|Danilo Gallinari, SF 48 MIN | 8-22 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | -7
It’s so hard giving out grades to guys who have games like Gallo did tonight. In the first half he continued jacking up awful shots that had no chance of going in. But when the game really mattered Gallo came through with two of the most crucial baskets of the night. He also played good defense on Carl Landry when called upon. The fact is, he’s still taking terrible shots for the most part, but when you come up big in a game like this, that simply can’t be ignored.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 48 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-6 FT | 17 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +19
I thought Faried was the best player on either team tonight. His energy was incredible from the start. It does seems like the Nuggets rise and fall with Faried sometimes though. When he’s up, the Nuggets are as well. But when he’s being dominated inside by his opponent and loses some of his energy as a result, it seems like the Nuggets do also. This was one of his best games in a Nuggets uniform — and maybe his best ever considering the implications.
|Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +3
Five blocks. That’s all you need to know. Forget everything else. Koufos’ five blocks meant everything to this team tonight. He set the tone on defense and was willing to match the Warriors’ physicality inside. Koufos is getting more comfortable and playing better as a result. It’s going to be interesting seeing just how comfortable/good he can get in the future.
|Ty Lawson, PG 48 MIN | 3-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 9 PTS | +2
Lawson was denied on a number of occasions early on by the Warriors interior defense and never looked the same afterwords. This happens from time to time with Lawson. When he can’t penetrate and score like he wants, it’s as if his entire game crumbles. He wasn’t even trying to get the basket in the second half and overtime. It was clear that his confidence had evaporated. Lawson cannot be a one-dimensional player. If the lane collapses, he must figure out how to make himself useful in another manner.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 48 MIN | 7-24 FG | 3-3 FT | 12 REB | 8 AST | 19 PTS | +7
Iguodala’s best game as a Nuggets — bar none. I was amazed at the impact he made both on and off the court. Lawson put up these types of numbers a few times last year, but other than that, this is a stat line we simply have not seen in recent Nuggets memory. Iguodala fits perfectly with what this team is trying to accomplish. He’s starting to gel with his teammates and boy is it exciting. He finally asserted himself on the offensive side of the ball, while playing excellent defense in the process. If this Iguodala shows up more often the Nuggets are gonna be a scary team in the near future.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -2
Brewer was like a bridge between the Nuggets barely losing control of this game and ultimately doing enough to eek out the victory. He had a few huge buckets and was his usual energetic self. Brewer can be hit-and-miss sometimes, but he’s been a home run more often than not recently.
|JaVale McGee, C 21 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -8
First, McGee had more than one block. I counted about three. The Golden State refs and scorer’s table operators were pretty bad. They also counted a few Gallo 3-pointers as 2s. Anyways, add a few more blocks to McGee’s stat line and you have yet another incredibly productive result given the minutes he’s playing. He started overtime, which to me, showed the confidence George Karl truly has in him. McGee had a pretty bad goal-tend and made some borderline questionable decisions, but in the end his positives far (and by far I mean FAR) outweigh his negatives and were on display throughout the Nuggets constant battle for supremacy this game.
|Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | +16
Again, a very tough grade to hand out. Miller had two costly turnovers in the final seconds of the game and overtime that really made no sense whatsoever. They were both golden opportunities for the Nuggets to get a quality shot off to win the game, and instead Miller over-dribbled and lost the ball. He did make a nice assists to Gallo that sealed the victory for the Nuggets and finished with a respectable stat line, but he was a little off tonight and it nearly cost the Nuggets the game.
Three Things We Saw
- Turning Points: This was, without question, one of the best games I’ve seen the Nuggets play in quite some time. It was ugly, but there was so much passion between both teams over who would eventually win. I felt bad for the Warriors as they probably should have won and needed it more than the Nuggets. But hey, I’ll happily take it. During overtime I wrote in my notepad “Even if the Nuggets don’t win, this is still a moral victory of sorts.” Well, the Nuggets won AND achieved the moral victory as well. What a night. Iguodala gave a great interview after the game and said he told his teammates this was all mental. I could not agree more. I love the fact he’s stepping up and saying that type of stuff too. That’s exactly what the Nuggets need out of him. At the end of the night, you really can’t put a value on how important this win was. It was the fourth game in five nights and second of a back-to-back on the road. This could very well go down as a turning point for the Nuggets this season.
- Warriors’ Way: The Warriors took a page right out of Doug Collins’ notebook, if you ask me. Remember in Philly opening night how the Nuggets couldn’t get into the paint and were forced to take outside jump shots? Golden State attempted to duplicate this same strategy and had fairly good success. When the Nuggets attempted to drive, they simply clogged the lane. It eliminated Lawson almost entirely from the game and prevented pretty much everyone else from doing work inside. Considering this is the second time in the first seven games of the season that this has happened, it might behoove the Nuggets to be prepared for other lane-clogging defensive tactics in the future in order to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.
- Proper Props: People often jump my ass for my “heavy” criticism of George Karl. They usually whip out the same tiresome cards they’ve been playing for years (see: lots of wins… and, actually, that’s about it) but it’s OK. I understand their point. However, it’s not like I’m immune to acknowledging when Karl deserves proper credit for his coaching either. Take tonight for example. George Karl was as much responsible for this win as anybody. The Nuggets shot like complete crap, were exhausted and likely would have been OK with a loss — yet he figured out a way to get it done. His lineups I felt were still a little questionable (why didn’t he capitalize on the diminutive Golden State front court by countering with a lineup that had both McGee and Koufos in it?) but he was working the refs all game long, won numerous timeouts and made constant adjustments that paid off (for the most part). Let’s just hope this carries over the remaining 75 games left on the schedule.