|Danilo Gallinari, SF 37 MIN | 3-17 FG | 6-9 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -19
Gallo couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn in this game. His 13 points came from 17 shot attempts, and he went 1-9 from the arc. It’s easy to see that he wants to be the man on this team, but this seems to lead to somewhat selfish play at times. He needs to recognize when his shot’s not falling and try harder to set up his teammates.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 36 MIN | 11-15 FG | 0-1 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | -10
The Manimal had his best game of the season tonight, and tied for leading scorer on the Nuggets with 22 very efficient points. It’s unclear why he, like so many other Nuggets players, was M.I.A. in the first two games, but the energetic, supercharged Faried we all know and love finally showed up. His performance was even more commendable given that he was assigned the daunting task of defending LeBron James, which he handled as capably as might be expected from a mere mortal.
|Kosta Koufos, C 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Koufos could do absolutely nothing to slow down the offensive onslaught of Chris Bosh, who tallied his highest score as a Miami Heat player with 40 points on 15-22 shooting. From the opening tipoff Bosh had his way with him, scoring ten points in the first eight minutes. Kosta wasn’t able to contribute much on offense either, and Karl only played him 14 minutes.
|Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 7-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 14 PTS | -2
Ty was very quiet to open the game, going shotless and scoreless in the first quarter. He did find a mode assertive mode of play as the game went on, however, and at times did a good job of driving to the basket. Still, he needs to develop more consistency. He seems to have an on/off switch when it comes to his effort and aggression, and when it’s off the Nuggets offense tends to sputter.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 40 MIN | 9-15 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 22 PTS | -4
This was the Iguodala Nuggets fans have been waiting for. Andre did a solid job of defending Dwyane Wade, who shot 5-12 for just 14 points. It was by far his best offensive performance with Denver, as he tied Faried’s 22 points and notably hit two of his five 3-point attempts. In the fourth quarter he also showed signs of being a reliable go-to guy in the clutch, which should be important as the season rolls on.
|Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12
Brewer continues to earn his minutes with his effortful defensive play. It seems that Karl has given him the green light to shoot 3-pointers at will, but until he can demonstrate the ability to drain them more consistently at a higher percentage, it would be a mistake to have him continue averaging over six attempts per game. But his energy remains valuable, and he probably gains as many possessions for the team in steals and scrambling for loose balls as he loses with errant threes.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-5 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | +10
JaVale is another Nugget who had his best game of the season tonight. He delivered his 16 points with great efficiency, not only shooting 6-9 from the field but also (gasp!) knocking down four of his five free throw attempts. He played a more fundamentally sound game, which was nice to see. He did a good job of altering shots near the rim, but unfortunately he couldn’t do much better than Koufos in slowing down Bosh.
|Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +5
It’s somewhat odd to give such a high grade to Miller in a game in which he had only one assist, but Dre is a huge part of the reason why the Nuggets even had a chance to win this game. There were a couple of stretches in the third quarter when Miami started building a lead, but Miller did a great job of stopping the bleeding before things got out of control and keeping Denver in the game. And the play in the second quarter when he backed down Wade in the post and put in a short jumper right in his face was a thing of beauty.
Three Things We Saw
- Emotions will be split on this game. The fact that Denver was so close to winning it makes the loss heartbreaking, and this 0-3 road trip to start the season will make for a long plane ride home. But perhaps more importantly, this game was full of encouraging signs that this actually is the team we thought it would be and not the confused mess we saw through the preseason and first two games. Chemistry finally started kicking into place on both the offensive and defensive ends, and nearly all the players seemed to rediscover their confidence and true identities. In that sense this was as close to a “good loss” as there can be, and when the Nuggets debut their new gold jerseys in the home opener against Detroit on Tuesday, they look poised to hit the ground running.
- The Nuggets got to the basket at will in this game, and dominated points in the paint with 72 to Miami’s 40. They also won the rebounding battle in a big way, with 46 boards, 17 offensive, to the Heat’s 33 and 7. But the game was lost largely at the perimeter, where Denver’s defense continues to struggle. The Heat made 10 of their 25 attempts (40%) to Denver’s 5-21 (23.8%). Also, the Nuggets only managed to dish out 13 assists on 49 made shots, or 27% of them. Compare this with last season’s average of 24 assists on 39 made field goals, or 62%, and it’s easy to see that this team still has some way to go in the ball sharing department. Granted it’s partly a function of the Heat putting up so little resistance at the rim, but it remains an area Denver needs to work on.
- In this game it appeared that Karl may have found a rotational pattern approaching what he’ll finally settle into. Despite Wilson Chander being out as part of his rehabilitation process, Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier and Anthony Randolph all got DNPs. Timofey Mozgov is expected to be okay to play on Tuesday, but if Karl continues in this direction, it’s doubtful he’ll see the court. This would leave the Nuggets with a regular 9-man rotation — the players who played in tonight’s game plus Chandler — that will probably be what Karl rolls with from here on out. It would be great to be wrong about this, as it’s important for especially Hamilton and Fournier to get their chances, but Karl has “his guys”, and he seems to have gotten closer to having decided who they are.
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