The Nuggets and Spurs are currently tied 45-45 at halftime. Here are some quick thoughts on the first half:
- The leading story so far is Corey Brewer, who exploded for 17 points in 11 minutes. He has been the usual bundle of energy, and actually created a couple of his own mid-range scoring opportunities (though missing both his 3-point attempts).
- Jordan Hamilton did not play, but Evan Fournier got seven minutes. It’s hard to read too much into preseason rotation decisions, and riding Brewer’s hot play is probably a no-brainer, but one could wonder whether Fournier might have a real shot at taking some minutes many expected to go to J-Ham.
- Tim Duncan looks great out there. Pains me to say it, but it’s true.
- Denver went 2-7 from the arc in the first half. Brewer (0-2), Iguodala (0-2) and Fournier (0-1) were all unable to connect. Of course, Anthony Carter made his only attempt. Go figure.
- The Spurs started on a 13-0 run. In terms of establishing good chemistry and playing cohesively, this Nuggets team is definitely still a work in progress on both ends of the court.
- On the +/- front, Denver’s starting lineup averaged -12.8, while the bench averaged +12.8. If the starters pick up their game from here, the Nuggets should have a good chance to win it.
I may not be able to post second half observations right after the game (life taking precedent), but please feel free to use the comments to discuss it, and perhaps if the other contributors have the chance to see the game, they’ll add their thoughts as well.
Additional second half notes
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the entire second half, and only saw from about three minutes into the third quarter to a couple minutes into the fourth. So this will be fairly limited.
- The Nuggets established a quick lead in the third quarter, and would never trail after that, going on to win the game 97-91
- I think it was Karl’s intention from the start not to play Hamilton or Randolph, and I suspect this is an attempt to zoom in on more specific player combinations. With the number of players he could put on the floor, giving them each 15 minutes would spread around the playing time, but it wouldn’t be very useful in terms of gleaning meaningful information about what combinations of players have good chemistry together, and what lineups might turn out to be the most effective. I suspect we’ll see both J-Ham and Randolph get playing time in other preseason games, and see other players take their turns sitting it out.
- Evan Fournier played much better in this game than he did against the Clippers last week. The biggest difference to my eyes was that he just looked like he belonged out there. Against L.A. he looked completely confused and in way over his head. Not ready. In this game he looked like an NBA player who was on the court legitimately because he was good enough to be there. He’s definitely still a work in progress, but it was good to see him competing.
- Overall the Nuggets kind of looked like the Keystone Kops on both offense and defense for big stretches of this game. In the long term I don’t think it will be a problem establishing cohesion, but the larger concern is how long that will take. Given the brutal beginning to their regular season schedule, obviously the sooner the better. Hopefully they can make progress in the remaining preseason games.
- Building on that point, I’m really glad the Nuggets re-signed Andre Miller. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Anthony Carter seems to be his stand in for preseason game purposes, and in this game he played a similar role that Miller usually does: the steadying, calming force on a team that thrives on energy but tends to flirt a little too closely with a “too energetic” frenetic, out of control style. Again, once they get settled into a tighter groove, this will be less of a problem, but having Miller there to steady the ship will be more important than many people realize, in my opinion.
- Iguodala, Gallinari and Lawson combined to shoot 14 of 40 (.350). Needless to say, that’s not going to be good enough. This game didn’t seem to have the same intensity for the Nuggets players as the opener did, and that could have been a contributing factor to these lackluster performances.
- Corey Brewer did indeed finish as the game’s high scorer with 24 points on 8-13 shooting. He made 2-5 3-pointers (as did Gallo, by the way), but missed half of his 12 free throw attempts. Still, a mostly efficient and very impressive performance from a player who is not expected to carry the scoring burden.
- It is probably not said often enough, but it’s true: Kosta Koufos is a very good rebounder. He had 11 in this game, five offensive. He doesn’t pull them down with the panache of Faried (who had a quiet 5 rebounds and 0 points in this game), but he gets the job done.
- The Spurs like to push guys out of bounds.
- Eddy Curry actually looked surprisingly good. Damn you, San Antonio.
One final random “announcement”: I decided to start using my real name, Joel, here and drop the “denbutsu” handle. The reason I used the handle in the first place was mainly for continuity because I’d already been writing about basketball under that name. So I apologize for any confusion, but there will be no more changes from here on out.