Nuggets at Spurs observations

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.


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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • GalloGallo

    A. Randolph didn’t play too… hmmm…

  • Daniel Y

    No JHAM or A. Randolph all game. Instead we see a lot of timo/kosta playing together. We already know what we are gonna get from those guys. Anthony Randolph deserves a shot to really prove he should be the backup PF. Same with JHAM especially after the way he played in the first game.

    I like what we are seeing from frenchy, but we need a pure scorer on this team and that is exactly what JHAM is. I really hope Fournier spends some time in the d-league as he is only 19 and still has time for his game to develop. I would understand him taking minutes if we had nobody else to fill that wing position, but we all know we have a plethora of wing guys that are fighting for those minutes. In this case, I hope GK gives Fournier his typical rookie treatment.

    And also why does AC have to play decent and give the illusion he is actually worth keeping? He’s killing me and I truly hope he isn’t a part of the 15-man roster going forward. This team is young, athletic, and has unlimited potential. Those are all things that Anthony Carter isn’t. He is nice to have around for the pre-season, but I really have had enough of him.

    Anyway, thanks for the in game update. Are you going to be a new regular contributor Joel?

    • SmokinNugs

      Joel = denbutsu’s real name (see last paragraph)

      • Joel

        Correct, thank you SN. And again, I’m sorry for causing confusion with this.

  • GK4Prez

    Free throw shooting and turnovers continue to be problem areas for this squad. Hopefully, they will figure it out before the games count.

    • GK4Prez

      The only player that didn’t turn it over was the rookie, but he is still a work in progress…lol

  • JetLife82

    How about each of the 7 footers having 5 fouls. Hope this is not going to be a problem going forward…

  • Aaron

    Are Ben Uzoh, Quincy Miller, Or Chandler Gonna Play At All This Preseason? I Know Chandler is Still Sore From Surgery But What About The Other Two?

  • CJP32

    If not for Brewer in the first half, Spurs would have won by 30. He is taking on the role of leader in the 2nd Unit with Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler absent.

    Minus his half court heave at half time, he shot 8/12 including 2/4 threes, if he could hit his FTs he would have scored 30+. I expect JHam to get more minutes next game though, but if Brewer keeps his current form going, he will secure a rotation spot. Shooting 71% from the field for 20 ppg.

    With this type of performance, it makes me wonder if Wilson Chandler is really needed at all.

    • JetLife82

      I wonder if starting Brewer wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Our current starters tend to let the other team get going offensively early on, whereas Brewer is good at disrupting their flow. And if this was the case I’d go with Moz to start over KK or McGee, so that we still have some defense coming off the bench. Thoughts?

      • CJP32

        I’m not sure if starting Brewer solves anything, I think he is best suited coming off the bench, mid-way through the 1st quarter and playing between 18-24 minutes total. As a starter last year, he tends to take too many outside shots.

        I thought he did a really good job of attacking the rim and drawing fouls – 12 FT attempts. If he can hit the corner three consistently (4/5 so far in PS) then he has a great chance of becoming Iggy’s primary back up and also getting mins at the backup SF spot. The thing is, he is playing for a contract and he wants to be here, and his play is showing it.

  • Jim

    Wish I could see preseason games. I think Corey brewer is going to be my favorite nugget this year. As a coach, he just plays the game the right way. He’s not the best player but he makes everybody else better.

  • Mark

    Cory Brewer has historically been a poor shooter, which is why he did not stick with previous teams. We saw this last season. He will have hot games, but can he be consistent? He is best suited for coming off the bench – providing what he does in that role – until he can prove to be a reliable shooter.

  • parkhill

    I still see the D that allowed teams to go off from behind the arc. Is this a switching team or not, I’m confused. Masai needs to bring in a D-minded coach to takeover that aspect from Karl.