Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96 Toronto Raptors 81

Toronto Raptors 81 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 10-14 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +25
The Raptors were extremely physical with Nene despite lacking anyone remotely capable of guarding him. Nene didn’t shoot particularly well and was fouled whenever he found himself in good position down low. He still had a solid 20 and 10 in 33 minutes behind improved free throw shooting. More importantly, he was a dominant presence on the floor and the Raptors simply had no answer.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-7 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 21 PTS | +14
Gallo’s scoring opportunities didn’t come as easy without Ty Lawson starting alongside him. He reverted to shooting too many threes and generally looking awful when trying to create for himself. Defensively, Gallo struggled defending the post but continues to show potential as a reliable team defender. Gallo’s grade gets a bump thanks to his ability to close out the game after Toronto made a late push against the Nuggets reserves to get back in it.
Timofey Mozgov, C 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +16
Mozgov made a welcome return to the starting lineup and continues to develop into a more physical presence down low. He had his two finest blocks of the season and rebounded well for the minutes he received. He did struggle to work himself back into an offensive rhythm and mishandled a few too many passes. Nevertheless, Mozgov was a big part of the solid defensive effort that held Toronto to 12 first quarter points.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 12 AST | 13 PTS | +18
Miller had too many turnovers, but several of them were due to Mozgov and Birdman being slow, out of position or just not ready to receive a pass. His erratic wandering on defense can be frustrating and the Nuggets did struggle to maintain pace with him running point. This is the first time Miller has been in the starting lineup at the point guard position and he produced outstanding numbers as expected. The luxury with Miller is that he’s more than capable and perhaps better as a fill-in starter.
Arron Afflalo, SG 21 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +11
I’m not gonna dock Afflalo too much for struggling to ease himself back into the rotation after nearly a week off. He’s still taking questionable shots and not making very many of them. The bottom line with Afflalo is that he has such a positive effect on the Nuggets defense you can live with whatever he does offensively as long as he’s not a total black hole.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Harrington had a bad day. He came into the game with little energy and by the fourth quarter he was exhausted to the point of parking himself at the three point line with his hands on his knees and spectating. He played entirely too many minutes and made only one of five shots in the second half while struggling to make any sort of impact on defense. Buckets also got into a childish spat with Linas Kleiza and needlessly extended the game’s conclusion.
Chris Andersen, C 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Birdman’s playing harder, I’ll give him that. His energy and his effort were sincere. Andersen continues to be a disaster guarding the pick and roll as he struggled staying in front of the smaller Raptors in the first half. Birdman wasn’t putting up numbers, but I did not think his performance warranted benching him in the second half. He was engaged and active, but Birdman is just not a reliable guy for George Karl right now and he seems to be losing the coach’s trust quickly.
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5
Brewer had another confusing game. After launching 18 shot attempts against Sacramento he barely attempted anything, which I think is a good thing. He flew around the court with his usual energy creating chaos and extra possessions. Offensively, Brewer is scary and unpredictable and he’ll need to be a bit more consistent to gain more regular playing time off the bench.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 33 MIN | 9-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | +9
Thank God for Rudy. He looked great upon his return from an Achilles strain and his hot shooting singlehandedly held off the Raptors’ furious second half surge. Rudy also did a great job chasing the feisty Raptors guards all over the court. Bayless was able to shake him loose a couple of times but his offensive game was so brilliant it hardly mattered. Not only did Rudy handle the ball some as a backup point, he was fantastic off the ball – juking out Barbosa for one of the most poetic wide open threes of the season. Magnificent game from Rudy and all the more impressive considering he hasn’t played in quite some time.
Kosta Koufos, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
The decision to pair Koufos with Harrington in the middle was a head-scratcher to say the least. Kosta didn’t receive any minutes in the first half and calling on him to stem the tide during Denver’s worst stretch of play might have been asking too much of the seldom used 22-year old. He had a rough go from the moment he stepped on the floor, immediately being hit with a questionable blocking foul and worsening Denver’s stagnant offensive attack. Defensively, the Nuggets completely fell apart with him on the floor and while you can’t put the blame solely on Koufos, Toronto seized total control of the game and it’s hard to defend the decision to bring him in.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Zonin’: The Nuggets were fantastic against Miami’s zone defense and the results against Toronto were a mixed bag. The Raptors didn’t exclusively run zone, but at times they stifled the Nuggets offense and forced them into way too many bad jumpers. Without Nene, the Nuggets struggled mightily to get anything going and there was not enough drive and kick or aggressive ball movement against the zone. Gallo also needs to stop shooting horrible step back threes in isolation. I would not read too much into it as the Nuggets were definitely missing Lawson’s presence in terms of opening up the offense and pushing the pace.
  2. No More Mr. Nice Guy: We saw the mean side of Nene tonight. As I mentioned above, the Raptors were physical and not afraid to foul him every trip down the floor if they needed to. The simple truth is there are many teams out there who cannot guard Nene yet the Brazilian takes himself out of the game through frustration and god awful shot selection. Nene still relies too heavily on his finesse game when it comes to layups and finger rolls when really he just needs to seek out contact and get fouled. 14 free throw attempts probably shouldn’t be as a rare as it is for Nene.
  3. Daily Operation: Offensively, the game was a bit of a mess. Afflalo didn’t score and Harrington was missing in action. The Nuggets were actually out-assisted by Toronto and out-shot from the three point line. What rescued the Nuggets was another mainstay of their offensive attack – free throws. The Nuggets earned 32 free throw attempts to Toronto’s 14. As long as the Nuggets can be one of the best teams in terms of getting to the line they should be able to win ugly as they did tonight.
  4. Step in the Arena: I had faith the Nuggets would get back to their winning ways at home and handily beat a Bargani-less Raptors team at the Can. It’s important for the Nuggets to play well and leave no doubt against weaker opponents while playing at home. Also of note – Masai Ujiri sat down with the local broadcast crew of Marlowe and Hastings and gave a fantastic interview. He revealed that Chu Chu has cleared immigration and will come stateside to play in the D-League shortly. He also talked about building continuity after the Melo era and how badly he wants to maintain a winning culture for the foreseeable future.
  5. JFK 2 LAX: The Nuggets are still undefeated against the eastern conference. They are 8-0 and only play one eastern foe in the month of Febuary, a road contest against Indiana. The rest of the eastern conference schedule isn’t particularly brutal either. In mid-March they play at home versus Atlanta, Boston and Detroit; then on the road at Chicago, Orlando, Charlotte and Toronto. How long could they keep this streak going?

Game 19 Advanced Stats

Pace Factor: 90.6 – Slow for a home game, but no Ty Lawson
Offensive Efficiency:  105.9 – Not much to complain about. Free throws were key
Defensive Efficiency:  89.4 – A very good performance that might have been better without some really hot shooting from Bayless.

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Charlie Yao

Roundball Mining Company contributor
  • FinazzAus

    Harsh words about harrinton and 2K. Harrington wasNt good but he wasn’t a liabity for us on the court. He identified he wasn’t having a good shooting game and didn’t over shot the ball. Koufos was poor but didn’t see enought minutes to deserve an F, he didn’t box out on any boards which worries me but it a few minutes when the game is dead you can’t expect to see perfect ball being played.

    On other notes, I wasn’t happy with the starting line up in the second half coming out and playing lack luster basketball. It was a great time for them to really hammer home a big lead within the first 5mins of the second half and then get a rest and give the second and third tier players some good minutes and experience.

    I kind of enjoyed seeing how much gallo needs Ty in the game to be effective. I guess I wouldn’t have been happy if we had lost.

    One last thing. In times gone past the posts on this blog have been way to negative on a few players after a win or loss. A player isn’t going to have a good night every game and that is one of the good things about this deep team. No need to start calling for someone’s head for one bad night. Let’s just enjoy wins.

    • FinazzAus

      Sorry wasn’t trying to contradict myself there (but I guess I did) Just annoys me abit when ppl bag our players after a win.

    • Charlie

      Well said, and good points.

      Keep in mind the grades are done in a vacuum from game to game. It’s not a big deal if someone gets a D or F because it is only one game and that’s all we base it on.

      Harrington didn’t help at all, first half or second half. My main problem was the defense and lack of energy, he just looked tired to be honest. With Koufos, it was just a horrible decision to bring him in. It was not all his fault the game got out of hand but he did not leave a positive mark on the game. In fact it was quite the opposite.

      It’s just one game, there will be another one very soon and everyone will play again.

  • Ernie

    I thought the game changed when Maglore came in and just started pushing people and setting hard (somewhat moving) picks. Yes Maglore was fouling but for nothing was called, the Nuggets didn’t respond and the game got close. GK put K2 in to try to push back but I don’t think he got the message as he didn’t fight much either. It would be nice if K2 could be an enforcer that just won’t let the team take any crap. That would be worth $3M per year.

    Still it’s hard to have things go too well offensively without Ty. The team just gets so many more easy baskets. If he’s back Sunday the Clip game should be fun. If not I don’t know how they defend CP3.

  • Eddi0

    Great win (beatdown), we will see what the Nugs are all about in the next 19 games (almost every team is above .500 or near .500).

    The most compelling thing I saw today was that the Hornets are actively shopping Kaman. Kaman has been kryptonite to the Nugs over the years, always wished we had someone as big and physical as him. His contract is up at the end of the season so he could be a great short term answer at C this season (and probably will be a 8-12M/yr next season. Really like our team right now but he would bring some toughness that we often lack. He’s getting 14M this year but that would be pro-rated for the remainder of the season.

    Maybe a Miller/Bird package and maybe the hornets throw in Vasquez so we’d have a decent backup PG. Thoughts?

    • Brad H.

      Eddi0, why mess with this searing hot chemistry the Nugs have going right now? And, again, someone wanting to get rid of Miller . . . Ugh! Read my rants over the last few weeks about that disturbingly popular notion.

      • http://www.chazkemp.com Chaz

        Hey Brad – We absolutely don’t WANT to get rid of Miller, it’s just that he’s not happy here. He wants to start and he’s not going to as long as we have Ty.

        So it’s best if we can trade him for someone decent who DOES want to be here. I think that’s all anyone’s saying. You can bet that if he’s still on the team and we go to the Western Conference finals or beyond, he’ll change his tune and we’ll be happy to keep him here.

      • Ernie

        The comments lately are because of Miller’s defense. He couldn’t stop Bayless or Barbosa last night or Isaiah Thomas on Wednesday. Miller just can’t guard those quick small guards anymore. It’s why I think Sunday will be a long night if Ty can’t come back because CP3 will have a field day. My guess is Stone would be too awestruck to be effective this time around on him.

        • donwoe

          Andre will guard Billups and Afflalo will pick up CP3

      • Eddi0

        I’m with you Brad, their chemistry is great, but my logic for trading Miller is that he has been public that he wants to start and well, he’s not gonna start as a Nug (barring injury). I think it’s a matter of respect for Andre, he’s a seasoned vet and based off the way he’s played for us over the years we should let him find a “home” that works for him. We will likely lose him next season anyway and Bird, well, let’s just say that Bird has lost his wings. Hence my offer of Dre and Bird for Kaman/Vasquez.

        • Brad H.

          Eddi0′ read FinazzAus’s comments under #5 below. I agree with him about “trade talk” being so many guys’ quick fix solution to the Nugs weaknesses. First of all, trades are uber complicated; and second, trade talk is usually a lazy way to solve a team issue, like divorce usually is a lazy way to solve a marriage issue. A good coach can analyze his raw material that he has to work with (his players) and figure out how to utilize all the components effectively to achieve his goals (winning games). Save the trade discussions for a time when they are actually possible to be realized, not in the middle of a season when the chemistry of our favorite team has rarely looked so good. Props to GK for using average talent (including a discontent backup PG) to get the job done well so far — and I guarantee he’s not wasting his time talking trade right now . . . And my hunch is neither are Masai and Josh.

    • Kalen

      Guys, the thing about the Hornets is that they don’t want cap relief or over-the-hill players like Miller — they want young, up-and-coming players they can build around which the Nuggets really don’t have to offer. I might write a piece about this tomorrow because I too am intrigued by the idea of anybody “aggressively shopping” a starting center in the NBA, especially considering that’s the Nuggets weakest position on the floor right now.

  • Aaron

    I Wish We Would Make More Use Of Mozgov With That Seems Almost Perfect Mid Range Jump Shot, Like How Cleveland Use To Do With Illgoskus. If We Could Get Kamon Without Giving Up Mozgov That Would Fit In Perfect, it Would Let Mozgov Be Able To Hangout More Mid-Range And Knock Down That Nice Jumpshot While Kamon Rebounds And Makes A Presents Inside The Paint. Couple Thoughts About The Game Tonight. Watching Koufus Tonight, Didn’t Look Like He Deserves 3 Million A Year At All. Lawsonless Nuggets Aren’t As Good Offensively As I Thought Without Him, Still Looked Great But Now I’m Starting To Realize We REALLY Need To Work On His Contract, Once That Happens Then I Feel GREAT For Years To Come About These Great Looking Nuggets.
    All In All Tho.
    Great Win Again Tonight! 6 In A Row! Lets Make It 7 in A Row Against The OVERRATED Clippers At Home!

    GO NUGGETZ!!!

    • wordisbond

      Isn’t it annoying using SHIFT and capitalizing the first letter of every word? Seems kinda pointless, like wearing suspenders and a belt.

      • Ayo

        Seriously I never read whatever the hell it is that guy writes.

      • Brad H.

        :*]

  • Brad H.

    Away from Denver home base until Feb 12. Missing Altitude and my Sec 118 season tix at the Can. And my ancient IPad (ver 1) doesn’t like Flash Player, so no streaming video of Nugs highlights. Nuggets withdrawal bites! Fortunately there is an elixir to minimize my game-day jones for a Nuggie fix . . . That’s right . . . It’s right here at Roundball MC. Thank you, Jeremy, Charlie, and Kalen for enabling my Nug addiction, and to all you guys sounding off on this great blog.

    Haven’t seen last 2 games, but it looks like we’re simply takin care of bidness against teams whose asses we better be kickin if we hope to have any self respect. I’m still a little high on that East road sweep last week, one of the best road trips in Nuggets history.

    And a final little two-cents to you fellows who think there’s too much negativity on this blog: Clean off your homey-tinted glasses, and get some broader shoulders! This is not a Nuggie PC chat about. This is a Denver Nuggets forum where fans and non-fans alike should air out the good and bad (from their perspectve) about this town’s professional basketball team that has given us how many championships in 40 years? How many Championship appearances? How many WC Finals wins? WC Finals appearances? Longtime Nuggets fans know . . . Zero Championships, three WC Finals appearances in which we’re 0-3! GK teams in the last 8 hrs have teased us with some of the best regular season winning streaks in Nugs history, only to fall apart in the playoffs. A little negativity, pessimism, doubt, skepticism . . . These Nuggets deserve it from time to time. Fans here want good basketball that has the potential to result in an NBA world title, nothing less. Players and coaches alike should be given hell each game if they don’t give a championship effort, and a few accolades when they do. But only a few: at this level in these guys’ careers and given the money they make, they better lay it ALL out on the floor every single game they don a Denver Nuggets uniform.

    • FinazzAus

      In a 82 or 66 game season you are never going to win all of them. The minute we lose one game everyone’s thinks we should trade the player who proformed badly in that lost. Regardless of weather or not he won a game for us the night before.
      If someone is a true nuggets fan they should stick by our players not bag them every chance you get. yep they get a bucket load of money to play ball. And we would ALL jump at the chance to play ball for a living. But bottom line is we can’t do what they do on the court which is why they get paid so much. I like trades but only If it helps the team get better not because someone has a bad night. No player goes out on the court and try’s to play bad, not even miller, his still playing for a contact somewhere next year. Thank god our front office arnt a few blogger on this site.

      • Charlie

        FinazzAus, I realize we have differing opinions on this and I guess my explanation is I’m not concerned with being a “true fan” as much as I am about being objective.

      • Brad H.

        FinazzAus, I’m with you 100% about some guys’ moronic trade scenarios they come up with when one of the Nugs has an off night. These laughable comments come from well-meaning fans who I believe want their Nuggets to win, but have absolutely no clue what it means to coach, manage and BUILD a winning culture. Patience, wisdom, creativity and shrewdness are qualities that good coaches and front-office management need to build from in order to succeed. These are not qualities that the average fan blogger possesses; hence we blog and don’t coach, manage or own an NBA club. On the other hand, I greatly enjoy intelligent banter from lovers of basketball who know how to be objectively critical of players — this can be done well in a blog discussion without it being ignorant and stupid (although public forums, unfortunately, will always have that too). The virtues of good coaches and management that I mentioned above can also be practiced by fan bloggers, and it’s great when we read those kinds of posts.

    • Charlie

      Brad, I realize I come off as negative sometime and I always try to explain it’s bad defense that really gets to me. I share the same view as you about fair criticism and the fact I don’t pull any punches when someone has a bad game does not mean I hate them and want them run out of town for good.

      I’ve already eaten my words about Harrington once, and thanks to your arguments about Miller I’m starting to change my viewpoint about Denver being a good fit for him. I love a good debate and I’m all for discussing the team intelligently

      • FinazzAus

        Hay Charlie, I wasn’t pointing out you. I enjoy your informative articles and knowledge of the game and that goes the same with brad as well. I’m referring to others and not yourselfs. Most of the regulars on here are great and can have a good debate. Just annoys me when randoms jump in with crap. But as brad points out, public site so I should just suck it up and worry about stuff I can change.
        Love the site keep up the good work

    • Kalen

      Thanks Brad! We at RMC all greatly appreciate your comments and kind words. We’ll try and keep you as updated as possible while you’re “Nuggetless.”

  • Aaron

    Persistent negativity or pessimism, while it does “sell papers” . . .is no more “real” or “authentic” than persistent positivity.

  • Brent

    Small correction to point 5: Atlanta game in March is in Denver.

    • Brad H.

      Sorry Brent I meant I am away from home until Feb 12. Business trip in Tucson.

      • Trevor

        Selling tickets for the 29th Brad?

        • Brad H.

          Sorry, Trev, sold em on StubHub. Clips’ll be a nice test for us. CP is tough to match up with.

      • Hawkeye-X

        Wonder if Los Betos at Broadway and Craycroft are still there?

        I used to live in Tucson for a year, and needed my Nuggets fix – so bar hopping was what I did.

        (same for the Donks – that was in 2001)

    • Charlie

      Fixed. Thanks for catching my mistake

  • noah

    great to have fernandez back and playing so well. As for gallo, I personally liked his aggressiveness yesterday and I hope his poor shooting performance doesnt discourage him. I think 15-18 shots a game is perfect for gallo. Same goes for Nene in terms of aggresiveness. he looked good

  • Jeff

    Love the Gang Starr theme!!!

  • Desean

    Damn it’s gotta kill u kalen that dalermbert has 14 boards and 4 blocks in just 21 minutes against the Knicks and that has been no fluke lately either

    I dare say he his the missing piece to the puzzle….

    • Kalen

      Right!?! Dude is currently ranked as the sixth best player in the entire NBA in PER over the last two weeks and is well on pace to having the best year of his career. I know I continue to remind you guys, but I was lambasted for suggesting the Nuggets offer him a $6-8 million dollar contract this past summer (which he ultimately got). Obviously I had no idea the Nuggets would sign Nene, Afflalo AND Gallo, which means they’d be over the cap right now had Dalembert signed, but still, in my eyes that’s the one missing piece to the puzzle with this team. Paying the tax one year for a team that finishes top three in the West and has a chance to go to the Finals is something I’m pretty sure Kroenke might be willing to do.

  • wordisbond

    Charlie, mad props for working Gang Starr into your recap. The most underrated group in hip hop in my opinion. It woulda been dope if you used the header Mass Appeal for Rudy Fernandez’s night. Or Soliloquy of Chaos for Corey Brewer.

    • Charlie

      Mass Appeal is one of my favorite tracks, I was trying to figure out how to work it in but didn’t come up with anything last night. Good call on Brewer’s game too

      • wordisbond

        If a guy throws down some sicknasty jams, his header can be Above the Clouds. Or if a guy was on fire, Full Clip could be used. So many possibilities. The beauty of Gang Starr in action. I love Gang Starr.