Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99, Charlotte Bobcats 88

Denver Nuggets 99 Final

Recap | Box Score

88 Charlotte Bobcats
Wilson Chandler, SF 19 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -6
Chandler continues to go MIA. While he plays good defense, he’s non-existent on offense. Chandler is without question one of the more talented player on the Nuggets roster but isn’t playing like it at the moment.
Kenneth Faried, F 27 MIN | 2-4 FG | 8-10 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +4
Faried had a huge block in the second half as well some nice dunks throughout the entire game. The only area Faried really struggled in was close-out defense, where he drastically needs improvement.
JaVale McGee, C 22 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +6
McGee also had some incredible blocks but didn’t hit the glass with tenacity. Games in which he hauls in only three rebounds wont cut it. McGee is a legit 7-footer with a monstrous 7-foot-6 wingspan. There is no excuse not to rebound at a high rate.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-7 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 19 PTS | +12
Afflalo put up one of his most impressive stat lines all year. It’s great to see get numbers outside of just the scoring department as it shows he’s impacting the game in more than one way. Afflalo was also extremely aggressive and got to the line because of it.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 14 PTS | +1
Ty’s numbers are deceiving. He passed the ball well but also turned it over seven times. He missed countless open 3-pointers and refused to attack the basket the way he’s capable of doing. But, numbers don’t lie, and at the end of the day he did finish with a respectable stat line.
Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +4
Big Al had a pretty routine game. He scored and rebounded off the bench, and that was about it.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 4 PTS | +13
This was refreshing. Andre Miller actually helped his team win rather than just going one-on-one on offense every time he received the ball. And believe it or not, he actually played pretty good defense! He attempted to block a few shots and took a charge as well. This is what the Nuggets need from Miller: defense and distribution. If he can do that, his grades will significantly improve.
Corey Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +13
Brewer made some fantastic cuts to the basket and played with a tremendous amount of energy throughout the night. He finally figured out how to score, which largely revolved around just moving on offense. If would be excellent if he could continue this sort of play down the stretch.
Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +8
After watching Mozgov recently, all I have to say is: Thank God for Koufos. He understands the game so much better and is always in the right position to make a play. He’s tough and gives it his all on defense. Koufos is just a better basketball player than Mozgov and unless he gets injured again, should be the backup center for the foreseeable future.

Rapid Reaction: Toronto Raptors 105, Denver Nuggets 96

Denver Nuggets 96 Final

Recap | Box Score

105 Toronto Raptors
Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -8
When is Chandler going to step up? The Nuggets re-signed him to be a impact player, not a role player. He seems to perpetually be in cruise control and rarely goes on a period of extended aggressiveness. If 13 points per game is all he’s going to provide, look for Chandler to be moved this summer. His defense was about the only “highlight” and even that was nothing to write home about.
Kenneth Faried, F 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Faried’s minutes are erratic. It’s hard to tell when he’s going to play and when he’s going to get benched for extended stretches. He seems to play much better when he sees a heavy dose of time. Like Mick Jagger, if you start him up he’ll never stop. But Faried’s defense is pretty bad at the moment. He goes for every pump-fake thrown his direction and makes silly, unnecessary fouls on the regular. He must improve his perimeter defense and be more aggressive on the glass to help this team win.
JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
McGee continues to be a pleasant surprise. His defensive presence in the paint is something the Nuggets have lacked since Marcus Camby departed. He had one of the best dunks of the season over Jose Calderon and showed some refinement in the post as well. He was in foul trouble, but even so, 23 minutes is just not enough time for a player as talented as McGee.
Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | -5
Afflalo was aggressive and drove to the hole on a night when the most Nuggets refused to do so. He lost his temper once again, and received a technical foul for it, but his passion is honorable. It wasn’t his best shooting night but because he displayed emotion and at least tried to play the right way, Afflalo gets a better-than-average grade.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 9-19 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 26 PTS | -13
After a slow start Lawson turned up the heat in a big way. This is his second straight game of scoring at least 25 points and in both he took a high number of shots. Ty must continue to be aggressive. When he is, the Nuggets are totally different team. Without him the Nuggets might have lost by 20.
Al Harrington, PF 31 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | -4
Harrington blended in for the most part. He had some good drives to the basket and made a few key buckets, but was otherwise quiet.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -5
Andre “Tunnel Vision” Miller did what Andre “Tunnel Vision” Miller usually does: get tunnel vision. This is his routine: dribble up the court at .0026 miles per hour, stall, dribble into the lane and shoot. That’s what Andre Miller basketball. He’ll make some nice passes and occasionally pass the ball off before he shoots, but it’s hard to tell what he does to help the team win on a nightly basis.
Corey Brewer, SF 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Brewer played defense, or at least he attempted to. He over-committed on a few steals — as usual — but otherwise appeared to be hustling. His offense however, is a different story.
Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -5
Had to do it. Just had to do it. I’ve given out one F all season, but Mozgov’s performance against the Raptors increases it to two. Where to begin… lets see… In a five-minute span he got a defensive three seconds call, goal-tending call, committed two turnovers and one personal foul. In the four closing minutes of the third quarter he was inserted into the game, upon which the Raptors out-rebounded the Nuggets 9-2 and scored 11 points in the process. During this time he got boxed out, then dunked on by DeMar DeRozan. Overall, it was a complete disaster — and I’m not over exaggerating here. We’ve seen Mozgov play bad before, but nothing like this. Needless to say, Koufos will be a welcome sight when he returns.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108 Chicago Bulls 91

Denver Nuggets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Chicago Bulls
Wilson Chandler, SF 35 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 7 PTS | +19

Offensively, he was bad. Chandler made only three of his ten attempts and nearly all of them were incredibly difficult or ill advised shots. However within the scope of Chandler getting integrated into the flow of the lineups and the defense, tonight was a huge step forward. For the most part he was solid fighting around screens and keeping his man in front of him. Chandler was contesting shots and even came up with a nice weak-side block on a wide open Joakim Noah.

Kenneth Faried, F 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +7

Faried had an up and down night. He got off to a poor start defending Carlos Boozer but eventually picked up his energy and aggression as the game wore on. Faried’s perimeter defense remains a concern but he continued to a good job providing a physical post presence without fouling. Faried is coming around as a good power forward and a solid post defender, but he’s still searching for consistency in other areas to fill out his game.

JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +13

McGee put up a solid stat line and fit in well with the starting lineup. His decision making and shot selection aren’t the greatest but he does find his way to a lot of hustle points. McGee is contributing solid all-around production in limited minutes which is all you can ask for only three games into his tenure with the Nuggets.

Arron Afflalo, SG 38 MIN | 8-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 22 PTS | +14

A great night for Afflalo, who not only produced at a high level but was also extremely vocal on the floor. Much like Lawson, Afflalo came out with a focus and determination we haven’t consistently seen out of him. Arron was rested and ready to go, but did a masterful job working off of his teammates and impacting the game in multiple ways. His energy was a key factor to winning this difficult game on the tail end of a back to back.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 11-21 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 27 PTS | +11

Really, really good. I’m surprised Lawson had only two assists but this might have been the most aggressive I’ve seen him play all season. Even more impressive is the fact this came against a good defensive team. From the moment he entered the game, Lawson was a force on the court and made his presence felt.

Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +10

Harrington got off to a quick start before his play trailed off late, but it still was probably one of his best overall efforts in weeks. He was extremely difficult for the Bulls bench to match up with and his jump-shooting was a key factor in opening the Nuggets’ attack.

Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 12 PTS | +5

Miller played great. This is the second game in a row his usual mopey attitude has been replaced with high energy play and enthusiasm. These past two games it seems like Miller has hit the fast forward button and he’s moving around with a lot more zip. More than anything, he’s showing a tremendous amount of effort.

Corey Brewer, SF 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | 0

Brewer was a non factor on the offensive end but his forgettable first half stint coincided with a run that erased the Nuggets early deficit. He needs to shoot less, defend more, and just work harder for his opportunities on the offensive end. Brewer ran around with a lot of energy but wasn’t particularly useful on the defensive end, where he needs to make his mark in order to stay on the floor

Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +6

Mozgov’s defense was inconsistent, but he started the game well and helped stabilize a bench rotation that was solid all night. His production wavers too much from game to game, but when the Nuggets are moving the ball and scoring he’s a pretty reliable defensive presence down low. Mozgov has played poorly as of late and it’s nice to see him bounce back with a solid performance that earned him the right to close out the game.

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Timberwolves 117, Denver Nuggets 100

Denver Nuggets 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

117 Minnesota Timberwolves
Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | +4
Chandler cut down on the “difficult shots” he tends to fall in love with and got to the rack hastily. He also dished out five assists and made a few hustle plays. But Chandler needs to score more than 12 points per game for the Nuggets to have a shot at at winning.
Kenneth Faried, F 30 MIN | 8-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +6
In the first half Faried was underwhelming. He wasn’t doing anything well except drawing fouls, but as the game progressed he really turned up the heat. His energy in the second half was excellent and more importantly, honorable. In a game in which nobody seemed to care, Faried did, and that’s certainly one positive to take away from a negative day.
Timofey Mozgov, C 6 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -2
It’s becoming more apparent that Mozgov simply isn’t up to par with the type of competition he sees on a nightly basis in the NBA. He’s perpetually slow to react, out of position and for the most part, maladroit. As someone on Twitter stated, if he played with the second unit perhaps his confidence would elevate. It’s clear at this point, he has no business being a starter especially with McGee now on the roster.
Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -20
For the amount of minutes he received, there was no reason for Brewer to score only seven points and snag two rebounds. These types of performances have become a trend, unfortunately. Brewer is often effective in short bursts but can’t sustain a high level of play for an extended period of time. As a role player he’s excellent, but if he’s your starting shooting guard, you’re in trouble, as the Nuggets found out on Sunday.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | -7
Did Lawson finish with a bad stat line? Not at all. If this was a win he probably would have received a B. But that’s the problem: it wasn’t. Lawson is without question one of the better players on the Nuggets roster, if not the best. Yet for whatever reason he’s been invisible over the last several games. It’s clear that when Lawson goes, so do the Nuggets, and because he hasn’t been effective lately, neither has his team.
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -18
This was one of Big Al’s worst games of the season. Nothing was going in and half the time he was busy committing terrible fouls rather than focusing on defense. It’s hard to look too far into his performance however, given that none of his teammates played that well either.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -19
Andre Miller did Andre Miller. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
It’s beyond perplexing why Mozgov still plays more minutes than Birdman. Andersen knows the NBA game, has carved out a role and usually plays it well. His energy is something the Nuggets are in desperate need of right now yet Karl seems sold on a young, inexperienced center for reasons unknown.
JaVale McGee, C 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -12
McGee was hands down the pleasant surprise of the day. His mistakes were nothing compared to his teammates, meanwhile he played twice as good as any of them. His interior defense was superb and his effort was top notch. If McGee continues to play this good, we’ll have to tip our hat to Masai Ujiri for a fantastic trade, yet again.
Julyan Stone, G 4 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1
You know you’re in trouble when… your third-string point guard is the best defender on your entire team. Let that one slowly simmer for a moment. Julyan Stone cares about defense and actually wants to play it. So why can’t he get some run when what he does best is the Nuggets biggest need? He only played four minutes but for the type of defensive effort he displayed, he gets an A.
Jordan Hamilton, G 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -15
Hamilton was a mixed deck of cards. He did some things well but also committed a few “rookie” mistakes. It’s hard to evaluate him in detail when he doesn’t get consistent playing time.

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Rapid Reaction: Utah Jazz 121, Denver Nuggets 102

Denver Nuggets 102 Final

Recap | Box Score

121 Utah Jazz
Wilson Chandler, SF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -23
Chandler takes a lot of difficult shots and makes a decent amount. But he needs to work on scoring in the flow of the offense rather than relying on tough buckets all the time. He also needs to work on his consistency. Twenty seven minutes is more than enough time for Chandler to put up more impressive numbers than he did on Friday.
Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 5-7 FG | 6-8 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -15
Faried was energetic as always, especially from the start of the game. Then, for some inexplicable reason, George Karl decided to bench him midway through the first quarter and all the way though most of the second. Faried finished with only 22 minutes of playing time (the same amount as Corey Brewer and Arron Afflalo) despite being one of the most effective players on the floor.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -15
Mozgov followed up one of his better performances of the year by disappearing against the Jazz. He was hesitant, aloof and as always, a step behind the action. Mozgov has had a lot of time to prove himself and is still wildly inconstant and timid. If he doesn’t show some signs of improvement, he could be moved this summer.
Arron Afflalo, SG 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 7-7 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -22
Yes Afflalo got ejected, but at least he showed some emotion. He was also one of the only players pushing himself and his team in the right direction by making something happen. Had Afflalo stayed in the game he likely would have eclipsed the 20-point mark for the third game in a row.
Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 2-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 5 PTS | -17
Lawson was as bad as anybody. He had more turnovers than assists, was the antithesis of “assertive” and didn’t shoot well even when wide open. The fast-paced style Lawson employs requires a lot of energy, therefore fans shouldn’t expect him to be a “blur” every single night. But he MUST still control the pace of the game and act as a threat to the opponent, otherwise he’s no better than Derek Fisher.
Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 8-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | -1
Harrington came to play. Though his 20-and-10 performance came in a blowout, he still shot the ball accurately and played hard. He did everything the Nuggets expect and more.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 14 PTS | +4
And in our favorite part of the evening… For those who watched the game, you already know what it is: a typical Miller performance. Not enough ball movement, too much selfishness, the occasional highlight play, etc. He shot three 3-pointers, turned the ball over four times and did nothing to help the team win, yet somehow finished with an impressive stat line. The saga of Andre Miller continues…
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Brewer was just too wild. He gambled on too many steals, drove recklessly into the lane one too many times and never seemed to be in control of his wiry body. He needs to relax and focus on defense.
JaVale McGee, C 28 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7
After the first half McGee was nowhere to be found, however, he was a monster before that. The best part of the evening was seeing McGee’s athleticism on full display in addition to his limited number of “boneheaded” plays. The more he can limit his mistakes, the better chance he has of reaching his potential.
Julyan Stone, G 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
Not much to say here. Stone only saw a few minutes and touched the ball sparingly. It would have been nice to see him get some more time considering this game was lost at the start of the third quarter.
Jordan Hamilton, G 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +2
Hamilton deserved more time than he received. This was the perfect opportunity for him to get some more action under his belt yet Karl refused to give in. He played with heart and made a nice 3-pointer but also took a hurried shot as well.

Fernandez to miss remainder of season

According to the Denver Post, Nuggets shooting guard, Rudy Fernandez, will miss the rest of the 2011-12 campaign with a back injury. He has already missed over one-third of the season with various injuries. Fernandez is set to become a restricted free agent after this season although it’s hard to see him remaining with the Nuggets moving considering how crowded the roster already is. This should open up more playing time for Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler, as well as Jordan Hamilton when the team is depleted.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 116, Detroit Pistons 115

Detroit Pistons 115 Final

Recap | Box Score

116 Denver Nuggets
Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | 0
Chandler hit the glass well and made a few nice plays throughout the game, but took his fair share of ill-advised shots. As he receives more playing time he should continue to improve.
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -3
In terms of energy, heart and hustle, Faried was top notch. But he has to haul in more rebounds for his impact to truly be felt.
Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -1
This was one of Mozgov’s better games this year. He actually looked like he belonged and refrained from making the types of “rookie” mistakes he’s become known for.
Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 8-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 23 PTS | +17
Afflalo was certainly a bright spot in a cloudy night. His offensive repertoire was on full display as he scored in a multitude of different ways. Though Ben Gordon went off for an unusually high amount of points, Afflalo was still contesting him on almost every shot. In the month of March, Afflalo is averaging 17 points per game and is almost up to 14 points per game on the season after starting off a step behind where he should have been. Afflalo is now earning every penny of his contract.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 10-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 25 PTS | -5
The Nuggets must have more performances like this from Lawson. It’s that simple. He’s too talented and too quick to take the back seat he does at times. His shooting won’t always be there, but there’s no excuse for his aggressiveness not to be either.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | +4
Vintage Big Al performance. He came off the bench and did what he’s assigned to do: score and rebound.
Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 0 PTS | -6
Andre Miller needs a permanent “incomplete” for this season. For every great assist he also makes a boneheaded turnover or shot attempt that kills the Nuggets momentum. Grading him is pointless as he seems to be perpetually stuck in a mode of consistent inconsistency.
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS | -3
Brewer played hard, as always, and reaped the benefits of a few ally oops and a steal. Nothing he does jumps out at you but his hustle goes a long ways in helping the Nuggets stay focused on the task at hand, which is huge for the team.
JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 7-11 FG | 1-3 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +2
In his first game as a Nugget, McGee did not disappoint. His put back dunk off Afflalo’s missed free throw was the game winner while his stat line in general was impressive. His athleticism is clearly above and beyond any other center on the Nuggets roster and his ability to finish around the rim should turn out to be valuable. But… McGee is the epitome of a project. He’s got a long ways to go before he reaches his potential and may never see this come to fruition if he doesn’t start playing with more intelligence. Straying away from jump shots and post moves he’s not equipped with will be paramount moving forward. If McGee can however get on track then his talent will surely shine.

Nuggets Lacking Passers

The Denver Nuggets possess one of the more efficient offenses in the NBA (currently fifth in the league in offensive efficiency).  It is an equal opportunity offense that requires players who can create scoring opportunities for their teammates.  The bad news is they are running low on players who are good passers.

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JaVale McGee Scouting Report

Few NBA players are as heavily branded with a reputation as JaVale McGee.  He runs the wrong way.  He tries to dunk from too far away.  He is a knucklehead.  Of course there is more to the story.  He may not be the second coming of a certain Hall of Fame center as George Karl intimated after the game last night, but he is a talented player with a lot going for him.

Searching for a more complete profile I reached out to Kyle Weidie from the TrueHoop Network Wizard’s blog Truth About It.  Kyle was very generous in providing a more in depth summary of McGee than Youtube does, although Youtube is indeed useful as you will see below (I especially encourage you to read about his mom).

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 95 Dallas Mavericks 112

Dallas Mavericks 112 FinalRecap | Box Score 95 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Quite simply it was Faried’s worst defensive performance yet. Faried has been great defending the post but looked lost against a player of Dirk’s caliber. Karl chose not to double Dirk early on and it probably cost the Nuggets the game. As much as I hate to admit it, this shows Faried is still a developing rookie who hasn’t yet proved he’s as consistent as we all want to believe.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 23 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Gallo started the game very poorly, became frustrated with the officiating and shot jumpers the rest of the way until he broke his left thumb while attempting to block an Ian Mahinmi layup. It had nothing to do with new personnel coming on board or George Karl limiting his role. Gallo ran offense reasonably well but was terrible as a primary scoring option and a defender. If he wants to be great, he’ll need to play harder. Gallo likely won’t be able to use his left hand for a while and could be out a few more weeks at the least. This a really bad break for the Nuggets.
Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -14
Mozgov played a solid first half and an absolutely hideous second half. I believe the Nuggets were better defensively with him on the floor but when he stopped scoring and Dallas’s pick and roll defense picked up in the second half, Denver’ offense was horrible. Mozgov needs to be better, but the 9 minutes he had were filled with solid production and an earnest effort towards playing solid team basketball.
Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 7-10 FG | 8-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | -9
Offensively, he was the Nuggets’ most consistent option and overall they’re best player on the floor. Afflalo also showed pretty good chemistry with Chandler but in a game in which Denver was so thoroughly embarrassed it’s impossible to say he was as good as his gaudy stats indicate. Is Afflalo just going to be a really good role player or the emotional leader he’s talked about trying to become?
Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -13
Lawson continues to struggle against the better pick and roll defenses in the league. When he was able to get penetration, Ty couldn’t finish anything. He’s going to have a tough time without a real post presence when teams take away his initial read and contain him at the rim in transition. As a team the Nuggets just didn’t do a good job moving the ball and finding good shots, which starts with Lawson but can be also be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the new personnel.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -2
Harrington’s numbers always seem to paint a misleading picture of his actual on-court impact. He missed a lot of bunnies that would have bolstered his already solid stat line even more, but Harrington was a no-show on defense and displayed a frustrating tendency to shoot the Nuggets out of any sort of momentum. Still, give Harrington credit for being one of the more consistent producers of the game and leading the small-ball heavy Nuggets in rebounding.
Andre Miller, PG 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Miller never really got going, as he unfortunately took a huge hit on the shoulder early on and sat out the rest of the way. In the 5 minutes he did play, Miller matched his points and assist totals in the more than 20 minutes he played in his previous game against the Boston Celtics. Denver has very little depth at the PG position and losing him leaves a void that’s difficult to fill.
Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
I liked Brewer’s intensity a lot, but getting him heavy minutes alongside Chandler and Gallo meant a super small lineup that really ended up hurting the Nuggets against the larger Mavericks. Brewer logged no rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes. I like Corey, but I fear he may be stuck in a lot of blowouts if the Nuggets don’t find a little more balance and find ways to play bigger.
Wilson Chandler, SF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -1
As I expected, Chandler looked like the freshest Nugget on the floor. He gave the Nuggets big time minutes despite clearly having no idea how to fit into George Karl’s idea of a half-court offense. Defensively is where Chandler really shined, giving the Nuggets a solid one-two punch on the perimeter alongside Afflalo. He struggled against the length and the size of the Mavericks in the post, but logged a good deal of minutes at power forward and center alongside Harrington or Faried. It’s tough to expect a lot of Chandler in that situation.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 9 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -8
Fernandez didn’t play until the second half and wouldn’t have entered the game if not for Andre Miller’s injury. The game was essentially over by the time he entered and Fernandez wasn’t able to show a lot in the emergency point guard role. It’s very tough to judge Rudy playing out of position in a couple of meaningless minutes in a blowout loss.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
17 minutes is a lot for a guy who contributed absolutely nothing except 2 rebounds. There’s a lot of hilarious delusion out of Nuggets fans surrounding Koufos, who is an adequate fourth-year backup big man. Koufos produced very little for the generous amount of minutes he was given and made no impact defensively.

George Karl’s 240 Minute Dilemma

Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen.  Those players average a combined 268 minutes per game.  In case you were wondering there are only 240 minutes in a regulation NBA game and that 268 figure is using the current rate of zero minutes a game from the two recent additions of McGee and Chandler.  Add in Chandler’s 30.6 minutes a game as a Nugget last season and McGee’s 27.4 as a Wizard this year and that number jumps up to 326 minutes a game.

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Nuggets sign Wilson Chandler for 5 years, $37 million

Closure can be a wonderful thing.

One of the stranger free agent pursuits in recent history has finally come to an end. As first reported by the Denver Post, restricted free agent Wilson Chandler agreed to a five year contract with the Nuggets worth $37 million.

There’s no doubt this is a big win for Wilson, who missed out on true free agency by signing to play in China during last summer’s NBA lockout. Wilson’s only option in terms of rejoining the league this year was to sign with Denver.

Chandler’s deal averages $7.4 million a year and is nearly identical to the base value of Arron Afflalo’s new contract. Afflalo’s deal contains incentives that could bump the value up to $43 million over five years.

My initial view is that this is fair deal, but an incredibly generous offer to make to someone in Wilson Chandler’s position. There’s no doubt shedding Nene’s $13.5 million annual salary and the amount given to Arron Afflalo in restricted free agency were key factors in the long, drawn out negotiations that finally culminated in today’s deal.

More reaction and analysis to the Chandler signing will be coming soon, but I personally believe this a solid move for Denver and something they needed to get done. To put it in perspective, both Chandler and Gallo’s new contracts add up to roughly the max salary figure Carmelo Anthony makes over the life of his extension, which was reportedly being offered to him by the Nuggets brass (although I seriously doubt it after watching Masai and Josh run things the way they have over the past year and a half).

Chandler is one of the more unique threes in the league, who excels on the wing offensively but is probably best suited to defending the post, where he has the strength to match up on taller players and the defensive instincts to provide much needed weak side help. Chandler should be in great shape having played ball virtually all summer long and I wouldn’t be surprised if he immediately picks up starters minutes.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 98 Boston Celtics 91

Boston Celtics 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 5-5 FG | 8-8 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +9

By halftime, Faried had 11 rebounds while the entire dead-legged Celtics team had 12. He turned in a career night in only 24 minutes, which would have been about 17 had Miller and Harrington not engineered an epic fourth quarter collapse. He was the most dominant player on the floor and he’s doing it all without the support and trust of his head coach. This guy just doesn’t know to quit. Nothing stops him.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +10

Why he got only one shot in the fourth quarter is a mystery, but all things considered this was another solid effort by Gallo on both ends of the floor. He was looking to wear down the Celtics early and none of the men in green were able to stay in front of him. Gallo’s aggression set the tone early and his shot selection was simply outstanding. Gallo’s a much smarter player than people give him credit for.

Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +4

Since returning from injury, Mozgov’s been playing his ugliest ball of the season. It was great to see him bounce back with a focused effort against a team like the Celtics, who are not the championship contenders they once were but still have one of the league’s top defenses. He appears to be getting some of his elevation back and looked much more confident on the offensive end.

Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +10

Afflalo was somehow very erratic and steady at the same time. He took 14 shots and missed some easy interior passes by not realizing when his 7-foot teammates were posting up guards. Yet he still led the team with a +10 in 30 minutes and ended up with the second most assists behind Lawson. He played well, but from a leadership standpoint I think he can still improve quite a bit.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 7 PTS | +7

It was a very rough game for Lawson, who often had to guard Allen and Rondo while Andre Miller took the night off. He took five shots in 32 minutes, which is just way too passive even though he realized the Nuggets needed to be going through their bigs, who were wearing the Celtics down. Lawson’s heads up play and staunch defense rescued Denver’s guard play from the terror of Andre Miller.

Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -1

For every good play Al Harrington made there was a boneheaded mistake. That kind of inconsistency can’t be afforded with Al anymore. With Nene out of the picture, he seems to know he’s got tons of freedom and total immunity from the coaching staff. That’s all fine and well so long as Harrington plays unselfishly and makes smart decisions. Al’s blooper reel included an uncontested three-point airball that missed the rim by about five feet. I’m serious

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -2

He clearly doesn’t care anymore, and neither do I. Miller gets no more words out of me. Scroll down to the comments if you really wanna know how bad it was. Our informed readers can get this one for me. I’m done with Andre Miller.

Corey Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -4

Brew’s hands were all over the court. He hounded Rajon Rondo, whose eye popping production didn’t come without some serious pressure during Corey’s limited time on the floor. He is so adept at stealing the ball and really makes that over-aggressive style work for him.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 PTS | -7

Rudy is making steady progress since his return to the bench rotation, but I’d place him in the Al Harrington category as a little too spastic in this particular game. I don’t want to judge Rudy too harshly because he was forced to play nearly all of his minutes alongside Andre Miller.

Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +9

Koufos had perhaps the perfect performance for a defensive backup Center. When you look at his numbers and the appropriate 15 minutes of playing time, you see a guy who knows exactly where he fits into the puzzle. On a night the bench just wasn’t getting it done, Kosta stepped up big.

Two Things We Saw

  1. George Karl is clearly damaged and still reeling from the effects of the Nene trade. He is denying Faried minutes out of spite more than anything else. Karl’s response to the the trade is to lean even more heavily on his veterans Andre Miller and Al Harrington. The trade was designed for the Nuggets to go younger and play bigger. The heavy small ball Karl leaned on immediately turned the tide in Boston’s favor and deserved to get him a loss.
  2. I had this game penciled in as an easy win and would have been worried if the Nuggets couldn’t muster one of their best efforts of this home stand. It has nothing to do with the Celtics, who clearly appear to have problems, but with a healthy roster this is as close to scheduled win as you can get. Boston was playing off a late night west coast back-to-back while the Nuggets were rested. In past years, there is something like an 85% loss rate for teams in the same situation. This was not a fair fight and the easiest game of the home stand outside of dates with the Cavs and Kings — and we all remember what happened in those.

Analyzing the Nene for JaVale McGee Trade

In order to wrap my head around the trade that sent longtime Denver Nugget Maybyner “Nene” Hilario to the Washington Wizards I had to compartmentalize my thoughts and feelings into several different categories.  I will go through them one at a time in order to attempt to break down a trade that took everyone by surprise.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 90 Oklahoma City Thunder 103

Oklahoma City Thunder 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -7

There wasn’t much to write home about in a game like this, but Faried was clearly a bright spot. Great energy, great hustle, and nonstop aggression on both ends of the court. The fact he saw the fewest minutes of all starters is a travesty. With Nene out of the picture, George Karl has to come around to him eventually for the Nuggets to have a chance at success.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -5

32 minutes is a great sign. Physically, Gallo looked much better than he did in his first few games back from injury. It’s tough to complain about this performance, but I do think 7 three pointers and no free throw attempts is a bit too unbalanced. Gallo is ready to be more aggressive with his offense and the Nuggets need him to take on a larger role.

Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -11

Tough to watch. Seriously brutal. Way too many minutes. Needs to pick it up soon. Running out of short sentences here. At some point he has to learn how to not body check his man every time he’s defending the ball.

Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -1

A really poor shooting performance, but I saw him giving significantly better effort than most of his teammates on both ends. Afflalo is at his best when he’s moving with out the ball, cutting to the basket and shooting off screens. There was no off-ball movement for Denver tonight and just looking at the box score doesn’t tell you how hard he was playing.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -8

Lawson started slow and was never able to get himself going. He’s always been bothered by the Thunder’s interior defense which is part of the reason OKC is such a a terrible matchup for the Nuggets. Let’s hope JaVale McGee can run a pick and roll because Ty could use an occasional screen and some kind of effort by a big man to help him create.

Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -15

Harrington’s worst shooting game of the year, and another instance in which the Thunder just badly exposed the Nuggets for playing him so much. He was either stuck on Kevin Durant, Nick Collison or Serge Ibaka, none of whom he has any chance of guarding. Al also got hurt in the fourth quarter and I feel bad for him, but he played a brutally bad game.

Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -14

Probably Andre Miller’s second best game of the season, and it comes with 4 turnovers and a -14 in 24 minutes. This kind of outcome when Andre Miller has a good game isn’t all that unusual, and that kind of tells you the whole story when it comes 2012 season and Andre Miller.

Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +1

Birdman did his job. He provided energy off the bench and outside of Faried, was the best Nuggets big on the floor.He took several shots you did not want him taking, but Denver just had way bigger problems than Bird in this one.

Corey Brewer, SF 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -5

10 minutes, 3 fouls, and not a whole lot else. Brewer can be so wildly up and down each possession which makes it very difficult to evaluate him. With Rudy returning to the lineup, it seems like Brew is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -9

Took some really questionable shots, made some really questionable passes, played some really questionable defense. On the other hand, Rudy did provide a nice spark off the bench in the first half. Can his presence have a consistently positive impact over an entire game though? That’s questionable.

Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -1

It’s good to see Koufos healthy and back in the lineup. He made some nice hustle plays and also appeared to have a bit of rust on his game thanks to his extended absence from the rotation.

Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +5

Got some good news that he won’t be waived to make room for Chandler. It looks like Rony Turiaf will be bought out of his deal to free up a roster spot for Wilson Chandler.

Jordan Hamilton, G 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5

Garbage time hero.

Three Things We Saw

  1. It’s tough to feel good about where the Nuggets are at right now. They’re amazingly 6-3 since the break, but aren’t playing inspiring ball. I mentioned in the last recap how the defense is so broken it’s a miracle Denver wins as many games as they do. I really don’t see a consistent effort on both ends of the floor, especially on the Nuggets’ home court. A roster shakeup was probably the right thing to do as this team just hasn’t developed any cohesion or trust. They win games when they run out and score a lot of points in transition, which just isn’t going to happen every single game, especially against the better teams.
  2. Part of the reason I believe the trade was made is the Nuggets realizing they can’t realistically compete on the Thunder’s level with what they have. It will likely take several years of first finding an identity and then figuring out how to build a system for success around that. Retooling and reshaping the team that was formed after the Melo trade never made very much sense. There just wasn’t enough evidence to suggest a team like that could win anything.
  3. Half court offense remains a big obstacle in terms of Denver improving with McGee and (possibly) Wilson Chandler coming on board. Without a post up threat or anyone who can create their own shot, Miller and Lawson are stuck playing 1 on 1 a majority of the time. Gallo is a player who I feel doesn’t really create his own shot and needs other playmakers on the floor to succeed. There will be plenty of touches for Chandler and McGee whenever they do come on board, the big question is whether or not they will actually help Lawson and Miller create better looks, something they are not able to do with this group.

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