|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.
Three Things We Saw
- Lay down the law: This could end up being a defining moment in Ty Lawson’s Nuggets career. With the Denver Nuggets teetering on the edge of becoming a full-blown lottery team, Lawson talked about accountability and predicted a statement a win before the game. I think the Nuggets know they are better than what they’ve shown so far, but they remain a team full of nice guys and good players who lack a true killer instinct. Losing usually begets frustration and selfishness, but it can also inspire and bring out the best in real winners. Lawson may not be a bonafide star, but he played like one tonight and perhaps he’ll get the message this team can only go as far as he’s willing to take them.
- Nuggets buy in: Offense may have won the game, but the defensive improvement is the real takeaway prize considering how poorly the Nuggets performed in their previous four games. The Nuggets were able to neutralize Chicago’s pick and roll by pressuring the ball and keeping Chicago’s guards out of the middle. The Bulls were completely perimeter-oriented as the Nuggets allowed only 24 points in the paint and 11 trips to the foul line. This is the first game in months the Nuggets have displayed a commitment to something other then pushing the pace. There was finally accountability and pride when it came to rotating, contesting shots and overall team defense.
- Guard play: The Nuggets found a nice balance tonight, going with a 9 man rotation and playing only three real guards – Andre Miller, Ty Lawson, and Arron Afflalo. They combined for 61 points and 16 assists, with all three looking at least 30 minutes and looking comfortable in their roles. When the Nuggets play bigger and crash the boards as they did tonight, they’re a much better team.