Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, New Orleans Hornets 97

New Orleans Hornets 97 Final

Recap | Box Score

110 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +14
Nothing too out of the ordinary for Brewer on the night. It was good to see his number of shot attempts creep down this game as they’ve been a bit high lately. Brewer also had a few big hustle plays that kept the Nuggets momentum in full swing.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -6
Foul trouble haunted Faried for most of the game, yet even when his playing time fluctuated Faried managed to exude a steady diet of energy that resulted in a few monster dunks and rebounds. His heartfelt effort was once again on full display as even when he received a few atrocious foul calls, he still give it his all on almost every possession.
Nene, C 20 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | +12
Nene looked surprisingly sprightly considering how rusty he probably still is. He had several offensive possessions in the paint that led to crafty baskets and passed the ball extremely well when faced with stingy defense. As time passes Nene will undoubtedly improve, but against the Hornets he was solid.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 9-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 28 PTS | +8
Afflalo has now scored at least 28 points in two of the last three games and set a new career high in the process. On Friday he scored in a multitude of different ways which Nuggets fans haven’t seen combined into one packaged game. From mid-range step backs, to his patented 3-pointer, to cutting through the lane — Afflalo did it all. He is now averaging over 19 points per game in the month of March and over 13 points per game on the season, which would be a new career high if he remains on the pace he’s currently at.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 3-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | +14
Friday was a fairly quite night for Lawson considering this past week was by far the best of his young career. He managed to log a double-double, which is always great to see, and turned the ball over far less than the previous game, which is also always good to see. On a night where the Nuggets had no problem scoring points you would like to have seen Lawson assert himself a bit more on offense, but that’s being fairly captious in the grand scheme of things.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +12
This was Harrington’s seventh double-double and third 20-and-10 game of the season. That’s pretty impressive for a guy coming off the bench. Had he not shot so poorly from beyond the arc Harrington likely would be looking at a 25-plus point performance on an extremely efficient night of shooting to pair with it. Overall, this was an excellent performance from one of the top sixth men in the entire league.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 7 PTS | +6
Andre Miller continues to be as wayward as the Colorado weather. One minute he’s lazily sauntering about with his hands at his sides not even attempting to challenge his opponents shot, and the next he’s dishing out pinpoint assists to his fellow teammates in the most important stretch of the game. Because he’s in a mode of such constant change it’s really difficult to grade his performance as a whole. If he’d just play with half the emotion Faried does, especially on defense, Miller would be getting As and Bs almost every night.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +12
As Charlie has mentioned before, sometimes grades aren’t entirely reflective of stat lines. Though Birdman finished with a pedestrian six points and two rebounds, his three blocked shots were monumental in terms of energy and momentum. His effort on the defensive side of the floor was terrific and you truly have to tip your hat to “The Bird” for being able to play with so much heart in light of decreased playing time and trade rumors.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 24 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Gallinari looked sweaty and pale on more than one occasion, and by pale I mean more pale than he already is, which is pretty pale. He was clearly out of shape and struggled with almost every aspect of his game, but showed a lot of determination by never asking out of the game and continuing to try and make a positive impact on the floor.
Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Hamilton saw a few garbage minutes and brought down the house with his ally oop that secured tacos for Nuggets fans across the state of Colorado. We sincerely thank him for that.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Sky’s the Limit: As George Karl told his team and the media before the game, you’re never going to be great if you don’t play hard. This stands true when you’re playing the best team in the league, or the worst team in the league. The Nuggets must get back to playing their style of ball every night, no matter who the opponent is. Though beating the Hornets at home may seem like a routine win, that’s exactly the problem. Like the fans, the Nuggets are taking their opponents way too lightly. This was a huge win, as a loss would have been demoralizing to the fullest extent.
  2. Notorious BIGs: On this day (March 9) 15 years ago (yes, we’re all getting old), Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., passed away leaving Earth with one less “big guy” to roam its surface. In life, big guys are some of the most impactful people in our culture, and this is becoming even more obvious in the case of the Denver Nuggets. Though we often make jokes about the Nuggets stiff-like big men, the fact is, without them Denver is a whole different team — and not in a good way. Since Koufos and Mozgov’s absence the Nuggets interior defense has been abysmal, letting almost anybody score inside. So on a day when the biggest “big” is being remember all across the world, it’s only right that Nuggets fans take a moment to appreciate a few of their own.
  3. You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Passes You): In a somewhat interesting development, several current Nuggets managed to pass former members of the team in three different franchise-record categories on Friday. Arron Afflalo passed Linus Kleiza for 10th on the Nuggets all time 3-pointers made list, Nene passed Kiki Vandeweghe for ninth on the all time scoring list and Chris Andersen passed the great Alex English for fifth on the all time blocked shots list. These are all extraordinary accomplishments by three of the franchise’s most important players over the last handful of years.
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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • Daniel

    Nene was a pleasant surprise tonight. Now if Gallo get his legs back combined with the way Trip and Ty have been playing, the Nuggets will be primed for a nice run heading into the playoffs. I think they can get to the top 4 in the conference and secure home court at least for the 1st round. It would be great if Moz or k2 would come back soon. Rudy can stay injured if he wants, give his minutes to J-Ham. Anybody else watching Colorado hand it to Cal? Great night. Thanks guys for the blog.

    • magster

      Getting worried that Koufos tendinitis is something worse. The lowly Cavs and Kings beat OKC and Dallas respectively, so maybe we just caught those teams at a bad time.

      Dallas loss puts in the #6 seed.

    • lil rik

      2 seed is a possibility if the Nugs continue to improve and play well. That would be critical. Avoid OKC until the conference finals, and if someone happened to knock them off then all bets are off…..

      • evan

        I like your attitude.

  • jaybark7

    Thanks for the breakdown.

    On Andre – is he turning into the kind of back-up point guard that works here. Obviously would love him to actually play D but for a few weeks before the Break he seemed like he was challlenging Ty to really run the team. I think we are much better when this is Ty’s team. If we can have a back-up who averages something like 10ppg and 8 apg. I think we are in great shape.

    Love AAA playing with some offensive life. When he is scoring it takes shots away from Brewer which I’m fine with. He is more of a change-up guy rather than a steady every-nighter. If AAA can keep this up and bump his average up to 15 ppg I’ll be happy about the money he got.

    Definitely agree about the big men. I love the depth in our front court. Nene is still getting back but looked much better tonight. Bird was definitely involved tonight and that’s good to see as long as he is here. It gets tough dishing out minutes when you get Koufos and Mozgov back…Nene needs them, Al has earned them, Faried has earned them, Moz needs them, Koufos at times has earned them, Bird can use them too.

    About the playoffs – I think we can get to the second round if we are anywhere between the six seed up to the two seed. OKC is our toughest matchup for sure. Everyone else I think we could beat 4 out of 7 times.

    Excited about the Nuggets!!

  • bayesk

    Something I wish I’d see in a future game, that sadly probably won’t happen: George Karl shocking the world by unleashing a big lineup in a critical game. Something like Mozgov, KK, Faried, Gallo and Stone against Memphis in the second round, just for a quarter, maybe, to protect the paint and the perimeter and swing a game. And I realize that it’s not just Karl; it’s up to the players to perform and execute, to prove to Karl that it can be a tactic worth utilizing, and that just isn’t the case – yet. I hold out hope that our depth, and all the combinations of player skills and playing styles, yields some strong, successful Denver Nuggets basketball this spring.

    As an aside: what do you all think would qualify as success for this team come the playoffs? I think many would agree the WCF would certainly qualify; I think reaching the conference semis, though it would surely be a bitter defeat, is a strong showing for this young group. I would come out of a second-round loss disappointed but feeling positive for ’12-’13. And another first-round loss should mean the from office takes a serious look at Karl’s tenure – which sadly, they probably will neglect to do.

    • SmokinNugs

      I’ve too have often wished Karl would run a Moz and K2 “Twin Towers” type lineup. Even with small Ty at point he’d be zipping through through the trees. Throw Afflalo or anyone who’s shooting well in the other two slots and they’ve gotta play everyone honest which would let the 7 footers go to work on a spread defense that can’t afford to double team!

      • jaybark7

        I love this idea. The best part is that you have so many options. We could easily go for spurts with 4 guys 6’9″ and over, without giving up our athleticism and getting killed by a team running or shooting from the perimiter.

        Is this an all the time line-up? No, but for a 3-4 minute stretch it’d be really interesting. I wonder what teams would do against it.

        There is a lot to be said for a team dictating and forcing other teams to react to us and trusting your players to hold no matter how the other team plays it.

  • Ernie

    Kalen, your thoughts on the Bigs are spot on. Nene is not defending the paint and Bird gets pushed around too easily. What made this team different was they can go so much bigger than opponents, even if those Bigs don’t have great hands. And they were willing defenders and setters of picks.

    I really wish Stone would play as well. Such a better defender than our other PGs, he gives the team a different look.

  • GZ

    I can’t wait until we are at full strength in our front court. Here’s how I think the rotations could work once everyone is back:

    Al Buckets had a great game last night, but it’s asking too much of him to produce at that level long-term. He is better coming off the bench in limited spurts to provide offensive punch when needed, maybe splitting time with Gallinari and Nene when they are cold. His post defense is good, but he’s not great in the pick-and-roll, especially when he switches onto the perimeter player. I like when he is paired with Bird, with Al defending the post-up player and Bird defending the pick-and-roll and providing weak-side help.

    Faried and Birdman (especially for home games) can be used off the bench to inject energy to the team and can be paired with Nene to provide weak side help when he inevitably gets beat. On offense, the Nene + Faried/Bird combo also makes some sense, with the ball in Nene’s hands and Faried/Bird as cutters to take advantage of Nene’s passing ability.

    I think K2 or Moz are probably best as substitutes for Nene when his defensive liabilities become too much to bear. I’m not sure how well Moz+K2 would work on offense, since their style of play is so similar (traditional back-to-the-basket post players). If K2 could develop a better high post game with an 15-foot jumper and passing ability, I could see them running a decent high-low game together. On defense and on the boards that combo could be great.

    • Kyle Obergfell

      thank you for recognizing Birdman. I don’t know why he became the pariah of the team, from what I’ve seen, he’s been bringing the intensity. Whether or not we’re down to the last few games ever with him, I love what he brings in effort. A little of that could go a long way across this team.

      • Ryan

        Put Birdman’s effort into Nene’s body and you’d have one hell of a player

    • Michael (anotheraussienuggzfan)

      In college K2 was a shooter (even out to 3 pt range) not a post player, he’s been working on his post game to give all our other perimeter players space.
      The coaching staff have been trying to get him to take more 15 footer + shots because he has a good stroke.

  • Ricardo

    I’m glad the nuggets won a game that they should have won. Afflalo played well tonight by making three-pointers and attacking the basket, which is a factor why he’s been scoring more points lately. Lawson didn’t score as much as he did in the previous games, but he still got, yet, another double-double. But I would like to have Mosgov and Koufos back so their interior defense would get better.