|Kenneth Faried, F 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -14
Faried played with lots of energy, as usual, but got in foul trouble early which forced Karl to limit his minutes in the first half. However, why he didn’t see more time later in is a bit perplexing considering the Nuggets desperately needed the two things Faried is best at providing: energy and defense.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Gallinari isn’t exactly picking up where he left off. Whether he’s still injured or just extremely out of shape (or both) is up for debate, but either way Gallinari isn’t very effective on the floor at the moment. More playing time should heal his struggles, but it’s a little discouraging seeing how far he’s fallen since injuring his foot in February.
|Nene, C 26 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +2
Even though he shot a low percentage from the field, Nene finished with a very respectable stat line overall. His aggressiveness against the much taller Marc Gasol was one of the few highlights of the game.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | 0
Afflalo had another “invisible night.” While he played 32 minutes, it seemed as if he was only on the floor for 10. It’s crucial that he remains assertive on the offensive side of the ball in order for the Nuggets to reach its full potential.
|Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +3
Similar to Afflalo, Ty Lawson was also nowhere to be seen for much of the night. He hit one big 3-pointer near the end of the game but otherwise spent most of the evening shying away from the spotlight. He had more turnovers than assists and deferred to his teammates far too often rather than attempting to make something happen himself. After winning the Western Conference Player of the Week award, Lawson has since been underwhelming.
|Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +4
Harrington did what the Nuggets pay him to do: score of the bench. He was one of the few players that displayed constant emotion throughout the game and actually looked as if he wanted to win.
|Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | -4
Looking at Miller’s stat line is the epitome of deception. Getting 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals from your backup point guard is every team’s dream; however, you’d also think a win would come included with such numbers. And that, right there, is really the problem with Andre Miller. His game and numbers right now don’t translate into winning basketball. He plays no defense, is selfish on offense and is consistently inconsistent. In the fourth quarter, with only seconds left on the clock and the Nuggets down by three, Miller committed one of the more baffling turnovers I’ve ever seen. He essentially just handed the ball over to Memphis without any defensive pressure whatsoever. At this juncture, Miller seems to be hurting the team more than he’s helping it.
|Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -3
Birdman finished with yet another solid night. He rebounded particularly well and didn’t commit any glaring errors. With a more steady role, Birdman would likely flourish, which is why a trade might be best for both he and Denver moving forward.
|Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -1
Brewer was fantastic in terms of energy, which also reflected in his stat line. He had numerous fastbreak dunks and showed passion on defense. Late in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets were desperately in need of some points, he followed up one of Nene’s missed free throws which resulted in him shooting a few of his own. This is the type of effort the Nuggets absolutely must get from Brewer on a nightly basis.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Hamilton didn’t see much time, which is somewhat unfortunate as he played well in the five minutes he did see. In a game where the Nuggets needed something, Hamilton might have been able to provide it, as none of the normal rotational players were able to get it done.
Additional Notes (by Charlie)
- After winning three straight immediately following the All-Star break, the Nuggets entered their easiest portion of schedule on a high note. The difficult schedule was the bane of the Nuggets existence throughout February, yet Denver is 2-2 since starting a nine game home stand in what amounts to a cupcake schedule in terms of difficulty. What’s worse is they really should be 1-3 considering the Nuggets walked away with one of the most unlikely wins ever against the Sacramento Kings.
- Although the Nuggets managed a really close game against the Grizzlies, they were outhustled and out-executed in nearly every facet. Memphis played last night in Phoenix and the fatigue factor was present early and often. The Grizzlies weren’t able to get any offense out of their 2 best players and the Nuggets still allowed them to shoot 50.7% in their own building.
- Andre Miller’s minutes and shot attempts are down in the month of March. As the Nuggets have gotten healthy and started integrating starters back into the lineup, Miller has taken on a much lesser role in the offense. The result has been a faster pace and some of the most efficient offense of the season. Although Lawson had a poor game, I think the George Karl’s emphasis was clear — he went to Miller early and often and clearly planned to get him more touches on the offensive end. The result was a good performance by Miller and some of the most pathetic execution of team offense all year.
- To expand on the last point a bit, the lack of spacing is killing the Nuggets when Miller enters the game. They are reduced to a team reliant on Andre Miller to create something off the dribble. This strategy only works with quicker, more athletic players who can exploit a mismatch or draw a double team. I fail to see why the Nuggets can’t put Gallo in this role more often instead of having Miller dominate the ball as much he does.
- The Nuggets made a crucial error on the final play of the game. With only seconds remaining on the clock and the Nuggets needing a three pointer to tie, George Karl inexplicably passed up an opportunity to advance the ball. The result was much of the precious remaining clock being spent dribbling up the floor, where the Grizzlies had all five players hawking the three-point line. It was the easiest defensive possession the Grizzlies had all night. I assumed the Nuggets were going for a quick two, but they seemed to have no idea what to do and fumbled the ball right into the waiting arms of the Memphis Grizzlies. I believe this is one of the worst coaching decisions made in the NBA this season. There was no effort to score on the final possession — it was as if the Nuggets were not aware of the clock situation.
- After the game it was revealed Lawson suffered an ankle sprain in the second quarter and will be listed as day-today. With the Nuggets having plenty of rest between games over the next week, Ty should be able to recover without missing much time. Although this loss does not constitute a disaster in terms of the playoff push, the Nuggets are now in a dogfight to finish their home stand above .500
Update 12:05 AM MDST by Jeremy - I agree with Kalen wholeheartedly. Karl’s decision not to call a timeout on the last possession was a major error. You can argue that this is armchair analysis with the benefit of hindsight, but as the play unfolded you could see the difference between a team prepared for that situation and one that was completely ill prepared.
Had Karl called a timeout not only could he have set up a play, but more importantly, he could have put a better three point shooting lineup on the court. The five players on the floor were Nene, Miller, Brewer, Afflalo and Harrington. The only players you would hope to shoot in that situation are Harrington and Afflalo. Of course Memphis knew who the threats were. If Gallo and Lawson were out there in place of Miller and Brewer, Memphis still would have known they needed to guard the three point line, but with more threats and a hopefully well designed play, it would have been much more difficult.
Because of the disorganization Afflalo, who most Nuggets fans would have preferred to take the shot, caught the ball early and then with no good look at the rim passed to Miller, possibly the most inappropriate player to have the ball in his hands at that moment as he can not create his own jumper, nor can he make threes. As expected Miller did not know what to do with it and handed it over to Memphis.
I understand Karl’s love of frenetic fast-paced offense, but the costs far outweighed the benefits in that situation. Karl must know his personnel and the situation better. If Denver has practiced that situation, it sure did not look like it.