Nuggets News: Rumors and rants edition

[Note: The first two stories are the previous entrees about Chris Andersen and Wilson Chandler; the next few, however, are stories that have come to light since this post was originally created.]

ESPN.com is reporting (Insider only) that Nuggets center, Chris “Birdman” Andersen is on the trading block with Koufos having been recently re-signed and playing solid basketball. There have reportedly not been any immediate suitors for Andersen, although as the trade deadline approaches this could change quickly. Although Birdman is 33 and still has two years at just below $10 million left on his contract, he might be an enticing option for a title contender who needs defensive help in the front court.

In other news, ESPN.com is reporting Wilson Chandler could return to the U.S. sooner than expected. According to Marc Stein, Chandler’s Chinese Basketball Association team, the Zhejiang Lions, made a deal with the former Nugget that as long as he managed to get the Lions to the Playoffs he could then come back to his home country earlier than expected. However, even though Lions management is willing to part with him, Chandler still must receive his FIBA letter of clearance in order to play in the NBA and it is unknown whether Chinese officials would be willing to bend on their harsh stance in regards to this issue. There is some speculation that if Chandler attends Sunday’s CBA All Star game officials would be more open to lending him his clearance letters at an earlier date.

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Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 103, Denver Nuggets 102 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 102 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Memphis Grizzlies
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -12
Four points in 25 minutes? That’s not the Big Al we’ve come to know this season. There’s no doubt that at this point, Al is struggling mightily to be effective while on the floor.
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 10-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +2
Brewer was two points shy of a career high in points but did set a career high in three-point baskets made with five. It was his deadly behind-the-arc shooting that got the Nuggets back in the game and ultimately gave them a chance to win. Brewer has been and continues to be one of the more reliable players on the Nuggets roster, especially when it matters most.
Kosta Koufos, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -10
No stats and three missed shots in six minutes isn’t the definition of productivity. With Mozgov back and Bird productive with rest the center position is going to be filled by whoever is producing.  Koufos was outproduced by Mozgov and Birdman.
Arron Afflalo, SG 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -21
Afflao hit a big 3-pointer but was once again fairly quite in his time given. After scoring 20 points in three straight games, Afflalo has come back down to Earth.  Plus his defense continues to be sub par.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -8
A nice, well-rounded game by Lawson overall. These are the types of outings we need to see on a more consistent basis from the young point guard.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 13 PTS | +11
Miller finally scored in the double digits for the first time since Feb. 8 while his nine assists were the most he’s tallied since Jan. 29. Miller hit some big shots down the stretch, although it should be noted that they were 3-pointers which is certainly not his specialty.
Chris Andersen, C 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +5
Birdman put up a decent stat line all things considered. Getting more than five rebounds must be considered a somewhat successful night for the “Bird.”  Throw in some solid defense on Gasol and Birdman was Denver’s best bet at center on this night.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +17
Only six points in 21 minutes while missing all three of his three-point attempts doesn’t look good in the box score.  Rudy did play some solid defense in the fourth quarter though and certainly helped the cause.
Timofey Mozgov, C 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
Mozgov finally returned and while he failed to do much offensively, his four rebounds and one blocked shot helped the Nuggets on the other end of the floor where his services are needed most.  He looked like he tweaked his ankle.  Let’s hope it is nothing serious.
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +14
If not for the botched block out at the end of the game, Faried would have turned in a phenomenal performance all around. It’s amazing how much better he is offensively than I had originally thought, and while this is refreshing it’s tough to overlook the small things Faried still needs to improve on. Boxing out, setting firm screens and getting better position everywhere on the court are still areas where Faried looks lost. This game will likely be a wake up call in more ways than one for the “Manimal.”

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Mavericks 102, Denver Nuggets 84 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 84 FinalRecap | Box Score 102 Dallas Mavericks
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.

Nuggets News: Chandler leads Zhejiang Lions to playoffs

It’s official. Wilson Chandler’s Chinese Basketball Association team, the Zhejiang Lions, has made the playoffs behind a 41-point, 18-rebound effort (be advised, the audio in the link is graphic) by Chandler. CBA Playoffs don’t begin until Feb. 22 at which time the seventh seeded Lions will face Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks. First-round playoff series in China are best of five. At this point, the earliest Chandler can return from China will likely be the first week of March and even then it will take some time for he and the Nuggets to work out a contract both parties agree upon. Chances are good that Chandler and Gallinari will return at about the same time which should help propel the Nuggets to more wins as they make a push for a top seed in the Playoffs. For those interested in how Chandler and his fellow American basketball cohorts have fared in China, here’s a great piece in the New York Times on this issue.

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?

3-on-3: Nuggets struggles

Over the last several weeks the Nuggets have endured one of its toughest stretches of the season, if not the last several years. After starting off the season on a record-setting pace, even winning six straight road games for the first time in franchise history, the Nuggets fell victim to a myriad of injuries and in the process saw its winning ways vanish in no time. After finally securing a much-needed win against Indiana the Nuggets will now look to get back on track but before Denver takes on the Suns at home on Tuesday, Roundball Mining Company decided to analyze the Nuggets recent struggles in our latest 3-on-3.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113, Indiana Pacers 109

Denver Nuggets 113 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Indiana Pacers
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.”

Nuggets Issues Exposed by Warriors

The closest thing to an easy win the Denver Nuggets have on the schedule in February are home games against the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.

So much for any easy wins.

The Nuggets were demolished by the Warriors in a game that cast light on Denver’s biggest issues.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101 Golden State Warriors 109

Golden State Warriors 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Denver Nuggets
Rudy Fernandez, SG 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Rudy’s up and down season continues as he got his first start of the year and failed to make an impression. He is too small to match up with small forwards and his defense so wildly erratic it’s hard to trust him with a significant role. While Rudy plays hard, he does nothing consistently well and it’s hard to depend on him for anything. The biggest problems for me is he can’t make open threes and he puts his teammates in poor positions on defense by gambling for steals and failing to rotate.
Kenneth Faried, F 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
Faried had a fantastic start, posting up David Lee for a score and forcing him into a turnover on the other end. Unfortunately he really tired out about 5 minutes into the game and it became clear Karl didn’t plan on playing him much anyway. I like the small steps he’s taken towards becoming a better offensive player and I think it’s becoming clear that whenever this kid starts getting minutes he’ll put up double doubles. He lost his minutes to Harrington in the second half which was Karl’s plan all along.
Nene, C 31 MIN | 6-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Nene moved over to Center and while he was clearly the Nuggets best option offensively, he played passive and couldn’t be counted on for consistent scoring. Nene just sort of went through the motions expecting his teammates to pick it up and start winning the game. The team has no flow or rhythm on the court and without that Nene doesn’t know how to get himself going. He just didn’t affect the game one way or the other and kind of blended in. Although he scored 15 total, 3 points is all he contributed in the second half.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +3
Afflalo clearly had his best statistical performance of the season but he was a complete black hole on offense. No assists and another string of poor shot selection despite the fact he was hot most of the night. Afflalo getting his confidence and swagger back is good, but he continues to make bad mistakes in transition at the worst possible times. I would trade some of his scoring output for the defensive consistency we saw last season, but he just ended up fouling a lot and failing to get his teammates to work together. Now that Afflalo’s playing better, perhaps he can have a more positive impact as a leader.
Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | -13
He was just destroyed by Stephen Curry. The fact Lawson can have his worst game of the season and end up with a double double says a lot, but you can’t give him credit for doing anything well tonight. He came out tentative and attempted nothing at the rim. Defensively, Lawson was abused by anyone he guarded and he just sort of lost his will in the second half.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7
Harrington has had a long career in the NBA. For more than a decade he’s been known as a guy who puts up numbers on bad teams and doesn’t play any defense. He’s falling back into that familiar role in Denver after a promising start to the year. One thing I just can’t help noticing in all these losses is how badly the defense falls off when Harrington and Miller come in off the bench. He needs to rededicate himself to defending and trying to raise the intensity level of the second unit.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | -11
Remember George Karl’s infamous speech about not holding the ball? There is no bigger offender than Andre Miller. He’s just kind of coasting through this season, a clear indication it’s just not the right long-term fit. When he comes into the game he just casts a dark shadow of indifference over the team’s collective spirit. The speed of the game comes to a total halt and the Nuggets can’t hang with anyone. I just don’t see how it makes sense to keep him here. He will certainly seek a better situation during free agency when his options open up. For now, he’s stuck and so are the Nuggets.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Koufos had another extremely productive stint in limited minutes. Although he’s proven himself worthy of a significant role, Koufos is stuck in the same boat as the rookies as guys who will play limited minutes no matter what so that Karl can get the veterans in. 2K was assertive on the offensive end and while you’d like to see him get closer to the basket, he’s showing improvement and that’s all you can ask of the promising young Center.
Julyan Stone, G 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +2
Stone was a victim of Karl’s rotations yet again. He saw some early action as one of the first guys off the bench, but was subsequently banished to the end of the bench until garbage time. It’s very difficult to assess where Julyan might fit in until he gets a fair shot at proving himself. During garbage time, Stone played point guard and got the Nuggets playing their most energetic ball of the night. The Nuggets seem to want him and Faried involved more despite Karl’s refusal to give either a real shot.
Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +10
This is more of an incomplete, but I couldn’t help but notice he was extremely active and a nice compliment to Afflalo in his garbage time stint. Hamilton is very aggressive with the ball in his hands and sometimes loses control, but he seemed like an unselfish player capable of making things happen off the dribble. Jordan has a quick release and good form on his jump shot so you wonder how he might do with some more confidence in a real game situation.

One Thing We Saw

  1. The Nuggets are starting to give up on themselves. It goes beyond struggling with injuries and a rough patch of schedule. Getting blown out at home for the fourth time this season under these circumstances is an eye opener. It’s a sign of a young, vulnerable team struggling with adversity. Beyond that, it’s reached a point where you just can’t keep selling the idea of holding on and keeping the faith. At this point you have to look at the organization from all sides and realize that the Denver Nuggets are a franchise moving in the wrong direction.

Wilson Chandler – Apply Pressure Here

Former Denver Nuggets beat writer Marc J. Spears has posted a story on Yahoo! Sports that Wilson Chandler wants to resign with Denver at the close of his service in China.  While on the face of it, a quick return appears imminent, I think some caution is in order.

The quote from Chandler’s agent, Chris Luchey, that caught my attention was this one:

“The ball is in their court. If Wilson is comfortable, he will be a part of their core group.”

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 95 Dallas Mavericks 105

Dallas Mavericks 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-5 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | -10
Nene had a harmless double-double. I was surprised he produced this much because he continues to have trouble finishing at the rim. Nene had an incredibly difficult cover in Dirk Nowitzki but that is not an excuse to completely neglect defending the weak side. No blocks, no steals, and too many turnovers. The one thing Nene did well was keep his head in the game instead of expending all of his energy arguing calls.
Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -8
I don’t know why the Nuggets went away from Stone. Karl keeps putting him in a terrible situation where he’s not in a position to make plays or develop his point guard abilities. I like the way Stone defends, but it’s hard to ignore how he helped the Nuggets get off to a horrid start on both ends of the court. I’ll give Stone an incomplete. The starting lineup experiment couldn’t have gone much worse and Stone suffered the most for it. He was not given a chance to play after 8 uneventful minutes.
Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13
Birdman is like that cheap, no-name vodka occupying the bottom shelf of your favorite liquor store. Are the cheap thrills of a good night once in a while worth the ensuing week-long headache? No, and consistently going there is a sign you may have a serious problem. Starting him was Karl’s strangest decision yet. He hasn’t started since 2008 against the Hawks, where he also struggled mightily and the Nuggets lost. I like Birdman in small, infrequent doses when the team is exceptionally flat. Starting him flat out didn’t work.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -21
It’s tough to settle on a good grade for Afflalo, because he showed some fight coming off another horrendous start. There was a stretch in the third quarter where he looked to be asserting himself as a leader while imploring the Nuggets to work harder on the defensive end. Unfortunately, Afflalo was just way too up and down. He missed every big shot he took and just didn’t consistently play up to his talent. He finished with a game worst -21, a stat not indicative of his true play but a strong sign that he just doesn’t have it together. There are signs he is getting there.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Lawson wasn’t aggressive enough, but it’s totally unreasonable to expect him to just start taking over games while trying to grow into his long term role as a starter. A double-double from your starting PG should be more than enough for any good team in the league to get a win, especially one with as much depth and scoring talent as Denver. It’s imperative that Lawson get way more aggressive going to the rim, but at least he is improving. The main problem is the defense and Lawson can’t fix that. Ty has the right idea in trying to make this haphazard offense work by not forcing too many shots, but he simply needs to get meaner and be relentless attacking the paint.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -5
Great stats, but just one of those hollow efforts as you never got the sense he had much of an impact on the game. To be fair, the game was pretty out of hand by the time he came in. Al Buckets is at least making shots and not afraid to take them when needed. With the Nuggets suffering a crisis of confidence at the moment, you have to appreciate what Al brings to the table. Unfortunately Harrington is a big part of the Nuggets giving back way more points than they are able to put up. I had to dock Harrington’s solid production because he ultimately didn’t make plays when the Nuggets needed it most. Al’s effort does not go unnoticed though, I love how hard he’s playing and this team’s problems are much bigger than him.
Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +4
His defense is so bad, you need a nightly double-double just to compensate. Miller can’t guard anyone and the team seems to know it. Karl seems okay with having him lay off his man while praying he can cut off drives to the rim. The problem is teams are finding the open shooter and Miller can’t be bothered to close out. Outside of the defense, Miller struggled again with turnovers but played about as well as he can offensively. This may be the best you can get out of Miller in a nightly bench role and I’m not sure giving a 36 year old this many minutes is the wisest idea.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +4
Fernandez had the hot hand early and helped close out the second half on a mini Denver run. The Nuggets then curiously went away from him while the starters lost all momentum. His shot selection was much better and his gambling defense continues to be frustratingly hit or miss. Still, Rudy played with a lot of passion and showed resolve on a night the rest of the Nuggets looked scared.
Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Koufos is impressing me more with each game. He still makes a lot of mistakes getting caught on switches and trying to guard the perimeter, but the guy is only 22 years old and still learning the most difficult position in the NBA. He usually produces whenever he gets minutes, so I don’t understand why he was removed from the starting lineup. Koufos may have been the only positive in terms of the defense tonight and he barely played. I was wrong about the guy — he’s a surefire rotation player and the Nuggets need to live with some rookie mistakes while developing him.

Nene, Afflalo to return against Mavericks + Wilson Chandler [Updated]

According to NBA.com’s Aaron Lopez, the Nuggets will send out a starting lineup against the Dallas Mavericks that consists of Nene, Chris Andersen, Julyan Stone, Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson. This is Birdman’s first start since the 2008 season and Julyan Stone’s first start at small forward since joining the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Corey Brewer is still out due to the tragic death of his father. Our thoughts and prayers are with Corey and the rest of the Brewer family.

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Wilson Chandler to the Rescue? [Updated]

Upon hearing the news that Danilo Gallinari experienced more than just an ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets and might miss one month every Nuggets’ fan response was, “When can Wilson Chandler get here?”

As everyone who cares about the Nuggets knows, Wilson Chandler chose to sign a contract to play in China despite the lack of an opt-out clause which would allow him to return to the N.B.A. should the lockout end prior to the cancelation of the 2011-12 season.

Projections for Chandler’s availability have ranged from March to April.  The way I understand it, Chandler will be freed from his service to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions as soon as their season ends.  While the truth is that could be anywhere between February 15 and sometime in April, there is an ever so slight chance that the Lions season could end on the fifteenth.

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Gallinari out at least four weeks

As is being reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, Nuggets’ star forward Danilo Gallinari will be out for close to one month with a chip fracture in his foot. According to the doctors, the actual chip has likely been lodged in Gallinari’s foot sine before he started playing professional basketball. Coach George Karl is quoted as saying Corey Brewer should expect an expanded role while even Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton could be in for a few surprise minutes as well. Let’s hope this experimentation with the bench is something that comes to fruition as the Nuggets have one of the deeper ones in the entire league, which should certainly help out in injury-plagued times like these.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 90, Houston Rockets 99

Houston Rockets 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 90 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Time to temper the high expectations surrounding the Manimal. All things considered, he had a very solid debut in his first real NBA game. Despite some foul trouble, he showed a lot of promise defending Scola and Dalembert. Faried even skied high for a spectacular block and his high energy play energized the crowd in a painfully ugly game. It was not the most productive jaw-dropping debut, but Faried simply needs to take baby steps towards becoming a better player and he did so tonight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -5
I thought Gallo still showed signs of fatigue but battled hard in the 20 minutes he was able to play. He rolled his ankle badly in the third quarter and it was later revealed he suffered a possible chip fracture. It’s just a terrible injury at the worst possible time. Gallo hasn’t always played like the Nuggets best player but he’s clearly been one of the toughest. Assuming he’s out for a few weeks this is an incredibly costly loss.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +1
Koufos couldn’t keep up his solid production as a spot-starter. Despite having a size and quickness advantage over the Rockets front court, he clearly doesn’t know how to assert himself on the block. What’s worse is he fouled out in 23 minutes. Despite notching some impressive blocks, 2K showed he’s a work in progress on the defensive end. Although Koufos is in his fourth year it’s hard to forget just how raw he still is.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | -2
Lawson had a tough time matching Lowry, one of the most overlooked guards in the league. It was tough for him to create with Houston packing the paint and doing a solid job getting back in transition. There was no post up threat on the floor and no consistent pick and roll options to work with. Ty tried his hardest to get others involved without forcing shots, but he could have been a lot more assertive with his own offense. Considering how talented he is, it’s tough to see him go passive even for small stretches of game.
Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Stone has trouble hitting an open jump shot and I thought it was a curious decision to start him. Although I’m a big Stone fan, Andre Miller seems more motivated as a starter and has played poorly off the bench. Stone’s length and quickness contributed to a solid defensive performance, but he had trouble fitting in on the offensive end where Miller and Lawson assumed most of the point guard duties, relegating him to becoming a spot up shooter.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-6 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -8
Harrington was asked to step way outside of a reasonable role yet again. He played close to 40 minutes twice in the past week and tonight he pulled the majority of the duty at power forward. 15 rebounds is pretty fantastic, but it cost him on the offensive end where Al couldn’t hit a shot or make free throws down the stretch. I give All all the credit in the world for his effort, but he just didn’t look good in the defense and rebounding glue guy role. Buckets is at his best when he’s living up to his namesake as a reliable bench scorer.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -13
I get a lot of criticism for being hard on on Miller, but I expect a lot of out of him. He’s clearly capable of orchestrating the offense and yet consistently puts up duds every couple of games. He’s supposed to be the steady veteran hand guiding this young squad and showing them how to win. Miller opened the game with four first quarter turnovers, three of which were credited to him but all due to errant Andre passes. Miller just didn’t look like he was into it tonight and he just can’t set that kind of example for this team.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -7
Birdman clearly took exception to being benched and responded with one of his most productive outings of the season. As the game wore on Birdman’s defense faded a bit, but for a guy who hasn’t been playing his energy was a valuable shot in the arm to a lethargic defensive team. All in all Bird made the most of his minutes and you can’t say that for anyone else who received significant playing time
Rudy Fernandez, SG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -8
Fernandez used up a ton of crucial possessions this game and just didn’t deliver enough. It was a huge opportunity for him to assume a larger role and play big minutes with no Brewer and Gallo out with an injury. Rudy doesn’t offer spacing and hasn’t developed into a potent playmaking threat. The worst part of his game is the defense where he inexcusably jumps the passing lanes without regard for his teammates. Rudy was abused by every Rocket he attempted to guard tonight.

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