|Corey Brewer, SF 35 MIN | 3-15 FG | 3-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -4
Brewer certainly wasn’t as effective as he has been coming off the bench, and he continues to struggle with his shot, but seven boards, four assists and five steals are smart, hustle numbers no matter how you look at it.
|Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +1
Faried once again played solid, although his three rebounds in 21 minutes are tough to swallow. It’s odd; the last few games Faried has actually played much better on the offensive side of the ball than on defense — his specialty in college. It’s nice seeing the “Manimal” show the ability to score, although at this juncture his rebounding and defense are needed more.
|Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -14
Koufos continues to impress. In only 26 minutes he set a new career high in rebounds, at 14, and was one of the few Nuggets who actually came to play. His toughness, passion and defense are more than admirable, while his gradual improvement only corroborates his case for being a steady rotational player. At this point, you could argue Koufos is the best big outside of Nene on the Nuggets roster.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 25 MIN | 0-6 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -33
After scoring 20 points in three straight games Afflalo reverted back to the player he has been most of the year and laid an egg; however, being that most of the entire team did so as well, this performance can be somewhat forgiven. It’s going to be interesting seeing how Afflalo bounces back from this outing. Does he kick into overdrive and score in the upper teens like he’s capable of doing, or does he turn in another stinker? Stay tuned.
|Ty Lawson, PG 28 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -15
All in all, this was probably one of Ty’s more disappointing efforts of the year. Before you chastise him too much though, keep in mind he was coming off 17 and 27-point performances the two games prior (which were both wins), and was met by a furious Mavericks’ interior defense every time he attempted to drive. Dallas really did a fine job of taking away the Nuggets penetration offense, which is essentially — Ty Lawson.
|Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -23
Harrington’s struggles continue. After leading the league in two-point shooting percentage through the early part of the year, Harrington has now shot over .500 percent in just one game this month. His overall field goal percentage has dipped nearly 10 percent in that time. All that said, Big Al has embraced the leadership role of a young Nuggets squad and is one of the few members of the roster who actually plays with a sense of pride on a nightly basis.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -9
Twenty one minutes, zero points and two steals — what more can you say? About the only signs of life Miller showed against the Mavericks was when he angrily tossed the ball to a ref after not receiving a foul call while attempting to drive to the basket. Though his minutes did come in garbage time, it’s at least worth noting that Stone looked worlds better than Miller, especially on defense.
|Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Birdman didn’t crack the rotation till later in the game but once he did, he gave his full effort on both ends of the floor. His turnovers were down and his boards were up, but most importantly, he followed up one great performance with another solid outing. Right now, consistency should be Andersen’s biggest goal.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -11
Fernandez looked as if he wanted to prove something to his former team near the start of the game, and succeeded in doing so. He hit multiple 3-pointers and even a few tough jump-shots, but the luster slowly faded and eventually Fernandez was rendered just as useless as most every other Nugget.
|Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +10
Stone deserves a good grade because he truly made the most out of the time he was given and played the best defense of anybody on the Nuggets roster. George Karl should consider sitting down his entire team and forcing them to watch Stone’s lateral defensive movement as it’s quite remarkable and hands down better than anyone on the team. Furthermore, Stone’s penetration followed by his pinpoint passes is exactly the type of offense Karl urges his team to implement, which shows Stone is listening. Should Andre Miller find himself either traded or injured, Nuggets fans can rest assured knowing Stone would be able to fill in just fine… if not better.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 9 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12
In some truly extended minutes Hamilton finally gave Nuggets fans their first glimpse into the type of player he can be, which is an offensive scoring machine (note: “machine” used lightly in this instance). In nine minutes “J-Ham” took eight shots and made four them. His drives to the basket were a bit ill-advised and his defense was inconsistent, but there was no denying the skill Hamilton possess on the offensive side of the ball. It would be extremely interesting seeing how he fares in the heat of a close game.
Update:12:06 AM February 16, 2012 by Jeremy – I cannot let that effort go by without a comment or two. Like Kalen I am baffled by the lack of any kind of efforts by the coaching staff to shake things up when the team so clearly needed a good slap in the face. The offense was completely stagnant all night. It was a pick and roll on one side of the floor while three players stood stationary on the weak side. When the pick and roll failed thanks to the lack of any significant contact by the big man setting the screen, the ball was reversed and someone dribbled until they could get off a long jumper. It is baffling to me how that was tolerated the entire game. Every once in a while Fernandez was run off a double screen, to shake things up, but then they were right back to what I am going to start calling “the best seats in the house offense.”
I am constantly reminded of a coach like Greg Popovich who demands excellence out of whoever is on the court. The fact is, when the Spurs are missing a star, or stars, they execute even more flawlessly because the players know the execution is their salvation. There was a game against the very same Mavericks a month or so ago where Popovich benched Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. The remainder of the team fought back and forced overtime. Pop could have relented and allowed Duncan and Parker back in the game, but he did not. He did what he thought was right even though it might have cost the Spurs a victory.
Karl has just as much job security as Popovich so he should not fear making decisions like that. Instead he plays like an ultraconservative football coach content to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter despite the fact they are down 21 points. The Nuggets are allowed to continue to make the same mistakes over and over for 48 minutes with no significant attempt from Karl to right the ship. I realize every coach has their own style, but a coach that does not demand accountability from his players is nothing but a figurehead.
The game was lost before it even began because of the attitude the team inherited from the coaches.
The team is living with a wait-until-we-are-healthy-again attitude, but there is no guarantee that they will ever be healthy. What happens if Gallo gets injured again? What if Nene continues to be hampered by calf issues? What if Lawson goes down? I am not saying they should win every game, but the philosophy that it is OK to give certain games away is unacceptable. The mindset that everything be OK because things will get better is a festering boil on the organization and it must be dealt with.
There is no leadership coming from the bench, nor is there any on the court.
I continue to expect this team to make the playoffs, but for the first time, I have my doubts. If they can return to full health, sure things will be fine. They will run off a nice long winning streak and get back into the top of the West. However, if anything goes wrong, Lord have mercy because this team is not mentally strong enough to deal with the ramifications.