|Kenneth Faried, F 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +14
Faried’s personal growth and improvement throughout the series is something to see. While the Lakers size dominated game one and two, Denver has toughened up and been much more physical with Gasol and Bynum even before the catch. In my opinion, Faried’s fearless attitude against the Lakers has become contagious and he’s played a huge part in the defensive turnaround that suddenly swung the momentum of the series and forced a game seven. Hard to believe this guy is a rookie who didn’t see the court for nearly half of the regular season.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 28 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | +27
Gallo’s complete game finally came alive after a series-long lull in which I thought he was a very one dimensional player. Gallinari’s aggressiveness can show itself in multiple ways and tonight, it was his ability to pick the Lakers apart with his passing. He had a ton of success in pick and roll situations and that’s where Denver needs him to shine, especially with the Lakers defense keeping him off the line and outside of the paint for the majority of this series. In this matchup, Gallo’s passing is a much better asset than his shooting and the Nuggets need more of it.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +16
As a number of esteemed readers have pointed out, the grading of Mozgov has been way too harsh in his first few games of this series. He was extremely physical with Bynum from the opening tip, setting the tone with a big block on the game’s first possession and never once letting him get comfortable in the post. Mozgov has battled hard every game he’s started and the Lakers bigs haven’t looked the same since. It’s time to acknowledge the crucial role Mozgov has played in that and applaud him for it.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 6 PTS | +26
Afflalo brought out a vintage 2009 performance in which he pretty much only shot wide open jumpers created by teammates. Arron really has had his hands full with a motivated Kobe Bryant and is doing all he can against a player who can make shots no matter how well you defend him. Just an incredibly sound performance out of Afflalo, who played within the flow of the offense and finished with a career playoff high seven assists.
|Ty Lawson, PG 30 MIN | 13-18 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 32 PTS | +22
Just an outstanding, superstar-type effort. After the game, Ty said he flew his shooting coach into Denver yesterday and was getting shots up past midnight. The work clearly paid off as Lawson killed the Lakers from everywhere on the floor and showed much-improved aggressiveness in the half-court, where Lawson actually did most of his damage. This may have been the best game I’ve ever seen Lawson play, and he practically sat out the entire fourth quarter.
|Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 1-8 FG | 2-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
Al’s numbers speak for themselves. Despite the fact he shot 1 for 8, I actually thought he improved and played less selfishly in a game Harrington clearly tried to pick up his play. I understand Harrington has played tough on Gasol and is fighting through injuries, but at some point you have to look at five awful games in a row and admit what the evidence says is true. I admire his effort, but Al just looks hobbled out there and the Nuggets have been a much better team without him in the lineup.
|Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -7
Miller’s steady veteran presence may be the biggest factor in this series’ dramatic turnaround in the past three days. Much like Faried, Miller has played fearless against the Lakers and abused his matchup against the small Laker guards. Andre did not score or create at the same level he has in previous games, but he limited his mistakes and continues to be so much better than any guard on the Lakers roster it hardly matters. You can tell how badly Miller wants to lead this team and win even when his own game is not at its best.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 8-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -7
Even with Brewer’s offensive struggles throughout the season, he’s been an incredibly underrated contributor to Denver’s success. When he’s useful on offense, the Nuggets are an entirely different animal. His shots are usually limited to spot up threes and transition run-outs, but Brewer found some confidence early and proceeded to score from just about everywhere. When the Nuggets play unselfishly, everyone benefits and Brewer’s outstanding night is proof.
|JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -1
McGee had a strange game. I felt he was a net positive and played a sound game defensively, but he provided no help on offense and couldn’t come close to the type of production he had in Denver’s first two wins of the series. There are both good and bad ways to look at this development, but let’s just say JaVale continues to be a work in progress and managed to play important, mistake-free minutes in one of the best wins in Nuggets franchise history.