2012-2013 Preseason: Denver Nuggets 94 Los Angeles Clippers 106

Los Angeles Clippers 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
94 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 2-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | -3

The Clippers’ athletic wings did a good job keeping Gallo outside the lane. The Nuggets looked to get Andre Iguodala going early in this game and Gallo faded into the background a bit. Gallo’s unselfishness and above-average effort on defense are much appreciated, but he needs to be much more aggressive looking to score. As a scorer he looks ready to go, the Nuggets offense just hasn’t been able to establish any sort of flow.

Kenneth Faried, SF 29 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -11

Bit of a disjointed game for the Manimal, who spent much of the night getting smoked by the supremely athletic Clipper bigs. He looks physically over-matched at times which is why important for the Nuggets to establish their size, which none of Denver’s seven-footers were able to do.

Kosta Koufos, C 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -8

Tallied a double-double and generally showed why he’s the standout big of training camp — Koufos is dependable. His rebounding is steady and Koufos has been active in pick and roll coverages, but he does a poor job protecting the rim defensively. The effort is good but he must be more physical and forceful with his play.

Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 2-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 10 PTS | +1

He’s trying to run pick and roll offense, but you really wish Lawson would just go get to his spots and attack like Chris Paul does. Ty has yet to wow anyone in the preseason but he’s doing fine as a starting PG as the Nuggets struggle to figure out a good rotation.

Andre Iguodala, SG 32 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS | +3

He had his shot going early and initiated a lot of quick, Nuggets-style offense. Defensively he was clearly frustrated by the Nuggets’ lack of communication against the pick and roll. Iguodala did what he could on Chris Paul while the Nuggets’ overall team defense continues to take steps backward.

Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 6-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | -10

Led the Nuggets in scoring again despite never really aiming for it. Brew was inefficient this game and a little too trigger-happy towards the end. Corey continues to be one of the few Nuggets who look comfortable in a role.

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

The Nuggets seem committed to playing Mozgov despite the fact Koufos has earned the starting nod and Anthony Randolph has looked pretty good. Mozgov continues to play in a weird, tacked-on spot in the rotation and has yet to establish himself on either end. It’s unclear if he’s a normal third center or still in the mix for regular center minutes.

JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-6 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -3

He finally produced, but JaVale looked soft and timid next to the wildly aggressive DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. He needs to be more physical and provide a constant defensive presence at the rim. McGee was on and off in this contest but perhaps proved he’s finally getting comfortable with a bigger role.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 6 PTS | -17

Well, he doesn’t look to be in the best shape which we could have expected. Miller was able to produce efficiently and get up and down the floor without any issues. Miller will have to work his way into form during the season but he at least looks ready to start playing regular minutes.

Jordan Hamilton, SG 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13

A mixed bag. He was a late addition to the rotation and wasn’t able to settle in. Hamilton looked out of control on a few drives but hasn’t necessarily had a meaningful role off the bench since the early preseason.

Evan Fournier, SG 14 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +8

Fournier saw a lot of minutes as the Clippers blew the game open and he showed some promising skills. He was active cutting and moving the ball quickly within the offense. Evan needs to be a lot more steady on defense but he’s a good fit next to Miller and Iguodala, where Fournier saw a lot of his minutes tonight.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Nuggets bigs were soft at the rim and generally run right over by the Los Angeles Clippers. Both Koufos and Mozgov were disappointing in terms of stopping penetration or protecting the rim. JaVale McGee was marginally better but as a whole, the Nuggets bigs were the weakest point in Denver’s poor defensive performance.
  2. Karl has said he would like to start coaching games with urgency like regular season contests, but injuries have gotten in the way. Without Wilson Chandler, Karl seems reluctant to put Hamilton in a scoring role off the bench early. Karl also continues to look at Mozgov and Fournier without being able to decide what to do with them. Essentially, there’s still a lot up for grabs in the opening night rotation.
  3. Wilson Chandler had dental work but could be available to play in tomorrow’s game at Phoenix. Denver’s rotation will have a vastly different look if he’s presumably healthy and ready to play this season. Incorporating Chandler even into limited minutes with JaVale and Andre Miller off the bench is paramount to getting a sensible rotation going.
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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • CJP32

    I’m yet to see Ty take command and really be aggressive this PS, maybe he’s just waiting for the real games? Iggy is a great distributor, but man his shot has been off. Gallo at times wants to take over, but sometimes just sits back and waits for it.

    Faried has looked scared at times being outplayed by the likes of David Lee, Blake Griffin. He needs to be way more aggressive.

    JHam looks to be in the doghouse and he is clearly frustrated by the lack of playing time, seems Fournier has picked up things better thank Jordan.

    Koufos/McGee looked to be in a good groove, where as Mozzy looks lost and awful. You can tell that McGee just plays with way more confidence when Andre Miller is on the court.

    C Brew just continues to shoot with confidence, yeah maybe a little too many shots tonight, but at times he was the only one looking to score. I hope he has done enough to have a spot in this rotation moving forward. 55% FG, 48% 3PT for 17 ppg in 22 mpg – not bad for someone who no one thought would be in the rotation.

    Tomorrow Gallo and Iggy are off according to GK, and Wilson could be back – lets end the PS on a winning note and beat the Suns.

  • dynamo.joe

    Earlier someone asked about preseason stats. Here you go.


    Guess who has hands down the best stats + starters mins/game
    JR Smith, Ladies and Gentlemen! He only played 1 game, but scored 20 on 72% shooting. He also had, I think, 6 ast and 4 reb.

  • GK4Prez

    The Manimal is still lost on D, where was AR15?

    Free throw shooting is going to be this teams achilles heal. 60% is far from what a person would/should expect from a professional team.

  • chronicnugs

    So we get absolutely destroyed in this game and no one gets less than a B-? You have to be kidding me. No one, except maybe Fours, deserved more than a C.

    Miller was USELESS, -17 and he gets an A-? That’s inexplicable. He looked like he didn’t even want to play. He certainly didn’t want to play defense. By ‘A” I hope you mean ‘F’, because that was terrible. I think he was -20 at one point in THE FIRST HALF.

    Faried and McGee were floating between pathetic and useless until the 4th (literally an entire quarter of garbage time) and they average out to a B? Really? By that time Jordan and Griffin were relegated to the bench.

    Lawson was the only player I saw who showed any real aggression when the game was still in the balance. Maybe Iggy too. His shot wasn’t falling, but the effort was there. And he got the lowest score? Bizarre.

    Quick recap… A = Excellent, B = Above Average, C = Average, so on and so forth.

    • Thomas

      Agree. Seems to me that once the bloggers get to hang around with coaches and players they lose the thing that made them relevant to us fans – objectiveness.

      Get back on it – if we wanted cheerleading, we would just read the Denver Post.

    • TmC

      I totally agree… Koufos getting an A- after playing horrible defense the whole second half? I was very disappointed in the Nuggets play last night and I think this article is a poor reflection of it compared to last years articles.

      I am a true fan of RMC and have read it consistently for years. This is just some constructive criticism because I know you can do better Charlie.

      On a side note thanks for being the only one asking Iggy basketball questions, besides that the G-Hangout was a joke…

    • chronicnugs

      Any time your team gives up a 40 something to 17 run, someone deserves an F. That is the definition of failure. There were two nuggets timeouts sprinkled in there as well, so it’s not like Karl was just sitting there passively.

      I enjoy the work done here at RMC, but this article either needs to be edited or taken down. No one who watched this game could take these grades seriously.

  • Herman VanNess

    Not going to go into the letter grades. I’ll just say it’s the first Report Card of the season and Charlie is a bit shall we say rusty.

    My observations:

    Faried has not improved as a defender. Blake Griffin appears to have have expanded his game but, Faried for all of his straight line speed and jumping ability, seems to lack lateral quickness or just the savvy to defend guys that can put it on the floor. His hustle and motor will be sufficient against most teams though.

    Koufos is steady but, no team in the league will fear going to the bucket against the Nuggets if he’s the defensive anchor. I did like him at the 4 with McGee at the 5. Only chance vs. the Lakers or any team with two active bigs.

    I’m a McGee fan. I see his faults but, I also saw how the Clippers were reluctant to shoot the ball around the basket when he was down there. That’s a win.

    Iguodala is probably best as a distributor. Hopefully he can use his athleticism to get to the basket more. His jumper is streaky so, he needs to get to the free throw line. He’s a stud defensively.

    Gallo looks good and in good shape. His shot looks good. I think he’s going to have a big year.

    Ty is still Ty. He’s really good but, to expect much more out of him may be expecting too much.

    Brewer is definitely a rotation player. Shot looks much better. I can’t figure out where Wilson Chandler is going to fit. As is, the rotations are not allowing players to really get in a rhythm.

    Defense was poor mainly because the Nuggets constantly got stuck in horrible switches and didn’t properly rotate or protect the basket. How many times did we see our PGs trying to defend their bigs? How many times did we see Koufos out on the floor trying to check Chris Paul?

    Another thing I found problematic is what I saw far too often last year. The first unit always struggles to start third quarters. Ty and Gallo are laid back and not assertive enough. They have to generate offense. Iguodala is going to have to make something happen because Koufos and Faried can’t and for whatever reason Ty and Gallo won’t/don’t.

    The Nuggets’ depth and athleticism should win them a lot of games and if they bring energy they’ll be a fun team to watch. If they gel and roles are more defined they could be a threat even in the playoffs.

    The thing that concerns me more than anything is George Karl. I know we’re going to see to Miller and Ty on the floor at the same time getting exploited on the defensive end over and over. I’m certain players that have ability will be in Karl’s doghouse while his favorites with limited ability will get minutes.

    p.s. Mozgov is awful.

    • Guy

      Totally agree with you about the switches. The Nuggets are never going to be good defensively if they continue to needlessly switch and put themselves in defensive mismatches. The rebounding was alarmingly bad. How many put-back baskets did the Clippers have??
      Another thing I noticed was how many missed layups the Nuggets had. Can anyone on this team finish?? The Clippers didn’t have any problems finishing around the basket. I realize this is only preseason but this team hardly looks like it’s practiced. I turned it off before the 4th quarter but from what I saw only McGee and Brewer would get passing grades.

  • Aaron

    We looked awful last night. . . .I know it was pre-season, so hopefully guys were giving 70%. It certainly looked like Ty was. . he looked terrible.

    I know what everyone says about Mosgoz, but it’s not an individual game, and I always think the team looks better with him out there, than Koufos. I think he’s more of an offensive threat.

    Here’s hoping the guys wakeup before the reg. season hits, with our brutal schedule.

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    Here are my thoughts after last night’s game:

    I was expecting the Nuggets to play much better defense than last season. It appears I was wrong. Still poor rotations and as someone else mentioned poor communication. Also far too much switching, which as we know is an overused tactic by the Nuggets.

    I was impressed with McGee. I saw him stay on the floor against head fakes and on one occasion in the second half he caught himself in mid air as he was about to block a shot and simply tapped it to try to control it instead of trying to throw it to half court. He is learning. Offensively, he displayed a new turn around jumper and was 2-2 although both looked a little awkward. McGee with a consistent TAJ wold be unstoppable, but I am not sure I want my long athletic center fading away from the hoop very often.

    I was impressed with Fournier. He puts forth effort on defense and had one possession where he showed anticipation in completing his rotation on defense, which is something the Nuggets have sorely lacked always getting caught reacting instead of anticipating.

    The thing that will stick in my head is how the defense was abysmal. The Clippers made them look worse by shooting a very high percentage on jumpers over the first three quarters, but it is obvious you cannot just add a fantastic perimeter defender and expect your defense to magically improve.

    The Nuggets made it to the WCF the season they emphasized defense. Not only have they stopped emphasizing defense, they have gone the other way and completely overemphasized offense.

    • DH

      The thing I was thinking during the game is that if the Nuggets were an NFL team, we would be firing our defensive coordinator every year like the Broncos do, until we get a guy who can really teach defense and get the players to implement the plan. Unfortunately, the NBA is not the NFL. There is no defensive coordinator. And since Grgurich left, we have nobody who can do the job and who also has the respect of Karl enough to be allowed to do so.

      To put it another way, we really, really need a defensive “guru” to take over that aspect of the team. I don’t know why Karl can’t do it – given that he’s supposed to have a reputation as a defensive-minded coach – but he has demonstrated during his time in Denver that it just isn’t working. I don’t think our players are unwilling or unable to play D. It’s time to bring in an expert, IMHO.

      • Tom

        I disagree. The Nuggets were consistently ranked highly in defensive efficiency when Melo was on the team (surprisingly), while it was their offense that was middling. Now over the past couple years, the offense has been great and the defense bad. Karl is a good defensive coach, but I think they miss having the defensive stalwarts that they used to have, like K-Mart, Nene, Dahntay Jones, Chris Anderson, etc. The main problem with the current group is likely youth: young players are simply much worse defenders than veterans. It takes a few years for them to catch-up to the pro game.

        • SmokinNugs

          Then why doesn’t our veteran Andre Miller play defense?

  • Ray

    Did we all watch the same game? The Nugs dominated the boards, had more paint points, and took more 3’s for a higher percentage. They just need to work on FT defense :) (Blake/DAJ 10-12 really?) and offense.

    Seriously I saw a pretty good defensive effort overall. Blake got a few “easier than they should have been” shots, but overall they forced the Clips into a ton of long pull-up 2’s, which is the shot you want them to take.

    Let’s not forget the Nugs also missed a bunch of chippies. If they play this game out 100 times the Nugs win a vast majority of the times.

    Calm down people.

  • Roundball Bill

    Iggy’s abysmal shooting percentage this season has me really worried.

    • dynamo.joe

      Why, have you seen the rest of his box score? Iggy is probably the one guy you DON’T have to worry about if his shot isn’t falling. He will still be out there making plays for other guys rebounding and playing defense.

      The guy who worries me is Fournier. He doesn’t produce anything besides points, and he does that poorly. He played point for most of the fourth and didn’t get a singe assist? I agree the effort is there on defense and everyone raves about his basketball IQ and shooting motion, but it’s not translating into production.

      GK says (rightly) that we want points at the rim, freethrows, and 3pointers. Fournier does none of this. But he’s just a kid and I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water.

      Having said that, the absolute worst thing about Fournier; he’s transforming himself into one of “GK’s guys”. Which means we could be treated to 15-20 or more minutes/game of the Prodige Fran├žais even though he isn’t producing.

      • chronicnugs

        In Evan’s defense, the other guys on the floor effectively froze him out of the offense. He was wide open in the corners on at least 3 instances and never got the last pass.

        I think he moved the ball effectively in his time out there. Plus I actually thought he played pretty good defense, all things considered.

        Dude is 19 years old Joe. He has yet to play a regulation game. Last night was garbage time and the last thing you could call him was selfish. That’s a good thing. Let’s not bury him just yet.

        • dynamo.joe

          I think I mostly said that. He is just 19 and I expect him to get better, get stronger, get faster. I said the effort was there on defense.

          In no way, shape or form do I believe it’s time to move on from the Evan Fournier experiment.

          My concern is more with George Karl. He will give him minutes, even when the regular season starts, inspite of the fact that every single back court player on the roster is better.

          • chronicnugs

            It’s odd to me that we bash George for exiling rookies, then we bash him for playing them. Not speaking to you specifically Joe, just Nuggets fans in general.

            I think he is playing Fournier because Evan plays like George wants him to… hard and unselfishly. It seemed to me like Fours was bringing the ball up the court and trying to get the team into the offense. This doesnt usually result in assists. He also doesnt appear to force things. I actually think he is a mature player considering his age. He’s hardly a liability out there.

        • GK4Prez

          I actually thought Fournier played better than most players on the team last night.

  • GK4Prez

    I agree with Jeremy, the switch everything defensive philosophy has already had its 15 minutes of fame. The team has basically changed over 2 times now during the GK era and other than one season, the D still looks the same.

  • GK4Prez

    Maybe instead of letter grades, the grades could be given out on a 1-10 scale or categorize it into a couple of categories (offense/defense) and give a grade for each.

  • Mark from Charlotte

    Nugget fans calm down this team will be exciting to watch this year. Fournier will be a good player this year. TRADE MOZ and give AR15 MORE PLAYING TIME……….

  • Tom

    I guess I’ll repeat my point about GK and defense here:
    Year, D-eff, D-Rank
    04-05, 86.2, 6th
    05-06, 87.6, 8th
    06-07, 88.4, 9th
    07-08, 89.1, 6th
    08-09, 103.5, 8th
    09-10, 104.7, 16th
    10-11, 104.8, 16th
    11-12, 103.4, 19th

    For most of GK’s tenure with the Nuggets, they have been a very good defensive team. After the Melo trade, they became much worse defensively. They used to have a team stacked with solid veteran defenders like K-Mart, Camby, Nene, Chris Anderson, Dahntay Jones, etc. Now they have a bunch of young guys who don’t know the game as well, and young guys are almost always bad defenders. So, saying GK has been a bad defensive coach is really misrepresenting these past 7 years or so.