The Denver Nuggets fell to 1-3 in Summer League play after losing to the Bobcats Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. There was a scary moment in the second quarter when Kenneth Faried went down hard after catching an inadvertent elbow from Quincy Miller, but Faried was back on the bench in the second half after receiving stitches.
“From what I know, yeah he’s okay.” said Summer League coach Chad Iske. “He’s got stitches in the face which he’s displeased about, but he seems okay and I don’t think there’s any concussion or anything there.”
It’s safe to assume Faried’s out for the last remaining Summer League game today but should be fine for the rest of the offseason and training camp. Here’s a look at news and notes from around the gym on game four.
- Charlotte Bobcats head coach and former Nuggets assistant Mike Dunlap ran a very unusual defense against the Nuggets, one that made frequent use of a full court press. I asked Chad Iske if it threw his team off at all, to which he replied “yeah I mean definitely, they’re gonna run a 2-2-1, press, back into a zone a lot of times which, in the NBA, you just don’t see a lot. We want to run an up-tempo style and I think that helped us get into that style, but we just had too many turnovers and gave up too many easy baskets to go along with it.”
- Fournier played some more point as expected and once again had a hard time creating for others off the dribble. Fournier is a smart player who makes a lot of things happen in transition, but he hasn’t looked nearly as sharp in the half-court. I asked Fournier if it was difficult learning the point guard position and having to guard quicker players like Kemba Walker. Evan quickly responded “No that’s not a problem, because in France we have a lot of small point guards like this. What’s hard is like — when you’re the point guard you have to know what you teammates can do. We’ve been together for like a week and we need more time.”
- Jordan Hamilton scores very easily at this level, but at times his shot selection leaves a lot to be desired. I know for a fact the Nuggets staff is looking for Jordan to focus on other areas of his game and let his offense come naturally. There are times when he falls in love with the three or gives up on his drives when he’s not getting calls in traffic. Hamilton is playing a much different role on this team than he will in the regular season, but I’d still like to see some more variation in his offensive game. This is the perfect setting for him to try new things, even if he is going to be shooting a lot of spot up threes in the regular season.
- Evan Fournier was also confused at the level of officiating in the Summer League thus far (and he has a point). Fournier told me he is trying to adjust to the style of play and touch fouls that are being called, but isn’t completely sure how. “I need to learn the rules man, I had like 7 fouls and I don’t know why” he said. “I’m asking the referees why and they just tell me ‘You fouled him.’ That’s not like a smart answer.”
- Jorge Gutierrez saw a decent amount of minutes after receiving a DNP in the previous game. His small frame makes it very difficult for him to physically match up with players at this level, but he is a tough player who gives his all on the defensive end. Chad Iske told me he admires Jorge’s grit and attributed a lot of his struggles to him learning the point guard position. “He’s been forced to play a position he really hasn’t played” Iske said. “I think it’s a position he knows he needs to learn and play, but in the NBA the point guard is the most important position in the game now. Tonight, he got to come in and play at the two spot a little bit and that helped get him into it. I think he maybe didn’t feel as much pressure and his defense, and you know the pace of the game going up and down, his effort there got to play a part in the game.”
- Chu Chu Maduabum has a friendly rivalry with Charlotte Bobcats big man Bismack Biyombo. “He won this one” Chu told me. Chu is still a long ways away from playing in the NBA, but the coaches have praised his work ethic throughout the week. I asked Chu what he’s trying to improve and he said “I need to get more rebounds. A lot of rebounds. I’m used to boxing out but I gotta go for the ball. I box out and try to get my man as far away from the rim as I can, but I end up not getting the ball either. I gotta work on just pushing out and going up for the ball.”
- Chu also took a hard fall in the second half and wore a large ice wrap on his shoulder following the game. He said he was sore but when asked if he was going to play tomorrow, Chu smiled and gave me a “hell yeah.”
- Excuse the cliche, but Josh Carter is a pro’s pro. He told me he doesn’t get to play as much as he wants to on this team but understands the situation with the Nuggets already having Hamilton and Fournier in front of him. Carter described Evan Fournier as a mature player and someone who picks things up much faster than a lot of young guys. Carter’s in his third summer league and said he’s trying to lead from the bench, be vocal and play unselfishly when he gets in the games. When asked what he’s trying to show teams here in Vegas, Josh said “that I can fill a role. That I have a good basketball IQ and play the right play. I don’t try to force things.”
- Quincy Miller sought out Chad Iske for a 15-20 minute talk following the game. He has struggled with his overall awareness and feel for the game, especially on the defensive end where there is far too much standing around on Quincy’s part. I probably saw him ask ten different questions to Chad and clearly saw him trying to understand what he was doing wrong. I will have a lot more on Quincy later but the coaches have been putting tons of time in with him and Chad gave me the feeling that coaching him up is a process that’s simply going to take time.