|Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Nene went out early due to a calf injury, which HoopsWorld is reporting he’ll miss a few games because of, however till that point Nene was playing aggressive basketball and fairly good defense too.
|Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +9
Brewer was without question the star of the game. He had more energy than anybody on the floor and may have single-handedly won the game with his relentless poise. He was hustling for every lose ball, playing lock-down defense and even displayed a versatile attacking repertoire that he had yet to fully capitalize on for an entire game this season. Brewer was clearly playing inspired ball due to the unfortunate passing of his father and put on one of the more memorable performances, from an emotional standpoint, that I can ever remember seeing from a Denver Nugget.
|Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -1
A fairly overlooked aspect of Koufos’ game, to me, is his toughness. More than anyone on the team, Koufos comes to play on a nightly basis with attitude and pride which is often on full display when a scuffle breaks out or when an opponent attempts to show off. Koufos is always there first to stick up for his teammates and doesn’t back down from anybody. I thought this part of his game was evident against the Pacers even though he didn’t put up the most gaudy stat line.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 8-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 23 PTS | +4
Afflalo appears to have finally arrived. After not cracking the 20-point scoring mark all season, Afflalo has now done so in back-to-back contests. This is the Afflalo the Nuggets paid a hefty price to retain over the summer and one that needs to continue showing up if the Nuggets wish to make a strong push for the playoffs in the second half of the season.
Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 10-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 27 PTS | +3
Lawson was excellent against the Pacers. Though his assists were down, his points were up and in game the Nuggets desperately needed to win, he delivered exactly what the team needed most: points. His 27 tied a season-high from opening night against Dallas while his .588 field goal percentage was the highest he’s shot since the 25th of January.
|Al Harrington, PF 36 MIN | 4-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +4
Harrington’s .222 field goal percentage was the worst he’s shot all season, and was only compounded by the fact that it took 18 shots to get to that point. Still, Big Al was hustling and showing leadership during timeouts which cannot go unnoticed.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | -9
Miller’s stat line for 21 minutes was bad, but not near as bad as his on-court demeanor and effort on the defensive side of the ball. Through almost half the season Miller has been nothing short of a complete enigma. Some nights he’ll show up determined to make the best impact he can while other nights he’s the worst player on the court. Against the Pacers, he was the latter and it showed when he exited the game upon which the Nuggets immediately played inspired basketball.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +7
Fernandez was virtually nonexistent even though he saw a decent amount of minutes. This, typically isn’t good but since the Nuggets managed to scrape out a win, he can be somewhat forgiven, especially since he didn’t shoot the amount of ill-advised 3-pointers he has been lately.
|Kenneth Faried, F 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | 0
Faried didn’t receive ample playing time but didn’t necessarily impress in those minutes either. Though in nearly every game Faried looks confused offensively and finds himself removed from the action entirely, against the Pacers it was even worse than normal. But what made things worse was his lack of impact on the defensive side of the ball. Faried absolutely must be more aggressive on the glass if he wants to find himself on Karl’s “good side.”
Five Things We Saw
- The Born Identity: Aside from Koufos’ toughness, another aspect of the Nuggets that has gone largely unnoticed since this recent losing streak began is the lack of the fast-break offense. When the Nuggets were dominating early on, this was THE staple of the team: force turnovers and get out on the run. For whatever reason this has been totally absent lately, yet in the second quarter against the Pacers it suddenly reappeared and is a huge reason the Nuggets won it’s first game in the last six. If the Nuggets want to continue their winning ways, it would be wise to implement the fast break offense more often.
- Numbers Game: The Pacers out-dueled the Nuggets in many ways on Saturday night. They shot better, passed the ball better and blocked more shots, but in three crucial categories they were outperformed by the Nuggets. Those three areas: rebounding, turnovers and points. Think about it for a second. Points obviously matters most, but by rebounding and not turning the ball over the Nuggets didn’t beat themselves for once! These are the categories that winning teams dominate. Up to this point, the Nuggets haven’t done well in this area. Let’s hope this changes soon.
- Reversal of Fortunes: In a shocking development this season, after playing 28 games, the Nuggets have a better road record than they do home. If you had told me this would be the case before the season started I would have said you’re crazy. This is a good thing however, in that the Nuggets will surely be able to start playing better at home. The fact that they are winning and playing well on the road for the first time in years — that’s just icing on the cake once the team turns things around for good. To follow the emerging theme of this recap: Good teams, win on the road.
- Andre – 3000: Though I already touched on it before, more commenting is apt in this department. Right now, Andre Miller is starting to become a problem. He’s still got loads of talent, is one of the smarter guys on the floor and can score at will when he wants, yet for some reason Miller looks completely aloof and apathetic during crucial stretches of games. But above all else, his defense is beyond atrocious. There are times when he won’t even attempt to guard his man and instead waits to for the opportunity when he can let him pass by and therefore burden one of his teammates with task of guarding another guy. Though he’s still putting up respectable numbers, you have to wonder what exactly is going through his head at this point, and though you never like to overreact, you also have to wonder just how valuable Miller is to the team as currently constructed and how much he’d be worth on the open market. Considering his defense and the Nuggets still being the highest scoring team in the league, there’s a good chance Stone might be a better option moving forward the rest of the season.
- Full Salute: Once again, I’d just like to mention the incredible effort Corey Brewer put forth in his first game since returning from a leave of absence due to his father’s passing. Brewer could have easily (and rightfully) been unfocused and distracted by the overwhelming grief of his father’s death yet somehow bravely managed to remain the most dedicated, focused player on either team throughout the night. Brewer’s performance and overall situation at the moment go beyond basketball, yet he willed the Nuggets to one of the more important victories of the year. For this, Roundball Mining Company salutes you, Corey Brewer, for your unwavering valor in the face of life’s most difficult obstacles.
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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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