Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109, Phoenix Suns 92

Phoenix Suns 92 FinalRecap | Box Score 109 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +3
As usual, Brewer was energetic early on and set the tone from the get-go. Though not his finest statistical performance, he was still decent, all things considered.
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -7
This was the first time Nuggets fans got an in-depth look at the “Manimal” and it was quite telling. Faried put up a solid stat line in 24 minutes and scored better than most probably imagined, however it wasn’t error free. Faried still needs to work on his positioning down low and must set better screens if he wants to ensure more playing time comes his way in the future.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | 0
Koufos is quietly playing some outstanding defense at the moment. The near double-double is to be expected, but swatting three shots and snagging a career-high five steals is some damn good icing on the cake. The Koufos vs. Mozgov debate will rage on, however after performances like these Koufos certainly adds fuel to the fire.
Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-7 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +16
This is now the third straight game that Afflalo has scored 20 or more points after not doing so the entire season. Before this mini-hot streak Afflalo looked lethargic, confused and out of place, yet suddenly he’s hit a switch that turned him into the player we all though he’d be coming into the season. Afflalo has looked great the last three games; let’s hope he keeps it up.
Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 6-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | +11
I though this was one of Lawson’s better performances of the year in a few ways. First, he shot extremely well from the field, only missing one attempt all night. Second, he really pushed the pace like George Karl often implores his team to do. This is a tougher task than it may appear on the surface, as it requires a lot of energy and hustle which only a few players really possess. Moving forward, Ty needs to make it his job to get the rest of the team playing at a frantic pace.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +24
Big Al has cooled drastically since starting off the season sizzling hot. His field goal percentage has dropped every month since the start of the season and in February he’s shooting a very poor .384 percent from the field as well as .257 from beyond the arc. Harrington should get back on track soon but it’s fair to question how much of a role fatigue may be playing at the moment.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 2 PTS | +17
Miller had a few nice passes but turned the ball over a team-high six times which virtually nullified any positive impact he made on the game. Though his assists remain relatively steady, most all other aspects of his game are extremely inconsistent — including his effort on defense.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | +17
This was Birdman’s best game of the year and probably one of the better of his career. He single-handedly sparked the turnaround that altered the game into a run-away rather than a barn-burner which is where it was heading. His six blocks were two shy of a career high as was his 16 points. This was a breakout performance in which he passed Antonio McDyess on the Nuggets all time blocks list and in the process might have secured more playing time down the road.

Rudy Fernandez, SG
20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +12
Fernandez had a solid outing by all accounts. He finally got his feet squared on his jump shot, which payed off in the form of some much-needed 3-pointers. He also had a few steals and played the way he should when coming off the bench (i.e., effectively and with lots of energy).

Julyan Stone, G
6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
In six minutes all Stone had was one block and two turnovers. Nice to see him playing defense, but really, six minutes isn’t enough time to analyze much.
Jordan Hamilton, G 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -5
Hamilton falls in the same boat as Stone: not enough time. He turned the ball over more than he should have and missed both shots he took, but again, what can you expect in six minutes?

Three Things We Saw

  1. Start Fast: For once the Nuggets came out of the game guns-a-blazin’ and it seemed as if it worked out in the end. Denver held its opponent to 21 in the first quarter points which was the least they’ve offered up since facing the Grizzlies on Jan. 31. The Nuggets must get better at coming into the game mentally prepared as giving up huge first quarters can, and often does, come back to bite you in the ass.
  2. Takin’ Care of Business: It’s that simple. The Nuggets have to win games like these. No way around it. In professional sports, every game counts, so when you have the opportunity to put a team away, you must capitalize. It’s good to see Denver finally back in the win column although Dallas will be a true test of where this teams stand more so than a Nashless Suns squad.
  3. Manimal Report: Though I already touched on Faried above, I’d just like to point out a few other elements of his game as I spent much of the night watching him closely. First, Faried is probably the most athletic guy on the roster now that J.R. has departed. His “bounce” is lightning fast. With more grooming, he could turn into one hell of a defensive force. But in order for this to happen, he needs playing time. Yes, Birdman played extremely well, but he’s also played extremely poorly in just as many minutes this year. Faried is young, hungry, talented, athletic and has the ability to grow into a solid rotational player if Karl just gives him a chance. We’ve already seen progress with Koufos; just imagine the type of growth we might see from Faried in that same amount of time. Lastly, in order to convince Karl that he deserves this valuable court time, he needs to set much better picks and rebound better. While he’s probably the best rebounder on the team already, that alone isn’t gonna cut it. He must be a tour-de-force on the glass and nothing less. As for his picks, they’re softer than toilet tissue. Being more assertive in this regard needs to become a priority of his.
  • Jeff D

    I was definitely impressed with Faried. I agree that he needs to develop a better court sense and basketball IQ, which needs to come from more playing time. But he could mature into a fantastic player. Albeit he’s done so in limited minutes he does lead the league in Rebound Rate!

  • nida

    I have been coming here lately to catch the rundown of every game. I appreciate it so much.

  • Charlie

    What I love about Faried is the simple fact he’s hitting the offensive boards consistently. You can make an argument this skill alone merits giving him regular minutes. It says a lot that he barely has his feet wet and is already getting close to double double production in limited minutes while still making rookie mistakes. I wholeheartedly agree with Kalen, developing this guy has to be a priority. He’s ready to help the Nuggets in their goal to win now.

  • Andrew

    These injuries are assisting Karl to look like a better coach than he is, because they force him to give Koufos, Faried, etc more playing time. The way those two along, and now AA, are playing, the Nuggets would be looking good for an extended playoff run…assuming Gallo, Nene and Moz come back strong.

    However, my biggest fear is that, come playoff time, Karl will go to a 7 or 8 player rotation, leave his favorites in long after they are cooked and cold and keep going back to the two PG and other lineups that do not work as well. That would pretty much negate the depth the Nuggets have, as well as the powerful play of some of these younger players, like K2 and Faried. Is anyone else worried about this? Need I ask. I look at the roster on this team and cannot help but think a Popovich or other great coach would be licking his chops at the thought of having this team.

  • bayesk

    totally agree

  • noah

    good win. now lets shift our focus to the mavs tomorrow night.

  • al68

    buena victoria. Respecto a Faried creo que se esta sobrevalorando, ayer mala situacion en la cancha mala defensa interior y exterior poca IQ, buana determinacion en ataque, unas stats mucho mejores que su juego. Muy bien afflalo y andersen.
    go nuggets.

  • Corey

    Just want to say thanks for this forum. I don’t get to see many games in NC, and this gives me a way better look at the game than anywhere else. Anyway, I too agree and hope George continues to use the youngsters. Their continued development will only make his job easier. Go Nuggs!

    • Aurress

      +1 from a Virginian.

      • Andrew

        +1 in DC.

        • Skyler

          +1 in L.A.

          • DH

            +1 in Vermont. Thanks, guys.

            • Kalen

              Thanks guys! We really appriciate it.

              • bosc0

                +1 from Australia :)

    • Erlingur Gretar

      +1 from the Icelandic tundra!

  • Thomas

    So, for Faried to play more he has to “convince Karl”…

    This is why we will be going nowhere once again come playoff time – instead of having a coach figure out what is best for the team come playoff time and for the next 2-3 years, some players have to somehow get into this Karl “favored-player” mode so that they crack the rotation.

    Either you are a player who is on Karl’s “man-crush” status (rudy immediately comes to mind), or things really have to hit the crapper in order for you to get PT.

    Then again, what can you expect from a coach who yesterday said:

    “Our next 10 games, if we go 5-5, I’ll be very happy”

    What kind of garbage coach talk is that? I guess players don’t need to make excuses if the coach does it for them BEFORE the games have been played! What a loser.

    • Kalen

      Yeah, that bugs the hell out of me. Even if you did believe that (which you shouldn’t if you’re a coach), why would you publically proclaim it? Having such low standards is a mortal sin in the coaching world and probably a big reason why the Nuggets never go anywhere in the Playoffs. I’ve been watching sports all my life and have never heard a coach talk the way Karl does.

      • LEEDS

        Karl is staing 5-5 to set the stage to make himself look good. Anything above 5-5 like 7-3 will make it look like he did a great coaching job. Karl is all about making excuses and setting low expections (even though the talent doesn’t merit it) so that he can look good later.

  • Ryan

    As great as Faried, Koufos, and Birdman played who gets those minutes once Nene and Mozgov returns. I would give the majority of the minutes to a four man rotation of Nene, Koufos, Faried, and a little Mozgov. Birdman shouldn’t be playing many minutes because he is just to inconsistent to win with.

  • Aurress

    Faried will be much better next year. Or at least that is my hope. GK has stated that the rookies are playing at a disadvantage because they didn’t get the extra “camp” time due to the lockout. So yes, we are seeing a very VERY RAW Manimal out there. Working with the assistant coaches & strength coach Steve Hess in the off-season, playing in the summer league… all these things will help Faried become a better Nugget (notice I said “Nugget” and not “Player”… he needs to get better in the Nugget System). We’ve all seen since the preseason how Faried has lacked in the fundamentals dept. He’s not great at setting the screen; after setting the screen he doesn’t really know what to do… does he get on the block & post up his man? He doesn’t have the range, so why would he pop out for a jumper? Does he crash for a rebound? But what if the ball handler gets doubled? All these things are still unclear to Faried in the NBA & in the Nuggets system. More playing time will definitely help this, but I’m gonna stick to my guns & say that a full off-season will be the best thing for Faried’s long term development.

    GK needs to take a “hot-hand” approach to Birdman & to some extent, all the bigs. Bird has shown that he is inconsistent & streaky this year. So you try to play him when he’s well rested, and if he’s showing up as Birdman, then you stay with him. If Chris Andersen shows up, then you play Faried or K2 or someone who is going to do the intangibles that Birdman normally brings to the court.

    If anything, I’d rather see Birdman get the first nod, and if he’s cold, then lets see what Faried can do. Other than height & age, they are virtually the same type of player; an energy guy that is going to do the dirty work: set screens, rebound, block shots, dive on loose balls. So I don’t see what the big problem is with going with either of the 2, whichever is playing well that particular night. I mean, the big problem seems to be the arbitrary PT that GK is handing out. The fans are struggling to see his rationale. BUT… that’s why he gets paid the big bucks & we are all on here just babbling as fans!

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      You are right about Birdman Aurress, I Tweeted the other day that he is the new Anthony Carter. If he has three or four days off he plays well, if not, he is of no value.

      • Andrew

        Haha. Great comparison to Carter. Bird on no rest is more like a grounded chicken.

  • steve

    just to update you all on wilson chandler…his team won the final game of season and their team made the playoffs. So most likely wont return till march. If his team would have lost, there was a chance they wouldnt have made it.

    • eddi0

      Sux

  • Erlingur Gretar

    Some great comments about Faried on here. I would just like to add that the guy is currently averaging 5.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg in only 13.2 mpg. The last 4 games he’s 7.5/7.5 in 19.3 (mostly meaningful) minutes per game, so he’s already showing that he can play for real in this league.
    Of course his fundamentals need development and he needs to learn the system, but if Faried is doing this well this early, we simply can’t afford not to develop him right away, and the only way to do that is to continue giving him meaningful minutes. I’m not saying 30 mpg, but continue giving him 15-20 minutes and he’ll be a force before this season ends, I am absolutely sure of that.

    • Charlie

      I actually think Faried might be better suited to coming off the bench. While it’s too tough to draw any conclusions about his ability based on the few games we’ve seen, he is perhaps the best finisher on the team. Andre Miller could use a mobile big to spring loose for lobs and weak side cuts. Miller is limited in what he can do with Al Harrington on the floor and Faried has shown if he gets the ball in decent position it’s pretty much a guaranteed dunk or 2 foul shots

  • Frontrange

    1) Brewer is emerging as key piece in the off-ball movement. Nuggets miss Gallo a lot bcs besides Ty, he raises the pace more than anyone else on the team – baseline to baseline. Recently, they have spent a lot of time standing at the 3 line even after penatration. The best off ball cutter on the team from the 3 line to basket is Brewer. Opposite of big Al and Miller who wait for the ball to come to them outside.

    2) If you haven’t coached, try it before you thrown karl under the bus for his rotations. It is really hard not to want to play the guys you know are your “best” players. Karl has given big minutes this year to young guys Kuofos and Mozgod. He is working in new players in Brewer and Rudy. Gallo and Ty are still learnings what they can do. That is alot going on. They are plenty of times I would do things differently, but until you sit on the bench and try to solve those problems (really at any level) it is surprisingly more difficult than it seems from the outside.

    • LEEDS

      Saying is you haven’t coached then you can criticize Karl for his coaching decision is naive and unfair. In that case, you Frontrange can never complain or criticize anything that you have done, for example, you can say a movie sucks since you never directored a movie. you can’t say this song sucks cause you never wrote one, you can’t complain about the economy since you are not a economist, you can’t complain about any president since you were never president…

      give me a break with these if you haven’t coach you can criticize comments

      • LEEDS

        *typo* directed a movie..iphone sucks

      • Frontrange

        Not saying you can’t criticize – go ahead. I hate the fact that the offense seems to rely on pick’n’roll or dribble perntration and there is no off ball movement. The Nugs don’t screen off ball nearly as effective as the Utah, and out-of-timeout plays are lacking compared to Boston and Orlando.

        Denver does some things well and some things poorly as team.

        My specific comment was on rotations . . which I think people assume is obvious and it’s not.

        I do have a degree in economics, but I happen to think commenting at that is a whole lot more BS than analyzing the Nuggets.

    • Joshua

      I agree with frontrange. It’s easy to sit at home on the couch and say “he should have done…”. Hindsight is always beneficial too. Saying what should’ve happened – after the game is over – and thinking you’re somehow more enlightened than someone who spends 10 times the amount of time watching and interacting with the players just makes you sound ignorant. Karl certainly makes mistakes, and while fans do not have to be a coach to criticize, it’s probably a good idea to consider there are an infinite amount of things that you are not privvy to at home on your recliner. I think Karl has a bunch of really good players deserving of minutes, but only X amount to dish out per game. There has been some difficulties with this, but he should get better as the season progresses.

  • evan

    Nuggets are back!