|Nene, C 26 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +30Nene was aggressive on Wednesday. He was looking to score and often times achieved this goal when he received the ball in the post. His defense against the Kings’ big men was also admirable.|
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 23 PTS | +30The first half of basketball by Gallinari was not only the best half of ball I’ve ever seen him play while in Denver (yes, including the Knicks game) but it might very well have been the best half of basketball any Nuggets player has displayed this year. It was nearly flawless. He never once forced a bad shot and time after time made the correct “basketball play” that was needed by the team in order to score — even if that meant passing (evident by his five assists). Had this game been closer Gallinari would be looking at back-to-back 30-point outings for the first time in his career. If you can score 30 points back-to-back in an NBA game, you’ve arrived.|
|Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +11I’m a Koufos guy and his performance against the Kings proves why. Early in the third quarter he had already passed Mozgov’s full-game averages and continued to play sound basketball (for the most part) until the final whistle. His passion for the game was on clear display as he wrestled for rebounds with the feisty DeMarcus Cousins late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand. Though Koufos does take the occasional bad shot, this is to be expected from your third-string center; however, should Koufos see more time (which he deserves) he might very well develop into a nice, strong backup center option by next year.|
|Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 7-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 15 PTS | +27It’s probably safe to say Miller is over his “mini slump.” He was as solid as solid gets in terms of taking over the game once Ty left. His passes were pinpoint, his court vision, outstanding, but his leadership was what stood out most. Miller never stopped moving his jaw the entire night and his teammates seemed to benefit.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 15 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +7I give Ty a “B” because he was firmly on pace to score over 20 points tonight, even though it wouldn’t have been needed. Bottom line: His aggressiveness early on set the tone for the blowout that shortly followed.|
|Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | +16Though his field goal percentage dipped as the game rolled on, it’s important to note that going into the half Harrington was one of the leading catalysts that blew the lid off this game. He was shooting an extremely efficient clip yet again and at one time had more points than he did minutes. Downgrading him for a blowout he helped create seems wrong.|
|Chris Andersen, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +2Andersen played well. His sprightly enthusiasm for blocking shots didn’t necessarily pay off numerically, but he did send a message to the Kings that as long as he was patrolling the paint, no easy buckets would be had. I’ll take a performance like this from “Birdman” any day of the week.|
|Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 7-19 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +16Kind of a mixed bag from Brewer. Taking 19 shots is “Melo-esque” and not in a good way. He couldn’t hit an open three if his life depended on it and made a few knucklehead plays that, fittingly, one could label “J.R.-esque.” His botched dunk on a breakaway in the first quarter was one of the worst I’ve seen in a while and his reckless dribbling got a bit out of hand. However, Brewer’s defense was again fantastic and often led to fast break opportunities which the Nuggets thrive off. If he can limit his mistakes next time around, all will be forgiven.|
|Julyan Stone, G 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +9For his first real outing, Stone played extremely well. His defense was pure genius, especially the block he had on Jimmer Fredette in the fourth quarter that looked like it shot out of a cannon. His hustle on 50-50 balls was like nothing the Nuggets have seen this season and his ability to come in and absorb the “pass-first” concept of the Nuggets offense was beyond refreshing. Stone will never be a scorer, but if he can play the type of defense he did against the Kings while distributing at a high level, there will certainly be a place for him in the NBA.|
|Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0The “Manimal” made his long-awaited third appearance of the regular season and did not disappoint. In the first three minutes he collected four rebounds (three of them being offensive boards) and was infectious with his energy level. Faried looked much, much better in terms of knowing his place on the floor than he did in his previous games and had the type of defensive fire the Nuggets are deprived of at times. If he can continue to improve, he should find his way in a few more games as the season progresses.|
|Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3I actually thought “J-Ham” played excellent in his NBA debut. Though it was only five minutes and though he did miss three of the four shots he put up, Hamilton still played solid defense, collected three boards and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. He looked like a totally different player than what I saw in his brief D-League stint and displayed an ability to score the rock that the Nuggets will undoubtedly need in the future. Hopefully we see more J-Ham soon.|
Five Things We Saw
- Regal Entertainment Group: Though the Knicks game was by far the best of the season (and will most likely remain that way), the Kings game was by far the best display of offensive execution we’ve seen yet. It was beautiful. It was how basketball was meant to be played. The 92 points in the paint the Nuggets recorded set an NBA record (the previous was 90) and should cement the fact that driving to the hole is perhaps the most important aspect of this team’s offense. Though the Nuggets can shoot the long ball with efficiency, it will never be as efficient as driving to the hole. Granted, the Kings defense was suspect (OK, it was atrocious) but it still shouldn’t dissuade the Nuggets from continuing to penetrate against taller, more skilled teams like the Lakers.
- Year of the Rooster: This past summer after seeing Gallinari struggle at the FIBA European Championships in Lithuania, I was admittedly a bit apprehensive about his future career with the Nuggets. At that point Gallinari was shooting poorly from the field and didn’t have near the type of impact as fellow teammate, Andrea Bargnani. I was worried that Gallo would continue to restrict himself to being just a spot-up three-point shooter and become mesmerized with this aspect of his game instead of developing into a true, all-around ballplayer. Well, thank God I was wrong. After seeing his last few games, my faith in the “Rooster” has been fully restored and then some. He doesn’t even remotely resemble that three-point specialist I was so concerned about and has actually taken the first steps towards becoming that 20 points per game-scorer we all know he can be. Furthermore, his defense is incredible for a 6-10 small forward and his decision-making is already better than half the guys in the entire NBA. All I can really say is: Gallo, I’m sorry. Please continue to prove me wrong for even having doubted you one minute bit. Grazie.
- Roadies: The Nuggets won five consecutive games on the road for the first time in franchise history. Let that sink in for a minute… Yes, history. I predicted at the beginning of the season that depth would greatly benefit the Nuggets in a condensed schedule format and that notion appears to be coming to fruition before our eyes. Whether the Nuggets can keep this up throughout the entire season is still up in the air, but winning five in a row on the road is certainly a great way to start.
- One Step Ahead: Though many different angles can be taken on why the Nuggets dominated so convincingly on Wednesday, I can point to one that I firmly believe in: “out-smarting” your opponent. While the Nuggets are a better and more talented team than the Kings, they simply played much smarter than them too. While the Kings decided to play one-on-one basketball without trusting each other the Nuggets defeated them by moving the ball, finding the open man and always remaining a step ahead of the Kings in the process. This is always extremely encouraging to see from your favorite sports team and credit for this must solely go to George Karl.
- Stacked for the Future: In watching the final three minutes of the game I realized just how well-prepared the Nuggets are for the coming years. Faried, Stone, Hamilton, Koufos — these are all guys locked down for the foreseeable future (Stone only has one more year left on his contract however) and are all extremely young and talented. There’s no need to rush their development with how deep the Nuggets are which essentially allows these guys to absorb as much information as they can and when their time comes, they should be able to step right in and and contribute immediately. This is how true championship contenders are constructed.
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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.
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