Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 91

Memphis Grizzlies 94 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 Denver Nuggets
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.

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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)

  • Adrian G

    so frustrating. so over seeing games go down the drain. Lacking discipline at certain times. Lawson needed to be more aggresive ALL game and gallo needs to stop worrying about the injury. if he is playing he needs to go. hmph

  • Isaac

    I didn’t get to watch the game just followed updates on twitter. But it will be hard to even make the playoffs when we can’t beat a team coming off a back to back at home while we are on rest. Turnovers killed us tonight. Can’t play sloppy. Can’t afford to lose easy ones at home.

  • Aurress

    I will admit the Nuggets played sloppy. Some passes were a bit too risky down in the paint & not passed with enough… UMPH, if you know what I mean. We used to call them “Baby Passes” back in my playing days.

    But I think the refs got to the Nuggets. At 1 pt, GK called a timeout & looked at the ref, held 3 fingers to his chest, looked at the fingers on his chest, then looked back at the ref. That was in the 2nd qtr I think. And in my opinion that was his way of saying to / showing the ref, “hey, thats 3 calls that you’ve made that were pretty bad.”

    And it just seemed to continue. Eventually, the refs lack of “nuggets favorable” calls & the plethora of “Grizzle favorable” calls just got into the Nuggets players’ & coaches’ heads & it was just all over from that point forward.

    If anything, this shows a lack of resolve by the Nuggets. And I’ve never done this before, but this falls on Ty’s shoulders. If he is to be the Floor General out there, it is up to him to reel in his teammates, get them to play the game, not the whistle, and push on thru to a win.

    I won’t blame Gallo or Nene, as they are recovering from injuries, but Ty can’t blank on a game until the final 3 mins.

    I don’t think this lose leaves cause for concern or an immediate call for a trade deadline deal. Just another unfortunate loss.

    • HD

      I agree, its a huge change in momentum.

  • Landry

    Memphis just showed us what playoff basketball is like and we did not step up…

    Poor execution, missing lay-ups, ty being complacent, poor half-court sets are going to kill us come playoff time in a seven game series

    Finally we don’t play with chip on our shoulder unless you count the old guys, hopefully GK can help get our young guys to play like a squad with something to prove rather than a team that settles for mediocrity.

    • Aurress

      Just being curious & trying to stimulate conversation… What should we expect come playoff time? Like, what is considered a success? Just making the playoffs? Taking it to 5, 6, 7 games? Advancing to the 2nd round? More than that?

      I just think with this young of a team (player ages & the short amt of time they’ve been together, and the injuries), we should be pleased with this Nuggets team making the playoffs & being competitive. But that is just my opinion. Of course I’d love to see them do better & advance.

      • Landry

        True but if your going to the playoffs, you gotta go for it all. If we the fans don’t believe that they can get to an NBA championship, there is no way the squad can think so too. Our players need too step up and overcome Miami-like star power and play physically like Chauncey 2004 Pistons.

        • bdmacl

          This question hits the nail on the head: Are the Nuggets only playing to get to the playoffs, or are they playing to win a championship. If the former, then right now, they are in, so what are they playing for? If not the latter, then there is no way they will advance because that is not their goal. You don’t accidentally win a championship. I would love to know what is really in their hearts. This game showed me they only expect themselves to make the playoffs, and nothing more.

  • Kyle

    Wow! that was painful to watch. Too many turnovers and mental errors. I also hated the moaning and groaning going on, we once again played very soft. The refs were terrible! That’s no excuse, Brewer, Miller, and Harrington seemed like they wanted to play and everyone else was very lazy and complacent. I’m really tired of all these heartbreaking losses for real!

  • HD

    Once everyone is healthy how will Karl’s rotation work? Fernandez or Brewer? Bird or Kouf? What is the closing lineup. I know Karl likes to play the guy with the hot hand, but don’t we need consistency?

  • Jay c.

    We are officially irrelevant. We will win enough to make the playoffs just to then be chewed up and spit out in the 1st round. Welcome to mediocrity!

    • aussienuggzfan

      my thoughts all year

  • Jeff

    You could tell Buckets was on the verge of busting out but things would happen like he’d fumble the ball or get a bad call. Woulda loved to see more Faried to at least get the crowd into it.

  • Ricardo

    I don’t like when the nuggets loses games that they are suppose to win at home. Lawson has to play with the same aggressiveness he was playing in the four-game winning streak and Gallo has to step it up offensively. They shouldn’t have given the ball to Miller in that last possesion, he always turns the ball over at the most crucial times.

  • Porter

    Seems like a pretty accurate and fair report card but I don’t see why Chris Anderson has to constantly hear about being traded…. Explain please .. It can’t do much for his moral and yet I see him putting forth good play…. when… he ‘gets’ to. From a Fan who is about a C in knowledge of the game he sure keeps me interested in watching the Nuggets… Faried is also an exciting player. Do we C fans count for anything or is it ALL about the win………

  • NuggLove

    I don’t know what to say. This loss to me just took a significant amount of air out of us. We are now 2-2 in our much-needed homestand which is a sign of not going to make noise in the playoffs. But honestly, who knows. I think guys like Miller and Big Al can find ways to redeem themselves in the playoffs. Also, maybe Ty has to realize that he is not a pure PG, he is not a pass-first type of guard anymore. He shouldn’t think twice of being aggressive and must accept that he may get blocked or get an offensive foul. That means he should still be very confident of what he did in the first four games after the all-star break.
    To be honest, this loss is on the players, not George Karl.
    I think when Miller is on the court, his teammates should be very aware that he really is a great point guard for a reason. When his teammates moves, this creates a lot of easier looks for Miller to pass to his teammates. I prefer Miller to put up Kidd-like numbers (2-5 pts and 10+ asts) rather than stats I expect Lawson to put up (averages during 4-game winning streak).
    Another thing I should want a lot more from Miller is just defense. If only George Karl could realize that Miller doesn’t contest much jump shots as Felton (his predecessor), I think it’s time to go.
    Who knows, maybe Ujiri has something in his sleeve

    • Charlie

      You can’t judge this team’s chances in the playoffs until Gallinari and Nene and return to their rightful roles and normal amount of minutes.

      If the attitude on this team doesn’t change, the Nuggets might not make the playoffs. I have been saying it for a while — this team is vulnerable to another 2 or 3 week stretch in which they lose most of their games, which could easily eliminate them from the playoff race.

      • ParkHillNative

        I think the main thing at this point is that the Nuggets are quickly getting to the point where they’ll have no chance to open the playoffs at home. This one should’ve been easy tonight, being rested at home against a tired opponent. There are a lot of other games left on the schedule that are going to be much more difficult to win that this one. They’re getting to where they have almost no margin for error whatsoever.

        I suppose some might say we should be optimistic that they could win on the road in the playoffs this year, because they have a winning record on the road. But they’re only 11-9 on the road, and they started the year 7-3, meaning they’re just 4-6 since the hot start.

        I guess you never really know what’s going to happen, and that’s why the play the games, but I’m resigning myself to the idea that this is a building year, and yeah, just making the playoffs would be a big accomplishment for them. They’re just not a good enough team to have anything more expected of them.

  • Aaron

    At The End Of The Game I Watchinq it With My Friends And 1 Of Em Said With 8 Seconds To Go ” DONT GIVE IT TO MILLER! HE’LL EITHER HOG IT OR TURN IT OVER!” I Really Wish Miller Was on The Tradinq Block instead Of Birdman, Miller is Killinq This Team..Miller Does Thee EXACT! Opposite Of What Karl Wants (Defense, Passinq The Ball And! Actually Putinq Effort Into Ur Job That Pays u 7 Million A Year!) I Don’t Get What Karl is Doinq it Makes NOOO Sense At All..

    On The Bright Side Tho Our Best 3 Players Had Bad Days And We Still Only Lost By 3..

  • http://italianweb berry

    im new here.from italy.
    it’s not quite to be alone on the parquet.
    grizzlies are quite a very good team.
    and they showed us.

    this is a mix of veteran(nene,miller,harrington,andersen)and young core (faried,lawson,gallo,mozgov).
    and a little more mature athlete(afflalo).

    the leader is going to be ty, but as young he is, he has many blankette passage.
    it’s not my gallo, who turn to be the real champion.

    the veteran can’t do it: miller is a loser.
    the youngster can’t do it: ty cant handle mentally still.

    afflalo is ALL we have got to go further in po. or in the ranking. (dont u think it’s a little gusty to think WE ARE THAT WINNINg TEAM????)

    so tonight his opponent was a beast: allen.
    that’s all the story.

    • Kyle Obergfell

      I don’t think we can count on Affalo at all.
      You know.. really.. this forum and Nuggets nation
      in general has SERIOUSLY given that guy a HUGE PASS.

      Was I the only one in the world that saw this guy
      as the weakest and most overpaid starter all year?
      I’m sorry but I am not about to give him a pass after
      OJ Mayo drained 3 after 3..
      And in totality.. Affalo has had 7-8 good games all year
      and the rest of the year, he has sucked out loud.

      Last night was surely not all on him..
      but when I read that Affalo is all we have to go on..
      I throw up a little in my mouth…

  • Up the nuggz

    I unfortunately did not get to watch the game as I’m in Australia so firstly I would like to thank you for your post game analysis. It seems to me from the box score that we were lucky to be in the game at all. When our two best players are both getting D’s I can’t help think that we have no chance of getting a win, especially against playoff calibre teams like Memphis. I think we really need to resign Wilson Chandler, regardless of what position he’ll play we need someone who can score and at the very least give us consistent performances, that has been one of our main problems- we beat Miami, New York and LA although can’t beat Cleveland and to beat SAC-TOWN we need a brain snap from the opposition.

  • Thomas

    You should start each game review with a summary paragraph and get down to it – Karl stank again. We can keep talking for many seasons how a guy played poorly and another played OK, bla blah blah, fill the blanks and at the end we lost.

    No sense following this predictable train wreck. The man in charge on the bench is just not good enough – let him go before we take too many steps back and lose this group’s potential.

    Get rid of Miller, limit Harrington’s minutes to 18 at most, and let the starters gel together – playing 30+ minutes as the same unit to develop some consistency.

    We have a big problem in finding our identity. We have 2 centers that have a lot of potential and we absolutely need to have Faried as a foundation to this team. I don’t think Nene, Faried and Gallo starting will work. Nene and Gallo are too soft to protect the rim.

    Ty-AAA-Faried-Gallo-KK or Mozgov. This line-up can have Faried and a center constantly winning the rebounding edge and doesn’t burden Gallo with difficult defensive assignments – freeing him up to become a solid offensive weapon. This is what they did with Nowitzki – he had Marion and Chandler to back him up.

    Nene doesn’t fit well in our roster – he is not a scorer and cannot control the paint. Put him next to Faried and we will be just average in the long-run. Trade him (and Miller and Harrington and Rudy!) for a sharpshooter and a back-up guard).

    Given the direction Karl will take this team, not much too be excited about in our future.

  • ny nugs fan

    lionel hollins was making some wicked substitutions… especially in the 2nd half… we never quite matched what he was throwing out on the floor

  • Charles

    Frustrating. Turns out Ty got his ankle hammered in the second quarter. He shouldn’t have played but did his best. Karl needs to match up better instead of playing his team in groups. They don’t have enough flexibility when they have to change who they are playing with. Gallo is fine. He should be careful. Need to try other combinations, like Bird and Nene. No running game. If other teams get down court on defense our main weapon will be gone. On the other hand, one well executed play at the end and we would be celebrating strengths. Need a healthy team…

  • http://espn Gary

    Despite all the talent in the world, Lawson just doesn’t have it mentally. We need a more aggressive, consistent back-up (or even starter) @ PG. Nene is the same story. The rest (other than the rooks) just don’t have top notch talent, its a class of B level players.
    Jury still out on the kids.
    GK might as well leave while the going is still ok.

  • Charles

    Lawson is great when not injured. AAA can be awesome but can’t create; they need to run plays to clear him, even double screens. Farid needs to shoot 100 jumpers a day, releasing at the peak of his jump (ala Jordon), using only wrist (not arm) and he could be a 1st team all star in 3 years. We may have to wait until next year on this team. Hey, look at Melo… poor man!

    • Kyle Obergfell

      what am I missing here?
      AAA has had about 8 good games this year out of 42.
      When he sucks, he needs to know it.
      Nene gets a lot of Hell and deserves it.
      But Hello? Did you notice AAA sucking more than anyone
      else until about 2 weeks before the break?
      And since has been more consistent..
      but last night was pure proof that he is far from
      an elite guard worth the money shelled out on him..

  • J.J.

    I think everyone had some bad moments, and the end of the game performance and management was bad, but you can’t get 5 points total from Lawson and Gallinari and win. This loss is on them. Gallinari looks painfully tentative – I think either his ankle still hurts or he needs a few more games for his confidence. But when you get a goose egg from your leading scorer, and 5 from your second-leading scorer point guard, you are in trouble.

    Everyone has a clunker sometimes, but Lawson is worrying me. I know his ankle got squashed early in the game, but he’s got to be better. I still think when (and if) they all get healthy, that’s a game they win, and they will be a dangerous team, but you can only give away so many games.

  • J.J.

    And also, will someone PLEASE teach Faried how to set a screen? Pick and roll only works when there’s actually a pick – he looks like he can’t wait to start rolling for a dunk. It really can’t be that hard.

    • ParkHillNative

      Apparently part of the problem here is that GK teaches the bigs to always slip the screens.

  • Kyle Obergfell

    This is what I am talking about re: giving Affalo a pass.
    From RBMC grading post Spurs win…

    “Yes, his stat line isn’t gaudy but Afflalo gave the Nuggets nothing but positive output, and when you’re facing the Spurs, that’s EXACTLY what you need to do in order to win. Limiting mistakes must be No. 1 on your gameplan list when going up against San Antonion and no other player embodied this philosophy as much as Afflalo.”

    It never was a disturbing issue when we were winning all those
    games the first part of the year. Everyone is clicking.. except
    Affalo.. but give it time.. la la la la la la….
    So he does virtually nothing, then has a string of explosive games,
    and now when he does nothing, he still fades into the woodwork.
    I saw Andre Miller in Sacramento tearing it up. How quickly we
    forget how productive this man was up until recently.. and I will
    be the last to deny that he hasn’t been lately.
    But Affalo just gets a pass. Few players deserve them lately..
    none them deserve one every time.

    I know every player is better than what we saw last night,
    and for the first time all year, I’m worried.
    But what I see also from the fans and Coach Karl.. is favoritism.
    (Affalo, Brewer, Gallinari)
    Along with witch hunting.. (Birdman, Miller, Fernandez)

    Affalo has come through big for us in about 8 games.
    The other 34 have varied from lifeless to suck out loud.
    There isn’t a player on the roster who hasn’t come through
    and who hasn’t been a part of the wins we have collected
    starting all the way back at the beginning of the season.

    Everyone is accountable, and everyone needs recognized for production. Let’s level the playing field.

    • Trip

      Seriously, I like Brewer, but how come nobody talks about his gambles that sometimes turn into points and sometimes turn into easy baskets for the opposing team, or the fact that he shoots so many shots and only makes a few of them. I think he is great on this team and for this team, but why does he get an “A”.

  • al68

    Hemos perdido contra un equipo ordenado y que sabe a lo que juega, pero no mejor que nosotros.

    Para mi este equipo no sabe a lo que juega no tiene las rotaciones de jugadores claras.

    Es un equipo que ha tocado techo es momento de hacer algun cambio, y pienso que aunque GK es un gran entrenador ya no aporta ningún valor añadido a los nuggets, al final de esta temporada deberiamos buscar un nuevo entrenador.

    Necesitamos una estrella no una superestrella, que nos saque de los muchos atascos de juego que tenemos.

  • Trip

    You know what wins this game? Not stepping out of bounds right before a dunk and a 3 pointer. 5 points taken off the board because of careless mistakes.

  • http://espn.com Chris

    I’m ok getting rid of Nene, we can never get a real Center here, i’m tired of waiting on potential, I want players who are Atheletic and have talent that we don;t have to wait on potential.