|Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 2-4 FG | 6-7 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Where there’s energy, there’s Kenneth Faried. Though he started out slow, like always, Faried heated up with the action. It’s almost as if you can’t play him less than 25 minutes per game because it takes him so long to build up momentum — but once he does, Faried can change the outcome of the game with his energy, just as he did Sunday against the Rockets.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +9
Gallinari didn’t stand out in any specific area but he played much better than in the previous game against the Lakers. It was nice to see him avoid forcing up shots when he couldn’t dice through the lane like he’s used to doing. Patience is something Gallo is learning on the fly and judging by his growth between only two games, he’s approaching this this idea with an open mind.
|Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +11
Early on Koufos was one of the few Nuggets who kept his team in the game. He played solid defense and rebounded the ball like he’s capable of doing. As time passed Koufos’ role diminished but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he did his job as well as anyone on the floor.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +15
It’s truly amazing to watch the evolution of Arron Afflalo. Remember in the beginning of the season when people were throwing out trade scenarios because of his slow start? Look where we are now. Afflalo has been the most consistent player on the team the entire year, is averaging career highs across the board (including points, at 15 per game) and is capable of scoring almost whenever he wants. In the month of April, Afflalo is averaging 20 points, four rebounds and four assists per game on .485 shooting from the field. Simply remarkable.
|Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 7-15 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 20 PTS | +11
Lawson rebounded from a pretty horrendous outing in L.A. to put up a nice performance back at home. He was aggressive from the get-go, buzzing around the floor with tremendous speed, and looked to score frequently. In a critical, must-win game, it was nice to see this Ty Lawson show up.
|Al Harrington, PF 21 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +8
These stats are a bit misleading as Harrington didn’t seem to have that bad of a game. Perhaps his shooting was off, but he was everywhere from my point of view. He played good defense on Scola at times and hit a couple big shots. Interesting nonetheless.
|Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 11 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Once again Miller was looking to inflict damage from the opening whistle. He was a bit careless with the ball and took some ill-advised shots, but his attitude, mentality and versatility really helped propel the Nuggets to the win.
|Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | +5
And Corey Brewer continues to be the model of inconsistency! One game after going scoreless in 19 minutes of action Brewer drops 14 off the bench on 7-12 from the field while acting a primary spark plug for the Nuggets energetic second half of play. This type of Corey Brewer performance is one that can save a team’s ass in the Playoffs; his performance against the Lakers however, is the type that can lose you a game. Karl just needs to be aware of when Brewer is hot and when he isn’t. The biggest maxim we’ve learned: Don’t play him too many minutes either way.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Karl didn’t give Chandler a lot of playing time after returning from his injury and it worked out well. He played excellent defense for a short stretch then rested the rest of the game. The Nuggets will need him come playoff time; hopefully he’s ready to contribute heavily by then.
|JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +6
It wasn’t an in-your-face type of performance but McGee played very well on Sunday. The most important thing: He committed no mistakes. He had no turnovers and played sound the entire time he was in the game. He had a monster block that led to one of the best sequences of the Nuggets season and grabbed some pretty huge boards too. Like we always say, if McGee can limit his mistakes he’s a huge asset to have. But if he can eliminate them all together like he did tonight, he’s a total game changer.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Five Things We Saw
- Blastoff: This was the biggest game of the season — there was no way around it. It was a game the Nuggets had to win, and not only did they win, they won in an incredibly impressive fashion. This team is so difficult to predict. They are the NBA embodiment of the famous Forrest Gump quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get.” Thankfully, for at least one night, the team so many fans around the world care about showed up and played phenomenal basketball. It’s times like these when you’re proud to be fan.
- 86: I don’t know what it says about the Nuggets when their opponent’s lowest point total of the year comes with only a few games left in the season, but it was good to see. This was a playoff game. It had the atmosphere, intensity and stakes and both teams knew it. At first the game was a seesaw lead change back and fourth between which team played with more energy on defense, but in the second half the Nuggets were the ones who clamped down and it clearly showed in the final score. If the Nuggets play with this type of defensive effort for the rest of the season (including the playoffs), I have no doubt they can make a push for the conference finals — and yes, you heard that correctly.
- Karl Credit: Fans don’t hesitate to slam the coach when things aren’t working out (and this includes bloggers), but they need to acknowledge when he gets things firing on all cylinders. That was the case on Sunday. The Nuggets actually played like the team we all know they’re capable of being. You simply have to give Karl credit in this regard. Does he get the team to play like this all the time? No. Not at all in fact. But when he does, for that game only, you need to give credit where it’s due. He obviously gave a good halftime speech and emphasized defense, and when Budinger was going off in the first quarter he put Chandler on him to slow him down, which worked. My only gripe would be why he played the starters for so long when the game was clearly over. But in a win this big, it’s hard to complain too much about anything.
- Jet Fuel: The Nuggets remaining games are at Houston, vs the Clippers, at Phoenix, vs Orlando, at Oklahoma City and at Minnesota. While only two of those will be played in the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets still have the ability to beat five of those opponents if they play with the type of zeal they did on Sunday. Moving as far up as they can in the standings must be the Nuggets one and only priority at this point. If the Nuggets can draw the Clippers or Lakers in the first round, they’ll at least have a chance to force an upset.
- Houston, We Have a Problem: I’d just like to take a brief moment to point out how much I despise Luis Scola and the Rockets overall approach to taking charges. They play with the same dramatic, flamboyant body language and cheap tactics of a South American soccer team. They don’t play NBA basketball; they play the referees. Instead of playing with dignity, they play like cowards. While everyone in the league flops and takes charges more than they should, the Rockets are doing it like it’s going out of style. At some point, it’s gotta stop. The NBA must address this issue before it turns into a league that average fans are turned off by due to rampant and excessive acting.
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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.
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