Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 106 Oklahoma City Thunder 101

Denver Nuggets 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Oklahoma City Thunder
Kenneth Faried, F 28 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-7 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | 0

Outside of some really poor free throw shooting, Faried was the player of the game. He made game-saving play after game-saving play down the stretch, whether it was a crucial block on Russell Westbrook or a monstrous putback jam off an Arron Afflalo miss. Faried really showed why he’s a special player by managing to outplay bigger, stronger, and taller competition through sheer will and an unwavering desire to win.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +1

Gallo had a disastrous shooting night and couldn’t find his rhythm against an Oklahoma City team that defended him well. Since his return from injury, the Nuggets have looked for him regularly and created plenty of opportunities Gallo just hasn’t been able to convert. He’s doing other things reasonably well, but sooner or later Gallo has to assert himself and step up to his role. I thought Gallo grew passive as the game wore on and was little more than a spectator in the Nuggets’ offense at the end of the game

Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -4

Koufos made Denver’s first two shots of the game and was quiet the rest of the way. He played very solid defense on Kendrick Perkins, who picked up four fouls in the third quarter and was a non-factor for the Thunder throughout the night.

Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +6

Like all of the Nuggets’ perimeter players, Afflalo struggled at times against the length and athleticism of OKC. He played very under control as he once again shouldered a huge part of the load on both ends of the floor. Afflalo’s solid perimeter defense helped spark the crucial fourth quarter run and his all-around contributions on offense produced the second-most points and assists on the team.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-15 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 25 PTS | +3

Lawson has now scored at least 20 points in seven of the last nine games. He’s been on an absolute tear and continues to keep the Nuggets afloat through thick and thin. Every time the Thunder found a surge of momentum, Lawson seemed to answer with a mini-run of his own. He’s playing at an unbelievable level right now and proven he can go toe-to-toe with the best scorers in the league.

Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -1

Harrington’s lack of mobility only further hampered his ability to match up against OKC. While Harrington did his best and sank his threes early, he was a defensive liability with the Nuggets switching all pick and rolls in the second half. Harrington was visibly struggling to keep up and was eventually pulled mid-fourth quarter out of necessity.

Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 5 PTS | +1

Miller took too many shots (including two three-pointers), but generally played solid off the bench and had success igniting the sputtering Nuggets’ offense, finishing with a team-high six assists. I’ve come to expect the worst when it comes to Miller’s defense, but he was surprisingly decent against the Thunder, which was no doubt helped by the fact OKC relied heavily on Derek Fisher in the absence of James Harden.

Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12

Brewer is another player coming on strong at the right part part of the season. His energetic hustle was a key ingredient in Denver closing the game on a 7-2 run. Brewer played excellent defense on Russell Westbrook late and made the biggest shot of the game with a banked free-throw line jumper to put Denver up five with less than a minute remaining.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +7

McGee flat-out changes the matchup with the Thunder, who rely heavily on Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison off the bench. Neither of them could match the athleticism of McGee and both ended up contributing next to nothing. McGee on the other hand scored all ten of his points at the rim, where the Thunder had been able to keep the Nuggets’ relatively quiet. If he can keep up these types of performances in an extended role, McGee could be a series-changing talent for the Nuggets.

  • eddiememphis

    George Karl must be fired!

    Oh wait… they won?

    Nevermind.

    Good game except for the free throw shooting. I am looking forward to facing the Lakers in the playoffs. That should be fun.

  • Ernie

    I guess OKC wanted to play the Nuggets in the playoffs. I would have thought the Ibaka injury from a Miller cheap shot would make them think better of it, but the starters played the entire game. Having Fisher instead of Harden certainly helped though, he stinks.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Ernie, you are absolutely right. I wrote a couple of nights ago that we would be able to tell if OKC wanted to try to knock Denver down to 7th so they could face them in the first round and that is exactly what happened. A night after Westbrook and Durant sat out the fourth quarter of a close game, they played it straight up in an attempt to drop the Nuggets in the standings. That can still happen if Dallas wins tomorrow and Denver loses.

  • phibuffa

    OKC got lucky they did not injure anyone. Stupid move by Brooks tempting fate like that. Great win by Nuggets. I really like how Karl has moved from Mozzy to K2 and McGeezie. Would like to see them both even more minutes and would even like to see him play big with both of those two together for a few minutes tomorrow night to see how it works. I will not call for Karl to be fired again, unless he dumbs it up in the playoffs and goes back to big minutes for small ball and a shortened rotation.

    I thought Brewer was the hero of this game with his D on Westbrook and to a lesser extent Durant. This is still a very tough opponent for the Nuggets unless Karl starts running people at Durant and plays hack-a-durant on him. I really think that’s the only way they can beat OKC over a 7 game series is to beat the stuff out of Durant. Even if it means fouling some guys out. Just my opinion.

    • magster

      I never want to see anyone injured, but I suppose I will feel less bad if Ibaka and Westbrook have nagging issues that arose from their game last night as karma payback to their disrespect.

      And they still lost. :)

      • phibuffa

        Ha ha. Agree.

  • phibuffa

    By the way, I’m am also looking forward to Denver closing out strong against Minnesota and playing the Fakers. How can you not get up for a nice, hateful series against those LALAs?! Win or lose, it’s fun to hate them.

    GO NUGGS!

  • rowen2134

    Man.. Say what you want about Karl all year with his lineups (i have called for his head many times), but right now he has us playin hard every night and I’m feeling good about the Nugs chances for a run in the playoffs. Afflalo’s been amazing, Lawson has been dominant at times, Faried is Faried, Mcgee is coming on, Brewer killin it off the bench, Dre picking it up, Kouf been solid, hope we rest Big Al, Gallo should be ready especially with no Metta to guard him. Everything is clicking right now I feel AWESOME! Just had to share

    • magster

      Small ball has seemed a lot more effective since Gallo became part of the small ball lineup these last couple of weeks.

      • SmokinNugs

        Yea cause he’s 6’10! Only a tad smaller than Nene who we used to run at center!

        • phibuffa

          True, though I still think Nene is more like 6’9″. Every time he stood next to Birdman or anyone over 6’10”, he looked much shorter.

  • Nami

    Awesome game. There were definitely moments in the game where I was cringing when I saw GK put a small line up in. Luckily, OKC didn’t really capitalize and we were able to stay afloat for the win.

    It will be interesting to see what the Mavs do tomorrow against the Hawks. I have a feeling they might rest there starters and force a match up against OKC. Without Tyson this year, it would seem inconceivable that they would want to go against the twin towers, Bynum and Gasol, given that they have also lost all 4 games to LAL this year.

    If the Mavs do tank and/or we win our season finale against the Wolves, I really hope GK throws out some bigger line ups against LAL. I really think we can win in 6 with MWP out and Matt Barnes not at 100%. Of course, that would still require Danilo to capitalize :P

  • dnugs23

    Brewer was the game changer today when he put pressure on Westbrook. Brewer is gotta be the AAA of last year since AAA is more spent on the offense end of the court. I always feel like our chances are better when Ty looks to create his own shot it opens up the other guys. Glad to see McGee is playing more deacon line on both ends and faried is starting to D up better. The only thing is we hve to rebound better on the defense of end. We look more intune now and it’s a great thin before the real season starts! Let’s go and get whoever we play!! Go Nugs!

  • nug show

    Good to see Javale finally clicking with our offense. His presence could prove to be extremely valuable if he keeps playing like that while staying effective on D. Brewer could be a glue guy for us. Multiple times he made hustle plays to keep us in the game. I like how many fast break opportunities he creates, only problem is sometime they are for the other team… He has to exercise at least some caution.

    Overall it was a huge win for the Nuggets earned tonight. A lot of people are saying the Memphis is the low seed that you don’t want to play in the first round, but the Nuggets got a whole lot going for them right now.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    By the way, a quick note on comments. We have switched back to the old commenting system, so you do not need to be logged in to post a comment. Sorry for the temporary inconvenience.

  • CJP32

    Game ball goes to Brew Crew. His 8 points in the first half were all off Thunder turnovers. His defense in the 4th on Westbrook/Durant. The ice in his veins when he hit that bank shot to ice the win. If this Brewer turns up in the Playoffs, Denver could make some noise.

    In the last 10 Denver wins, he’s averaging 22 mins, 53% FG, 2.1 asts, 1.5 stls and 10.1 pts

    • Neal

      Ice in his veins? More like a blind squirrel finding a nut. No way he meant to do that.

  • ryanvdonk

    is there such thing as a hand transplant? if so i’ll trade kosta, i need those bricks to finish an outdoor fire pit.

    • dynamo.joe

      I think it’s lack of focus rather than hands of granite.

      Concentrate on K2 when he is with the starters and see how many times he is open and how infrequently he gets the ball. I think he loses focus and then when they dish inside he’s ‘OMGballOMFG’, clonk, turnover.

      Watch when he plays garbage time with JStone. K2 expects the pass and handles it.

      Not that lack of focus is something you want in your starting center, but it’s understandably human and should be correctable by getting him more involved in the offense.

      Not sure that can happen this year, it’s a vicious cycle.

      Doesn’t get ball

      • dynamo.joe

        Hrmmm? My cycle did’nt show up.

        Doesn’t get ball
        Loses focus
        commits turnover
        teammates lose confidence
        doesn’t get ball
        etc.

  • al68

    Partido muy extraño sin mucha intensidad de OKC, mientras denver ha jugado muy serio sobre todo Brewer que ademas de defender contagia al resto del equipo. Muy bien Lawson y bien Mcgee aunque creo que como a GK no me gusta nada su posicion en el campo y su defensa.

  • heykyleinsf

    Harrington may be a liability..
    but his toughness is impressive.
    I will always give him credit for
    what he is doing right now.

    Lawson is this season’s team MVP.
    Faried is seriously going to get ROY consideration.

    There’s a chance to finish strong and
    knock out that disease of a team in the first round..
    The Yellow lake team.. the lake of pee team.
    Metta world pee…

  • Sam

    I am going to be the Devil’s advocate here. Karl, though the team has been playing well as of late, is still an idiot. He keeps he go to players, Dre and Buckets, in there ENTIRELY too long, even though they have proven ineffective like Buckets and to an extent Dre last night. They still can’t play defense, as proven by the 30+ by both Durant and Westbrook.

    Now, on the plus side, McGee has added an athletic dimension down low that the Nuggs haven’t had since Camby. Afflalo has proven to be worth every bit of that contract. And if Ty can stay consistent in his play making ability and not get passive, this team has a chance to advance. HOWEVER, if they do play the Lakers, they will have a HUGE challenge in stopping Bynum and Gasol. But, if they can contain Kobe, they have a shot.

    • heykyleinsf

      I think drawing the Lakers right now may have been
      lucky. Although Bynum is playing better than he ever has..
      there is still turmoil and conspiracy.
      Lakers have a good chance of melting down.

      I think the Nuggets can play their game.. especially if Gallo
      gets hot again (which I do expect at some point).

      Not another first round exit.. please…

  • Evan S

    Nuggets clicking at the right time. With artest out things are shaping up nicely. What’s up with George? He’s actually off the bench being energetic and arguing calls. Nuggets have a legitimate chance of beating the lakers.

  • SmokinNugs

    Maybe, like the Celtics do each year, the Nuggets/GK were just slumping til it got to crunch time. Every year people act like this is the year the Celtics are over, then before the Playoffs they tune it up and turn it on! The Lakers have even been known to do that. Regardless, the intensity is up and its Playoffs time! Hoping this is the year we eliminate the Fakers.

  • GIANLUCA

    YES SAM , Karl, though the team has been playing well as of late, is still an idiot
    WITH a good coach( memphis , utah, 76ers, rivers, poop ecc ) this team with MCGEE-FARIED , GALLO sf , and AAA can concern MAX 97.00 pp
    NO > 102-103 !!!
    GALLO have bad % ,thank karl , if gallo play in SAN ANTONIO he can 42% 3points but THE NUGGETS’S OFFENS WITHOUT STEALS AND RUN IS BAD .. AND IN PLAYOFF THE OPPOSITS TEAMS HAVE A FAW TOURNOVER VS KARL DEFENSE…
    next year Denver coach must be a good – brillant- young coach … 4 exemple 1 assistent of 1 team .

    ( ETTORE MESSINA 2°assistent of BROWN ( LAKERS ) arrived 4 the first time in USA this year , after have won alwais in europe and have be MANU GINOBILI ( 1998-2002 ) also popovic think it ..

    • phibuffa

      What?! Ha ha. Just kidding, Gianluca. Keep up the posts. I enjoy them…especially when you call Pop “Poop” and use the degree symbol. Seriously, though, you are right. Karl has a lot to prove in the playoffs. I honestly hope this is the year he breaks through and shows himself to be a playoff caliber coach like those others you list. We’ll see.

  • George

    Things are looking much better for the playoffs. If they can rachet up the intensity one more notch when the playoffs start I think we can honestly get out of the first round. The thing that will get us there; DEFENSE:

    Opponents PPG (average) in:

    Feb: 103.8
    March: 104.13
    April: 98

    If they can keep this going I like our odds.

  • http://espn Gary

    This was a legit earned win and with Harden out I think we can match-up and take out OKC. Westbrook, i’ve always maintained, is probably the most overrated player in the league; yes, he’s freakishly athletic, but don’t tell me he’s a great basketball player or even an upper echeleon PG. If Lawson can learn to be aggresive every night, he’s a much better overall player easily.
    Anyway, although Harden comes the bench, the beard is IMO their best ball mover and their best pure perimeter shooter, including KD. And that’s exactly our weakness right now, guarding anything 15 feet and beyond. With that aspect of OKC’s game cut in half, we are probably better in every other aspect…including scoring. We would have run away with game yesterday, had we only shot 50% of the FT’s we missed and I hope that disease ain’t returning ala last year’s play-offs. Also we gave away a ton of open 3 pointers, the biggest issue. We even contend on half of those and OKC is not even in the building by the mid of the 4th. If Harden doesn’t play big minutes, OKC is gonna find it tough getting past the Mavs as well.
    Anyway, Fakers are probably our worst match-up in the West, only cos our bigs are still too inconsistent and basically young. Our transition game can really hurt them, but we’ll need to at least be competitive in the paint against that jerk Bynum and Gasol. I don’t trust anybody other than Kobe to make the jumpers consistently, but with the worst perimeter D in the game, we’ll leave him nuf open shots to kill us in the 4th. Our execution against the screen on D is still laughable and we’ll have to beat the Fakers with physicality, not an easy task.
    Regardless, will be a fun series and most importantly the team is feeling confident going into this. GK & Dre’ can still destroy the plan singlehandidly, but i hope for the best!!

  • phibuffa

    So, one last comment before tonight’s game. I think Melvin (or whoever is coaching up McGee) is doing really nice job. McGee already looks a lot more aware, polished, focused than he did when the Nuggs first got him. I would be a little concerned with him getting a little too pumped up before that first playoff game and going out and committing two quick fouls or something. He’s playing nicely within his considerable athleticism right now. Keep up the good work, Nugget coaches!

    • magster

      mcGee was getting those two early fouls every time he started the game. Since coming off the bench, he’s not felt that pressure to be awesome right off the mark, and is staying out of foul trouble. Whether Karl stumbled into it or he’s a genius, bringing McGee off the bench and starting Koufos was the final ingredient to the most effective rotation Denver has had all season… just in time for the playoffs.

  • Aaron

    After last night, . . does anyone else want the Thunder instead of the Lakers? should we lose tonight? Suddenly I’m not so sure, . . looks like OKC really, really needs Harden.

    • DH

      Yeah, Harden makes a big, big difference to the Thunder, and he’s been cleared to play. So I think I’d take my chances with the Lakers, who are really banged up at the SF position (MWP suspended, Barnes sprained ankle, Ebanks busted up left hand). I still don’t know what we’re going to do with Bynum and Gasol, unless we play some bigger lineups. But at least the Lakers are a little more vulnerable than they were before.

      • dynamo.joe

        At the end of the day, Pau is soft and Bynum is a hothead. Make Bynum earn all his points from the line and I guarantee he will start getting T’d up. Ultimately, we have 24 fouls per game to throw at him.

        Pau is a little more of a concern cuz he will make the freethrows and even soft Pau can kill you from 12-24 feet, but at least you’ve taken away his rebounds and put backs.

  • GIANLUCA

    4 me is very good LAKERS because vs CP3 we lose , vs DURANT we lose – vs POPOVIC we lose ALWASIS

    I HOPE THAT DALLAS win 4-2 vs OKC ( game 7 win alwais OKC )
    DENVER WIN vs LAKERS 4-2 ( game 7 win alwais LAK with METTAWORLDPEACE )

    WC SF : DALLAS vs DENVER 3-4 IN FGAME 7 AT PEPSI CENTRE

    WC FINALS : SPURS vs DENVER … I’M HAPPY XD !

    • dynamo.joe

      2nd’d

  • GIANLUCA

    OKC without harden is = at nuggets
    because harden is their bench

    and the sterters : ( YEARS OF NUGGETS’ PLAYERS )
    WESTBROOK – LAWSON 23
    SEFOLOSHA – AFFLALO 27
    DURANT – GALLINARI 23
    IBAKA – FARIED 22
    PERKINS – MCGEE 23 … THE FUTURE IS WE :) … ( WITHOUT KARL )

    good NENE trade !

  • Ryan

    Another reason to make sure we win tonight: one more day of rest. If we play the Lakers, we don’t play till Sunday, if we play the Thunder, we have one measly day off, then start the series. Let’s hope we take care of business against a TWolves team with absolutely nothing to play for