|Nene, C 33 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -16
It’s tough to put a lot of blame on Nene for what transpired tonight, especially because he’s carried the Nuggets throughout the last two games. While Nene’s production trailed off it’s hard to ignore just how badly he was outplayed by Marc Gasol. Although Nene had a decent individual performance, he took a grand total of three second half shots and disappeared late when the Nuggets sorely needed him to step up
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 1-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +2
Did not show up to play. It’s a simple as that. Hardly worth mentioning anything he did because it was just a bunch of terrible jumpers. Gallo found himself benched for most of the fourth quarter and entire overtime (for the second time this season).
|Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -8
Five fouls in 10 minutes is too much. He started off on Speights instead of Gasol so it’s actually hard to even credit his defense on the Memphis bigs. While he was more physical in terms of defending the rim and blocking shots, he just looked lost and couldn’t stay on the court long enough to help. The turnovers need to stop at some point too.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -9
He’s regressed big time. Afflalo was one of the best role players in the game last season and he’s currently lost with no idea what his role should be. The shots he is taking are indefensible. Fadeaways with 20 on the clock and contested turnaround jumpers over Rudy Gay? Welcome to this year’s Arron Afflalo. He’s hardly looking for his three point shot anymore which makes spacing a big issue too. More importantly, he just isn’t having the sort of positive impact on defense we’ve all been accustomed to.
|Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -11
There was a stretch in the third quarter Lawson came alive and looked poised to take over the game. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long as Lawson spent most of his time struggling to find a rhythm after missing nearly three games with an ankle injury. The turnovers keep piling up and although his threes started falling, Lawson looked tentative going to the rim. He lacked his usual bursts of speed off the dribble and let’s hope he continues to work himself back into form for the upcoming stretch of three games in a row.
|Al Harrington, PF 38 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | +3
The Nuggets can’t waste a game like this from Al Harrington. He was outmuscled and outmatched on defense and still managed a double-double with 24 points off the bench. Harrington’s primary role is to score and he delivered. Buckets nearly made what could have been the play of the game by almost taking a charge on Memphis final possession of regulation that ended up tying it. Harrington badly wanted to win this game and it has to be disappointing seeing his teammates lacking the same resolve.
|Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
It’s a tough grade to give Miller, because he really played pretty well. Except of course for the most crucial moments where he made a ton of uncharacteristic mistakes as the Nuggets melted. Missed free throws, untimely turnovers and just flat out bad decision making. It might be a little unfair to say this, but if he just makes one less bad play the Nuggets win – and he certainly had every single opportunity down the stretch.
|Chris Andersen, C 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +6
Birdman gets an incomplete. At some point this has to stop — either give him a role or take him out of the rotation. Although I was disappointed in Birdman’s defense, it’s not fair to expect him to play well under these conditions. George Karl needs to show some faith in him or just put him behind Koufos in the rotation. This can’t continue.
|Corey Brewer, SF 13 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
A little too high? I really don’t think so — Brewer was a part of the big runs that gave the Nuggets every opportunity to close out this game. He outplayed both Afflalo and Fernandez. Although he was in for defensive purposes late, it was disappointing to see him have such a good game and be off the court for the most important stretches of play. Brewer’s body of work is starting to suggest he should be seeing close to 20 minutes every night.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Rudy was the only Nugget to go scoreless and clearly didn’t have it tonight. Although he’s coming off two solid scoring performances his defense has been incredibly erratic and unreliable. Combine this with turnovers and he just had a pretty disastrous overall game.
|Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +6
Koufos played only a few minutes in the second half due to Mozgov getting in foul trouble. Although he played nine minutes, one rebound is the only evidence he isn’t actually the invisible man. Although the stats are lacking, Koufos played respectable defense and I was impressed with his hustle in the limited minutes he received. I wouldn’t mind seeing Koufos get regular minutes as the first big off the bench as he’s had his moments and a little confidence might go a long way into making Koufos a more reliable option.
Five Things We Saw
- Second Half Struggle: Denver had turned the ball over 14 times and still led by 12 at halftime. It was clear Memphis was in a funk and the game was there for the taking. From the start of the third quarter onward the Nuggets were awful, the most problematic areas being defense and rebounding. After dominating the boards early Memphis ended up winning the rebounding battle 48 to 42. The Nuggets started fouling like crazy and Karl was forced to get Mozgov and Lawson out early. It’s clear he had no idea what to do with the rotation as Denver’s defense never improved. The Grizzlies dominated the second half in every way imaginable. Outside of Harrington’s hot shooting it’s hard to give the Nuggets credit for anything.
- Miller fatigued: Andre Miller was on his way to a very good game and he was actually the key guy getting Denver out in transition early. All that running the floor definitely caught up with him late. Karl refused to give him a rest in the fourth quarter or overtime and Miller’s legs starting giving out. His shot was flat, causing him to miss a couple of free throws and misfire a line drive jumper at the end of regulation. I don’t fault Andre’s effort in this game and it’s possible he just ran out of gas in the final minutes.
- What’s Eating AAA?: I don’t have an answer for this one. I literally can’t believe some of the shots Arron is attempting this season. As I mentioned above he’s not spacing the floor for Lawson and Gallo as his three point shot is no longer the staple of Denver’s offense it once was. Furthermore Afflalo isn’t even looking to come off screens and get his midrange game going. Afflalo has lived off of quality shot opportunities where his teammates did a lot of the work. Now he’s simply trying to do too much off the dribble and he’s not even looking for teammates to help him out. This is the last thing I expected out of Arron Afflalo.
- Crunch Time Woes: The Nuggets gave up a game tying dunk in the final seconds of regulation. In the previous game against the Clippers they gave up what should been an and-one layup by Chris Paul. In the Philadelphia 76ers game Gallo and Lawson miscommunicate on a switch and give up the game tying layup to Jrue Holiday. Denver can’t beat anybody with this defense. Part of the problem is the lineups are completely different in each situation and there is no continuity with anyone on the floor at the end of games. Guys aren’t sure if they are switching, trapping the ball handler or whether or not they are supposed to double. The result has been wide open layups in crucial situations down the stretch. As much as people want to dwell on the fact Denver has no “closer” to make shots at the end of games, they could have been winning all of these had it not been for complete breakdowns on defense.
- Man in the Middle: The Nuggets need to address their issues at center. The timeshare between Koufos and Birdman has turned both into inconsistent non-contributors thanks to the fact neither of them are trusted with meaningful minutes. At this point I would go with Koufos getting 10-15 minutes a night and Birdman being relegated to the third big off the bench. On nights like tonight where Mozgov is ineffective and hampered with foul trouble, a backup Center would have been incredibly useful. Instead George Karl clearly had no idea what to do and ended up with two incomplete performances by guys who aren’t even getting a fair shot in terms of contributing. It’s time for Karl to make a decision.
Game 21 Advanced Stats
Pace Factor: 104.1 – Good pace, but the game going to OT was a factor
Offensive Efficiency: 93.1 – Awful, the bench did most of the work as starters struggled
Defensive Efficiency: 96.0 – Memphis couldn’t shoot for well over half the game yet nearly manage their average (97.8)