|Kosta Koufos, C 4-6 FG | 2-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +3 Koufos netted the first double-double of his career and did so in only 24 minutes. Though he’s still turnover and foul prone, Koufos has showed a lot of progression in only two starts thus far. In Wednesday’s game he also completed the first isolation basket of any big man on the Nuggets outside of Nene when he demanded the ball in the post, performed a drop step and followed it up with a left-handed hook shot.|
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +11 Be honest, is there a possibility Gallinari reads this blog? No? Fair enough. But it does seem weird how the following day after I grill him for this poor 3-point shooting and implore him to drive to the basket more he does just that, not taking a single 3-point shot all game long. Wednesday’s Gallinari is the one we need to see more often: less shooting, more driving and distributing. Though his European upbringing and appearance may suggest a soft, shooter-driven style, in reality Gallinari is more Andre Iguodala than he is Peja Stojacovic.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 4-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +6 This was one of Mozgov’s better games of the season. He finally ran the court with purpose and finished a few strong dunks as a result. Additionally, Mozgov’s soft hands were on clear display as he dished out three beautiful assists and converted a nice finger-roll basket which led to his first “and-one” of the season. That said, Mozgov is still out of control half the time. On more than one occasion he clumsily toppled over his opponent, picking up quick, unnecessary fouls that forced George Karl to resort to his bench sooner than he may have liked.|
|Arron Afflalo, SG 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -5 After six games Afflalo still hasn’t found his groove, however shooting 5-8 from the field and scoring 11 points in only 20 minutes of action is perfectly acceptable until he manages to figure things out.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +13 Lawson didn’t score the way he has been lately, but then again, he didn’t need to. His five rebounds, six assists and three steals were accumulated while playing solid defense and controlling the pace of the game with precision. Lawson currently ranks first among NBA point guards in steals, second in field goal percentage and third in points per game and field goals made despite ranking only 15th in minutes per game!!!|
|Al Harrington, PF 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +31 What’s left to say about Big Al that hasn’t already been said before? Dude continues to be an absolute revelation while committing hardly any ill-advised plays. This is now Al’s third straight “A” of the season — by far the best GPA of any Nugget this year.|
|Andre Miller, PG 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +22 Miller is as rock solid as they come. He has yet to lay an egg and plays within himself every minute of every game. He’s the perfect counterpart to Lawson and someone the Nuggets will continue to rely on down the stretch. He also ranks second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio behind only, the always efficient, Jose Calderon.|
|Chris Andersen, C 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19 This was Birdman’s best game of the year, bar none! From the get-go he was challenging every shot within his range and altering countless attempts in the process. He also played the passing lane extremely well and had active hands to go along with it, evident by his three steals. Put simply: This is the Birdman we signed to a hefty contact just a few years back and the one we need to see on a more consistent basis.|
|Corey Brewer, SF 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +12 Brewer again played great, all things considered. He’s not the best shooter, but his three steals and one block in only 18 minutes are what really shines. Could the Nuggets have finally found a potential Durant “stopper”? Only time will tell.|
|DeMarre Carroll, F 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -2 Carroll didn’t see that many minutes but was efficient with the time he was given. Although he did commit a few bad turnovers, this is to be expected from a guy who hardly ever sees the floor.|
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +22 Tonight was Fernandez’s coming out party. He played the best ball he’s played all year and finally eased up on the 3-pointers. His mid-range jump shot was silky smooth and something he should absolutely should consider expanding on using in the future. Clearly the key for Rudy is to not designate himself as a one-dimensional, 3-point shooter. Much like Gallinari, if he can focus on driving, taking advantage of his above average handle and utilizing his court vision, he’ll improve vastly and once again be placed among the upper echelon of bench players in the NBA.|
|Kenneth Faried, F 2-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +3 If you haven’t heard by now, Kenneth Faried was not only trending worldwide on Twitter after his performance Wednesday, but he also landed the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays… for the third time since being drafted by the Nuggets, no less. Faried entered the fourth quarter at the 10 minute mark and logged what was by far the most exciting, promising, energetic 10 minutes any Nugget has produced in a really long time — maybe ever. His now infamous ally-oop dunk sent shock waves across the Pepsi Center and his three blocks were the epitome of athleticism. More importantly, Faried finally tore down rebounds the way he did in college. After this performance it’s hard to see Faried riding pine like he has been.|
Five Things We Saw
- Sacramento Queens: Let’s just put is this way, in no way did the Kings look regal on Wednesday. Poor shooting, bad decision-making, no ball movment — it was all there. Give the Nuggets credit for playing solid defense if you want, but it was really the Kings poor play that secured the victory for Denver.
- The Arc Enemy: Finally the Nuggets drove the ball inside and the results showed. Denver shot its highest field goal percentage of the year against the Kings, and conversely, its lowest number of 3-pointers. Let’s just hope this becomes a staple of the Nuggets’ offense rather than an ephemeral fad.
- Koufos vs. Mozgov: Yes, this was a “Things We Saw” from the last recap, but it’s likely not often these two will start next to one another and receive roughly the same amount of playing time too. Koufos again thoroughly outplayed Mozgov and didn’t commit as many glaring fouls either. In addition, Koufos landed a double-double in only his second start — something Mozgov has yet to accumulate all season even though he’s started every game — and showed flashes of a relatively polished post game, which Mozgov is not even close to achieving. At this point, it’s clear: Mozgov is simply the more flashy, popular “stiff,” while Koufos is the one of substance, flying under the radar, doing all the dirty work.
- ¡Que bueno!: It was great seeing Rudy finally attacking the basket instead of sitting behind the arc jacking up contested threes. His passing skills, evident by his eight assists on the night, are way above average for a shooting guard and something that could greatly benefit the team. He also displayed a very fundamentally sound jump shot for the first time all year, which did not fail him all three times he chose to use it. Maybe we should add Rudy to the “Players that Need More Time to Develop” list.
- #Manimal: As already touched on above, Faried was killer tonight. His athleticism was on full display and made every other player on the court seem like a pure civilian. Keep in mind, this is the NBA were talking about here. The most athletic human beings on planet Earth play in this league and yet somehow Faried made them look like just that — humans. I know his fundamentals are a little rusty and he can be caught out of position from time to time, but the way he was blocking shots and destroying the rim was pure, raw, in-your-face nastiness that simply cannot be ignored or brushed to the side any longer simply because he’s a “rookie.” After the game Faried stated, “Hopefully tonight proves I can play if coach puts more faith in me,” which is exactly what it will come down to. Seeing how Karl handles this situation going forward is going to be interesting, but one thing’s for sure: After Wednesday’s performance, his time on the bench just seems even more unnecessary.
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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.