|Danilo Gallinari, SF 31 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
Here’s a fun fact: Gallo’s only shot attempt in the fourth was a J.R. Smith-esque airball from three with the Nuggets down by one and only 1:05 left on the clock. It was a momentum-killing mistake that resulted in a dagger three at the other end. Gallo was the highest scoring starter and had one of his more efficient games thus far, but he was tentative the entire second half and essentially chucked away Denver’s best chance at a lead without playing much of a part in the comeback. It’s too tough to give him a pass.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 36 MIN | 5-16 FG | 6-10 FT | 20 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -8
Another beastly night from the Manimal, who notched a career high 20 boards despite a rough night shooting the ball. Faried was everywhere and looked like the only fresh player the Nuggets had in a totally flat first half performance. Faried seems to be graduating towards heavy starters minutes with the all-out effort he’s giving each night.
|Kosta Koufos, C 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Koufos turned in a so-so performance in the “14-minute starter” role Mozgov occupied last season. He did have a nice block on LeBron and seems to improving his defense around the rim, but Koufos wasn’t on the floor when this game was competitive.
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 0 PTS | -11
This isn’t fun for anyone, but I haven’t seen a worse game out of Lawson or any decent starting PG in recent memory for that matter. While he did have 8 assists to just 2 turnovers, Lawson went scoreless in 36 minutes which just shouldn’t ever happen to a capable starter in Denver’s system. The Nuggets did the right thing and stuck by Lawson to the bitter end, but this was nothing short of embarrassing. The Heat owned Lawson and he just wasn’t able to adjust or respond in time
|Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -11
He’s been playing well lately and just didn’t seem to have another big offensive night in him. Shot selection was good but Denver just looked slow and out-of-sync to start this game. I have to admit it’s a little upsetting Iguodala’s defense didn’t get a chance to be more of a factor after the Nuggets made one too many costly mistakes in the final minute
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 21 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -2
A really solid performance from Hamilton, who was one of the Nuggets hardest workers in the offseason and has yet to see a real shot at keeping a role in the rotation. Once again, he gets out of control off the dribble a lot and gets a little too loose with his shooting, but he’s the best floor-spacer on the team and is almost guaranteed to put up points with more minutes. That’s something Denver’s having a lot of trouble finding consistently.
|Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +6
A sub-par game, but one of the few Brewer’s had all season. While Brewer is not often going to hurt you in 19 minutes of play, you have to wonder if he’s being miscast as a sixth man scorer he’s really not. We saw some of the old Corey tonight – turnovers, ugly shooting, and overzealous defense galore.
|JaVale McGee, C 21 MIN | 9-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +14
You can’t expect a bench player to do much better in 21 minutes of action. McGee has had his struggles in training camp and early season games, but the Nuggets are playing a dangerous game by keeping a tight leash intact even after JaVale has started to settle down and improve. Bottom line, the Nuggets are sending the wrong message by sitting the hot hand down while the wholly ineffective Gallo and Lawson played the closing stretch.
|Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 19 PTS | +6
He can be tough to watch, like the first half where Miller’s patented spin move to turnover made another early appearance. Then again, Miller has a way of delivering unbelievable efforts like this where he’ll basically spearhead a Nuggets run by himself. Miller played a lot in the second half where at times he looked like the best player on the floor at 36 years of age. The Nuggets made a lot of their comeback with LeBron James on the bench but Andre Miller was phenomenal regardless.
Four Things We Saw
- What happened to Denver’s vaunted top 3 offense? Gallo went to the line twice in first few minutes of the game and never again. Lawson finished with zero free throw attempts again. Denver piles up 50 points in the paint to Miami’s 24 and probably wins if their offense wakes up for more than a 9-minute stretch in the fourth. The Nuggets are getting better shots than their opposition and still managing to lose with poor shooting and total ineptitude at the free-throw line. It’s frustrating to say the least.
- The third winnable game Denver drops this season doesn’t come as surprise, but I was shocked at Denver’s low energy level the entire first half. The Miami Heat were clearly feeling the effects of a tough back-to-back but looked to have fresher legs throughout most of the game. Denver has to get off to better starts at home, where they have a chance to ride the energy in the building to fast-paced wins. The Nuggets just can’t play so poorly at home on two days rest.
- Jordan Hamilton saw some meaningful action late in the first quarter and showed why many think he should have a regular role. Hamilton’s super quick release is a handy skill to have in Denver’s offense which relies on split-second openings for scoring opportunities. Hamilton made three smooth spot-up threes to start the game and looks like one of the more accurate shooters on a team that currently can’t shoot straight.
- The Nuggets fall below .500 and face a tough game at San Antonio on Saturday night. What’s wildly frustrating is the fact Denver’s offense is pretty much working so long as their best players put up halfway decent performances and get to the line at least once in awhile or so. While Denver struggles to get a complete performance out of their team, the West keeps winning and the calendar is only kind for so much longer. The Nuggets can afford losses to good teams this early in the season, but can’t keep dropping winnable games while waiting for the schedule to lighten up.
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Contributor at Roundball Mining Company since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.