The Nuggets crushed the Mavs in Dallas for their third straight blowout victory in a season opener. Just like the last few years they showcased a high powered offense with plenty of depth and cruised to a big lead they never surrendered. Ty Lawson was the star in this one, scoring 27 points with incredible efficiency and generally picking apart the slow, flat-footed Mavericks defense.
It’s been widely assumed that Gallo would be the one to kick start the Nuggets offense when they can’t get anything going. Ty Lawson showed tonight he is just as capable of doing the same as Denver opened this game very sloppily on the offensive end. There was little movement and no flow as the ball casually moved around to no one who was aggressively looking to score. Nene and Gallo had opportunities but both seemed content to settle for quick shots. Lawson decided to take matters into his own hands and once he started looking for his shot the Nuggets started running away with this game and didn’t look back
The best part about Ty’s game is that he doesn’t necessarily need screens or wide open shots to create offense. He can attack off the dribble and make something happen not only in transition but also a half-court set. Delonte West and Jason Kidd had a hard time staying in front of him and Ty attacked both whenever he had the opportunity. When he had space on the perimeter he didn’t hesitate to shoot and Lawson kicked off the three-point barrage that helped break the game open.
The Nuggets went 10 deep and the entire bench delivered. Expect the primary bench rotation to consist of Harrington, Miller, Fernandez and Birdman as those four got the lions share of the minutes. Karl really didn’t play the starting five outside of the start of the first and third quarters which is a testament to the versatility on this roster. The slimmed down Al Harrington was hitting shots early and even showed some improvement on defense as he didn’t commit his customary 4 fouls in his first 15 minutes.
Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez were no doubt the standout performers off the bench. Neither had eye popping numbers, but they generally played a controlled game and maintained the lead throughout their minutes. There was no drop off in activity level and hustle while the starters rested. Miller made some highly unlikely shots and Fernandez missed easy ones, but both of them made unselfish plays and took shots within the flow of the offense.
There is not much to complain about in terms of energy and effort this game. Despite that I can already feel our readers getting feisty about Faried’s lack of playing time. I think Faried will eventually have a role here, but there are way too many veterans in front of him and with a healthy roster I expected him to get a DNP. It’s not that much of a surprise that Karl likes going small and Gallo, Nene and even Mozgov are capable of playing big minutes. You need a good reason to take those guys out for Faried and he is simply not in line to cut into their minutes yet.
Be patient with Faried. I feel he is going to have a role this season eventually – and it will come at the expense of the Birdman. Chris Andersen wasn’t completely awful tonight, but he was not good either and he clearly played too many minutes. The “Birdman” did not block a shot, couldn’t get any elevation and left his feet whenever his man even lifted his head towards the rim. I hate to say it, but I don’t have a lot of hope Birdman will have a good year. His athleticism is leaving him, and beyond that he just doesn’t have many worthwhile skills that warrant giving him minutes. Andersen continues to be the worst pick and roll defender on this team.
Bird can be effective with fewer minutes, but expect Faried to start cutting into his role if he continue to struggle. I’ve had concerns about Faried’s defensive ability but in reality he’s not any worse than a deteriorating Birdman. You can’t deny the kid’s hustle and his natural rebounding ability. In time Faried has a bright future in Denver but right now this roster is a little too deep.
Speaking of defense, give the Nuggets credit for a solid performance tonight. They doubled Dirk whenever he posted up and for the most part rotated well enough to prevent easy looks. Ty Lawson, Afflalo, and Brewer all stood out on the defensive end. The Nuggets forced 15 steals and scored 26 points off Dallas turnovers. Next up is the home opener versus Utah and considering nobody played over 32 minutes, the team should be healthy and ready to go.
Game 1 Advanced Stats:
Pace Factor: 100.4 – Dallas is old and slow, they need their offense to shine to keep up at this speed
Offensive Efficiency – 114.5 – Solid performance considering this offense wasn’t fully in sync yet
Defensive Efficiency – 92.6 – Promising start to the season. Play defense for four quarters and the Nuggets will win games
Additional Game 1 Nuggets
- Apparently, all it takes for Afflalo to get going is to play in a game that matters. Arron shook off the preseason rust and returned to his efficient, reliable self. There was a stretch in third quarter where he and Ty Lawson got mixed up on whether to switch or not. Arron quickly directed Ty back to his man and after a defensive stop Arron hit two big jumpers to halt Dallas’ mini-run and stomp out hopes of a comeback.
- I talked about Al Harrington’s solid first half, but he couldn’t resist chucking in the latter parts of the game. Harrington finished with good numbers, but he shot 13 times and sometimes I think he is just wired to resist being highly efficient. Harrington did look much better tonight than he did at any point last season.
- Gallo didn’t have a great game. His shot wasn’t falling and he did a great job making up for it by getting to the line 6 times, but I would have to see him hesitate less and be more aggressive. He finished with solid all around numbers in only 26 minutes and I thought it was a good decision to keep him on the bench with the game in hand. Expect Gallo to be more involved and play big minutes in the home opener.
- Kenyon Martin was in the house tonight. Gallo and Ty Lawson went to the front row to greet him and it’s a shame the failed China experiment takes him out of the game until March. Kenyon is 34 and I think he’s only got a few solid years left in his knees at best.
- Dallas is really old. They don’t have many athletes and outside of Rodrique Beaubois and a D-League player named Sean Williams, you did not see any energy and enthusiasm out of Mavs players tonight. Clearly the fatigue factor was huge but I was a little surprised at the lack of gusto the Mavs showed after a bad loss to the Heat last night. Sean Williams, by the way, was a bright spot for Dallas and he embarrassed the Birdman multiple times in the second half. There was also an embarrassment of his own when he went to the bench after playing 11 minutes and vomited all over it.
- It feels like a really long time since I’ve recapped a game, so this one might be a little sloppy. I’m just glad to have games back
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