Five Nuggets players on the All-Star ballot

Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson and Andre Miller are all representing the Denver Nuggets on this season’s newly released All-Star ballot. You can see the ballot and vote for your favorite Nuggets players here.

Rapid Reaction: Phoenix Suns 110, Denver Nuggets 100

Denver Nuggets 100 FinalRecap | Box Score 110 Phoenix Suns
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

Meh.

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.

Can Gallo get his groove back?

Danilo Gallinari has started off the 2012-13 season in an atrocious slump, shooting just .300 from the field.205 from the arc, and .741 from the charity stripe, far below his career averages of .415, .361 and .849, respectively. He’s been playing less aggressively, driving to the rim and getting to the foul line less often. The silver lining thus far has been his defense, which has been solid, and his rebounding , which is up to 6.8 per 36 minutes from 5.4 last season.

That last stat somewhat convolutes what has been the party line explanation for Gallo’s shooting slump – the ankle sprain he incurred just prior to the start of the season. If he can’t get his shot off right because his ankle is tweaked, then how is it he’s pulling down more boards, which tends to involve a bit of jumping? He also just doesn’t look gimpy out there. He’s running the court just fine, doesn’t seem to have any problems with lateral movement on defense. Sometimes a slump is just a slump, and that’s where the smart money might be in this case. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 107, Golden State Warriors 101

Denver Nuggets 107 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Golden State Warriors
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.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 104, Utah Jazz 84

Utah Jazz 84 FinalRecap | Box Score 104 Denver Nuggets
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.

Let JaVale be JaVale – and give him starters’ minutes

No realistic observer of the NBA would have expected JaVale McGee to make an immediate change for the better simply by being traded last season. At the time McGee joined the Nuggets, he had spent nearly four seasons in a dysfunctional team culture developing sloppy, careless habits, and reveling (to infamously comedic effect) in unbridled immaturity. Without much semblance of structure or aim, he had attempted to live up to expectations of being “the man” while lacking any true veteran or organizational leadership to guide him.

With the Nuggets he mostly has avoided contributing to the now-legendary blooper reel he compiled in Washington. This doesn’t mean of course that he isn’t still capable of being mistake prone, making poor decisions, and losing his focus on the court. In the first two Nuggets games this season, to say that he “struggled” would be putting too gentle a spin on the truth that he was just plain terrible. Consistency and reliability will likely remain issues for McGee as he continues to work on playing a sounder, more fundamental game.

In the meantime however, the fact that he still has a long way to go does not negate another reality that is becoming clearer with every passing game: JaVale is far and away the best center on this team. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 93, Houston Rockets 87

Denver Nuggets 93 Final Recap | Box Score 87 Houston Rockets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 41 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +8The only reason Gallo gets this grade is because he at least made himself useful on the glass. These are the types of games George Karl should make Gallo watch, then immediately waterboard him afterwards. All he did was jack up 3-pointers — all night long. He dribbled into multiple double teams and I can’t remember him driving aggressively to the basket once. He is so much more than just a long-distance shooter. Gallo has got to get back to driving the lane like he did at the beginning of last year when he was on pace to contend for an All-Star spot.
Kenneth Faried, SF 35 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-7 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -7Faried’s enthusiasm for the game is one of the biggest strengths this team has. Sixteen boards means 16 more possessions for the Nuggets, which they definitely needed. This was a vintage Manimal performance and one that essentially saved the team from notching yet another horrendous loss.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +17Koufos just isn’t a starter in the NBA. I don’t know why Karl thinks otherwise. He’s a decent backup center. That’s what he is. For some reason Karl has played him over 20 minutes in four of the five games this season. He’s just not athletic enough nor skilled enough to hang with other starting big men in this league. But, I have a feeling none of what I’m saying matters to Karl…
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 9-20 FG | 0-4 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 21 PTS | +7Lawson’s best game without a doubt. He was attacking, and when he attacks, good things happen. I thought maybe he was headed for a really special night early on but he mellowed out drastically in the second half.
Andre Iguodala, SG 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +3The stats don’t tell the entire story here. Iguodala had some huge buckets. He also had three steals and a block, which were a product of his excellent defense on James Harden throughout the night. He needs to stop dribbling into dead ends and try to score more himself, but otherwise, he’s doing a lot of little things right that are helping this team win.
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +11You simply can’t say enough about what Corey Brewer did tonight. You look at it — 20 minutes is about the maximum amount of time he needs to see on a nightly basis. Play him more and he gets worn out. Limited minutes allow him to be effective. He’s at his best when he’s running around like a chicken with his head cut off, looking to stifle each and every member of the opposing team. His defense was flat out incredible. This is the Corey Brewer the Nuggets need on a consistent basis.
JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -8McGee was awesome, yet again. Take a look though. He only played 20 minutes. Why in the hell would he only play that amount of time when he’s clearly been one of the best players on the team thus far? You tell me. It’s a mystery that’s locked deep inside Karl’s head and one we’ll never ever find the answer to. It frustrates me beyond belief. All we can hope for is that he keeps massively outplaying Koufos to the point where Karl has no choice but to succumb to the pressure put on him by the media and fans and admit he was wrong — just like he was with Faried last year.
Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 0 PTS | -1I could care less about Miller’s points. Frankly, it wouldn’t bother me if he did this more often. When Miller distributes like he did tonight, the Nuggets are a totally different team. His renewed dedication to defense has not gone unoticed either. Miller has been one of the most valuable players on the roster this year and is acting like the true veteran this young team is in desperate need of.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109 Detroit Pistons 87

Detroit Pistons 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +3

His shot selection could be a lot better since returning from an ankle injury, but it’s just Gallo’s second game back. The zero free throw attempts is concerning but otherwise Gallo looks like he’s still rusty and working his way back. If he doesn’t figure it out offensively, Denver will struggle to keep up with the better teams in the league

Kenneth Faried, SF 23 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +8

The Manimal looks to be back to his normal efficient self and chipped in an extremely energetic 23 minutes tonight. Defensively he struggled along with the rest of the bigs but his energy continues to have a profound effect on the rest of the team. Denver was quicker to every loose ball tonight tonight and a lot of that can be credited to the presence of Faried.

Kosta Koufos, C 30 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | 0

A poor second half and lackluster rebounding effort spoil an otherwise solid performance. He had three blocks but looked lost protecting the lane and limiting Detroit’s penetration. As a starter Koufos hasn’t had a bad game but the Nuggets lackluster defense has looked soft with him in the middle.

Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 3-8 FG | 8-10 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 15 PTS | +21

Ty seems to be settling down into a role nicely and for the first time was able to affect the game with his raw speed. Lawson needs to do a lot more offensively but the fact he earned ten three throws after shooting none if Miami is a huge improvement.

Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +6

Solid double double and all around production from Iguodala. Strangely, Denver has looked like a much better half-court team with Iguodala on the floor. While Gallo continues to provide unreliable scoring the Nuggets have relied on Iguodala’s willingness to take big shots.

Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +5

He seems to be sticking in his newfound 3-and-D role with the Nuggets this season. Brewer dribbling still scares me and he isn’t a lockdown defender by any means, but as long as Brewer is hitting spot-up threes he’s very valuable. Fans of J-Ham might not want hear it, but Brewer’s strong play is the main reason he’s being squeezed out.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +9

Progress has been slow for JaVale. He had a great overall game outside of a mini blooper reel segment in the middle of the second quarter. Denver’s a different team with JaVale on the floor but he’s been unable to play a steady 20 minutes without mental mistakes and frustration piling up.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +1

As expected, Andre delivered some indifferent defense along with wizard-like passing and floor general skills. Solid game but at this point in his career, Miller can’t stay in front of the average guard who’s at least a decade younger than him.

Wilson Chandler, SG 16 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +7

Liked his hustle, but he continues to force difficult shots and pass up good ones. I do consider this game progress for Chandler but he’s been tough to watch since attempting to return from hip surgery. Would like to see him be a lot more active on defense but we still don’t know what Chandler is able to provide yet.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Three point shooting kept the Nuggets afloat in this one, even though the Nuggets finished a paltry 30% on the night. Denver was hitting threes early and it gave them a cushion from Detroit runs long enough to hold out for the win. Denver continues to look like a bad shooting team while Lawson and Gallo are non-factors.
  2. Mozgov apparently blogged in Russian yesterday saying he would try to play fewer than ten minutes tonight. Mozgov didn’t see the floor as Koufos logged another healthy 30 minutes, but there’s a pretty good chance Timo could get some run in tomorrow’s back-to-back game at Houston.
  3. I hate to keep blaming the bigs, but the current rotation isn’t getting it done on defense. The Nuggets are soft inside but have been dominating the boards, with the hope being once the offense wakes up that rebounding advantage will turn into easy points. It’s harder to keep buying into that hope as opposing bigs continue to torch the Nuggets inside.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Heat 119, Denver Nuggets 116

Denver Nuggets 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Miami Heat
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Rapid Reaction: Orlando Magic 102, Denver Nuggets 89

Denver Nuggets 89 FinalRecap | Box Score 102 Orlando Magic
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 5-14 FG | 11-14 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | -3

Gallo was about the only player on the Nuggets roster who was looking to be aggressive. He also made an effort to play hard, which can’t be said for most of his teammates. This is the type of Gallo the Nuggets need in order to be a real threat in the West.

Kenneth Faried, SF 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -14

What the hell is going on with Faried? For the second game in a row he played more of a complimentary role than that of the starter he truly is. His head is down. He’s not even trying to rebound. Something is clearly going on between the ears because this is not the fun-loving, energetic Faried we’ve come to know.

Kosta Koufos, C 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +8

Koufos was just kind of there tonight. He didn’t make his presence known at all, especially on the glass like we’ve become accustomed to in the preseason. If he’s going to play this much he needs to turn up his level of aggressiveness in a major way.

Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | -13

The energy was there tonight for Lawson. He was trying to make things happen; they just weren’t. There’s a certain amount of blame that should be put on his shoulders, but at this point, it’s nothing compared to what his teammates need to be shouldering.

Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -10

I’m a little bit confused as to what Iguodala’s role is on this team right now. People were so excited about landing him, but the fact is, Denver’s most pressing need has always been a top dog who can get buckets when the chips are down — which is perhaps why Al Harrington had such a successful season last year. Iguodala just isn’t that type of guy, which is a bit disconcerting if you ask me.

Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -11

Corey Brewer: Great energy guy; not a great leading-role type of guy. The reason he bounced around so much after being drafted as a top 10 player in Minnesota is because his role has always been in question. But after winning a title with the Mavericks it became clear: great energy guy; not a great leading-role guy. Karl’s trying to make him the latter. Enough said.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +4

I do not know why Jordan Hamilton isn’t seeing more time. I really don’t. Is there a reason? Is it just because he’s young? The only thing I can think of is that he’s sometimes a little reckless with his shot attempts. But at this point, he’s the perfect remedy for what the Nuggets are missing. Even if he takes several bad shots, at least he’ll be out there trying to make things happen. Plus, is there any doubt he won’t get at least 15 points if you give him ample playing time?

JaVale McGee, C 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -9

Another dumbfounding stat line, highlighted mostly by the 11 minutes played number. You can’t do anything in 11 minutes. It was the same story last game when Hamilton started buy only played a little over 10 minutes. It’s just not enough time to do anything.

Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 11 PTS | -10

I thought Miller was the other guy out there hustling, playing smart and playing good basketball in general. Even on defense he’s turned up the heat, which is a definite improvement from last year.

Wilson Chandler, SG 19 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -4

Chandler is not playing in the flow of the offense right now. He’s lost. He doesn’t know when to attack and where, or how, for that matter. Everything he’s doing is off. In time he will improve but until then he should step it up on defense to make up for his wavering offensive skills.

Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3

Again, can’t say much here. It would have been nice to see him knock down a shot but he was playing in garbage time anyways.

Game Preview: Nuggets at Magic

When the Nuggets go to Orlando it will be a reunion of sorts. But with Al Harrington targeting a mid-December from knee surgery, Arron Afflalo is the only former teammate they’ll face on the court. It is the Magic’s opening game, and after having traded Dwight Howard, who for years has been the center of their universe, it’s really up in the air how they will look coming out of the gates.

Most analysts have predicted a (more…)

CNN’s African Voices to profile Nuggets’ Masai Ujiri

Masai Ujiri is about to get some high profile global media coverage, in what should be a very interesting in-depth profile of the Nuggets exec, his Nigerian roots, his NBA career and presumably his role as director of the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp. (more…)

Link: Five Nuggets story lines to watch for this season

We’ve given you two season preview articles thus far and although the Nuggets’ 2012-13 campaign has officially begun, here’s one more. It’s a less traditional preview piece with five of the biggest story lines to keep an eye on this year. For those unfamiliar, Westword is an alternative weekly newspaper in Denver owned by Voice Media Group — the same company that owns such papers as The Village Voice in New York City and L.A. Weekly in Los Angeles.

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