Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 91, Milwaukee Bucks 86

Milwaukee Bucks 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Denver Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, C
3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +4
In his first start of the season Koufos did not disappoint. He was named Altitude’s “Subway Sub of the Game” even though he started, which goes to show just how effective he was. After this performance it’s hard to see how Mozgov continues to log more minutes.
Danilo Gallinari, F
5-12 FG | 10-12 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +12
This was the second straight game that Gallo came through when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to step up. Though he’s still taking entirely way too many 3-pointers, he’s also driving to the basket more often and getting to the line where he converts a high percentage of his shots. Finally, after a slow start Gallo is beginning to show flashes of the player we all know he can be.
Timofey Mozgov, C
2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1
Mozgov once again looked slow, out of place and clumsy. After six games of regular season action he’s done nothing to prove he should be starting and by Koufos thoroughly outplaying him tonight, Karl should have a tough (or not so tough depending on how you look at it) decision on his hands regarding who to start on Wednesday against the Kings.
Arron Afflalo, SG
2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | 0
Afflalo has faced a tricky series of substitution patterns early on thanks to some very inconstant playing time, so his grade should be taken with a grain of salt. Why he didn’t log virtually any minutes in the second half until the final two minutes of the game was perplexing. Hopefully Karl finds a way to steady his on-court appearances so he can help the Nuggets win as he’s done throughout his career in Denver.
Ty Lawson, PG
7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 16 PTS | +9
Lawson was again solid tonight. Though he was on pace to score over 30 points in the early part of the first quarter he soon settled down, yet still had another efficient night shooting and turned the ball over only once. You can’t really ask for any more than that from your starting point guard.
Al Harrington, PF
7-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +1
Al flat out carried the Nuggets down the stretch. His energy was palpable and his defense on Andrew Bogut, supreme. Considering he’s coming off the bench, it’s hard to award him anything less than a solid “A.”
Andre Miller, PG
3-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Miller too had another savvy outing. Though his shot wasn’t falling, he came through when the Nuggets needed it most. One area where Miller still needs to work on is pushing the pace.
Chris Andersen, C
0-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -14
Andersen was fairly unspectacular this evening. Granted, he only saw 15 minutes of playing time, but he didn’t make the most out it like he’s capable of doing. Koufos was clearly the better big man tonight.
Corey Brewer, SG
3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Brewer made a few bad decisions but that’s to be expected in his first game while receiving a heavy dosage of minutes. Otherwise, he was an instant spark plug off the bench and played some excellent defense on a variety of different Bucks players which led to a game-changing block near the end of the fourth quarter. Hopefully Brewer can find more time in the future, especially with Fernandez struggling.
Rudy Fernandez, SG
1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Fernandez disappointed yet again. Though he shot .333 percent from beyond the arc — which isn’t bad — he still made himself a one dimensional player throughout much of the contest by not incorporating himself into the flow of the offense and simply parking outside the 3-point line waiting for the ball. This kid is so talented and so much better than he’s showing at the moment. Let’s just hope he finds a way to turn it around before Karl permanently places him on the bench.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets vs. Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C
4-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -1
It was a little funny seeing him stare down his teammates and almost scream out for help whenever Bynum or Pau made a move on him. Nene was solid but not much of a factor in the win to be honest. The Lakers bigs easily pushed him around down low while he continues to put up poor rebounding performances. As I said before, the move to power forward is not paying off for Nene and I am confused why he had to throw such a fit about playing center – where he is better.
Danilo Gallinari, F
7-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +11
The Rooster still can’t find his touch from distance, but he did shoot 6-9 on non 3-point attempts. Gallo also recorded five steals and was a key factor in the fourth quarter run that sealed the victory. It wasn’t a perfect game from Gallinari, but he played his best when it mattered.
Timofey Mozgov, C
0-0 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -14
Mozgov racked up five fouls in 13 minutes and clearly let the officiating get into his head. He spent most of the night trying to get a call and once again struggled denying Bynum position. Timo showed a few flashes defensively but he needs to learn to fight for position and contribute on the glass like a starting center should.
Arron Afflalo, SG
2-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -10
He’s contributing defensively like you’d expect, but it’s been a rough road getting Afflalo involved on the offensive end. He looks tentative, dribbles too much and jumps away from contact rather than finishing through it. The Nuggets need to get him some shots and work him into the offense more.
Ty Lawson, PG
5-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 17 PTS | +18
Everything was there for Lawson tonight. The Nuggets came alive with him on the floor and were consistently able to speed up the game and run on the tired Lakers. He scored, he got 10 assists despite poor shooting from teammates and his defense was the key to the fourth quarter run that sealed the win. His presence makes Andre Miller extraneous late in games and the Nuggets need the ball in their best player’s hands every big possession.
Al Harrington, PF
3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +15
Once again, Harrington was all the Nuggets had going the first half of this game. As I tweeted earlier things could be looking grim if Al were to cool off before the offense got itself sorted. Luckily, Ty Lawson stepped up in the second half and Al Buckets wasn’t asked to carry the Nuggets again. Harrington continues to contribute in all areas of the game and grabbed a team-high 11 boards. I would have liked to see more Afflalo in the fourth quarter but you can’t deny Harrington is playing well right now.
Chris Andersen, C
5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +17
After playing a combined 12 minutes in the past two contests, Birdman bounced back with his best game of the season. His conditioning and leaping ability still aren’t there, but he continues to give a better effort on the floor and finally saw some results. His defense remains wildly inconsistent, but Bird was solid tonight. He scored with efficiency, rebounded well and recorded his first blocked shot of the season.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Rebounding matters. For the first time in two games the Nuggets hold up their end on the boards and match their opponent’s total. They continue to struggle on the offensive glass, grabbing only five despite missing 38 shots.
  2. Pace is the key to victory. The Nuggets were only able to pull away thanks to Ty Lawson pushing the tempo. The half-court offense remains a mess and unless they want to play Lawson 40-plus minutes a night, the Nuggets must get better in the half-court game.
  3. Getting to the line equals wins. It’s as simple as that. The shooting struggles continue yet Denver stayed alive by attacking the Lakers big men and forcing the issue at the rim. Thirty seven free throw attempts is a season high and the Nuggets made a respectable 31 of them.
  4. The bench is missing something. As much as I hate the constant dwelling on the departure of JR Smith, the Nuggets are missing his explosiveness and energy off the bench. The offense is bogged down and slow with Andre Miller. Rudy Fernandez is little more than a passer and spot up shooter. The Nuggets couldn’t take advantage of Kobe resting and part of what kept them in the game is the fact the Lakers lack bench scoring as well.
  5. The defense is promising. Kobe had an off night shooting the ball, but the Lakers as a team shot less than 40 percent. This was a rare feat for past Nuggets teams and they have shown an ability to compete in low scoring affairs. The Nuggets continue to communicate and improve their team defense despite foul trouble. Strangely, their offense is letting them down in their 2 losses.

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