|Nene, C 38 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 14 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +9
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but Nene stuck with it and finished. Yes, he still shoots way too many underhand line drives at the rim, but Nene was the lone reliable big in this game. He secured the rebound that led to the game-winner and played the best defense he has all year.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 33 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +14
It’s hard to give Gallo anything other an ‘F’. He was benched for the final play of regulation and the entire overtime. He did nothing but tentatively stand around and hoist threes on offense. Gallo couldn’t even hold his own defensively against the wiry Thad Young and he was absolutely torched on every switch. He folded and turned in a truly spineless performance. Let’s hope it was a one time thing.
|Kosta Koufos, C 7 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -6
The slow-footed Koufos had a rough start against the rookie Vucevic who simply overpowered him. He shoots too many soft hooks and floaters and simply wasn’t physical enough for his presence to be useful in this game. He didn’t see any action after the first quarter as the small lineups delivered the win. I’ll give Koufos a break as he hasn’t played in a long time, but he needs to be tougher.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 44 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -1
Another frustrating performance by Arron, who was on track for his best game yet with a solid first half. He disappeared in the second half and reverted to forcing shots and generally being un-clutch and clumsy with the ball in his hands. Afflalo did make a big pull-up jumper late and hit two free throws to seal the win. Like Nene, he kept his cool and finished strong despite some poor stretches of play. That kind of guts and character goes a long way to winning games like these.
|Ty Lawson, PG 45 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Lawson was frustratingly inconsistent all night long and was thoroughly outplayed by Andre Miller. He is unable to get in a any sort of rhythm and is struggling mightily to finish layups. His turnovers are up and his scoring is down, but Lawson continued to play with confidence and kept attacking when the team looked ready to pack in it.
|Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -9
Harrington continues to do his job – stretch the floor and defend the post as best he can. Unfortunately he had to team with Birdman in the second half and with the Nuggets switching every screen after the first quarter he had trouble staying in front of the Sixers. I can’t fault Harrington’s performance and ultimately he stepped in for Gallo in overtime and played a huge part in gutting out the win.
|Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 10 AST | 28 PTS | +18
He was clearly motivated against his old team and flat out dominated. Make no mistake, the Nuggets were dead in the water after a second half defensive meltdown fueled by turnovers – and Andre decided to go out and win the game. This was the best performance of any Nugget this season and I’m still fairly shocked at what I saw the 35-year old Miller just do to his old team on a back-to-back.
|Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -5
Andersen turned in another sub-par effort and the Nuggets won in spite of him. He played an acceptable first half and followed it up with his worst effort yet, which is saying a lot considering how up and down he has been. He mercifully fouled out early but otherwise played cowardly defense and contributed very little offensively after a first half in which he at least got to the line and scored some.
|Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -13
Brewer knows how to play only one way and it’s all out chaos when he’s in the game. Things are either going great or god-awful terrible when he’s in and there’s no in between. Overall I liked Brewer’s energy a lot although the team defense was wildly inconsistent with him on the floor
Five Things We Saw
- Small Soldiers: Not the awesome 90’s movie (a great one), but George Karl’s penchant to play guard heavy lineups in an effort to lure the opponent into playing at a frenetic pace. It worked tonight and Doug Collins stuck with Thad Young at the four for long stretches. The Nuggets had the advantage here and pressed it. It was fun seeing two similar teams who excel at small ball go at it. Even on the second game of a back to back, Denver did it better. I’m not sure this would have worked without Hawes being unavailable or Vucevic thankfully keeping himself off the court with his penchant for fouling. Either way give credit to small ball which nobody does better than the Denver Nuggets.
- The Switch: This movie was bad, don’t see it. The Nuggets have had a lot of trouble switching screens but it seems like they had no choice tonight. The Sixers were destroying the Nuggets defense and got whatever they wanted in the first quarter, easily cracking open a double digit lead. With the Nuggets getting zero pressure on the ball they went small and switched everything to simplify a defense which simply was not functioning. The Sixers ended up settling for contested jumpers and the Nuggets surprisingly fought hard for every rebound. Their scheme stifled the Sixers offense and this is another coaching decision I’ve routinely criticized that ultimately ended up working and winning the game.
- Cliffhanger: Another 90’s classic and an underrated Stallone performance. This was an incredibly exciting game and it came down to a couple of box outs, free throws and defensive rotations. The Nuggets weren’t very sharp tonight and they could have easily folded on the second night of a back to back. Down the stretch, Andre Miller made shots but the rest of the team showed character and composure we haven’t yet seen in a close game. These are the kind of wins that will help the young Nuggets develop trust and maintain intensity when they need it most.
- Last Action Hero: Andre Miller straight up terminated the 76ers. I can’t remember seeing such a gutty performance from a Nuggets player since Melo beat Lebron’s Cavs in Cleveland two years ago. Miller has drawn the ire of many fans including myself for recent comments about coming off the bench, but he silenced everyone tonight with a ridiculous performance that shouldn’t be possible for a 35-year old player with no athleticism and questionable shot-making skills. Miller set a fantastic example for Lawson, Afflalo and Gallo with his aggressiveness and he clearly proved he’s still got it.
- The Ref: Not Denis Leary, but Violet Palmer. I believe she committed the cardinal sin for a referee by blowing a whistle in the final seconds on incidental contact. The Nuggets played solid defense and forced Iguodala into a tough shot. The game is meant to be decided in moments like those and I would have liked to see the Sixers win or lose on a great basketball play rather than questionable free throw attempts.
Game 15 Advanced Stats
Pace Factor: 93.8 – Not easy to run shorthanded on a back to back
Offensive Efficiency: 115.2 – Very solid against a rested team at home
Defensive Efficiency: 110.9 – Road wins are tough to come by and I refuse to complain
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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.