play a team like Boston when healthy, has Shaq and a couple other bigs that might make Moz a necessity to play more.