Nuggets Trade Nene for JaVale McGee [Updated]

In a shocking trade deadline move the Denver Nuggets have agreed to trade Nene for Wizard’s center JaVale McGee.  Nene has been struggling this season and his contract is bound to get onerous as he gets into his 30’s and McGee is a uber-athletic center who will be great running the floor and is a much better rebounder and shot blocker than Nene.

In the long run it probably is a decent trade for Denver, McGee is entering his prime while Nene is exiting his, but McGee has shown significant shortcomings on both ends of the floor.  Plus he wants a contract averaging $14 million a year after this season.

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Trade Deadline Digest

This post will be updated throughout the day with any significant developments surrounding the Nuggets at the trade deadline.

For those wondering if the Nuggets will shake things up, it does not appear that Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri have any moves planned — even minor ones. However, this has been one of the wildest trade seasons in recent memory and the amount of chatter going on suggests we could see a lot of activity just before the deadline.

The Nuggets are still trying to sign Wilson Chandler amid all this, and that decision may be the key in terms of what, if any, moves might happen at the trade deadline. Chandler and his agent have set an arbitrary deadline of Friday for the Nuggets to sign him long term, after which they are threatening to sign in Italy for the rest of the season.

If the Nuggets sign Chandler or are confident they eventually will, it might be prudent to use this opportunity to shed some salary or swap assets to ensure Chandler plays a significant role and earns whatever contract he receives.

Conversely, if the Nuggets plan to wait out Chandler till July, when he’ll again be a restricted free agent, then it seems unlikely they would be inclined to make even a minor move. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to create flexibility after the season is over.

Chandler’s deadline is artificial, meaning there is no actual rule preventing the Nuggets from signing him after Friday. The threat coming from Chandler is that he will remove himself from negotiations and go to Italy for the rest of the season. That would preclude the Nuggets from signing and trading him next season, but also make it more difficult for teams to acquire him. His options are already limited as a restricted FA and such a move would limit them further, especially with the Nuggets maintaining the right match any offer.

Here’s the latest tidbit on Chandler from ESPN’s Chris Broussard:

 The Nuggets continue to negotiate with Wilson Chandler and if the sides don’t reach an agreement within the next week or so, Chandler’s agent Chris Luchey says his client will finish the season in Italy. Chandler is looking for a deal starting around $7 million a year, but the Nuggets feel like paying him $7 million, which would not be prorated, for this season is way too high. They would rather start him at $5 million.

I have no idea what will happen, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. The Nuggets have more assets than just about anybody at the trade deadline. They are in position to be buyers, sellers, or both. Every contract on the books is reasonable and they are one of the few teams holding a large trade exception, ($7 million from the Raymond Felton deal). Masai has surprised us before and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.

Remember, this post will be updated with any developments should they occur. As of now, the Nuggets haven’t been linked to any potential trades.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118 Atlanta Hawks 117 (OT)

Atlanta Hawks 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
118 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -10

His numbers were solid and the foul trouble was kept at a minimum. However, you got a dstinct sense Faried was trying to avoid whistles as he was occasionally exposed against Josh Smith and the Hawks’ many perimeter scoring threats. Faried did do a great job running the floor and going after rebounds like he always does. You’d like to see him work on a shot that isn’t a dunk, but his pure hustle makes it easy to overlook a lot of the rookie-type flaws in his game.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 37 MIN | 6-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +4

Hands down, that was one of the craziest game winners I’ve seen. Gallo is getting to the rim like he used to but the elevation and finishing ability just don’t look right. Karl finally realized Brewer does not need to be starting even with a half-functional Gallinari available, and Gallo responded with his usual “starter” numbers. Defensively Gallo was better than the rest of the Nuggets so it’s easy to crown him as the undisputed hero of tonight’s game.

Nene, C 39 MIN | 8-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 22 PTS | -3

This is a really tough grade to give, because Nene made the game winning free throws and after Josh Smith fouled out, he was far and away the best big on the floor. Unfortunately I cant overlook the fact Nene played soft against Smith, who flat out embarrassed him. The only thing worse than his late game defense was watching Nene settle for jumpers nine times out of ten against Zaza Pachulia. It was one of Nene’s best games of the year, but I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth trying to evaluate his overall night. That just… wasn’t good.

Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -3

The leadership isn’t there. If the Denver Nuggets are going to fix their perimeter defense, it starts with Arron Afflalo. He is the only one capable of setting a good example. There are games where he’s clearly more concerned with getting his offense going rather than holding himself and his teammates accountable on defense. I could care less how many shots he takes — the Nuggets need more out of him from a leadership standpoint, because right now nobody cares about guarding the perimeter.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 8-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 21 PTS | 0

Lawson’s early offense carried the Nuggets to a big lead, but his aggression seemed to be missing for a good part of the game. There’s no way you can complain about Lawson’s production, but he’s capable of a lot more. Lawson deferred to Andre Miller and Al Harrington way too much in the fourth quarter, and whether that’s a coaching decision or Ty’s refusal to demand the ball remains unknown.

Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 8-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +15

Al Buckets was once again the steadiest player on the court for the Denver Nuggets. You know exactly what you’re getting out of Harrington and his production rarely wavers enough to call him out. The story of the game was the fact he was perhaps the most important Nuggets player in terms of containing Josh Smith, for nothing more than the simple fact Harrington forced Smith to play defense. Smith would later foul out of the game in OT.

Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 5 PTS | -3

My feelings on Miller are well-known, and it needs to be said right away Dre played his best individual game in weeks. He played probably about as well as he can play and was not in the game during the worst stretches, during which Denver really fell apart. The simple assessment I reach time and time again is only further affirmed by every game I see. When he comes into the game, Denver goes from a middling defensive team with potential to a terrible defensive team with no hope.

Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +3

Brewer thrived in a much more appropriate bench role. His production remained constant while his efficiency improved. It pretty much validates the fact Brewer is better suited to coming off the bench. The major problem I had with Brewer was his reach-in foul on Kirk Hinrich late in regulation. He just can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact you don’t need to go for a steal or deflection every single time you attempt to defend the ball.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS | +2

Not much was expected out of Rudy after missing the last 11 games, but he was a surprisingly effective spark off the bench in the first half. His minutes were carefully monitored and he was only used for short stretches, but Rudy had a net positive impact during his time on the floor.

Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0

Awful. Really tough to watch, and judging by Mozgov’s reaction to coming out of the game, he seemed to know it. The good news is he barely played and the Hawks fortunately weren’t capitalizing on Denver turnovers in the first half.

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.

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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.

Interesting developments on Wilson Chandler front

In a recent New York Post article Peter Vecsey points out that if Chandler were to sign in Italy for the remainder of the season, he would then “forfeit the ability to do a sign-and-trade come summer — one of the CBA’s multitude of new rules.” Essentially, this makes re-signing Chandler even more critical than before for a couple reasons.

First, once summer arrives many teams will have freed up enough cap space to make the type of offer that would cripple the Nuggets salary flexibility if they decided to match. In theory the Nuggets could deal Chandler that following winter before the trade deadline to avoid paying his salary but the fact remains, having Chandler as a tradable asset this summer allows much more room for the team to improve heading into next year.

If he were to sign in Italy, then come back to the States and agree to an offer the Nuggets would cringe at matching, (assuming they would in fact match) this would basically erase most of the team’s cap room and in the process prevent it from making much-needed additions to the roster through free agency. Additionally, the thought of the Nuggets letting Chandler walk for nothing becomes an actual possibility rather than a nightmare, which is something Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke have attempted to avoid for quite some time. What if, for example, the Nuggets manage to get themselves into heavy contract negotiations with a player like Kevin Garnett, Chris Kaman or Gerald Wallace? Letting Chandler walk in order to sign someone like them then becomes an all too realistic scenario with all the work the Nuggets front office did in order to retain him as an asset, then flying out the window in the process.

In a way, these new details that have come to light might actually expedite contract negotiations and ensure Chandler returns to the Nuggets for at least the rest of the 2011-12 campaign. Now that he has leverage Chandler can tell the Nuggets to either pony up and give him the money he wants, or suffer the consequences by relinquishing the right to sign-and-trade him this summer. Either way, Chandler is getting paid and in all likelihood the Nuggets will be the ones dishing out the dollars. At this point, sacrificing a few more million bucks this year could go a long way in ensuring more talent arrives in Denver in the foreseeable future.

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Denver Nuggets midterm report card: rookies

In the last installment of Roundball Mining Company’s Denver Nuggets midterm report card series, we’ll be examining the rookies. Since this group of players hasn’t received the type of playing time most of their teammates have, we decided to evaluate them separately. Since the All-Star break, Kenneth Faried has managed to claw his way into the rotation, while Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton still remain isolated on the furthest regions of Karl’s bench. This extra boost in minutes has allowed us to get a better understanding of who Faried is, yet Hamilton and Stone are still relatively unknown commodities, therefore their grades should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Denver Nuggets 99

Cleveland Cavaliers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | -1
Brewer contributed to other areas of the game besides scoring, although it’s nearly impossible to overlook such a poor shooting performance. Since becoming a starter Brewer hasn’t quite played with the type of energy we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him when coming off the bench. Hopefully Gallinari soon takes his rightful spot as the team’s starting small forward soon so that Brewer can play the spark-plug role he’s much more comfortable with.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -7
Nine rebounds in 20 minutes is solid by any standard, however, at this juncture Nuggets fans expect much more from the “Manimal” than just rebounding alone. His defense against Antawn Jamison to start the game was atrocious and opened the flood gates for Cleveland to gain confidence, which they ultimately utilized to win the game. Although his interior defense is decent, Faried’s one-on-one perimeter defense must improve dramatically.
Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
The story of the game was Nene’s inability to play any sort of help defense whatsoever in the dying moments of the fourth quarter. On key possessions late in the final several minutes of the game Nene didn’t even contest Kyrie Irving’s shots as he dribbled right down the center of the lane for multiple layups. The worst part: Nene was clearly not only within striking defense of blocking Irving’s shots, but likely could have at least altered them if he had just tried. Yes, Nene also had a few important buckets on offense to keep the game close, but this production was virtually erased by his inability to prevent Cleveland from scoring on the other end.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | -5
In 40 minutes, Afflalo simply must produce more. He’s been a revelation the last month but against the Cavaliers he was invisible for most of the night. In fact, I was shocked to see he even played 40 minutes as I only remember him making a true impact for about 15. His defense on Irving at the end of the game also played a big role letting him get the rack for the game-winning basket.
Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -6
Grading Lawson is extremely difficult. He finished with 18 points and had another solid night statistically; however, he also committed a ghastly seven turnovers and could not stop Irving if his life depended on it. In the Cavaliers last offensive possession of the game Ty easily could have stepped in for a charge, but instead moved entirely out of the way for Irving to made yet another easy layup. Then, with four seconds left, Ty took it upon himself to drive to the hole yet failed to convert a fairly routine layup of his own. Bottom line: Lawson has been spectacular of late and his willingness to step up in the clutch should be applauded, but key defensive mistakes and a carelessness with the ball really cost his team some big possessions on Wednesday.

Al Harrington, PF
33 MIN | 10-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Harrington was one of the lone bright spots on the evening. While he took quite a few shots he also made 50 percent of them which is always appreciated. Like everyone on the team, Harrington struggled defensively but his effort and ability to knock down clutch baskets made up for many of his mistakes.
Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | 0
It’s not often that Miller receives an A but on Wednesday he played superb, all things considered. His defense, as always, was questionable at best, yet his offense was not forced and came within the flow of a fairly rugged basketball game. Seeing him play team ball, after a few selfish outings, was extremely refreshing.
Chris Andersen, C 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +7
Birdman deserves nothing but a solid A tonight as he was the only Nugget who brought focus, defense and enthusiasm to the floor for almost every minute he was on it. His three blocked shots were monumental in terms of swinging the momentum back in the Nuggets’ favor, while his seven rebounds in only 18 minutes were hard earned.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 22 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Still rusty, Gallinari somehow managed to contribute in other areas of the game besides scoring. His defense was the best of anybody on the team and in a night were getting stops virtually meant winning the game, this was very admirable especially considering how fresh off injury he still was.

TrueHoop Blog features interesting Nuggets analysis

The godfather of the TrueHoop organization himself, Henry Abbott, offers up a unique angle on late-game situations in the NBA. While one of the hottest topics of the last several months in Nuggets Nation has been the “superstar debate,” Abbott submits evidence that while a superstar is a luxury, it’s not exactly a necessity in order to win in tight games. This article directly correlates to the Nuggets and is especially interesting after Ty Lawson has come through with back-to-back game winners of late.

Dreaming of Manimal

It is rare that I remember my dreams.  When I was a kid I remembered my dreams all the time.  I remember the one where I was asked to go to another planet and fight robots.  I remember the one where I was in one of those plastic pools that are about a foot deep with Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.  I really remember the one where I was at a friend’s house and had to go to the bathroom, but all the doors were locked so I relieved myself in the drain by the hot water heater only to wake up to find out that I missed the drain, but hit my bed.

I actually did remember my dream from a couple of nights ago because I was Kenneth Faried.

I was throwing down dunks on the Los Angeles Lakers left and right.  The last play I made I leapt and hung in the air as Andrew Bynum jumped at me and sailed past.  I then tossed the object I had in my hand gently into the center of the net.  It was not a basketball, it was a cupcake.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 Sacramento Kings 116 (OT)

Sacramento Kings 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2

With Gallo and Nene back in the mix, I was worried about Brewer being able to ease up on his shooting. The Nuggets have needed him to produce points with all of the injuries, but double figure scoring from Brew typically means 10 plus attempts and around 40% shooting. The good news is Corey shot a lot less but still took most of his attempts outside the paint and just didn’t produce a lot in the hustle categories, where his true value lies. Despite the struggles, Brew gets a birthday bump for his grade on the night he celebrated his 26th with an utterly fantastic team win.

Kenneth Faried, F 34 MIN | 7-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -4

When you get a career high 20 points and a double-double for the third time in four games, you get an ‘A’. What’s remarkable about Faried’s last few games is the fact he’s been struggling like all rookies do. Faried was noticeably outhustled and outworked on the boards on several occasions. Just take a look at his gaudy statline and realize this was far from a complete performance. What the ‘Manimal’ is showing us in his short time as a rotation player is quite special — it’s just rare to see a rookie become such an important part of his team’s success is such a short time on the floor.

Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -3

This is the third game in a row Mozgov has tweaked his ankle and he has yet to sit out for some rest. The young Russian played only 7 minutes and kept the offensively-challenged Nuggets afloat in the first quarter. Shortly thereafter he again came up gingerly on his left ankle and Karl wisely kept him out of the game as a precaution. While Mozgov was solid in his extremely limited stint, there’s not a whole lot here to draw from in terms of a grade.

Arron Afflalo, SG 45 MIN | 9-20 FG | 10-11 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 32 PTS | +3

Incredible. Afflalo set a new career high with 32 points and his clutch heroics need to be experienced to be believed. It was one of the more spectacular finishes I’ve seen in professional basketball, because these players and coaches have seen it all and they definitely weren’t prepared for Afflalo’s performance tonight. Those six points at the end of regulation came off some of the most cold blooded shooting I’ve ever seen at the close of a Nuggets game, even in the era of you-know-who. If you didn’t see it, stop what you’re doing now and go watch.

Ty Lawson, PG 43 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 13 AST | 16 PTS | -4

Another near triple-double, another game-winner, another up and down night where Lawson shined brightest with the game on the line and his team in utter despair. And this was the second night of a back to back. No big deal.

Al Harrington, PF 35 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +12

Harrington’s production remains some of the steadiest on the team. He turned in another solid game, nearing another double-double but struggling with efficiency and missing most of his fourth quarter attempts. Harrington played the final 16 minutes of the first half and was fatigued in the fourth quarter. Harrington gives you a solid effort night in and night out, but the increased workload is taking it’s toll. Harrington played “waist-up” basketball down the stretch and had trouble getting his legs under his shot and moving his feet on defense.

Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 11 AST | 2 PTS | +8

Miller bounced back in a huge way, considering his second half in San Antonio was probably one of the worst shooting performances in a half by any player this season. Miller played much better tonight, notching 11 quality assists and making a fantastic play on what should have put the game away with 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Bad calls aside, Miller made solid decisions all night, perhaps the only downer being his 4 turnovers.

Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4

He was great in the pick and roll, great in the open floor and superb in the energy categories, where Birdman tallied 2 blocks and 5 free throw opportunities limited minutes. Birdman is doing all he can to debunk the “Anthony Carter” theory stating that he needs a multiple days rest to be effective on the court.

Nene, C 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1

The good thing is Nene looked healthy and showed no problems making lateral cuts or elevating. The bad news is it appears Nene has gone the better part of a month without practicing much basketball. The game was moving a little too fast for him and Nene had trouble catching passes and getting his shot off. Nene should work himself up to speed with some more practices and conditioning sessions under his belt.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +6

It’s tough for me to tell if Gallo is all the way healthy yet, because he certainly wasn’t moving about the court at his normal speed. On the other hand, Gallo made some nice shots and never forced anything. Gallo still seems to be testing his ankle and feeling out his ability to go full speed, which is fine. Like Nene, the team just didn’t know how to adjust to him being back on the floor yet, especially having played a tough game last night in San Antonio.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99 San Antonio Spurs 94

Denver Nuggets 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 94 San Antonio Spurs
Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +2
Take away the three 3-pointers he missed and Brewer shot a much more respectable, and efficient, 4-8 from the field. While there’s nothing wrong with him taking a few open threes, keep in mind Brewer has never been a strong outside shooter and is much more effective when cutting to the basket.
Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -2
Faried had a relatively quiet night from a statistical standpoint. In 29 minutes you’d expect him to be well above a double-double; however, what can’t be ignored is Faried’s effervescent attitude and unrivaled enthusiasm that overflow into the rest of his teammates. His willingness to do the type of dirty work many NBA primma donnas won’t even consider is the epitome of the phrase, “a breath of fresh air.” Is it a coincidence that at the same time George Karl is showing confidence in Faried by prescribing him a heavy dose of minutes, the team is suddenly playing with a renewed sense of passion, heart and energy? I think not.
Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +4
Prior to Mozgov exiting the game for the second time in as many nights, he was having yet another solid performance. While it’s frustrating watching him fumble more often than Brett Favre, it’s also encourage to watch him grow in other aspects of the game. His defensive effort is still there while his confidence continues to expand. Hopefully his injury was nothing serious as Mozgov needs as much playing time as he can get in order to keep evolving as a player.
Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | 0
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.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 9 REB | 11 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Ty Lawson. Just let it simmer. Again, words aren’t going to do justice for just how big of a role he played in a huge road win for the Nuggets. He was one rebound shy of his first triple-double yet hit the first game winner of his career. This is the second night in a row where Ty Lawson has virtually won an important road game for the Nuggets by being unconsciously aggressive and taking control of his team’s offense as a whole, all while flirting with a triple-double. If this Ty Lawson keeps showing up the rest of the season, the Nuggets will be a totally different team than is currently constructed.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +3
Harrington hit some huge shots when the Nuggets were on life support and for that alone, he gets high marks. Not only were these shots important, but many of them were difficult as well. Making difficult shots in tight games is not an easy task. You really can’t say enough bout “Big Al” in this regard. He also played pretty decent defense on Tim Duncan most of the evening.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 5-18 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 11 PTS | +4
Fans have struggled with Andre Miller all season long and while his “defense” has always been the topic of discussion, it’s now his selfishness that’s really driving people bananas. Against the Spurs, this culminated with a stretch — late in the game, mind you — where Miller missed 10 straight shot attempts, three of which didn’t even come close to going in. It was as if Miller totally disregarded the fact that (A) he even had teammates and (B) was in a close game that his team was in position to win. Almost every instance where he received the ball Miller immediately tuned out everyone else but himself and decided then and there that it was he who would attempt to score the basketball. Had Miller not been so self-centered the Nuggets probably would have won in a more comfortable fashion.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3
It’s tough grading “Birdman” in this scenario. He was more efficient and productive than Faried on a minute-per-minute basis, but also committed several frustrating mistakes that the Nuggets couldn’t really afford. For example, his two unnecessary fouls on Tim Duncan within 10 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter could have easily come back to bite the Nuggets in the ass. Thankfully however, Denver didn’t commit many more ill-advised fouls after that and kept the Spurs off the free-throw line to close out the game. Additionally, Birdman just looked tired out there. Perhaps all the trade rumors are wearing him down. Either way, he gave it his all and that’s enough for one night.
Julyan Stone, G 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Stone was again inserted to play defense on one possession and did his job. Now if he could just share a few of Andre Miller’s minutes and actually make an impact on the defensive side of the ball like he’s capable of doing, we’d actually be able to give him a real grade.
Jordan Hamilton, G 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
Hamilton hit one huge 3-pointer but was otherwise somewhat invisible. It’s hard to do much in 11 minutes and at this point, it’s unclear as to where Hamilton stands in George Karl’s pecking order. You’d like to see him log more time but as has been mentioned above, mistakes must be limited against the Spurs. In this sense, Karl deserves some credit for recognizing this was probably not the best game for Hamilton to experiment in.

Denver Nuggets midterm report card: bench

In the second article of our three-part series evaluating how the Denver Nuggets have performed through roughly half the season, we take a look at the bench. The same format from the previous installment applies here. Keep in mind however that rookies are not evaluated in this episode of the series as they did not play a role on the bench until recently. Rookies will be analyzed separately in the final section of our midterm report card series. So without further ado, here is the Denver Nuggets midterm report card for the bench.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Houston Rockets 105

Denver Nuggets 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Houston Rockets
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +8
As usual, Brewer was instrumental in setting the tone of the game, especially in the second half. Brewer started off somewhat slow but steadily gained momentum after leading the charge with the fast break in the third quarter where the Nuggets outscored the Rockets 31-24. His defense was solid and his effort, yet again top notch.
Kenneth Faried, F 30 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +11
Kenneth Faried was born to play basketball. What is happening right before our very eyes is difficult to process. In only a short amount of time Faried has taken drastic steps in his game — as a rookie, keep in mind. Against the Rockets he was the Nuggets’ best player for an extended period of time before Ty Lawson took over. And by “best player” I don’t mean strictly with hustle alone. Faried really looks like he’s just on another level at times. His athleticism allows for him to make a handful of plays in one night that most guys wont make in a week. Faried’s impressive 22.8 PER currently leads the team and with more playing time, that will likely only increase. At this point it’s fair to say, the “Manimal” revolution has begun.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +2
Unfortunately Mozgov re-sprained his left ankle that sidelined him earlier this month, but before going out he was having an impressive performance. While we’ve seen Mozgov steadily improve over the course of the season, we’ve still been waiting for his confidence to catch up. Against the Rockets, he finally appeared to combine his skill set with a confidence level that has been absent all year. Mozgov didn’t hesitate to shoot, rebounded well and actually attempted a few post moves in an assertive manner for once. Because of this, Mozgov gets his first A in six games.
Arron Afflalo, SG 31 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | +6
Arron Afflalo was sent from above to do one thing and one thing only this game: ignite the Nuggets offense in the second half. Going into the third quarter, even though the Nuggets had played hard, they were still behind and in danger of losing the type of game they had all too often leading up to the All-Star break. Enter Afflalo, who scored 10 of the Nuggets first 13 points in the third quarter which ignited the Nuggets offense for a 15-5 run. Afflalo scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half and was without question one of the main factors that contributed to Denver winning this game.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 6-15 FG | 9-12 FT | 7 REB | 15 AST | 22 PTS | +18
Words really can’t do justice for Lawson’s performance against the Rockets. Was this the best game of his career? You could argue that. He set a new career high in assists with 15, and was three rebounds shy of a triple-double. So statistically speaking, this was one of his better games as a Nugget. However, from an evolutionary standpoint, where upon you only analyze his progress as a player and where it culminates, this was hands down Lawson’s best performance of his Nuggets career. In fact, this was basically what his entire career was leading up to. The monster Ty Lawson we all know is hiding inside that diminutive frame finally emerged. Funny it happened this game too, considering just last night I published the Nuggets midterm grade report where I strongly implored Lawson to be more aggressive with his dribble, especially in the half court set. In all seriousness, if Lawson can have more games like these, the Nuggets will be a totally different team.

Al Harrington, PF
27 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +8
Harrington did nothing of great significance. Although he made a few big shots and played solid overall, this was a somewhat mediocre performance from “Big Al.” Nevertheless, he tried hard and played a role in an important Nuggets victory which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | +7
Miller was basically in the same boat as Harrington. Offensively he had a few nice post-ups and key baskets on occasion, but overall, considering how well everyone else played, Miller was fairly pedestrian.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 5-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +3
In yet another quality outing Koufos provided the size, defense, intimidation and rebounding that is needed from him. He made all five of his shots and had two huge blocks that really gave the Nuggets a much-needed spark. With Mozgov likely out for at least a few more games, Koufos should do a fine job filling in his place.
Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Stone only saw one minute of action, which was really about eight seconds. He was asked to guard the scorching-hot Kevin Martin on the last shot of the first half, and proceeded to strip the ball from him preventing Martin from even getting a shot up. This was outstanding defense and for that alone, he receives a B.
Jordan Hamilton, G 10 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +1
I felt Hamilton got somewhat of a raw deal in terms of minutes. He clearly got pulled after Karl didn’t feel he played well, however he didn’t have enough time to atone for his mistakes either. Though he missed all but one of his shots, none of them were bad, which makes the inaccuracy much more tolerable.

Denver Nuggets midterm report card: starters

Throughout Roundball Mining Company’s Rapid Reaction history we’ve had numerous readers suggest we keep a tally of each player’s grades, then add them up at the end of the season to evaluate the individual performances of the Denver Nuggets. We thank you all for the interest and have since decided to incorporate this idea as part of our blog. Being that the All-Star break essentially splits this lockout-shortened season in half we’re presented with the perfect opportunity to assess where the team, and its players, currently stand. Because these evaluations can get a bit lengthy we’ve decided to split up the series into three different sections: starters, bench players and rookies. This is the first part of the Denver Nuggets midterm report card.

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