|Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | +3
People say Gallo has his confidence back, but what they don’t understand is that it was never about confidence in the first place — it was about the types of shots he was taking. Does the fact that he’s made, what, one or two more shots with his feet right inside the 3-point arc change the fact that they aren’t good shots? Gallo actually had a pretty decent game, all things considered. But when you remember he’s an athletic 6-10 small forward who has unlimited range, excellent handles (for his size) and can get to the line with some of the best in the league — games like these can tend to seem pretty pedestrian.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 30 MIN | 6-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -10
I don’t know what Faried really could have done differently to get a higher grade. He let Markieff Morris score a bit too much, but that was kind of the story for the whole team tonight. Bottom line: Whenever Faried is in the game the Nuggets always play better, which makes his lengthy absence in the second quarter all the more head-scratching.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +4
Koufos is still being wildly outproduced by McGee. That won’t change. Why? Because he’s simply not as good as McGee. End of story. It’s nice to see him playing such good interior defense though. That was a part of his game that was really lacking over the last several weeks. If he can continue making his presence known in the paint, his shortcomings will be much easier to swallow.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | -4
Lawson was dominated by Dragic all night long. Dominated. He was awful in high pick-and-rolls (but so was the entire team) and as a result, Dragic shot 4-5 from deep, which was basically the different in the game scoring-wise. On offense, Lawson isn’t looking to be aggressive. It’s as if he’s all or nothing with getting the basket. Lawson has to expand his creativity when it comes to scoring AND distributing. He can’t get caught up in being just the speedy point guard. He’s way too talented to pigeonhole himself like that. Worst of all, his confidence appears to be rattled.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 34 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | -7
You can’t complain with how Iguodala has played over the last few games. He’s really taken our advice at RMC (not literally, of course) and become the No. 1 option on the team. He’s making difficult shots — which is exactly what you want to see from your best player — and is playing excellent defense too. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get pulled down into the funk that Lawson and Gallinari currently occupy.
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | -8
Brewer was somewhat invisible. It’s games like these where the Nuggets really need him to step up on defense and ignite the team. His inconsistency perpetuates.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
|JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 8-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -5
McGee had a really solid night offensively. He was efficient and slammed home a handful of different lob passes throughout the evening. But three boards from a 7-footer with the longest wingspan in the NBA won’t cut it. He also needs to stop biting on pump fakes from dudes like Scola and David Lee who can’t jump over a phone book.
|Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | -17
Miller really didn’t get into his crafty, veteran groove tonight. He kind of dribbled aimlessly and lost the ball too much. The Suns didn’t let him post up or operate the way he likes to and as a result he became limited.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -5
Chandler finally did some positive things out there. He still looks like he’s lost half the time, but at least he’s starting to make some shots. It’s tough though. Chandler is a proven scorer in this league. He’s a guy who deserves at least 25 minutes per night. He just can’t be effective coming off the bench in such a limited capacity.
Five Things We Saw
- Defense wins… regular season games?: Sure, you can win championships playing defense, but did you know you can win many regular season games doing the same thing? Crazy, I know. On Monday the Suns played better defense and that’s why they won. They scored 110 points only because the Nuggets failed to come prepared with anything even resembling a defensive game-plan. The Suns were tougher, more physical and in the end much better at stopping their opponent from scoring — which was the biggest deciding factor in this game.
- Can’t win em all… but you can win a lot of em: Look, people are going to overact to this loss and that’s understandable. But in the grand scheme of things it’s only one game. Right? One game out of 81? Actually, that’s wrong — if only because, this is the Nuggets we’re talking about here. This team uses that excuse entirely too often. When you say “it’s only one game,” that’s a mulligan most teams use just a few times the whole season. But this casual, “bad loss” phenomena is one the Nuggets have become accustomed to over the years. The reality of the situation is: Every year in the NBA you only play a certain amount of games you should win. You HAVE to take advantage of those opportunities! If you don’t, you start digging yourself in a hole and soon you’re forced to win many more games against good teams than you ever should have to. If you’re the Lakers and have an arena filled with banners, this lackadaisical approach to the regular season can be overlooked. But when you’re the Nuggets, this is the difference between the eight seed and the sixth seed — and essentially a first-round exit or a chance to finally do something in the playoffs. Through eight games the Nuggets schedule really hasn’t been that bad yet they’ve already lost three games they probably should have won. Chalk it up as a slow start, but the Nuggets are already tampering with their luck.
- Depth Dilemma: As we’ve already mentioned numerous times before, depth seems to be more of a problem with this team than a solution. Karl just does not know how to handle it. His lineup to close the game was pretty frustrating with Gallinari playing center. You can’t really blame him too much though. He’s trying to manage with what he’s got. But 14 minutes for a guy as talented as Wilson Chandler just doesn’t work. Over the last five games or so, Karl has contracted his lineup and it really had a positive impact on the players. Guys need time to be effective. It’s common NBA knowledge. They need time to gel. I know it’s early, but I just see no way this team makes it past the trade deadline without making a pretty huge deal that would eliminate some of these issues.
- Just for the record: Prior to the game Denver Post writer Benjamin Hochman was on NBA TV and said the altitude does not affect McGee negatively like many have suggested. He even went so far as to say McGee is BETTER in Colorado than he was in Washington D.C. because of the elements in the air. So please, let’s put this one to rest. McGee is currently being underplayed for reasons other than his asthma. Let’s just hope that whatever it is doesn’t last much longer.
- Pay respect to the vets: No, I don’t mean Andre Miller. I’m talking about the men and women who defend not only the U.S., but every country in the world. We try to keep things strictly Nuggets related here, but every now and then we deviate from the Roundball Standard for reasons we like to think are important. I know we all go about life and thank our veterans from time to time for what they’ve done, but do you really think about what it is they do? I mean, really process it? Tonight, please do, and for a few moments realize just how inconsequential basketball is compared to the big picture.