Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99 San Antonio Spurs 114

San Antonio Spurs 114 Final

Recap
| Box Score
99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 9-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | -18
It’s really tough to rely on Brewer’s offense, but his constant energy and enthusiasm sure is fun to watch. Brewer was having a pretty poor start to his night before exploding in the fourth quarter where he scored 12 of his 23 points. In an interesting development Brewer guarded Tony Parker with Andre Miller off the floor and was able to pressure him. Brewer’s being asked to fill too big of a role with all of the injury problems and his all effort deserves praise.
Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -18
He was benched for Al Harrington yet again, but Faried proved he is indeed still a rookie and struggled to keep the fundamentally sound Spurs off the boards. The “Manimal” has been expanding his game and showing flashes of offensive talent but needs to be more consistent on the rebounding front to solidify his place in the rotation. Games like these will happen for the inexperienced Faried and while he struggled to be effective you never once had to question his effort and his ongoing drive to improve.
Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -1
Mozgov was playing solid ball before getting injured against the Lakers and he’s really struggled to get back into form since returning. He once again started poorly, showing his penchant for fouling and turning the ball over too much. Mozgov did play better as the game wore on, but was generally dominated by the Spurs front line and it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s largely ineffective in his minutes right now.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 7-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 20 PTS | -17
Miller is more reliable as a starter than a reserve, so his impressive stat line doesn’t come as huge surprise. What the numbers don’t tell you is that Miller held the ball a lot and struggled to create decent opportunities as Denver fell behind by as much as 28 points with him directing the offense. Staying in front of Tony Parker also proved to be a nightmare for the slow-footed Miller, who tallied four fouls in 27 ineffective minutes.
Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -8
Afflalo is banged up, clearly feeling the effects of nagging injuries and being asked to assume a big-minute, high-responsibility role as the Nuggets battle through numerous injuries. Despite Arron tweaking another muscle and struggling with fatigue he battled through a 39-minute night the best he could and came within one point of another 20 point performance — which would have been his seventh in the past nine games.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Eight points on 10 shots and another tough performance to grade. While Big Al has continued putting up numbers in this injury-riddled stretch, the team is getting killed on defense as the ball movement on offense grinds to a halt. Harrington hasn’t missed a game yet and is clearly exhausted, but as a veteran leader he needs to focus on defending and getting the Nuggets offense back to their high-efficiency ways.
Chris Andersen, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
It wasn’t totally clear why Birdman entered the game, but he didn’t do anything of note outside of blocking two shots and badly missing a baseline jumper. Birdman could have come out with better energy, but he didn’t get much of a chance and was not in the game long enough to have an impact either way. It’s another example of why the Nuggets are struggling to keep Birdman involved considering they have no idea what to expect when he’s inserted into a game.
Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Koufos played very few minutes until the game was well out of hand, but he was part of a unit that sparked a second half run and showed life for the first time all night. He grabbed three offensive boards and was clearly more effective than most of the other Nuggets bigs, most notably Harrington and Mozgov. On nights like tonight you’d like to see him get rewarded and show what he can do in a big minute role.
Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | +2
When Stone becomes more of a threat to score the ball his game will really start opening up. Right now it’s clear he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his scoring ability and he gets out of control trying to attack and do too much. Defensively, Stone’s play was top-notch and sparked a run where the Nuggets actually put up some resistance to Tony Parker and threatened to get back in the game. Stone is a rookie who needs work, but he brings great energy and in terms of overall point guard play I believe he thoroughly outplayed Andre Miller despite not being able to score.
Jordan Hamilton, G 27 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Rough night for Hamilton, who took some bad shots early and showed where he still has a lot of room to grow in terms of figuring out how to best use his array of offensive moves. Jordan was hesitant tonight and often caught in between trying to drive or shoot. Although Hamilton was a dud in the scoring department, he grabbed nine boards and showed off his versatility as a big guard who can compete on the glass. Ultimately Hamilton’s role is to score and while he needs to be more aggressive and decisive with his offense, Jordan showed there’s more to his game than just shooting.

Four Things We Saw

  1. The Will to Win: With four key players out, it’s hard to give the Nuggets a great chance to win this one but they again came out flat and emotionless at home. Karl did call a few timeouts and went to his bench early but couldn’t find any answers. The Spurs cruised to a victory and although the Nuggets were shorthanded and played last night, they barely competed for over half the night and did not look hungry or desperate enough for a win.
  2. Contrasting Styles: The Spurs have one of the most efficient offenses in the league without the benefit of constantly trying to run out in transition. They utilize screens better than any team in the league and Tony Parker dissected the Nuggets defense with basic pick and roll action. At times the Nuggets did a decent job keeping Parker out of the middle but San Antonio’s spacing was so good they often made the easy pass and found open perimeter shots. On the other hand, the Nuggets stand-still offense remains a complete mess. Andre Miller often failed to get a single pick and roll going as the Nuggets stood around waiting for him to stop dribbling in place. The bigs need to set better screens but there needs to be a more sincere effort towards getting into offensive sets earlier. The responsibility falls on the coaches and the primary ballhandlers — in this case Andre Miller and Al Harrington.
  3. The Young and the Restless: It’s hard to ignore just how much better the defense was with Stone, Afflalo, and Brewer manning the wings. The Nuggets were long and athletic, getting hands into the passing lanes and in turn getting stops and transition opportunities. With Andre Miller in the game, the Nuggets were stuck in the mud as the Spurs controlled tempo with ease and cruised to a lead that grew as big as 28 points. When you consider the fact Miller had one of his best statistical games and the Nuggets still looked dead with him running the offense, I’m starting to question whether he’s truly the best fit for this team going forward.
  4. Dejuan Blair: I would be remiss not to mention Blair’s 28-point career night in which he singlehandedly dismantled the Nuggets front court. The truth is this is something to be expected when the Nuggets play. I have no answer for it other than Blair simply played with a load more effort than anyone in a Nuggets jersey. Many of his baskets came off of hustle plays and there did not seem to be any in-game adjustments made to force him out of the paint. The problem is indicative of the larger defensive meltdown taking place and I’m not sure there is any hope of things getting better until Nene and Gallo return from injury.
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Charlie Yao

Contributor at Roundball Mining Company since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • Fong

    I’m tired of these loses. I know they have a lot of injuries but play at least .500 ball. How is a team that is supposed to be deep on the bench play like they have no starters at all playing? This roster play too soft. Nene and Affallo were overpaid.

    • steve

      i dont know about you but AA has showed why he is getting paid close to 8 mill per with his play lately. He’s the main reason why we havent been blown out on every occassion.

      • Fong

        AA just got his game going. He suffered for staying away from the game to get his contract this off season. He’s not playing as well as he should.

  • Irritated Fan

    Figure out a way to trade Andre and bird, GK needs to change his offensive/defensive philosophies, or step down. No one wants to watch crappy hot n cold offense, or a defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese. Anytime we had any momentum, spurs hit a 3 or an and one.
    Lawson-stone
    Afflalo-Hamilton
    Gallo-brewer/(chandler hopefully)
    Faried-Harrington/nene
    Nene-moz or koufos
    We have way too many average players that can be good but don’t have consistent playing time, they can play 7 minute one night, 32 the next, than 0. Perfect time for the all star break, and since we have no all stars, theres plenty of time to do work.

    • Cody

      Faried over nene? stupid

      • Irritated Fan

        Notice below that it says nene as a starting center
        Learn to read Cody, if you cant people will think your stupid

        • Desean

          Nice

        • Corey

          If you keep misusing words I will think you’re stupid

          • Irritated Fan

            SORRY guys, the nuggets constant losing makes me become angry and stupid.

  • james

    Stone looked good tonight, I think he should probably be the #2 PG over Miller. He plays hard.

  • Ryan

    I remember hoping the Nuggets would draft Dejuan Blair with their second round pick back in ’09, since they needed help with rebounding. Instead they drafted Sergio Llull and sold his rights to Houston… never quite understood that move

    • Joe

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I was so excited when he fell and saw that we had a chance to get him. Still have no idea why we didn’t

      • LEEDS

        They sold those rights so that they could come up with the money to pay Bird…they got 3 million for that pick which opened up cap space as well to sign Bird…

        • Ryan

          Yeah, I understand why they resigned Bird (fan favorite), but I didn’t agree with the length of the contract. Someone who plays the way he does is prone to injuries and doesn’t usually play at a high level for too long. I worried back then about the whole Bird contract playing out the way it has

    • NuggFan forLife

      I agree with you Ryan. It would have been a great thing but with George as the coach, Blair would become useless in Denver. That time, Lawson was a rookie, but he became better only because of Billups and not Karl. Blair does not have a Duncan-like mentor to teach him. Blair became a great player in San Antonio because his coach has trust in his rookies. Any team frustrations we are having, it at most goes on the coach.

      • Ryan

        Agreed, Faried is essentially a more skilled version of Blair and, until a rash of injuries happened, he just rotted on the bench

    • Corey

      Bad memories. But that brings us to the main problem with this team – talent evaluation. Case one residing Nene. The perpetual lazy ballplayer. They need to find players in the draft and hire a coach who will actually help develop the talent. GK is notoriously a rookie hater. This team won’t compete in the NW with what they have. So, Kroenke needs to bring in a good GM and a patient coach, trade Nene for a pick, and draft a bunch of shooters.

  • al68

    La imagen es muy mala desde que se lesiono Gallo.
    Para mi lo peor la pésima defensa, la falta de interes.
    Como se puede poner una A para brewer que solo mete puntos cuando es un correcalles el partido.
    CUANDO UN EQUIPO NO TIENE CALIDAD COMO ES AHORA DENVER HAY QUE DEFENDER MUCHO MAS.

    Si conseguimos recuperar a Gallo Nene y Lawson podriamos entrar en PO y como dije ayer la diferencia entre los equipos es muy pequeña y podriamos hacer algo grande, pero para eso necesitamos tener a todos los jugadores y a GK.

  • NuggFan forLife

    There has to be something with the Nuggets against the Spurs. Against San Antonio, this has been their 4TH BLOWOUT DEFEAT IN the last 5 HOME LOSSES!!!! George Karl needs to be fired, he doesn’t have the want to discipline the players about giving their spirit. Every time we take on the Spurs at home, we usually get blown out, as if the Pepsi Center is the Spurs’ homecourt. We need a coach who emphasizes toughness, spirit, and of course, DEFENSE!!!!!!

    • BDMacl

      I agree with the sentiments of NuggFan forLife, and have always wondered why the Spurs appear to always get home court advantage when they play here. Case in point. I was on the floor, not twenty fee from Mozgov on his first “foul.” He clearly touched the ball, dead center, almost equal distance from either of Timmies hands, yet it was an instant foul. How many other calls do you see go the Spurs way, and yet that same call doesn’t get called for our team, even at our arena. But despite the ridiculous nature of the the NBA refs., I also agree that our team’s woes go right back at GK. My wife, from Colombia, who only recently became an NBA and rabid Nuggets fan, has already recognized GK’s shortcomings compared to other coaches like Pop. If she can figure this out so quickly, why can’t the Nuggs mgmt? I too fear that we will never experience the full potential of this team until we get a better coach. Any hope of enticing zen master Phil out of retirement with the allure of developing a championship team without the typical star power he has had before.

    • Dubz

      Gregg Popovich is in a different league than George Karl all together. Popovich is a CHAMPIONSHIP winning coach who uses COMMON SENSE and HALF COURT SETS to win games. George Karl believes that the bigger the deficit, the small the lineups should be. Oh, and iso’s is the only play this team runs in crunch time. Popovich could field a women’s basketball team and beat Karl with team USA. End of story.

  • ny nugs fan

    the nugs played really hard to get back into that game and you gotta applaud them for that

    i’m looking forward to seeing this team after the break; and there are a lot of teams *not* looking forward to seeing this team after the break

    hopefully we can get back into the playoff hunt and become one of the top teams in the west again down the stretch; there’s no reason we cant

  • ny nugs fan

    and bring back the old school unis again!!!

  • http://espn Gary

    GK HAS TO LEAVE!! Think his f***ed up rotations are really screwing with the players mentally and also with their rythem from game to game.
    All that early season depth talk is all jargon and only works when you are hitting on all cylinders. Its a long season and consistency is the name of the game…blowing out teams in the first month with your athelticism and than struggling once the playing field gets level is not the way to win a championship.
    As for the injuries, every team is dealing with them, some more than the others i agree with that. But outside Gallo, i don;t think any of the other injuries really matters much to the w-l record. Nene is overrated and he’s hardly ever been the single reason we won a game. Lawson is talented, but he’s got a mental ceiling and he can’t get over the hump against savvy vets like the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers….gets bogged down too easily. Rudy….please gimme a break, it might actually be a blessing in disguise not having him out there. Moz is a factor when completely healthy, but again too inconsistent to be called a game changing big man in this league; he’ll get better with time, but he’s a slow starter after every hurdle. Gallo is the only one with whom you could expect consistent showing every night and also probably their strongest mental player with attitude.
    Go young for the rest of the season, this is not a contending team, healthy or not, stop kidding yourself. Trade Vets while you can, make some good moves in FA & draft and please find out what you have in the kids….KF, Stone, Hamilton, even KK & Moz. Give them max playing time to gain experience. All have shown potential and with one full season and off-season under the belt, they can actually be a solid core starting next season with Gallo as the unquestioned leader of the team.
    But for anything positive of any sort to happen…GK has to leave….he’s got too much of a legacy on the line to start building a team at this stage. C’mon Ujjiri & Kroenke…keep doing the good work in the FO and look for a dynamic, fresh mind on the courtside.

  • http://espn.com Chris

    AA is a back up player a lot of times on fast breaks, he can’t exsplode and finish at the rim even, last night there were times he should have been able to go up and dunk over someone but he couldn’t because he lacks exsplosiveness, and thats a going to come back and bite the nugets for giving him all that money.

  • Native Nugget

    Love the comments in Spanish. Though I can only read a few words, it makes me happy to see Spanish speaking NBA fan-hood. Keep it up.

    Been reading all the get rid of GK talk and in some ways I see it as an indication that Denver is growing higher expectations. Having watched all the pre-Mello years of the Nugs being a perpetual doormat team, it is relieving to have the luxury of considering running off a winning coach in search of an NBA championship coach. Back in the lean years we had no foundation – terrible coaching (the likes of Bickerstaff), couldn’t attract and sign good players (hence having to overpay for Kenyan Martin) and we never developed players. Like him or not there is no denying that GK is the best coach Denver has seen since Doug Moe (by most standards GK is the better coach) and he has created stability.

    • Kalen

      I was listening to Kreckman and CJ on the radio yesterday and there was a good debate about this fan’s expectations. CJ, like a lot of people on this blog, was livid with Karl and basically stated how the Nuggets perpetual low expectations allow for him to keep his job every year. Meanwhile, Kreckman argued injuries were the real reason for this team’s issues and said the Nuggets can’t, and shouldn’t, expect anything other than a widely entertaining team based on it’s talent level. CJ talked about the need for higher expectations and an unquenchable thirst for a championship, while Kreckman continuously stated this team is doing the best it possibly can, all things considered, and needs a superstar before it can truly contend.

      It was a really interesting debate. There was such palpable contrast between CJ’s frustrations with Karl and Kreckman’s firm stance on injuries derailing the team. But the expectation talk was what really stood out to me. In my eyes, that’s a HUGE problem with the Nuggets franchise. The team has come so far since Melo got drafted — from being perennial lottery contenders to making the playoffs every year — but at some point don’t you have to take that next step? Once you’ve reached a plateau of just being “good” at some point, don’t you have to take that next step and commit to being great? Yes, a superstar would help, but at what point do we finally cave in and acknowledge that first-round playoff exits just isn’t cutting it? We had those even WITH a superstar!

      That’s just my two cents.

  • Steve

    With respect to the GK getting axed talk, you have to remember that we have been without 2-3 of our better players each night for the last few weeks. You also have to remember that this time last year, our team looked awful and was dealing with the melodrama. It was only about a month ago when we were #2 in the west. Have some patience. Injuries happen, and it’s been a wacky year. Once we get our guys healthy, we have a long home stand in March. It’s a great opportunity for the team to peak at the right time. Additionally, we/they have a better understanding of Stone/Faried/Hamilton and how they play.

    I haven’t given up hope on the season at all… I’m getting ready for a big run in March. I still like this team and have faith in the team’s leadership.

    • al68

      Si no he entendido mal, debemos tener fe y esperar al mes de Marzo nos faltan los tres mejores jugadores y el cuarto Chandler esta por llegar, pero hay una cosa que es verdad KK y Moz son unos pivots de muy poca calidad, nuestro puesto de center debería ser para Nene y el de PF para Faried.

      Espero y deseo que esten todos sanos en marzo y tengamos un diferencial a final de marzo de W-L +12, este equipo sano solo es peor que OKC en el oeste.
      Un saludo desde españa a todos los fans.

      Go nuggets!!!!

  • SmokinNugs

    I agree with Steve. I’m gonna reserve my calling for GK’s head until the season is over, but I’m definitely keeping my eye on him. No one has brought this up yet, but GK could always retire too. He’s probably not thrilled with the way this season is going and with his health he may decide he’s had enough.

  • Guy

    At this point I think it would be best if the Nuggets were in the lottery. They need a star and I just don’t see how they are going to get one otherwise. I would also explore trading Nene to either Golden State or Houston, teams that had some interest in Nene before the season started. At the moment I don’t think GS has a lottery pick and since they are perennialy going nowhere they may they be up for trading Monte Ellis for Nene. That would at least increase our talent level.
    I don’t see any of the current lottery teams parting with their pick for Nene when this a very power foward heavy draft unless we part with our pick. In this draft I would just as soon have 2 lottery picks.
    I’ve been a supporter of GK but he seems to lose his effectiveness after a period of time (see Milwaukee & Seattle). Besides all the switching and inexplicable lineups this team looks really disorganized at the end of games. Only when they had Melo & CB did they ever look like they have an idea about what to do. Billips even complained about this when he first got to Denver and made Karl draw up a play instead of just winging it at the end of games. I appreciate Karl bringing a culture of winning to the Nuggets but it may be time for a fresh perpective.

  • Jacob

    I think people are being to quick to jump on Karl. While he has long been averse to rookies and gets too emotionally attached to some players (see Andre Miller), he constantly has us in the playoff hunt. While I recognize that the goal is to win a championship not just make the playoffs, we always have a shot come playoff time. What if we were to fire him and get some random new hotshot assistant to be our head coach? We don’t know if this team would be a playoff team anymore. Fans just look for the easy way out and that is to blame the coach. Karl has his flaws, but he is still the leader among current coaches in wins. Who do all you who want a new coach suggest we get? I mean if you all see a problem, offer up a solution. It’s not like were going to get a head coach who already has a job to come to Denver.

    The real reason for this recent collapse is injuries. I mean if it had only been one or two, then yea we should still be competitive. Our only regular starters last night were AAA and Mozgov. And Mozgov is terrible, so really only one starter quality player in Aaron. He has steeped his game up, but other’s haven’t followed him. The rest of the team needs to step it up just like Aflalo and contribute.

  • Trip

    It is not all GK’s fault, but i think that he can indeed help the way this team plays with a little coaching. As evident last night there are 3 major flaws with this team.

    1) Our Pick and Roll defense is horrible, we either give up an easy lay up to the big, a WIDE open shot from the ball handler, or we have to wildly switch and try to recover and give up even more wide open shots to a deep shooter just sitting in the corner waiting for a shot. We need to do something about this, I dont know what K-Mart used to do but I think he was one of the best at defending the pick and roll.

    2) I have not seen one solid pick by our bigs all season. This comes from some good success this team has had in the past with us slipping screens, and then getting great passes from the passer leading to easy baskets. Now that is all the bigs ever want to do, they do not set a screen the ALWAYS slip the screen. It is not just all the bigs faults, the ball handlers have to actually come off the screen, they have to run right off the shoulder of the big to make anything worth while.

    3) The defender should NEVER leave a sharp shooter to help out. Too many times last night would whoever guarded Bonner, sag into the lane to try to help stop the drive or double team someone else, and Bonner would have an easy wide open shot. Bonner is useless on the court if he does not have the ball open behind the 3 point line. He cannot create for himself or others. I saw Al and Faried on different occasions sink into the lane and just lose track of Bonner. Last night was just an example of what has been happening all season.

  • http://espn.com Chris

    Bill Laimbeer needs to be the nuggets coach period
    no one never even took on hard foul, this team is weak and needs spme toughness, someone should have put danny green on his butt, u can’t let bums have career games against you.