Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108, Washington Wizards 104

Denver Nuggets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Washington Wizards
Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +3
Koufos didn’t see much time against the Wizards, but his six rebounds were third most on the team despite playing only 15 minutes. It’s still a mystery as to why he’s not seeing the floor more often, especially given his rebounding prowess which the Nuggets still desperately need at times.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 7-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS | +3
Gallinari had a strong first half and mellowed out as the game progressed. But going 7-11 from the field while collecting four rebounds, five boards, an assist and a steal is a great all-around stat line for the Rooster.
Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Mozgov certainly played much better against the Wizards than he has in other games where he’s logged heavy minutes. Though you’d still like to see more rebounds and just a better overall feel for the game and his positioning, it’s obvious that he’s trying to improve which is good to see.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +11
Afflalo didn’t have his best game of the year but he didn’t have his worst game either. His defense against Nick Young was decent, but he wasn’t the “stopper” he can be at times. He had a few nice mid-range jump shots that he knocked down coming off screens and a few good cuts to the basket, but in general Afflalo must do these things more often in order to make the kind of impact we all know he can.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 7-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | +14
Lawson had one of the his better games this year against the Wizards, putting up All-Star numbers across the board. His nine rebounds and six assists were both team highs and his 3-for-6 shooting from downtown helped the Nuggets out tremendously in such a tight game. Though Lawson is shooting a pretty low percentage from the field over the last week, his aggressiveness is still appreciated and largely the reason why.
Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 10-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 29 PTS | +4
Seriously, what more can you say about this guy? His 29 points were a season high and his seven boards, the second most on the team. His .362 3-point shooting percentage is above his career average and his 2-point field goal percentage is supposedly the highest in he league according to Chris Marlowe. Additionally according to 82games.com, Harrington leads the team in cumulative plus-minus at plus-109 and Nuggets’ points per possession when he’s on the floor at 1.13. Al is also second in the team in PER behind only Corey Brewer who hasn’t really played all that much this season. Currently Al is either sitting atop or near the top of the Sixth Man of the Year award race.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 PTS | -7
Miller was frustrated all evening with the lack of calls he and the Nuggets were receiving from the refs. He spent more time complaining than he did playing — although, after the incredible performance he had against the Sixers, this can be excused for one night. Still, Miller needs to find some sort of consistency in his game moving forward. He’s just too talented to be struggling this much.
Chris Andersen, C 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-7 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -6
Though numerically speaking, Andersen had a pretty good game, I still didn’t see how he was contributing to helping the Nuggets win. His negative-six on the plus-minus scale was second worst on the team — probably due to the fact that he was constantly fumbling the ball (like always) and letting McGee run wild, which led to numerous easy buckets. At this point, it’s really hard to believe that Faried would be anywhere near as bad as Birdman is.
Corey Brewer, SF 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 PTS | -3
Hard to give a grade to Brewer when he was only in for such a short amount of time, although his defense and energy were there yet again. It’s anyone’s guess as to why he didn’t play much in a tight game where defense was nowhere to be found. After the way he’s played lately, you would think he would have earned himself a spot in the rotation, but apparently not.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 12 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -2
Fernandez played excellent ball for only seeing 12 minutes of time. It appears as though he re-injured his achilles which forced him to exit the game.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Worst First: The Nuggets allowed the Wizards to score a season-high tying (for opponents) 37 points in the first quarter on Friday. To put things into perspective, the Wizards are 27th in the league in points per game at roughly 88 and have scored 30 in the first quarter only once all season — and that was against the Knicks. In the last nine games, the Nuggets have held its opponent to under 25 points in the first quarter only twice. This frightful trend does nothing but compound the Nuggets defensive woes even more and is solid proof that the Nuggets are coming into games mentally unprepared. While the Nuggets need to address its defensive shortcomings immediately, fixing the opening-game defensive strategy should be paramount.
  2. “Arc” Nemesis: Right after the Nuggets work on their defense to open up the game they should then concentrate on their perimeter defense as it’s some of the worst in the league and will end up costing them one of these days if not repaired. Right now Denver ranks 16th in opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage, 27th in opponent’s 3-pointers made and 29th in opponent’s 3-pointers attempted. It’s no secret that the Nuggets have had all kinds of problems this year with switching screens and closing out on defenders, what needs to be avoided at all costs however is letting this become a staple of the team rather than just an early season struggle.
  3. Fundamentally Flawed: Sticking with the theme of defense (since that is in fact the primary “thing I saw” on Friday), it’s also important to note just how terrible the Nuggets are when it comes to executing the most basic elements of basketball. Everything from boxing out, to running precise plays, to crashing the boards — it’s all rusty at best. But this is perhaps most evident on the defensive side of the ball. Honestly, watching the Nuggets play defense is painful these days. Other than Afflalo, nobody seems to take pride in their one-on-one defense which leads to penetration, which leads to abuse of help-defense, which leads to kick-outs, which leads to open 3-pointers, which leads to the Nuggets getting in holes they shouldn’t be in. I know Denver is currently sitting at 11-5 but that doesn’t change the fact that it also ranks 26th in opponents points per game, 29th in opponent’s field goals per game, 26th in opponent’s field goal percentage, 24th in opponent’s adjusted field goal percentage, 23rd in rebounds per game, dead last in offensive rebounds per game and 23rd in opponent’s assists per game. So sure, winning in the regular season by outscoring the opponent is fun and all, but this type of basketball simply won’t cut it come playoff time. At some point the Nuggets are going to have to clamp down on defense and start playing fundamentally sounds basketball if they want to continue their success in the postseason.
  4. The Four Amigos: Al Harrington, Nene, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are becoming quite the force. Not only are these the top four leaders in points per game on the roster, but according to 82games.com when they’re on the floor together along with Andre Miller they’re also Denver’s best defensive squad, allowing only .63 points per possession to the opponent. This specific five-man squad leads any other combination of Nuggets players in plus-minus and has outscored it’s opponent 5-to-1 every time it steps on to the floor. Between Al’s Sixth Man of the Year push, Lawson’s fringe All-Star status, Gallinari’s “do it all” type of game and Nene’s improving aggressiveness, the Nuggets have what it takes to succeed in the playoffs, but again, defense must become a top priority in order for post-season success to come to fruition.
  5. Road Warriors: After going 3-0 so far on the current road trip, the Nuggets now are tied for the seventh best record in the NBA and sit in second place in the Western Conference behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder. The road has always given the Nuggets trouble, but perhaps this year will be different given the shortened schedule and roster depth. Denver will always take care of its business at home, but if the Nuggets can manage to finish the year above .500 away from the Pepsi Center, they will almost certainly put themselves in position to finish as a top four seed in the West, securing a much-needed home court advantage in the process.

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Game 16 Advanced Stats (and thoughts by Charlie)

Pace Factor:  100.8 – A fast game against a struggling defensive team
Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 – A fine performance on the road
Defensive Efficiency: 103.1 – Not good at all. This could become a big problem if not addressed

  • I’ve been waiting for Ty Lawson to start looking for his jump shot more. Teams are clamping down hard on him in the paint and Lawson’s efforts to draw contact on drives have not been rewarded all season. Lawson can hit pull up jumpers with or without a screen, he can create space and step back with his range or simply spot up and take set shots from three. Ty is unstoppable when he gets more aggressive and more confident with his shot. Right now he’s taking a few too many floaters and off balance jumpers at the end of the shot clock and his efficiency is taking a serious hit. Tonight was a step in the right direction. Ty, for whatever reason, continues to get little respect from officials compared to other small point guards in the league.
  • Kalen mentioned it, and the Nuggets’ perimeter defense was indeed atrocious in this game. Rotations were slow and anytime the Wizards swung the ball from one side of the floor to the other someone was guaranteed to be open for three.  Part of the problem is the fact Andre Miller sags way off his man, allows him to see the entire floor and doesn’t close out on anyone. Chris Andersen is indifferent in terms of hustling out to disrupt a shooter. Shelvin Mack and Chris Singleton were on their way to career nights and the Nuggets were lucky Washington was fairly passing-averse and took enough bad shots to bring their field goal percentage down considerably.
  • I was very surprised Rudy played. He wore a thick sleeve over his achilles and didn’t last long before having to leave. He has a nagging injury that needs rest; the Nuggets play tomorrow, Corey Brewer is playing great so there wasn’t exactly a pressing need to get him in. Let’s hope Rudy’s setback was not serious.
  • Al Harrington won the game. He not only hit threes but without Nene, him and Afflalo were asked to post up more. Harrington was the only one having any sort of success. Al Buckets showed leadership and poise at the end of the game and he continues to be one of the most consistent and important pieces on the team.
  • Koufos isn’t giving the Nuggets much. It’s not a coincidence he’s only produced at the Center spot and I believe he should only be getting Center minutes. The guy deserves court time, but it seems Karl is rewarding him charity minutes and starts without any intention of giving him an actual role. Birdman did have one of his better games of the season production-wise, but Washington had absolutely no threatening post presence and it really pained me not to see the Manimal get a shot. There was never any reason to start two slow, offensively challenged seven footers when the plan all along was to go small. Denver fell behind 37-27 in the first quarter.
  • That being said, I credit Karl and the team in this one. It’s clear they were a little flat with Nene out and this was not a win to like, but one to accept. The Nuggets did claw back and fend off the Wizards nicely despite their offense struggling bad in the second half. Andre Miller wasn’t useless, but he went scoreless while playing 20-plus minutes for the second time this season. For a guy as immensely talented as Andre, I don’t understand how that happens and it’s incredibly disappointing. Nevertheless, what a great road win as long as the Nuggets learn from it.
  • The only thing I will say about the coaching is that the Nuggets should take a strong look at getting Al some help at the Power Forward spot, especially against more physical teams. And I don’t mean Koufos.
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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)

  • Ernie

    I don’t understand playing Moz and K2 at the same time. They both offer size, rebounding and hustle without much skill, so having one backup the other makes more sense to me. Team needs one in there for rebounding, together they bring down the skill set too much.

    Any win on the road without Nene is a good one. But they have to stop giving up so many points in the 1st quarter. 37 tonight. Need to start giving the halftime speech pregame.

  • steve

    Good win on the road. I like seeing us win the close games regardless who it’s against. Al is just beastly. I’m upset with myself that i traded him in my big money league for Thad Young preseason lol.

  • Nigel

    This was a great win for the Nuggets. I take my hat off to Al Buckets. He was just sizzling tonight. I think he will have another good performance against the bad-defense Knicks, his former team. Also, I have to admit that there should be no proposed trade suggestion at this point to the Nuggets. Fernandez is not yet a bust in Denver. He has still yet to perfectly fit in the run-and-gun system and he’s showing flashes of it with his playmaking ability.

    • Aaron

      Only Player That’s Been A Bust For Denver This Year Would Be Andre Miller, Ok He Had A Break Out Game Last Game But Other Then That Hes Been Terrible For The Nuggets. But I’m Glad We Pulled Out Another Road Win. O Ya, Nuggz 2 In The Western Conference Now After That Win, Only 1 1/2 Games Behind OKC, Who ik The Nuggets Can Compete With Just As Well As Any1.

      GO NUGGETZ!!!!!!!!

      • Tommy4daNuggz4ever

        I fully agree that we can compete with the OKC Thunder and That is Awsome for Becoming number 2 in the west let’s keep rollin.

        GO NUGGETS!!!!

  • SmokinNugs

    Loving this 3 game road win streak because you know we’ll keep building it when we head back home! 2nd in the West! Looking forward to the Knicks game tomorrow. I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t roll them

  • Aaron

    We Should Beat New York Pretty Easily. Nene Is Bigger And More Athletic Then Amare, So Nene Should Be Able To Shut Em Down. Afflalo And Brewer Should Be Able To Contain Melo, Affalo Is 2 Inches Shorter Then Melo But Can Defend Really Well Like Hes Melo’s Size And Brewer Is An inch Taller Then Melon And Has Hops To Be Able To Contest Every Shot. Its

    • Aaron

      Oops Pushed Submit Early. Anywayy, It Will Be. Nice Change Up On Melo 2 Different Sized And Shaped Guys (Afflalo And Brewer) That Defend Differently. After That Lawson Might Have Trouble Scoring Because Of Shumpert But The Bigs For Denver Should Have A Great Night Scoring The Ball. I Can See The Nuggets Getting Up To 130 (Points) And Holding New York To Maybe Under 90. Who Knows Tho, Should Be A Great Game But Denver Should Win This By 10 To 20 Points.

      GO NUGGETS!!!!!!!

      • Daniel

        after watching brandon jennings blow the knicks backcourt up, I look forward to seeing what ty lawson will do. should be fun. go nuggets

  • Alex

    Can’t wait to play the no defense New York and Carmelo Anthony Knicks. I pretty sure we were the winners of that trade.

  • james from australia

    I feel miller should get more credit for the defence he played on nick young in the second half. Took him right out of the game for a good while there

    • Charlie

      Young and the Wizards are more than capable of taking themselves out of the game, but I hear your argument.

      Still, after torching one of the league’s best defenses for 29 points and manhandling a premier defender in Andre Iguodala – how is Miller so blatantly unproductive against the Wizards? Just doesn’t make much sense for a 12 year vet if you ask me

  • Aaron

    I don’t care what the numbers showed but Birdman was awful last night. I don’t know why we won’t play Manimal. Mozzy was great, I thought. . I continue to think the Roundballers are too hard on him. I thought he played great. Koufos was out of position.

    I think if we’re short-handed like this again, we should start Mozzy, Gallo at the 4 and Rudy/Corey at the 3. Then Kofous can be the Center off the bench, and Al can come in at the 4.

    Our crunch time lineup doesn’t need to change, but that’s a way to get us through the first half at least.

    I”m glad GK is playing Mozzy more than just the first 5 minutes of the game. He deserves it, he works hard, and he’s hard to score on when people try to post him up.

    But, seriously. . how is Manimal worse than Bird right now? Maybe he even hits one of those jumpers Bird misses. In this compressed schedule, it’s time GK. Especially if Nene is out.

    • Nigel

      I have the same wish, too. But look, here it goes, Faried will have his minutes and he will do his thing. At this point, it seems clear that GK does not play rookies much but I think he’s changed that. When Lawson was a rookie under Karl, he did gave him big minutes (more minutes than then-Nugget AC). Faried this time just did not play much because there was no Summer League and the training camp was shortened. If it wasn’t for the lockout, he could have shown why he’s the Manimal.

    • TroyF

      Gallo is just pitiful at the four though. His defense is so much better against perimeter players who try to drive by him because they think he’s slow. He faces a Milsap type guy and he just gets abused. Keep him at the three no matter the lineup.

  • ny nugs fan

    i want to sit gallinari down with a sheet of paper elementary school style and make him write 100 times… “when i have single coverage on the wing i will take my man to the rack”… “when i have single coverage on the wing i will take my man to the rack”… “when i have single coverage on the wing i will take my man to the rack”…

  • dynamo.joe

    al 21.43
    bird 18.03
    nene 16.65
    k2 13.89
    moz 10.72

    According to Hollinger, that’s the way our bigs rank.

    The only consensus that I think could be reached on this forum is that Al is our best big man so far this season.

    And I would argue Al should be taking more time at the 3 to make room for Faried.

    The only reason I have been able to come up with for Moz getting the start (aside from the obvious “we told Nene he could play the 4 if he resigned”) is that he has the most range outside of Al, with a decent 10 foot shot, unclogging the lane for Nene. So far the Nugs have been unwilling to feed him at that range. Making him an idle threat. Ideally he would draw out a defender and give Nene (who has a range of zero) room to operate. Of course this requires he be able to make inside passes to Nene and I’m not sure he can do that.

    Seriously, I cringe each time Nene settles for a jump shot and I’m not really even happy when he lays it up instead of dunking.

  • Dubz

    All I can say is thank the FO for not using the amnesty of big Al. I know is wasn’t a serious thought but many people were calling for it this off season. These last couple of wins have been ugly but I’m glad to see this team can win those types of games. If they lost them, certain people would say that’s where we have no “go to guy” and I’m glad I don’t have to hear that crap right now. Anyway, I seriously love how this team is built and I agree, let Rudy rest. He can provide a lot when healthy I think. CHARLIE!!! It’s good to see you’ve had a change of heart about Al Buckets… He’s essential to this teams success in my eyes.

    • Jeff

      Yep, if we had amnestied Buckets and gotten Speights or somebody instead, I think we would be about 8 – 8 right now.

  • TroyF

    It shows how sometimes dumb luck can impact a team. Look, the Al signing wasn’t a good one. He probably SHOULD have been amnestied and if Chandler hadn’t signed in China, he would have been.

    Then Al comes out and plays like he’s never played before. You’d be hard pressed to find a single 15 game stretch that Al has had in his career that is this good. Al hasn’t had a rebound or scoring rate even approaching what he’s doing now in 9 years.

    FG%? Never. Nothing even in the ballpark.

    I know the Nuggets FO has been very good the past few years. That said, this is flat out luck. Good for Al, good for us, cross your fingers it continues for a long time. . . but I don’t know that anyone could have predicted this.

    • Dubz

      You can’t simply dismiss Al’s production as luck. While I definitely agree no one expected these types of numbers from him, he’s fulfilling the exact need that the Nuggets wanted him to when signing him. He was the Knicks #1 fora couple years and his numbers were pretty good. His injuries last year really hurt his production and over the off season he had a rigorous training schedule to get healthy again. This was a great signing by the Nuggets in my eyes and even with Wilson, the Nuggets wouldn’t have amnestied Big Al with the new provisions in the CBA stating that all teams must be within a certain number of the salary cap.

  • TroyF

    I love that he’s fulfilling the role he was signed for, but all that proves is that the signing was poor to begin with. Why? Because he’s never shown the ability to produce in this role.

    He wasn’t good for the Knicks for a couple of years. He was scoring for a couple of years. He wasn’t a great leader, wasn’t a great player, no matter what the raw numbers tell you.

    I’m happy he’s had a rigorous schedule to imrpve his game and suddenly shoot over 60% on two point FG. That said, he’s had a decade to do that and has never done it. He’s been huge this year. That said, I see no way this can keep up.

    I hope to be proven wrong the entire year, but he’s never done anything like this before. Again, good on Al. But this is pure luck from a Nuggets standpoint. If Al had put together multiple years like this, the Nuggets never get Al for a mid level deal. .

    • Jeff

      Harrington has always been a very gifted scorer with a sweet outside shot. I think what we’re seeing out of him is not luck, just a combination of his talent, his experience, hard work in the offseason, and a good role for him all coming together this season.

      Kenyon and Chandler are gone, so there’s minutes for him. He’s healthy. He’s a bit older and wiser. And he plays on a team that shares the ball.

      • Jeff

        Also want to give props to George Karl for sticking with Harrington even though he had a rough time last year. Although there were times when his minutes were way down, Karl always respected Harrington and gave him credit at the end of the season.