Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Miami Heat 104

Miami Heat 104 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 39 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-9 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +9

Nene had one of his better games this year against the Heat. His 12 rebounds were a season high and his 17 points the most since the Nuggets faced the Jazz the second game of the year. From the get go it was clear Nene made it his mission to be aggressive and his stat line reflected this effort. That said, Nene still needs some refinement in his post game, specifically when it comes to finishing around the basket as there were a handful of occasions where he missed easy buckets that he simply has to make on a more consistent basis. Working with someone like Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing would likely do wonders for Nene’s offensive and defensive output.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +11

Gallinari was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets through about two and a half quarters, then his offense dropped off a cliff. Still, he hit numerous clutch shots when the Nuggets were in danger and played excellent defense on LeBron James for most of the night. But most importantly, Gallinari finally started to hit threes with confidence and boy does it look good!

Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +16

As I tweeted during the game, if you took Mozgov’s best play from each game so far this season and added them all up into some sort of montage, you’d get his performance against the Heat. Where this came from I have no idea. Not only was this Mozgov’s best performance of the year — and one of the top three of his career in the NBA — but it couldn’t have come at a more important time either. Mozgov showed off a silky smooth jump shot (which I had no idea even existed), good instincts and a desire to rebound the ball for really the first time in unison all season. If he has more outings like this, it’s fair to say his job as the starting center of the Denver Nuggets will be fairly secure.

Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3

Afflalo didn’t necessarily stand out but if you watched him closely it was obvious the type of defensive impact he was making on the game was commendable. You kind of have to do this with Afflalo to really appreciate his game. Yes, Wade and LeBron still had big games, but none of the shots they took went without being contested, and a lot of the times that was due to Afflalo. Additionally, AAA hit a few big-time 3-pointers when Miami was starting to mount some comebacks that really halted the Heat’s momentum and gave the Nuggets a shot to the heart.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 9-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 24 PTS | +16

My man: Ty Lawson. Anyone who follows this blog knows how big of a Lawson fan I am and tonight, he proved why that is. Looking at his All-Star caliber stat line is impressive enough, but it becomes nearly mind boggling when you consider the only shots he missed from the field in route to scoring 24 points came on 3-pointers he had to hoist up in order to beat the shot clock! This might very well have been the single best performance of any Nugget this year and is the type of confidence-building game that can really boost Ty Lawson to the next level. His crossover followed by a buzzer-beating jump shot on LeBron James near the end of the fourth quarter was teeming with shades of Tim Hardaway (who ironically enough, played for both the Nuggets and Heat and is a player Ty Lawson has some resemblance to.) Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what he follows this game up with.

Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +11

On a night when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to come off the bench and stifle a flurry of Heat runs, Al Harrington stepped up. He hit one countless big shot after another and did so, yet again, on an extremely efficient 6-for-9 from the field. It’s safe to say that without Al the Nuggets probably don’t win this one.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -7

Miller has certainly made me scratch my head recently with both his play on the floor and comments off it. In 27 minutes of action he managed only seven points and three assists all while failing, yet again, to push the pace the way the Nuggets are accustomed to playing. I’m not sure if what he said to Chris Tomasson this past week has gotten to his head or if he’s just fatigued, but either way this is now the second time in the last three games that he’s received either a “D” or an “F” after getting A’s and B’s through the first four games of the season.

Corey Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -1

What Brewer managed to do with his measly 12 minutes of playing time absolutely won’t show up in the box score, except in the final number of points scored by the Miami Heat. His defense against LeBron James and Co. was excellent and his energy, outstanding. The more Brewer plays the more he impresses.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +15

To me, this was by far Fernandez’s best game of the year. Granted, he took a few ill-advised shots, but that’s to be expected from a guy who’s main role is to score off the bench. What I liked most out of Rudy tonight was his activity on all ends of the court. He played solid defense on some of the league’s best offensive players and was constantly looking to nab a few steals in the process. Like Gallinari, his 3-point shooting finally appears to be clicking, which is creating a deep threat off the bench that the Nuggets haven’t had since, well, J.R. Smith. Over his last four games Fernandez is averaging 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting .474 percent from beyond the arc.

Kosta Koufos, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4

Koufos didn’t see enough time to allow for anyone to adequately assess his “performance” although he did show some aggressiveness in his whopping minute of action, which should not go unacknowledged, and won’t as long as I’m around.

Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

When Julyan Stone enters the game, the opponent has one of two choices. Either way they are going to get schooled by an undrafted rookie but it’s their choice whether they’d like to get “Stoned” or “Julyaned” (as in chopped — like the salad… you get my point). The fact that he has a name which allows me to be my normal stupid self earns him a decent grade for the evening, but his nice dish to Koufos down low which led to a few free throw attempts doesn’t hurt either.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Going the distance: The Nuggets shot 25 3-pointers tonight, and made 12 of them. For all you non-math majors out there, that amounts to 36 points on 48 percent shooting all together. Though many thought going into the season that the Nuggets would be one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the league, Denver did its best to dispel this notion for about the first 10 games or so. Finally however, it appears the Nuggets are settling into a groove from beyond the arc which is greatly increasing its chances of securing a “W” with each passing game. Should the Nuggets continue to expand and improve on this aspect of its offense, the rest of the league could be in trouble, as dealing with both a fast-break offense and a deadly 3-point shooting team is one tough task to handle.
  2. Iceman and Viper: A while back when watching a Nuggets game with my dad, he asked about “this tall guy who looked like Val Kilmer.” I told him it was Gallinari then we went off on a tangent depicting what his nickname should be. Naturally, “Iceman” came into play and it has stuck with me ever since. Unfortunately Iceman is a bit of a rebel in Top Gun so unlike Maverick and Goose, he doesn’t have a sidekick with another sweet nickname to pair. Viper is about the only other character from the movie who has an original moniker, other than the main characters, so that’s the way the cookie crumbles for Ty Lawson, although I’m still taking suggestions! (Viper isn’t half bad when you think about it. There are a lot of resemblances…) Anyways, these two are proving to be quite the tandem in regards to coming up big when the team needs someone to carry it. First it was the Iceman in San Antonio (ironically), and Friday it was Viper that stung the Heat. If both Lawson and Gallinari can continue to take the Nuggets on their back through tough stretches of the season, we might very well be looking at our very own “superstars” everyone is so up in arms about intentionally sucking in order to obtain via the NBA Draft.
  3. Tight like a tiger: You know how I know George Karl really wanted to win this one? Because he treated playing against the Heat exactly like he would a playoff game. Friday, Karl was as active as he’s been since, oddly enough, the playoffs last year. His rotation was extremely tight — with no “Birdman Andersen” making an appearance all game long — and his attitude, brimming with enthusiasm. Although the box score doesn’t show it, the announcers claimed he received a technical foul and I wouldn’t doubt it. Now if only we can get him to coach like this every game…
  4. Montezuma’s Revenge: This, was a game of runs. Each team went back and fourth until the Nuggets finally pulled away big in the fourth quarter. With each run by the Heat its confidence grew drastically which is one fire you don’t want to entice. However, I thought the Nuggets and coach Karl did a fantastic job of keeping the Heat’s flame from reaching an inferno by using quality timeouts and thus, mounting a comeback of their own to match every one the Heat made. To me, this was the single most important aspect of keeping the Heat at bay, and the Nuggets did an excellent job of executing a well-thought out game plan.
  5. The little things: Aside from holding the Heat in check the Nuggets needed to do the little things right in order to win on Friday. From Mozgov having the biggest game of his Nuggets career, to Denver actually hitting its free throws, to keeping the rebounding differential relatively close, to playing team basketball at its best — everything had to go right for the Nuggets to win against the Heat, and it did. Only two things stood out that threatened the Nuggets chances of winning and that was Miller’s inability to push the pace as well as the Nuggets’ atrocious inability to rebound the ball on offense. These are two issues that need to be addressed soon, but on Friday, the Nuggets were able to overcome them — thank goodness.
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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.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • Kevin

    best game of the year so far. if they play like this regularly, they should fear no team in the playoffs

  • Aaron

    I Really Hope We Trade Miller, Everytime I See Him Dribbling Down The Court I Feel Like Running On The Court And Screaming In His Ear To See If He Will Wake Up. I Don’t Get Why Karl Loves Miller So Much Sense He Wants “Fast Pace” So Much, It Just Makes Absolutely No Sense.

    But Great Win Again!

    Goo Nuggets!!

  • finazzaus

    this big win tonight has me dwelling over that bad lost to NO the other night. 9-3 looks so much better the 8-4 and it would have sent a clear message to the rest of the league about the nuggets. we would have been 7-1 in jan if we had won.

    also, i have to be honest i have offen thought to myself (and offen said it out loud to my computer or tv) why the hell to the denver highracrie lover mozgov so much, i saw him as doppy, unco and on another planet. i but now i know why they have faith in him. i loved his game and that sweet looking Jumper he turned into so offen tonight. i would like to go on the record to say sorry MOZ for thinking them things. i will not think them again (until next game)

  • Alex

    Ty Lawson just straight balled tonight and showed that he is about to obtain the “star” title if he hasn’t already. Combined that with Galo and we have a good one two punch. Also I loved what Brewer did off the bench with his hustle and defense and the three he hit and combine that with Fernandez, we have two great energy guards off the bench. Which leads me to saying we need to trade Miller and mabye someone else for another big guy, Miller just doesn’t really fit too great and really wants to start and with fernandez and stone the backup PG spot is filled. Also loved Harringtons ability to hit big shots along with Afflalo too and Afflalos defense. We just have so many great defenders that can really challenge guys to make shots.
    GREAT TEAM WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    can’t wait for the next game

  • Ari

    I think Ty Lawson has proved that he plays like a star (the stats back that up for sure), now the only thing missing is the recognition from people who aren’t Nuggets fans.

  • Coxy

    We needa get camby back once oden is healthy. Birdman and a pick or 2 for him?

  • Peter

    I don’t think Oden is playing this year. I don’t think they will trade Camby to us, that would make us better and Oden is no sure thing at all. I doubt anybody would take Birdman at this point in his career with that year still left on his contract. We might have to amnesty him next season.

    • Coxy

      Oden can’t take a break jeez. Well maybe okafor?

  • Ernie

    Moz had a great game because the Heat have no legitimate center to defend him and he took advantage. The game plan against the Heat should be to have a big lineup out there the entire game. If there was a time to play K2 with the 2nd team it was this game. Instead Karl went small in the 2nd quarter and let Miami back in.

    I agree that watching Miller is frustrating. And his -7 (+-) in this game they won by 13 showed he was ineffective as well. He just can’t (or won’t) get the team up and down the court anymore.

    • Brad H.

      Good point about small-ball hurting us last night at what appeared to be a critical time in the game. Glad Nene started playing “big” in the 4th. even though he ended up with good numbers I still thought Nene for the first 3 quarters played small and semi- to unaggressive.

  • http://www.chazkemp.com Chaz

    Let’s hold off on the trade Miller talk… All he said was that he didn’t like coming off the bench. This was just a bad game is all. Everyone will have those and this won’t be the only one. He’s a professional.

    I believe that Karl is going to start grooming Julyan Stone this season so that when Miller leaves at the end, we’ll have the makings of a solid backup pg in the wings.

    No worries guys – Miller is a great player and he’ll chill back to his productive self in no time. :)

    • Charlie

      Miller’s body language isn’t great. I am of the opinion you can’t ultimately win with players who don’t want to be here.

      The chemistry issue in the locker room will show up eventually. ESPN showed a shot of Andre headed to the locker room after the huge double digit win. The look on Miller’s face is one I can only describe as pure dejection. He looked miserable.

      Biggest problem? Miller is getting only 2 or 3 fewer minutes than he normally does. Why is his production so bad? He just doesn’t embrace his role here and isn’t buying into the team. I’m not sure why fans are so eager to support a guy like that who is dying to leave at his opportunity

      • Brad H.

        Come on, Charlie. “Dying to leave”? A bit extreme I think at this juncture. We’ve all been singing praises about ‘Dre all season up until his ill choice of words to CT this week. He has never demonstrated anywhere he’s played at any time that he would give any less than 100% for his team and to win. I do recall however how frustrated he’d get with ‘Melo’s shoot-first/pass-never game when they played together in Denver. Miller didn’t have a great week, that’s all. You’ll be praising his virtues again next week.

        • Charlie

          He’ll play better. He actually helped win last night’s game despite a good two-thirds of minutes were uninterested and lifeless basketball.

          Still, he has to accept being a backup and actively embrace it or else he should go. I know he will put up decent numbers regardless, but if his attitude doesn’t change it’s going to keep showing up on the court.

  • Ben

    A tall, lanky white-boy shooting 15 footers like it’s his job, could Moz be Z. Illgauskus’ kid?

  • doktarr

    I’d love for Nene to spend some time with Hakeem, but keep Ewing far away from him.

    How could you not know about Timo’s jumper? It’s been apparent many times this season. His 15-footer is his most consistent offensive weapon.

    Lawson making a shot that is reminiscent of player he resembles is about the furthest thing from irony. If Lawson had made a post move that reminded you of Hakeem, THAT would be ironic.

    Iceman did have a sidekick in Top Gun – his name was Slider.

    • Kalen

      The irony was that Tim Hardaway played for both the teams that were playing Friday night, but I’d fully admit I’m not even sure if that classifies as irony. What the hell is irony anyways? I’ll have to Wikipedia it I guess.

      As for Mozgov’s jump shot, I mean, he’s made a few little ones this season but nothing like what he did last night. He was draining nothing-but-net shots from 10-15 feet with ease, which I haven’t seen up tot his point.

      And thanks for the clarification on Top Gun. I haven’t seen it in a while and just assumed Iceman rolled solo.

  • Aaron

    In the 1st quarter, when we try to feed Nene alot, Mozzy needs to camp out at the free throw line, ala AC Green, Horace Grant, . . anyone else who played with Shaq. He’ll be wide open, and he’ll hit them all.

    You used to be able to write down 6 points for Horace Grant before the game started, because it was always there. Mozzy and K2 can hit that, so we should have a guy in the high post when the ball goes down low. . no more “4 out” until we put the small lineup in.

  • Kevin

    when ill will returns, who’s minutes does he take? how does he fit into the rotation? will it matter because miller might be gone by then?

  • Brian

    1. George Gervin was Iceman. Can’t re-use that knickname.

    2. Kobe is Black Mamba, so Viper would be derivative. Maybe ‘Mongoose’ for Ty, since they kill snakes for a living.

    3a. I don’t ever remember Miller looking interested – at any point in his career.
    3b. Karl loves the guy – but if Miller doesn’t buy into the concept, hopefully they trade him for something of value.
    3c. My biggest concern would be an injury to Ty – he’s had ’em in the past, and as a little guy who gets knocked around, wouldn’t be surprising for him to miss some games. Rudy is showing more PG skills than I thought we’d get, but I like him coming off the bench.
    3d. Really don’t like the idea of trading Miller to the Lakers – worse idea than letting Orton go to the Chiefs.

    4. Why isn’t Kosta playing more? He had 2-3 strong games, now he can’t see the court. Maybe I missed something?

    5. If/when we get Chandler back, Karl will have more trouble with the rotation, but talk about incredible depth!

    • Charlie

      Koufos will get his shot – the truth is the Nuggets have to shorten the rotation from time to time. Yes Koufos has had good games but he hasn’t been consistent. Same thing with Birdman, who did not play despite having a solid game against New Jersey (although the Nets had no decent bigs and Bird still looked slow that game)

  • Brad H.

    biggest factors for this win:

    1. Relentless Nugs defense especially in the post. Moz actually did a dang good job, and I’m loving Rudy and Brewer pestering the guys they’re defending, like skinny ferrets obsessed with capturing a toy ball.

    2. Nugs hittin their 3s.

    3. transition scoring after steals. Truly no team is doing it better than our Nugs right now. these guys smell blood after every steal.

    And, all of y’all will be eating your words about Andre Miller in a few days. He will continue to be, as he has always been, a gutsy warrior who will battle for and with his team until the final second of each game. I don’t want ‘Dre to be comfortable coming off the bench; he should just be more careful to whom he admits it.

  • FinazzAus

    Why was faired inactive tonight? Was was bird injury or did GK just not play him

    • Aaron

      Faried Was Active But Carrol Wasn’t, You Probably Got Them Mixed Up Sense They Kind Of Look Alike.

      • FinazzAus

        Oh that’s make sense. It wasn’t very clear on the computer thanks

  • http://DenverStiffs Nate T

    Kalen, you didn’t know about Mozgov’s jumper? There’s still time to join the Mozgov-Militia! Plenty of room on the bandwagon I’m driving!

    Nice write-up overall.

  • noah

    trade birdman, miller, and chandler to new orleans for jarrett jack and chris kaman.

    • Omar

      hell no

      • Brad H.

        Kaman 0 for 10 shooting last night. Noah, you’re probably a great dude, but you’d make a scary GM. I’d trade those three straight up for

        • Brad H.


  • Omar

    denver is going to be running this lineup if they can hopefully trade miller and get ill will to return


    talk about a team made to run the fast break.

    • evan

      Stone cannot back up PG right now. Fernandez for back up PG, get a scoring SG, JR swish-esk without the inconsistency.

  • Omar

    i know you guys aren’t in favor of gallo at the 4 but he can demolish any 4 offensively.

    • Jeff

      I like it, but we get killed on the boards already, and that lineup would make it even worse. It would be great offensively though.

      • Omar

        thats because we have andre miller in there. wilson chandler is a pretty good rebounder.

  • ParkHillNative

    Terrific game by the Nuggets last night, great effort at both ends, just fantastic to see.

    At this point, barring any disasters, it seems safe to guess that they’ll get a least 25 wins at home this season.

    The real test for them, the real measure of how good a team they really are, will be the road games. If they can rack up some impressive road wins, and finish at least a game or two over .500 on the road for the season, then things could get exciting.

  • Brad H.

    Kaman 0 for 10 shooting last night.

  • steve

    awesome game. Another good win vs a top team, especially THE top team most likely. We actually owned them. I thought the refs were horrible in this one, not just for us but them as well. I think they got alot more calls than we did though. A couple of those fouls and charges were ridiculous.

    Honestly, i think we live and die by the 3. We dont have that strong of a post presents but just enough with Nene to go to it at times. Lawson always penetrates and hits the open man…if we can knock down those shots, it’s game over. If we struggle, well, it may be a long night just like it was vs N.O. last week.

  • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

    I was just looking around and saw that the Nuggets leading blocker is at 2.5 a game and that is Manimal and he only gets a few minutes i think he needs more time he will get more comfortable in the NBA and be a very good asset on defence him and K2 needs more time instead of having Nene playing so much a the 5. And allow Big al to play more 3. And i really would like to see Stone on the floor more he jas done well in little minutes as well. But i want Corey and Rudy yo get the same treat meant they been getting they are a huge spark plugas well. I love this depth but we need a little bit bigger rotation. Less minutes for disgruntle slow Miller I think Stone needs to start taking over some he’s more capible of covering SGs than Miller.
    Since GK is in love with the guards playing together in small ball so much how about this

    gallo/Big Al/Faried

    Any combination with out having more than 3 Guards on the floor please..

    The Ty,Miller,Rudy,AAA,Gallo or another semi big or just one big kills us in long minutes if it is in like 2 or 3 minutes spurts ok but don’t let team get bigger with out throwing another big and only 3 Guard still have some people to rebound or use the smaller framed Faried whish is still really quick but can rebound and block. Well im gonna stop ranting. I just haven’t been able to post a whole lot due to working so much let me know some thought every one