|Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | 0
I find Brewer’s night tough to evaluate, but he did follow up one of his best games of the season with another solid effort. Starting for the injured Wilson Chandler, Brewer played within himself and provided all the little things he’s known for, namely energetic defense and nonstop hustle. Brewer contributed three steals while defending without fouling, no small feat considering he was asked to guard everyone from Jameer Nelson to Hedo Turkoglu.
|Kenneth Faried, F 27 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +1
Throughout three quarters, Faried was struggling through one of his worst games in recent memory. He could not get anything going offensively and the 50/50 balls he usually gobbles up kept bouncing the Magic’s way. It must have been frustrating to say the least. Thankfully George Karl stuck it out with Faried, who spearheaded the crucial game-winning run down the stretch. It wasn’t pretty, but Faried delivered in a huge way when it mattered the most.
|JaVale McGee, C 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -19
Oh dear. I’m not even sure where to start. This was the most comical performance I’ve seen out of a Nuggets player in years, and that includes JR Smith’s lengthy Nuggets career, Strangely, JaVale was not particularly awful on offense or defense as much as he was just totally clueless. It was boneheaded play after boneheaded play with a cherry of frustration on top. McGee was a whopping -19 in a game where the Magic’s biggest lead was 4 points. He played only 11 minutes.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 8-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 22 PTS | +12
Really fantastic. Afflalo has approached every game on the trip with a sense of urgency that’s often missing from the rest of his teammates. He is now producing with the type of consistency no Nuggets player has shown since Al Harrington’s fantastic early season run. There’s not much to say about Afflalo other than he’s been the normal, outstanding Arron of the past month or so.
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 10-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 25 PTS | -4
Looking at Lawson’s shot chart gives you a sense of how thoroughly he dominated the game. Ty scored from anywhere and everywhere, while also tallying nine assists and only one turnover. The entire Magic team managed 15 assists. This was, quite simply, one of those superstar type efforts Lawson has shown he’s capable of producing on any given night.
|Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +2
Harrington was the Nuggets’ main post-up option, coming in early and often for the woeful JaVale McGee. His offense was a potent mix of inside and outside scoring, but he recorded five fouls and struggled to rebound against an incredibly undersized Magic front court.
|Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 4-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +2
It may have taken him fifty-plus games, but Miller finally seems to be buying into his role and approaching each game with a more professional attitude. I’ve noticed a distinct change in the way he carries himself and it’s evident in everything he does, from fighting around screens and actually hustling back up on the floor on defense. Miller still takes his fair share of bad shots and suffers frequent defensive lapses, but the intangibles he’s known for are finally producing results.
|Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +19
Koufos was really much better than his modest numbers indicate. He picked up two early fouls and initially struggled to contain Hedo Turkoglu in the Magic’s pick and roll sets. On a night McGee basically didn’t contribute anything, the Nuggets had to rely on Koufos’ defense and he pushed through a rough start to see them through. I’d like to see a better rebounding performance against a small Magic team, but Koufos was easily one of the most important guys in terms of securing the win.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Hamilton was encouraging in the extremely limited time he saw. I believe both his field goals were assisted and he helped the Nuggets get out in transition against the slow-down style of the Orlando Magic. It’s tough to draw any conclusions from Hamilton’s short stint on the floor, but I believe he showed he’s capable of providing a spark off the bench when called upon.
Three Things We Saw
- If you’re not inside, you’re OUTSIDE: Despite the fact Dwight Howard didn’t play, the Nuggets were actually outrebounded and outscored in the paint. It’s also not an exaggeration to say the Nuggets were dominated inside by Glen Davis, who exploded for his best game of the season with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Denver was also shorthanded and I do not think JaVale will be this bad every game, but it bears repeating that the Nuggets need more out of their bigs to succeed. The guards contributed most of the scoring and Al Harrington was the only frontcourt player with more than 6 points, despite the fact Orlando started a ridiculously small lineup and gave up a huge size advantage all night.
- Because it’s WRECKABLE, right?: With a little over 1:30 left in the game, the Nuggets held a 9 point lead and simply needed to play smart and execute in order to win. They went on to give up a 7-0 run in about 30 seconds. This included a sequence in which Al Harrington and Andre Miller were trusted with the ball, resulting in a Miller turnover and Harrington dribbling off his foot before launching a three pointer that was centimeters away from missing everything. The only thing that hurts you in that situation is poor decisions and turnovers, and the Nuggets got both out of their trusted veteran leaders. The end of game composure and execution needs to improve. I do not mean to rag on the Nuggets too hard for a big road win, but the way they nearly gave it away was reminiscent of the pathetic fourth quarter meltdown in Toronto.
- Greed is good: Ty Lawson led the team in shot attempts, with Arron Afflalo right behind him in second. Any time your two most efficient players get a majority of the touches, good things tend to happen to on offense. When less efficient players like Andre Miller, Al Harrington, and Corey Brewer take a lot of shots, the Nuggets become a much a worse team. Lawson has become more aggressive of late which has made all the difference with Danilo Gallinari injured and Nene traded away for a role player. The Nuggets have to understand what makes their deadly offense work and right now, that is 15-20 shots a night for Ty Lawson. If the Nuggets want to be good, there’s no other option.
Game 53 Advanced Stats:
Pace Factor: 91.1 – Orlando’s pace, their offense just could not score enough
Offensive Efficiency: 114.1 – This is the Nuggets’ specialty, and they were good
Defensive Efficiency: 110.8 – Against a Magic team without Dwight, it’s a bad performance