|Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 2-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +13CRINGE. This is what Nuggets fans now do every time Gallo launches a 3-point attempt. Is it due to injury? A lack of confidence? Just a slump? Whatever the cause, Gallinari’s outside shooting has been flat out horrendous this season, and he really needs to start settling on it as a final resort after driving and passing. That said, he did put in a solid, effortful defensive effort.|
|Kenneth Faried, SF 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 8-10 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +19Faried was the player of the game, and the Nuggets are rapidly becoming Faried’s team. His energy sets the tone; his drive is infectious. From the game’s onset, it was clear Utah’s plan was to send Paul Millsap straight at him early and often. But Kenneth held his own and then some, with Millsap scoring just 11 points on 5-11 shooting. He aggressively attacked the glass and disrupted Utah’s flow near the rim. And perhaps most encouragingly, he hit 8 of his 10 free throw attempts.|
|Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +9Of course, right on the heels of my previous post arguing Koufos isn’t making much of an impact, he plays his best game of the season. His jump hook was money, and he played with some great energy around the rim (4 offensive rebounds) and on defense (3 blocks and 2 steals). JaVale remains the superior player, and it would be unrealistic to expect 15/9 performances on a nightly basis, but if Kosta can bring this type of effort more consistently, he’ll certainly be earning his keep.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 29 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-4 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | +22Ty didn’t take one 3-point shot tonight, and that’s a direct result of his effort to drive and penetrate at every opportunity. Utah’s frontcourt is formidable, and he had a fair number of his layups blocked. But that’s acceptable when he’s continually breaking down their team defense and creating easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. Gallo should be taking notes, because the way Ty played tonight is the kind of thing he needs to do more.|
|Andre Iguodala, SG 31 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +7Iguodala seems to finally be settling into a comfort zone within the Nuggets offense. His mid-range jumpers were falling tonight, and he looks to be playing in better rhythm than some previous games. His single assist belies the reality that he did a very good job of moving the ball. His shot selection still could use some improvement, but he was feeling it tonight and he made some big shots early to help Denver extend its lead.|
|Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +4Brewer really outdid himself tonight. He was flat out on fire. When the Jazz were chipping away at Denver’s lead in the 4th quarter, he nailed two 3-pointers in a row to squelch their efforts (and those wouldn’t be his last). Of course he also was his usual feisty, pestering self on defense, full of energy and effort. It’s probably too soon, with too small a sample size, to say that Brewer has legitimately developed his shot. But if that does prove to be the case, he could play a Bruce Bowen-like role for Denver — defensive specialist who can knock down the corner three.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -2The extent to which Timo’s injury is affecting his game isn’t entirely clear, but tonight he sure looked like he wasn’t quite ready to come back. He did make a few good plays. But “rusty” would be an understatement, although if healthy and playing well, he can be an asset for the Nuggets, so it was good to see him get a little burn.|
|JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +5McGee was frustrated in this game. He had a few tough calls not go his way, and it seemed to get to his head. He played hard, and made a positive impact on the defensive end altering shots and clogging the paint. But he couldn’t execute very well on offense. Although I just posted an argument to the contrary, I’ll readily admit that this is one game, based on in-game performance, where Koufos deserved his 25 minutes for playing better.|
|Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 6 PTS | +10Andre Miller blocked Derrick Favors.|
Three Things We Saw
- George Karl uncharictaristically opened up the bench early. Even as Utah was making a bit of a comeback in the fourth quarter, chipping down to 14 what had been a 21-point lead, Karl put in Evan Fournier. Then when the game not necessarily safely out of reach with about 4:30 left, Anthony Randolph went in. This was the first night of a back-to-back, and Brewer’s 3-point onslaught kept the Jazz safely at bay, so perhaps it’s not altogether surprising. But the real story here is that it appears Jordan Hamilton’s backside will be firmly implanted on the pine, if Karl views Fournier as the first player he wants to go to outside the regular rotation.
- Denver and Utah totaled for 24 blocks, with 12 apiece. What’s much more surprising, given that the Nuggets seemed to be pretty much dominating inside, is that the Jazz actually had one more offensive rebound. Even so, the Nuggets continue to ride points in the paint to successful outcomes, beating Utah 46-38.
- The Nuggets pull to an even 3-3 record with this win. Tomorrow, they go on the road against what should be a beatable Golden State Warriors team, giving them their first opportunity to get above the .500 mark this season. Starting with 17 of 23 games on the road, a win tomorrow would be huge, and mean that they’d have to win 9 of the remaining 16 games in that brutal opening stretch to come out.of it with a winning record.
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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.
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