|Corey Brewer, SF 43 MIN | 4-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -3
Brew logged huge minutes in this one and kept himself useful by shooting less. He hasn’t found his touch from outside in the past two games but has been much more reliable on the defensive end. Zero turnovers is a positive development and he continues to do a good job using his length to disrupt the passing lanes.
|Kenneth Faried, F 36 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +6
Faried had the rebounding outburst many have long been expecting. He tallied 14 total boards and extended crucial possessions late in the game. The Manimal finally shined in big time minutes and made several game saving plays, most notably tying up Love for a jump ball in the closing seconds. Faired will put double doubles reliably when he becomes a part of the regular rotation.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -17
Mozgov had a forgettable game. His conditioning was an issue last night against the Thunder and he was laboring up and down the court from the opening tip. He didn’t really fight for position much and despite being on the wrong end of some terrible passes by Miller 4 turnovers in 11 minutes just can’t be afforded.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 44 MIN | 6-18 FG | 8-10 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +3
Afflalo was big, especially after he rolled an ankle and stayed in the game to battle through. The Nuggets are reliant on him to pour in points during this difficult stretch and he seems to be embracing the added responsibility. Arron is carrying the largest load in terms of everything he is asked to provide on a nightly basis. His shot selection is improving as is his willingness to step up in important moments.
|Ty Lawson, PG 17 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +2
Lawson was well on his way to turning around a a horrible start when he went down with another left ankle sprain in the second quarter. Ty did finish the half but was held out of the game following halftime. While he’s still struggling to execute the most basic of concepts on offense, Ty had the pace going in the Nuggets favor early. His loss will be costly if he’s out for the upcoming back-to-back and it was unfortunate to see him go down right as he started to get himself going.
|Al Harrington, PF 40 MIN | 14-29 FG | 0-5 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 31 PTS | +17
I’ll give Harrington credit, he took 29 shots en route to a season high 31 points and were it not for his early offense Denver might not have mustered enough energy to erase their big deficit. He was not badly exposed defensively save for an awful mistake against Kevin Love with the Nuggets up four and in position to close with 14 seconds remaining in the game. Not only did Harrington inexplicably foul but he gave Love a great look at the rim and was fortunate to avoid the and-one. Harrington also missed all of his free throws including two that could have prevented overtime, but Denver probably doesn’t even get there without his help.
|Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 0-8 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 12 AST | 5 PTS | +15
Miller had a perplexing game, carelessly turning the ball over early and getting himself ejected on a routine bad call after Lawson had already been lost with an ankle injury. He just was not there when the Nuggets needed him and didn’t have an excuse to get thrown out when he did (though it was a bad call and I understand why he was upset). Andre Miller is smarter than that and the Nuggets need better leadership out of him along with a bit more consistency.
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
I expected Koufos to log big minutes after Karl denied him well-deserved playing time in OKC. It didn’t happen thanks to breakout performances by Faried and Harrington, but Koufos still received a decent chunk of backup minutes and performed admirably. His production did take a serious hit and it’s hard to judge Koufos performance as I barely remember seeing him do anything in his limited time on the floor.
|Julyan Stone, G 18 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -3
Stone saw some really unexpected minutes as it initially seemed like Hamilton would be the beneficiary of Ty Lawson going down at halftime. Stone ultimately had to step in after Miller was ejected and his defense changed the game. Julyan still struggled pushing the ball in transition and controlling his dribble, but he made perhaps the most important play of the game by bothering Ridnour’s layup attempt just enough to prevent disaster. Stone’s versatility was also on display as he did a great job chasing Rubio around and switching onto Beasley a couple of times.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -8
He saw insignificant minutes, but they were not all that encouraging. Hamilton routinely lost his man on defense and was caught ball watching more often that you’d like. It’s too early to judge where Jordan might fit in but his defense on small forwards isn’t yet up to par and his overall awareness needs to improve. One thing I do love about Hamilton through is that he gets his shot off in a hurry unlike Afflalo for instance, who’s shooting motion is just painfully slow and drawn out.
Five Things We Saw
- Manimal to the rescue: Although Harrington deserves some credit for pumping out points when no one else could, Faried was the true savior of this game. I did not know what to expect seeing him go up against Kevin Love and he did a solid job taking him out of the game for the most part. Faried routinely outworked him and a slew of other Timberwolves underneath the basket. As I’ve said before, Faried is a big part of the Nuggets future but he’s ready to help the Nuggets win games right now. Faried will never be a great scorer and he will benefit from the Nuggets developing a more cohesive offense. His raw offensive talent simply isn’t a good enough excuse to keep him out of the rotation any longer.
- Tired Legs: This game was ugly. Neither team looked ready to play at the start of the game and both went through extended lulls of poor execution plagued by fatigue. The overtime period featured two tired out lineups barely capable of running a pick and roll. In the end it may have been the young legs of Faried and Stone that allowed the Nuggets to prevail.
- Find a way: It was not pretty, but Denver needed a win so badly it’s hard to fault anything about their performance After dropping three straight they met with Minnesota who had won three in a row. These teams looked to be headed in opposite directions and it would not have been surprising to see Lawson go down and the Nuggets give into their woes yet again. They did a great job willing themselves to win a game they honestly had to have considering how tough the next five games on the schedule are.
- Denver needs to play smarter: The Nuggets didn’t do anything right in their quest to close out the game in overtime. Harrington commits a bad foul with the Nuggets up four and the clock in their favor. Stone throws the ball away on a botched inbounds play at halfcourt where none of his teammates are in position to get back. Brewer opts to make a free throw with 0.5 seconds left giving the Timberwolves a chance to shoot. The Nuggets were once again burned by a defensive breakdown late that allowed Ridnour to get an uncontested shot attempt at the rim. What is most concerning is the fact I cannot remember a single instance this season in which the Nuggets created a quality shot at the end of a game. We need to see better execution in general but especially after timeouts in which the Nuggets are one play away from winning.
- Injury bug bites again: Although it didn’t seem serious, Lawson strained the same ankle that kept him out of a few games two weeks ago. Arron Afflalo also suffered a scare as he rolled an ankle but was able to finish the game. The Nuggets have two more games before the all star break where they get an entire week off and should be able to get healthy. It might be prudent to take the cautious approach and keep hurting players out of the next two games rather than risk this situation getting any worse.
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