Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 91, Milwaukee Bucks 86

Milwaukee Bucks 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Denver Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, C
3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +4
In his first start of the season Koufos did not disappoint. He was named Altitude’s “Subway Sub of the Game” even though he started, which goes to show just how effective he was. After this performance it’s hard to see how Mozgov continues to log more minutes.
Danilo Gallinari, F
5-12 FG | 10-12 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +12
This was the second straight game that Gallo came through when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to step up. Though he’s still taking entirely way too many 3-pointers, he’s also driving to the basket more often and getting to the line where he converts a high percentage of his shots. Finally, after a slow start Gallo is beginning to show flashes of the player we all know he can be.
Timofey Mozgov, C
2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1
Mozgov once again looked slow, out of place and clumsy. After six games of regular season action he’s done nothing to prove he should be starting and by Koufos thoroughly outplaying him tonight, Karl should have a tough (or not so tough depending on how you look at it) decision on his hands regarding who to start on Wednesday against the Kings.
Arron Afflalo, SG
2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | 0
Afflalo has faced a tricky series of substitution patterns early on thanks to some very inconstant playing time, so his grade should be taken with a grain of salt. Why he didn’t log virtually any minutes in the second half until the final two minutes of the game was perplexing. Hopefully Karl finds a way to steady his on-court appearances so he can help the Nuggets win as he’s done throughout his career in Denver.
Ty Lawson, PG
7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 16 PTS | +9
Lawson was again solid tonight. Though he was on pace to score over 30 points in the early part of the first quarter he soon settled down, yet still had another efficient night shooting and turned the ball over only once. You can’t really ask for any more than that from your starting point guard.
Al Harrington, PF
7-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +1
Al flat out carried the Nuggets down the stretch. His energy was palpable and his defense on Andrew Bogut, supreme. Considering he’s coming off the bench, it’s hard to award him anything less than a solid “A.”
Andre Miller, PG
3-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Miller too had another savvy outing. Though his shot wasn’t falling, he came through when the Nuggets needed it most. One area where Miller still needs to work on is pushing the pace.
Chris Andersen, C
0-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -14
Andersen was fairly unspectacular this evening. Granted, he only saw 15 minutes of playing time, but he didn’t make the most out it like he’s capable of doing. Koufos was clearly the better big man tonight.
Corey Brewer, SG
3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Brewer made a few bad decisions but that’s to be expected in his first game while receiving a heavy dosage of minutes. Otherwise, he was an instant spark plug off the bench and played some excellent defense on a variety of different Bucks players which led to a game-changing block near the end of the fourth quarter. Hopefully Brewer can find more time in the future, especially with Fernandez struggling.
Rudy Fernandez, SG
1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Fernandez disappointed yet again. Though he shot .333 percent from beyond the arc — which isn’t bad — he still made himself a one dimensional player throughout much of the contest by not incorporating himself into the flow of the offense and simply parking outside the 3-point line waiting for the ball. This kid is so talented and so much better than he’s showing at the moment. Let’s just hope he finds a way to turn it around before Karl permanently places him on the bench.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Koufos vs. Mozgov: In the first game these two got to see real game action side by side, Koufos absolutely showed Mozgov up. Though the numbers alone support the argument that Koufos is the better player, it’s the eyeball test that really confirms this notion, which was on fully display tonight.
  2. Deer in the headlights: Though the Bucks started out nearly flawless in the first quarter, they steadily declined all night long until nobody could hit a shot. Although I give the Nuggets a lot of credit for executing its fast-break offense even on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back, it’s hard to overlook just how awful Milwaukee played down the stretch.
  3. Do we even have a playbook?: This is a rhetorical question. The answer is clearly “no.” The bottom line with the Nuggets right now is that if they’re not running, they’re losing. Karl runs virtually no set offensive plays which is often times masked by the Nuggets fast-break style. This is an issue that absolutely MUST be addressed as soon as humanly possible if the Nuggets want to continue improving and piling up wins.
  4. 3-point shooting woes: For whatever reason the Nuggets continue to jack up ill-advised shots from beyond the arc, even though they haven’t come close to hitting any. When is this going to stop? When are the Nuggets going to figure out that good things happen when driving to the lane? I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever take another 3-point shot again, but if I were Karl I’d make some kind of rule that each player can only shoot a three after they drive to the basket first.
  5. Two out of three: I don’t know how the Nuggets managed to win two games of a back-to-back-to-back when they played the Lakers twice, but, they did. And though I constantly harp on Karl and his unorthodox methods of coaching, I have to give credit where it’s due. He managed to rally the troops this evening, and in turn, stole a victory we really had no business snagging. Hats off to Karl.

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Game 6 Advanced Stats (and updates from Charlie)

Pace Factor: 97.6 – A bit slower than normal, but good enough for a third straight game
Offensive Efficiency: 93.0 – Really low, but free throws and points in the paint got it done
Defensive Efficiency: 87.9 – Milwaukee did their part, but this is the best rating of the year

Additional Game 6 Nuggets

  • This had trap game written all over it and I knew it would be a tough one after two close games with Los Angeles on consecutive nights. Even with perfect execution winning this one would be a tall order as the Bucks were no doubt watching film in a luxury hotel while the Nuggets slugged through two tough games with Lakers. Denver was clearly in better shape than the Bucks and as a result they were sharper at the end of game.
  • Gallo got to the line 12 times, one more than the entire Bucks roster combined. If Gallo ever starts jumping straight up and getting his threes to fall, his awful true shooting percentage (48 percent) will easily climb to his solid career average (58 percent). Although Gallo is shooting poorly he isn’t chucking, averaging a little more than 12 shots per game. His perimeter defense is the biggest surprise as he’s nabbing over two steals game against his career average of less than one.
  • Koufos is slimmed down and working hard, but his game is not without severe limitations at this point in his career. For whatever reason, Koufos was almost completely stationary on offense. He spent tons of possessions parked on the baseline mostly removed from the action. In the second half he did set one or two ineffective screens in slow-motion. Although he can post up smaller defenders, I rarely saw him get into good position to receive a pass down low. His career turnover percentage is pretty bad and once he learns how to handle passes he’ll be able to get more out of his offensive post game.
  • Rebounding and a couple of timely steals saved the Nuggets in this one. Defensively the Nuggets were inconsistent as Koufos and Mozgov were either slow or didn’t provide any help in the paint. Both were lucky to avoid foul calls as they were often back on their heels against Milwaukee Bucks who weren’t drawing contact at the rim. Denver took 45 shots at the rim compared to Milwaukee’s 17, which alone tells the story of the game.
  • Considering the Nuggets won while shooting less than 40 percent and lost the turnover battle 16 to 14, all is good. With Nene missing on the last game of the dreaded back-to-back-back this is an early candidate for best win of the year and the Nuggets are clearly improving in terms of finishing games.
  • evan

    So are these grades are clearly based on how good the player did, for his own potential. Witch makes the grade comparison between them useless, and confusing. I think you should let your readers know that the grading isn’t overall players in the NBA or even on the team, but on a personal basis.

    • Dakota

      I think most of us know this out of common sense honestly…..or at least I do. Maybe others don’t though I don’t know…

    • Jeff

      I don’t think the grades are confusing, I think they are based mostly on the players ROLE, which is different than potential, so if Mozgov scores 16 he might get an A where Nene might get a B.

      On another note, maybe George Karl has a problem with dreadlocks?

    • Kalen

      Sorry about the confusion, but yeah, as Dakota stated these are based on a player by player basis keeping potential and ability in mind. Obviously if we were grading simply by how good each performance was and ignored role, then the grading system would be kind of pointless as Ty Lawson, Nene, Gallo, etc. would always end up with the good grads while other bench players would usually get the lower ones.

      Just for the record too, please don’t take these grades too seriously. These are just an easy way of labeling how well certain guys performed each night.

    • Charlie

      Since we have a couple people giving the grades it’s going to be subjective and we can’t really avoid that. Jeremy, Kalen and I are all going to judge guys differently and I think it’s a good thing that nobody is going to agree all the time on everything.

      For me, I do grade on potential. It doesn’t make sense to have a standardized system. For instance, if Nene has an efficient game of say 12 and 5, that’s an okay to bad grade. I expect a lot better out of him. On the other hand if Koufos gets 10 and 5 as a spot starter without turning it over or missing a ton of shots, that’s a pretty fantastic grade.

  • SmokinNugs

    I’m not all all confused by the ratings, no problems here.

    Thought we played a decent game tonight. Looked competitive as a tired team against a decent/bad Bucks team. I’m definitely in agreement that Koufos seems to be better than Moz. Luckily since they’re both 7 feet, we can cycle whichever one is hot and right now it looks like “K2.”

    I think Brewer is looking better than Rudy, but I know Rudy is good. I can remember many close games with Portland just loathing Rudy’s 3 ball and over all shooting. I think he’s just getting settled in and we’ll see the Rudy we all hated in Portland. On the topic of SG’s, I hope AAA steps it up and starts earning his new contract a little more.

    “Fly” Lawson has been killing it and Andre has looked good as his backup/sidekick. Having additional talented passers on the team seems to be allowing Ty to take over more of the scoring which is nice while we wait for some offense to start coming from our SG’s.

    So far I’m pleased with how the Nuggets are looking! Growing pains here and there but we’re seeing glimpses and getting W’s in the meantime.

    • Kalen

      Oooh, loving that nickname. I’m gonna have to steal that one from you but the first time I use it I’ll be sure and give you credit! I like it because Moz is still the tallest guy on the team (Everest), but Koufos is still right there with him (K2), just not quite as tall.

      • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

        It also works as both his initials are “K”.

  • Thom

    The lack of playing time for Faried is just killing me. Harrington is definitely playing well, but how can you justify STARTING Mozgov, then turn around and say Faried is too inexperienced to log any PT whatsoever. He brings an element (rebounding) that the Nuggets desperately need, and yet Karl refuses to play him. I will never understand this. Maybe he thinks Faried is actually Balkman in disguise?

  • pete

    Hey Nuggets fan, why do you think Portland gave away Rudy for a second round pick to a champion team? enough said.

    • Beefyswats

      Hey Blazer fan, why do you think the Nuggets gave up Raymond Felton for Andre Miller?

      • Jim

        Lol. Oh yes.

        Felton played good in the fourth quarter at the rose garden tho. Have to give him that.

    • NuggThugg

      The Blazers traded Fernandez plus some other guy for a first and second round pick. Then gave Denver the first round to get Felton. So you are super wrong. And just so you know the Nuggets win every transaction involving Rudy… FOREVER

  • dynamo.joe

    Like the new format.

    I’m on record preferring Koufus over Mozgov, but fair’s fair. All of the bigs (except 2mins playing time Faried) have had at least 1 pretty good, if not dominant game in a very young season. Let’s just hope someone besides svelte Al can bring it consistently.

    I was more surprised by how out of shape Bogut is. Did he sit around eating fried cheese all summer?

    • Charlie

      I would like to see Faried get a chance. Koufos works hard in practice and I’m impressed at the way he’s slimmed down and improved his mobility. However I think he’s a bad pick and roll defender and turnover prone which keeps him off the court.

      I still have faith Faried is gonna work his way into minutes at some point. The guy should be in the plans as someone to develop and the organization will have to come together and realize that eventually.

      • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

        Something I have noticed is that Karl is rotating the inactive guys. It is not the same guys in street clothes every game, so maybe he does have intentions of rotating the guys if the starters can start pulling their weight and scoring without relying on the bench vets (Al and Andre).

        A big stand out about Kosta’s game compared to Moz is that Kosta will actually try and seal his man and get in position in the post to be a target.

        One key factor the Nuggets need to work on is TALK. Over the last few games I’ve lost count of how many times our guys have ran into each other, tipped the ball away from a team mate or some other silly mistake when going for rebounds that could be fixed with a little talk.
        This will improve our defense and cohesiveness and it distracts the opponent.

  • steve

    Gutty win for denver last night. Played from behind a good bit but pulled it out with no Nene and tired legs. We definitely looked beat up late in 4th quarter and i really thought the 3 pointer that they called legit was going to cost us at some point. Good thing the Bucks couldnt make a dunk on a 6 foot basket let alone 10 lol. Regardless, great to see Koufos get good minutes along with brewer. Both brought alot to the table. Al Harrington is on fire. What got into him this offseason? Was it really the foot injury he had last year? If he keeps this up he’ll be up for 6th man of the year award. Regardless, lets get some rest and then fire off a few more wins here against lackluster teams. GO NUGS!

    • Peter

      I would love to see him continue to play this well all year, but if they finish with a better record, James Harden will win 6th man this year.

      • Daniel

        James Harden starts now. The nuggets will have two nominees in Andre and Big Al.
        I can’t believe the level he is playing at right now. He comes out and dominates. He’s not just chucking up 3′s like last year. Posting up, taking it strong to the hole, running the fast break, and playing good defense. (Andrew Bogut?)
        I had written off Big Al and was one of the proponents of using the amnesty on him, sure i’m not the only one. Glad that didn’t happen, and I’m looking forward to him keeping this up. Go nuggets.

  • Jason

    I LOVE the game new game summaries, and how you break down each players performance. And of course your breakdown will include your impressions and opinions. Anyone who thinks otherwise should start their own blog?!?

    But I was very impressed with Al, Brewer, Gallo, and Ty in this one. Al continues to be our MVP.

    Starting off 4-2 is great considering how hard our early season schedule was. @Dallas, Utah, @Portland, @Lakers, Lakers, Bucks, with the last 3 in b2b2b. Very well done, even if at times it was ugly!

  • bayesk

    Great site and I like the new grades/game summaries. Can you include minutes played? It’d be helpful putting the performances in context, especially as rotations get deeper, or as Michael above points out, Karl starts using different bench players.
    Strikes me that although we’ve had a few bad shooting performances, we’ve been in every game, and generally controlling things despite the occasional stretches of stagnant offense. The team seems to be able to get their hands on the ball a lot more this year, creating havoc at the least and easy opportunities much of the time. I think they’re second to Miami in steal percentage?
    The shooting from distance is bad, percentage-wise; but I don’t think I’d claim that they’re bad shots, exactly. While some are out of the flow of the offense, many are in rhythm, and sadly, clanking. They’ll start hitting them soon enough, and then we’ll start to see some really impressive games.
    All in all, a promising and exciting start, I’d say. And now that every team has lost this year, we should remember that this shortened and condensed season will take its toll on everyone – there’s gonna be stinkers now and again. Let’s see how deep this bench really is, so we can keep running/stealing/driving on teams all game, every game. More Koufos, more Brewer, more Faried, any Jones, any Hamilton even, just to see what’s cooking on the bench.
    Lastly, big ups to Big Al; playin’ great and making me eat my words. I was just sure he was terrible…

    • Brett

      I agree. Minutes played would be a good stat to add.

  • magster

    I think we’d be 1-5 or 2-4 without Harrington this year. I’m just gobsmacked at how he’s played this season.

  • skithebert

    In regards to 3pt shooting, I don’t get the feeling that their shots are bad. Many of them are wide open 3′s. The most frustrating thing is watching Gallo and Rudy fade away or to the side on every 3pt attempt even when they’re completely wide open!
    The only guy who doesn’t do this is Afflalo, so I expect his 3pt% to rebound eventually. I’m not as hopeful for Gallo or Rudy. They don’t seem to know how to shoot with proper technique, so I suspect will continue to see bricks from them.

    • Jeff

      Proper technique doesn’t mean much. SEE: Reggie Miller, Kevin Martin, Stojakovic.
      But I agree about Rudy, he’s supposed to be streaky so when is he going to go on a good streak??

      • skithebert

        when you’ve been in shooting slump for over a year like Rudy then it does.

        there’s no reason to increase the difficulty of a wide open 3 by making it an off balanced one.

  • steve

    AA is missing to many shots right now. he had a wide open 18 footer from the left side last nite that could have clinched it just about and missed in crunch time. All his points are around the basket for the most part. He needs to get his game goin.

  • gfacekillah

    Anyone else on here think we should trade Mozgov, AAA and future draft pics for Demarcus Cousins? I am not sure if the Kings would go for that but if we gave them a defensive minded center and AAA and first rounder we might be able to pull it off. AAA is not owning up to his contract and Cousins (while crazy) is an unreal talent. I think giving up Gallinari would be a more likely scenario but I would rather keep him than AAA.

    • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

      I really dont like the thought of AAA being traded or a First rounder atleast not this years. I dont think Gallo should be part of any trade either. I think it would be great to Have DMC in the lineup no doubt about it. Ty, AAA,Gallo, Nene,& DMC would be greatas a starting line up.

  • steve

    first off, we wont trade AA. Give him some time and he’ll be better here soon offensively. 2ndly, no way would they accept that. It would take Gallo and Mozgov at least to get DMC, which i would do. Nene and DMC would be unstoppable. Very unlikely to happen though. Karl wouldnt want a hot head like DMC again.

  • Ricardo

    I think Karl should think about giving Koufos more minutes on the floor. He always plays better, offensively and defensively, when given a good amount of playing time.

    • Amel

      I’d like to see him playing more too. I’m not sure about Mozgov (I’ve never been) and I really liked Koufos being traded to us because he has a lot of potential he hasn’t been able to prove so far. If he would be given some more minutes I’m sure he’d be doing well just as he did always since being a Nugget and playing an amount of minutes.

  • TroyF

    You guys do realize that Cousins simply sucks right now, right? I know, he’s averaging a double/double. I get it. I also get that he’s shooting 32% to do it. And last year he shot 43%. (do you guys have any idea how bad that is for a guy who gets most of his shots close to the basket?)

    Oh, and he’s a head case to boot. Sorry, AA will get better, Gallo is already playing better and we have zero need for a basket case who needs 13 shots a game to average 11 points.

  • ny nugs fan

    i dont get all the mozgov negativity; i like this guy he’s a disruptive force and can bang w/ the best bigs. it doesn’t always look pretty but the dude is effective

    they need mozgoz and koufos and need to find a way to keep getting them BOTH on the court at the same time; cuz by my recollection it was the two of them together that caught the nugs back up before halftime

    moz gets the job done plus he’s good from the free throw line

    • Troyf

      Your reccolection is off. Mozgov sat the last 6 minutes of the first half on the bench. Neither him nor Koufas played any in the fourth during the rally to win the game.

  • Peter

    I thought this was an ugly, sloppy game. I was surprised that the Bucks scored 30 in the first quarter. I know we were on our third game in 3 nights, but I think they didn’t even average 90 points a game last year. Luckily for us, they are a jump shooting team and their bricks came trough in the 4th quarter. It looked like we were going to give this game away, but we made just enough plays in the end to win. Glad we could wrap this one up and I think this shows that we are a tough team that is not just going to roll over in a tough situation. I like how deep we are because it prevents any of our players from coasting because if they do their minutes are not guaranteed and they will just sit on the bench. Good problem to have.