Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101, Houston Rockets 86

Houston Rockets 86 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Denver Nuggets
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
N/A

Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Los Angeles Lakers
Kenneth Faried, F 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -12
Faried struggled defending Gasol early on but was still effective in nearly all other aspects of the game. He saw only a few minutes in the second half, which is a bit perplexing given how strong the “Manimal” has been playing lately.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -14
Gallinari was terrible. There’s no other way around it. I was shocked to look at the box score and see that he logged 27 minutes, as he was only visible for about three of those. He refused to drive, took nothing but pull-up jump shots and didn’t find any ways to contribute otherwise. It’s hard to pinpoint his problem was, but something was up. I can’t remember Gallinari having a game this bad in a really long time.
Kosta Koufos, C 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Koufos may have gotten injured as he didn’t see any time after he was yanked in the first quarter. During his eight minutes he was getting thoroughly abused by Bynum but Koufos is better than he showed and might have been able to improve as the game progressed.
Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 7-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +1
This was a mixed bag for Afflalo. He missed a key technical free throw, the last two shots of the game and saw Matt Barnes go off for a season high 24 points. However he still had some great offensive possessions and finished the night with an impressive stat line.
Ty Lawson, PG 29 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -8
I hate to give Ty such a low grade, but I have no choice. This is the exact type of game where Lawson must step up — and he didn’t. He’s one of the Nuggets best two players (maybe the best) and was nowhere to be seen. So what if you’re having a bad shooting night or are intimidated by the Lakers big men, you still have to find a way to put you imprint on the game and pose as a threat, otherwise you’re useless. This might be the most disappointing performance Lawson has had all year given what was at stake.
Al Harrington, PF 27 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +2
Harrington deserves nothing short of an A. Even with a torn meniscus he was out there battling as hard as anybody, playing with passion and enthusiasm that’s been sorely lacking for the Nuggets all year. He made a number of big shots down the stretch and had his offensive repertoire on full display throughout the evening. Truly a gusty performance by the veteran.
Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
This is Miller’s first A+ since the beginning of the season. He was a wrecking ball on offense, not backing down from anybody. While most of the Nuggets were AWOL, Miller was on the front line bravely attacking anyone and everyone who was in his way. If he played with this type of verve every night the Nuggets would probably be sitting about three spots higher in the standings. Nonetheless, this was a spectacular showing from Miller in a very important game.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Another tough grade. Brewer played great defense most of the night — his hands were constantly disrupting the Lakers offense, his hustle was admirable — but he still finished with zero points in 19 minutes of action and missed countless opportunities that would have given the Nuggets the momentum needed to finally take the lead. Brewer’s inability to score the rock has become a big problem lately. Even if he plays solid defense it’s just not worth having him in the game if he can’t even score a few points.
Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
People were praising Mozgov for his defense on Bynum in the late second and early third quarter. While his defense was superb, it’s important to note that the Lakers lead grew by over 10 with him in the game (with all the other starters playing alongside him, mind you), and this was after the Nuggets had pulled within three to close the first half. So while it was nice to see Mozgov get some run, it’s important we analyze both sides of the coin with his performance.
JaVale McGee, C 28 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | +8
McGee played really well, all things considered. It would have been nice if to see him play better one-on-one defense against Bynum, but it’s not as if he got bulldozed by him either. On offense McGee displayed a great short game inside the paint and collected a team-high 10 boards in the process. His frustrating moments will undoubtedly continue, but it seems as if he’s limiting them as much as possible, which is a credit to the excellent coaching job of Melvin Hunt.

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Nuggets at Lakers Q & A with Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’Lakers [Updated]

In preparation for the big tilt tonight between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers I had the opportunity to exchange questions and Answers with Brian Kamenetzky, one half of the famous Kamenetzky brothers who have been covering the Lakers for years and who now run Land O’Lakers on ESPN Los Angeles.  You can head on over to Land O’Lakers to read my answers to his questions including the three things Denver must do to win tonight.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113 Minnesota Timberwolves 107

Minnesota Timberwolves 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
113 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 36 MIN | 5-9 FG | 6-8 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | +9

Faried’s second consecutive double-double earns him a solid grade, but it’s worth mentioning he had 14 and 10 at halftime and shot 0-2 while grabbing only two rebounds in 17 second-half minutes. It’s nitpicking when your rookie power forward has a game like this, but Faried can work on being a steadier player for all 48 minutes. Thankfully, when rewarded with appropriate playing time like the 36 minutes he received tonight, there’s no way Faried doesn’t improve. Even when struggling, his effort never wavers and he finds a way to make winning plays.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 7-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +6

Gallo made the biggest shots of the night, but took some poor ones and understandably struggled to find his rhythm only a few weeks removed from breaking his left thumb. Gallo’s playmaking and passing ability were superb, but he also had 5 fouls and really drifted in and out of the game defensively (to be fair, so did the rest of his teammates)

Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +2

Koufos struggled defending Pekovic, but still managed another perfectly adequate performance in limited minutes. Koufos has improved his defense over the course of the season, but can be foul-prone and erratic in terms of his rebounding.

Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 7-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 21 PTS | +5

Afflalo was the one player who was consistently good on offense. Without his timely shot-making in the third quarter, Denver might have fallen apart altogether. This was far from Afflalo’s best game defensively, but he’s been a steady contributor in one way or another just about every night.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-17 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 24 PTS | +11

This was a much more complete effort from Ty Lawson on both ends. He was aggressive and physical throughout. More importantly, he finally took advantage of a favorable matchup against Jose Barea and Malcolm Lee. Ty played with a lot of energy but also had a hand in allowing the offense to go stagnant and ultimately give up a 24-point lead to a Timberwolves team without any of their best players on the floor.

Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -3

Harrington just didn’t have it tonight and was visibly struggling to keep up with the younger, more athletic Minnesota forwards. For the first time in very many games this season, Harrington sat out the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Big Al did make his threes in the first half and it is tough to evaluate him knowing he’s playing with a torn meniscus, even admitting it’s affecting his ability to defend and rebound.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 0 PTS | +6

Now there’s the Miller I know. While I gave Andre a ton of credit for his improved energy and effort over the past few weeks, you can’t help but notice he’s a guy who coasts through games and doesn’t play hard all the time. If you want an example, watch the entire fourth quarter. Defensively, he was Andre Miller. Offensively, his own ill-advised decision making led to string of frustrating plays that culminated in him moping around the court in all too familiar fashion.

Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -10

Brewer continues to be one of the most frustrating players on the team. He’s constantly fighting the urge to get up 15 shots every game and on defense, where Brewer’s supposed to make his mark, all he does is wildly hawk the ball or flop in hopes of causing a turnover. Hopefully, someone can remind Brewer that a stop and a defensive rebound can be just as good as a forced turnover.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +4

McGee didn’t get a lot of rebounds, but he made all sorts of hustle plays that netted the Nuggets several extra possessions. In fact, McGee was playing with Manimal-like energy his entire 17-minute stint. He continues to be a big time presence in the paint and a promising team defender who can’t help but throw in two or three boneheaded mistakes every game. In terms of pure talent, I think he is one of the better players on the team and a potential game changer if he can find a way to settle down and fit in.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 123 Golden State Warriors 84

Golden State Warriors 84 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 12-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | +33

Complete and utter domination. Faried set new career highs in points, rebounds, field goals made, and field goals attempted in just 24 minutes. He was outstanding in transition and a beast in the paint on both ends. Defensively, it was by far his finest performance to date. I get the sense Faried is seen as purely an energy guy by the coaching staff, but games like this are a reminder he’s a much more complete player than he’s given credit for.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +25

Gallo’s welcome return was well-received by the Nuggets new starting five. For the first time in weeks, the Nuggets started a lineup with chemistry and cohesion on both ends of the court. A lot of the credit must go to Gallo, who clearly isn’t in game shape yet managed to get the Nuggets playing the best team basketball we’ve seen in weeks.

Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +28

Koufos is capable of putting up better numbers, but still played a fantastically solid game that helped the Nuggets open up with perhaps their best start all season. Nothing was wrong with Koufos’ game, but he was somewhat overshadowed by the stellar play of McGee and Faried.

Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +33

I supposed this is now what a poor game out of Afflalo looks like. It’s a shame this season feels so short because if this is what we can expect when Afflalo doesn’t have it, he’s well on his way to becoming a special player. His leadership and team-oriented play were a welcome sight on a night he could not carry the offense like he has in the past couple of games.

Ty Lawson, PG 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +31

I hate to be harsh, but once again I did not like the timid, passive style of play we saw out of Lawson against the Warriors. Lawson did not do anything wrong, but he should play better against a sad Warriors back court full of no-names. Ty has it in him to take over these games if he wants to and it’s personally disappointing that he doesn’t show more of a killer instinct or a drive to assert himself against lesser competition.

Al Harrington, PF 12 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +5

Harrington didn’t play much, but he did his job admirably when he did. Al was once again flame throwing triples from long range and wasn’t needed for more than a few minutes after the bench essentially put the game away in the second quarter. Bad news just came out that Al has a torn meniscus and has been trying to play through it the past few games.

Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 12 AST | 6 PTS | +16

Once again, I just really like the maturity and professionalism Andre is now showing on a nightly basis. Why this was missing for first 80% of the season I have no idea, but in the past month or so Andre has been one of the steadiest guys on the team outside of Afflalo.

Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +5

Brewer still has a place in the Nuggets’ rotation and he found that niche tonight. Corey was solid in transition and at the very least, less of a black hole on offense. I think his leash with George Karl had gotten a little too long and Brewer became too content to step outside of what he’s supposed to do best. He did a lot of good things in garbage time, but questions remain about his decision making on offense.

Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +4

Mozgov got an extended garbage time stint after playing himself out of the rotation entirely on the Nuggets’ recent east coast trip. He was part of a twin towers lineup with McGee and hopefully, the dose of playing time will light a fire under him to make himself a more useful option should the Nuggets need him down the line.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-8 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +2

Patience is the key with McGee. Admittedly I was not a fan and frankly, never believed the Nene trade had anything to do with the merits of acquiring him. Honestly, after getting an extended glimpse at JaVale and everything that comes with him, I’m impressed. Sure, he can be frustrating on a team that can’t afford any more inconsistency. Even so, the physical tools and multi-faceted skills he shows warrant a more patient attitude. This is a work in progress that likely won’t be complete by the end of this season, and there’s still plenty of good to be found in that.

Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | +7

He’s an exciting player, but all of his minutes came against the Warriors reserves with the Nuggets up by 30. Still, Julyan played with a lot of intensity and displayed a keen sense for utilizing his length and athleticism on defense.

Jordan Hamilton, G 8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +6

Jordan was another guy who saw garbage minutes and ran up the score on a team that had already given up. It was nice seeing him sky high for a dunk and have success after a a sub-par game as a starter in his previous outing.

Chris Andersen, C DNP COACH’S DECISION

Gone, but not forgotten. Obviously this grade is N/A because he didn’t sniff the court yet again. I don’t think this is it for Birdman in a Nuggets uniform, but it’s probably a sign he will not play for the rest of the year. It has to be frustrating for Bird to be cast aside and given the Renaldo Balkman treatment, but it’s also a strong indication this team is moving in a new direction and making tough sacrifices for the sake of developing talent.

Big men equal big contracts

One of the more delightful aspects of being a Nuggets fan these days is knowing how competent the team’s front office is. Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke have proven to be a dynamic duo that isn’t afraid to make a bold move when necessary. Through his first year and a half as the Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, it was as if everything Ujiri touched turned to gold. But in his most recent transaction, sending long-tenured veteran Nene to Washington in exchange for the young, enigmatic JaVale McGee, he might very well have put the first blemish on his otherwise near-perfect track record.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 Golden State Warriors 112

Denver Nuggets 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
112 Golden State Warriors
Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 PTS | -11

I’m still trying to figure out why Faried didn’t see any meaningful time past the start of the game. He’s suffered through slow starts before and usually still finds a way to make things happen. Faried’s rebounding performance was very poor, but I’m confident he would have made a difference if given the chance. This likely wouldn’t have ended up as one of Faried’s better games, but after all he’s been through this season I am shocked George Karl continues to have so little confidence in one of his better players.

Jordan Hamilton, G 18 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -8

Hamilton followed up his brilliant start last night with a dud. Considering he’s only seen meaningful minutes in about five games so far, his struggles are understandable. I liked the fact Hamilton played with confidence but he looked like a guy doing his best not to screw up instead of a high energy difference maker. He needs more time, and unfortunately the Nuggets don’t have that as they’re fighting for their playoff lives on a nightly basis.

Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 4-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7

Koufos also struggled on the boards quite a bit, where the Nuggets were thoroughly dominated by Golden State. His production was solid, but much of it came in garbage time. Like Faried, he was another guy who never got going because he didn’t play a significant role. Even so, Koufos could have a more immediate impact in the starting lineup and he’s just been blending in.

Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | -13

Afflalo did all of his damage in the first quarter and subsequently disappeared for the rest of the game. I find it hard to put much blame on him after watching him carry the starters with a tremendous effort last night. Afflalo doesn’t excel at creating offense, but he’s been forced into taking a higher volume of increasingly difficult shots. At some point, the Nuggets must make an effort to get him some help and run an actual offense that does not depend on Afflalo going one-on-one so much.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | -21

You might not be able to tell from the box score, but this was a half-hearted effort from Ty Lawson. Going against the Warriors’ point-guard duo of Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson, Lawson did all he could to take a backseat and coast through the game. He was clearly Denver’s most favorable matchup and just didn’t step up. You have to wonder if he’s started to lose confidence and defer after a couple of bad games and the resurgence of Andre Miller.

Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -9

The highlight of Al Harrington’s night was getting into it with Warriors fans after starting the game on fire from deep. The raucous home crowd was giving him the full-on Joe Lacob treatment by the end of the night. I appreciate the show of emotion and competitive fire, but showboating against opposing fans during a blowout loss is just quintessential Al Harrington.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | -7

After an apathetic, indifferent, and just flat-out bad start to the season, Andre Miller seems to have finally turned things around. He’s been consistent for the first time all season and his change in attitude has been admirable. Defensively, Andre’s play leaves a lot to be desired even against B-list NBA talent. The team needs to play at a high level defensively to get the most out of Andre Miller, and it’s safe to say that hasn’t been happening.

Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -7

Brewer was once again a mess. While he finally upped his production, it came at the cost of high volume shooting and low efficiency. He just runs around the court without rhyme or reason and against the Warriors, he did not make a positive impact on defense. If he’s not going to hang his hat on perimeter defense anymore, Brewer just needs to play smarter. Ten shots and five three point attempts is not acceptable for a player with such limited offensive talents.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +5

McGee’s been pretty bad since his move back to the bench. The issue appears to be mental more than anything, as his confidence is currently so low he’s focused purely on avoiding mistakes more than anything. McGee showed some good things tonight, like the fact he can be an imposing defensive presence at the rim. Unfortunately, he also showed the lack of discipline and maturity that’s earned him his reputation. McGee can still be a fantastic player for the Nuggets if he can put it all together, but with only a handful of games left and JaVale struggling, there may not be enough time.

Julyan Stone, G 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +3

Stone played a few garbage minutes, shot a midrange airball and recorded a foul. His performance was short and basically meaningless, but more importantly a sign of a how non-competitive the Nuggets were against the lottery-bound Warriors.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105, Phoenix Suns 99

Phoenix Suns 99 Final

Recap | Box Score

105 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +4Faried didn’t wow anybody with his stat line, but as always, his energy was infectious. Even on the sidelines Faried was jumping up and down, cheering on his teammates when everyone else remained seated. His intense play towards the end of the game really made a difference in which team came out with the “W.”
Jordan Hamilton, G 17 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +6You really can’t give Hamilton anything other than an A. In only 17 minutes he managed to put his stamp on the game, scoring at will and rarely, if ever, making a bad decision. His feel for the game is something that resonates with me. Hamilton knows his place and appears to understand how to make an impact without sacrificing other aspects of his repertoire.
Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +16Koufos didn’t score much but his rebounds were huge. At one point the Pepsi Center crowd went crazy when he fought Gortat for a 50-50 board. In a tight game rebounds matter and if not for Koufos the Nuggets might not have had the extra possessions needed to seal the victory.
Arron Afflalo, SG 42 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 30 PTS | +11What more can you say about Afflalo? He has truly been outstanding since starting the season off slow. His 30 points accounted for nearly one-third of the total Nuggets points accumulated, meanwhile he chipped in even further by snagging some rebounds and dishing out assists. The best thing about Afflalo on Friday: He shot efficiently from distance, going 5-9 from beyond the arc.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 2 PTS | 0Ty certainly came down to Earth after averaging 18 points and seven assists over the last 10 games. He wasn’t as aggressive as we’ve seen recently, but his eight assists helped spread the concept of team basketball that was everywhere against the Suns.
Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 8-19 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | +7This was one of Al Harrington’s best games in a while. He scored in a multitude of different ways, going both inside and out, and hit countless big shots when the Nuggets were in need of a spark. Without Harrington’s offense, the Nuggets do not win this game.
Andre Miller, PG 33 MIN | 4-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | -6Somebody please tell me what has happened to Andre Miller. Over the last three games he’s made a conscious effort to actually play defense and it’s payed off enormously. His pressure on the ball throws a knot in the opponents offense, which makes his teammates’ lives much easier. Though he still goes one-on-one way too frequently, the fact is: Miller actually seems to care and it’s incredibly refreshing. This was without a doubt one of his best performances of the season.
Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +7Brewer was once again nowhere to be found. Instead of infecting the team with energy on defense and getting out on the fastbreak, he blended in, often times being more sluggish than energetic. Perhaps he’s in a slump. Either way, judging by his performance, starting Hamilton over Brewer was a great decision by Karl.
JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -15I don’t know what the deal is with McGee. The first several games with the Nugget he was great; the last few he’s been one of the worst players on the floor. He’s slow getting up the court, makes bad decision on offense and doesn’t appear to be giving 100 percent all the time. Maybe his asthma prevents him from moving faster? Who knows at this point.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Just Do It: For me, only one thing was apparent on Friday, and that was how the Nuggets figured out a way to get a much-needed win. There were no excuses, there was no complaining — the team just got it done. Phoenix certainly stunned the Nuggets with their zone defensive scheme, but instead of collapsing the team fought through adversity for the first time in a while. Across the board, players stepped up. The Nuggets had excellent performances from many different people instead of just one. This was truly a team effort, full of movement, defense and passion that payed off in the form of a win. Now if we could just get the Nuggets to play like this every night…

So, life pretty much sucks right now

I just spend the past 10 hours of my life compiling a comprehensive post that summarizes the way Denver Nuggets fans feel about their team at the moment. It touched on George Karl, the percent of our comments that mention him in connection with losing games as well as a list of nine potential coaching candidates with pictures and descriptions of why each would be a solid option for the Nuggets. In the end I talked about Masai Ujiri, Stan Kroenke and how each has “standards” that interfere with the Nuggets being the best team it can be.

I don’t know how else to say it, but I genuinely felt like it was probably the best piece I’ve ever written considering the context and time. It was the longest for sure: 3,500 words of my heart and soul.

When I went to hit “Publish” the screen went completely white for some reason. This has never happened to me before. Then, when I clicked the back arrow: nothing. Everything was gone. At 2:30 in the morning and after two days of research, stress, effort, love — it all vanished in the unmerciful blink of a computer screen’s eye.

If anybody has any idea of how I might be able to recover this please let me know. I have a Mac, perhaps Time Machine would allow this? I don’t know. I’ve never had something like this happen.

Until then I will be curled up in my bed, fetal position, sweatpants on tight, motionless until 9:00 p.m. EST when the Nuggets play the Suns.

(PS: If you’d still like the list of coaching candidates I culled up I’d be glad to share them with you.)

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Hornets 94, Denver Nuggets 92

Denver Nuggets 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

94 New Orleans Hornets
Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -18
As those who frequent this site know, we’re not prone to handing out Fs on the regular. You have to be bad to receive one and on Wednesday, that was certainly the case with Corey Brewer. In 25 minutes of action Brewer only recorded one rebound — that was it! No points, assists, blocks, steals — nothing. Brewer has proven to be a serviceable role player off the bench for short stretches, but after this performance, his starter days should probably be over. To cap off his rough night Brewer threw away the inbound pass to Jason Smith (who’s from Colorado by the way) that could have resulted with a game winning shot for the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried, F 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -7
You have to credit Manimal for getting the Nuggets back in this game. Without him, the team likely would have lost by double digits. That’s sad. But it goes to show how valuable Faried is. The one area where he still needs to improve (besides perimeter defense) is rebounding. Yes, it sounds weird, but rebounding is Faried’s best strength and all too often he’s getting boxed out by more physical players. His positioning under the basket has to become better and it starts with getting more aggressive.
JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -12
His stat line is deceiving. McGee was close to awful on Wednesday. He was trying to dribble the ball up the floor like a point guard and finish in traffic like LeBron James. It’s fair to say that after seeing McGee’s Dr. Jekyll, we’re now seeing his Mr. Hyde, and it ain’t pretty.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-14 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | -5
Afflalo didn’t shoot well but he had a nice outing nonetheless. He tied his career high in assists, with seven, and made a few tough baskets when the Nuggets were in trouble. Unfortunately the thing that will stand out most with fans was the way he fell for a pretty mediocre pump-fake by Eric Gordon that ended up sealing the game for the Hornets.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 7-15 FG | 6-7 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | -4
Lawson was a standout. On a night when many Nuggets couldn’t get their shot to fall, Lawson figured out a way to score and affect the game in other areas as well. He had a solid night all around — there’s just not much else to say. He’s clearly the Nuggets best player at the moment and as great as that is, it’s still a harsh reminder of how far this team has to go before it can contend for a title.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +10
Many fans are roasting Big Al on Twitter. It seems nobody likes him these days. In my opinion he’s become a scapegoat for misplaced frustration. It’s not his fault he’s assigned to play out of position on a nightly basis. Sure, he takes a few bad shots — who doesn’t? He plays mediocre defense on a team that plays mediocre defense. What I like is his passion. This season has been a wash thus far, but Harrington is still out there bleeding blue and yellow, giving it his all. It was nice to see him stand up for his teammate by criticizing the referees when nobody else would. He also hit a clutch 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a chance to steal a game they had no business winning in the first place.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 6 PTS | +6
This was not a typical Miller game. He was sprightly, especially on defense, and looked very focused from the get-go. He received a bogus Flagrant Two foul on Carl Landry who proceeded to pout with his head in his lap for about 20 minutes after contact ensued (which was likely the reason it stayed a Flagrant Two instead of a One). Aside from that blemish, Miller was enthusiastic and impressive, even though he still played one-on-one basketball for the most part.
Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +5
Why Koufos didn’t see more minutes is something that will never be answered and will die as one of the greatest Nuggets mysteries on the day of April 4, 2012. He was far and above the Nuggets best player for a large stretch of the first half, playing tough, inspired basketball when nobody else seemed to care. His post presence was much-needed, but more than anything his defense was a breath of fresh air that really shot some life into the Nuggets. He would have likely been a huge asset to have down the stretch, but… Karl benched him.
Jordan Hamilton, G 16 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | +15
Hamilton was one of the other “bright” storylines of the evening. He really made use of his time and finally broke out of his shell. Hamilton has to be more aggressive and less tentative. It’s nice to see he’s conscious about not making mistakes, but he needs to play free in order to truly maximize his talent. I know it might sound crazy, but there’s a good chance Hamilton is already one of the better players on this roster. Karl doesn’t like rookies and it’s too bad because if Hamilton had seen more time this year he might finally be comfortable enough to take over the game offensively when the Nuggets are struggling to put points on the board. With the way Brewer played, perhaps Hamilton is finally in line for the minutes he deserves.

3-on-3: Remaining season outlook

In Roundball Mining Company’s latest edition of our 3-on-3 series, we examine what lies ahead for the Denver Nuggets in the near future. There are 13 games remaining on the schedule: seven on the road and seven against teams currently at or below the .500 mark. Right now the Nuggets sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings and would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Playoffs. Is this the same position the team will find itself in roughly three weeks from now? If so, would it be able to handle a well-coached Spurs team in a seven-game series? These questions and more are detailed inside.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 104 Orlando Magic 101

Denver Nuggets 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Orlando Magic
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.

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