2010-11 Game 80: Denver Nuggets 130 Minnesota Timberwolves 106

Box Score | Highlights

As any Nuggets fan can attest this NBA season has been an exhausting journey. As a tumultuous season ends in another close battle for playoff positioning it is important to remember you still get to play the Timberwolves at least once.

On December 18th the shorthanded Nuggets notched a key win in Minnesota after having won only twice in their previous 11 road games. On December 10th 2008 it was against the Timberwolves when Carmelo tied George Gervin’s record by scoring 33 points in one quarter. Whether by pure luck or divine intervention there is something about the Nuggets playing the Timberwolves that just makes great things happen. On April 9th 2011 it was another record-setting night against Minnesota and starting point guard Ty Lawson was at the center of it.

Lawson set a new NBA record by making ten consecutive threes in a single game, eclipsing the nine in a row Kobe Bryant made in 2003. It was a masterful shooting performance by Ty, who after making 41% of his threes in his rookie year has struggled and fallen to 37% this year. Since becoming a starter, Lawson has been reluctant to shoot when defenders either go under the screen or simply give up space on the perimeter in order to protect against drives to the rim. There was no hesitation tonight and Ty’s all-around domination culminated in a final line of 37 points on 16 shots with 6 assists, 7 rebounds and only one turnover.

What was most disappointing about last night’s game versus the Thunder was the soft and timid play out of Lawson in a tough matchup with Russell Westbrook. The rest of the team seemed to follow him into a similar malaise even after establishing an early advantage in a game they had no excuse not to compete in. When Ty is aggressive and assertive with the ball it is hard to envision that not having a positive effect in some area of the game. We saw that tremendous effect tonight as the Nuggets followed Lawson’s lead to a thrashing of Minnesota in a game that was competitive for only a few brief moments.

The bad news is the Nuggets offensive resurgence was marred by another pathetic performance at the free throw line. Nene was the culprit in getting to the line a team-best 8 times and managing to convert exactly zero of them. I don’t mean to take away from his solid all around performance as Nene finally sustained his impact for longer than just a brief spurt. However missing that many free throws is inexcusable and it’s something that really cannot be afforded in a normal game situation.

Danilo Gallinari also missed a free throw and left the game after tweaking an ankle in the first quarter. Wilson Chandler has had a stretch of bad games and sat out tonight’s contest with lingering pain in his own ankle. Add that to the recent two-week injury to Timofey Mozgov and the ongoing absences of Chris Andersen and Arron Afflalo and it is becoming clear that this team is catching the collective injury bug at a most unfortunate time. With two games remaining and the Nuggets needing  one win for a fourth straight 50 win season, I have to question whether or not it is wise to push hard for the milestone as yet another injury is something the team likely cannot sustain.

With all that aside this is about tonight’s game and that belonged to Ty Lawson. In a short time he is proving what many fans have known for a long time. Lawson’s emergence since the trade proves he had already earned the title of Nuggets point guard of the future and he’s going to be a good one. With Carmelo and the sad departure of Chauncey Billups consuming much of the season the Nuggets often overlooked the best piece for the future they already had languishing on the bench. Seeing Ty unleashed and free to display his potential has been the blessing in disguise and likely the number one reason the trade has brought nothing but hope thus far.

Advanced Stats

Pace Factor: 102.9 – A blowout featuring two of the top three teams in terms of pace factor. Minnesota plays at the fastest pace in the league.
Offensive Efficiency:
126.4 – That’s with the injuries and free throw woes. When you see what Denver is capable of some of the numbers they’ve posted recently are just disappointing.
Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 – It’s not fantastic, but the Nuggets won by 24 and both Ely and Koufos got into the game.

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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/index.html SG


    Didnt think I’d ever do that. Comment on it, that is.

    Seriously, Nene’s foul shooting has me really worried because it could take him and us out of games.

    I just dont get it because, unlike other terrible foul shooters, Nene has pretty good form.

    Believe, Nene, believe.

  • ParkHillNative

    Nice writeup, Charlie. One correction: there are two games remaining, not one. Monday vs Warriors, Wednesday at Utah. Warriors will be on the 2nd of a b2b, so the Nugs might be able to rest a lot of guys and still win that one.

  • Kalen

    What a performance by Ty. I always knew he was capable of doing special things on the basketball court but if you would have told me he’d one day set the NBA record for most threes in a row, I don’t know if I would have believed you. What his performance proved was just how special of a player he really is, being that 3-point shooting isn’t exactly his strength. He was able to affect the game in another area outside of pure distribution like we’ve never seen, and for a PG, that’s an outstanding feat. I’ve been saying for a while that Ty Lawson is a future elite PG, and this performance might very well have been his baptism. I can’t imagine how much confidence he will gain from this. My only gripe would have to be Karl yanking him so early in the contest. Yes, we were killing them and Lawson was a big part of that, but when somebody is on the brink of something great and groundbreaking I’d think you’d want to let them achieve that. Ty could have scored 50 last night, so I don’t see why Karl couldn’t have just put him in with Kufos, Forbes, Ely and Harrington then let him do his thing.

    Nene is, and has always been, a mental enigma. He’s got all the physical tools in the world — something every big man could only desire to have — and yet how many times have we seen him defer to his teammates when he’s got the higher percentage chance of making a shot or good play? It’s honorable, but it also goes to show how uncertain he still is about his own capabilities. Missing the amount of free-throws he has recently is just another chapter in the “Nene Making Life Harder Than You Have To” book. I still love the guy though and understand how valuable he is to this team.

  • keith z

    i know this site is about basketball, not writing, but you are a terrible writer. the worst.

  • Cider

    Judging by the display of impeccable grammar displayed in your post, keith, you are clearly a great judge of such distinctions.

  • keith z


  • keith z

    also, cider?
    try to put more three-syllable words into your argument; i hear it makes you sound smarter.

  • Cider

    I definitely (four syllables!) spent more than 10 seconds writing that post, yep. If I were someone who was stupid enough to change my writing style to look smart on a basketball (three syllables!) blog, I would most likely not stick to simple words such as “distinctions” and “impeccable”. Heck, if I had felt that it was not a waste of my time to edit in such a way, I probably (three syllables!) would have modified (three syllables!) my word choice so I didn’t use variations on “display” and “judge” twice as I did. I tried to cut down on the amount of three syllable (three syllables!) words per sentence just for you. Thank you for instructing (three syllables!) me on making arguments (three syllables!), as your beautiful argument (three syllables twice!) as to why you think Charlie’s writing is poor was very instructive (three syllables!). Oh dear, I used a lot of words in that last sentence with three syllables (three syllables!). I will try to refrain from doing so in the future for fear of such intelligent (four syllables!) people such as yourself thinking I would try to waste my time with such trivial (three syllables) things as trying to make myself sound smart on a blog.

    • Tim

      Excellent retort, old chap! Keith Z = shutdown. You win one internets.