|Danilo Gallinari, SF 33 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | -3
Gallo didn’t turn in a crazy stat line but he had a nice game overall. He’s no longer taking one questionable shot after another and has really found himself in the flow of the offense. He did a nice job defensively on Bargnani who slowed down in the second half. If you ask me, Gallo should be assigned to all perimeter-oriented/crafty power forwards from here on out. He has the size and is probably the Nuggets best man-on-man defender of all the forwards and centers.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 8-11 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -13
Faried had a pretty solid night all around. He got exposed by Bargnani early, but that’s to be expected considering how defending is not exactly his specialty. He had some nice shots in close proximity to the rim, which was really good to see. He also had a few impressive passes we’re not used to seeing.
|Kosta Koufos, C 28 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +16
Koufos finished with a double-double but he didn’t necessarily have the greatest game. At this point, any double-double you can get from him is a huge bonus.
|Ty Lawson, PG 28 MIN | 6-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | -13
People will probably dissect Lawson’s performance more than they need to. From my point of view his aggressiveness set the tone for the huge lead the Nuggets acquired in the second quarter. I don’t care that he shot a low percentage from the field or that he didn’t rack up a lot of assists. An aggressive Ty Lawson is always a good Ty Lawson. And I will take this mentality any day over a tentative Ty Lawson.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 4 PTS | -1
I really don’t care that Iguodala had eight assists. Take even three of those away and he finishes with a putrid stat line. While I understand that he felt he didn’t need to score as much in this game, that obviously wasn’t true once it was all said and done. Iguodala has shown the tendency to disappear at times, which is exactly what the Nuggets can’t have. This team is in dire need of an on-court leader and Iguodala is unquestionably that guy. Again, he can’t be this laid back.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +9
Hamilton was a mixed bag. He did some things really well (see: scoring) but made a few boneheaded mistakes. This seems to be the pattern with him. That said, I still think the more playing time he gets the more comfortable he gets. Once Hamilton truly feels like he belongs, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot these “rookie” mistakes. I’ve seen him play in college, the D-League as well as at Summer League and this is by far the most tentative, and at the same time careless, that I’ve seen him. I really believe he wants play so badly that Karl’s constant threatening to take his time away has him a bit nervous. Nevertheless, he continues to improve.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +6
This had to be one of the best games I’ve ever seen from Brewer. He didn’t fill it up as much in the second half but I can’t take that away from him. On both ends of the floor Brewer was phenomenal. Just pure, unbridled energy in every way imaginable.
|JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 4-5 FG | 9-16 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +1
McGee too had one of his better games this year. His athleticism, perhaps more than any other game, was on full display against the Raptors. He had five blocks, but two of them came on the perimeter against jump shots. He also had numerous freaky dunks that only a few other players in the NBA could execute. Like I’ve said over and over: McGee will always make some frustrating decisions, but his efficiency and production simply cannot be ignored.
|Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +13
Miller was trying to do too much. He threw lobs that weren’t really there. One even went straight into the crowd. Outside of that his game was pretty solid. These are the nights the Nuggets need his veteran leadership to shine.
Three Things We Saw
- Fools Gold: This win was strictly nominal. In no way did this feel like a victory. Here the Nuggets are after a long break, at home, against one of the worst teams in the NBA and they did their absolute best to try and choke it all away. They opened up a lead and — as Matt Moore put it — just thought they’d go ahead and turn into the Harlem Globetrotters. Sadly, that’s just who the Nuggets are. Sometimes they play pretty basketball, yes… but what does it really matter when they can’t keep a lead or lock down on defense? It’s more a form of showboating at this point. Until this team figures out how play a disciplined brand of basketball wins like these will remain counterfeit.
- SSDY: Remember last year how the Nuggets started off the season playing horrible defense… and then went ahead and did it for the rest of the year? Is there anything we’ve seen from this team to convince us that won’t be the exact same case this year? Defense is not something you just roll out of bed and decide you’re going to do. It’s a culture you develop through full-fledged dedication and commitment. Right now the Nuggets rank 23rd in the league in opponent’s points per game, 16th in opponent’s field goal percentage, 28th in opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage, 24th in opponent’s turnovers per game, 20th in defensive rebounding rate and most importantly, 24th in defensive efficiency. It seems as though all the promise we heard from Karl in training camp about focusing on defense turned out to be nothing more than a bombastic hype mechanism.
- Skittles and Unicorns: It’s now that time. All happy Nuggets fans please take the more — how should I say this? — pessimistic, fans by the hand and tell them everything is gong to be all right. The Nuggets are almost 25 percent through the regular season and sit at an unpleasant 9-9 record. Yes, the schedule has been brutal, but it doesn’t get any easier through the month of December either. Ten of the Nuggets next 14 games are on the road, including five in a row starting on Wednesday. Now, I’m no Nugstradamus but I’d venture to say the chances the Nuggets come out of this road trip above .500 don’t seem to likely. So while there will certainly be a lot of time left in the season to make up lost in ground from the first two months, that won’t exactly make the current losing streak any easier to swallow. Hold on tight people; this could get ugly.