Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118, Houston Rockets 110

Houston Rockets 110 Final

Recap | Box Score

118 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 10-17 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 3 TO | 27 PTS | +8

This was one of Gallo’s best games on the season. He was efficient and played excellent defense, evident by his four blocks on the night. He also hit countless big shot, four of which came from downtown with a hand in his face. I’ve often said one of the true marks of a star is his ability to hit tough shots with consistency; and while Gallo is by no means a star, he’s hitting tougher shots with more frequency as the season progresses. If nothing else, he’s the Nuggets star at the moment.

Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 6-8 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +14

This was weird. I was watching Faried all game. He was playing with high energy, as usual. He was getting to the line and scored a bucket here and there. Then all of a sudden I looked up and he had 19 points. I couldn’t figure it out. I guess it goes to show just how effective he can be when he brings it on a consistent basis and doesn’t back down.

Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -5

Koufos was pretty standard. He came in when the Nuggets needed a defensive presence up front and did his job.

Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 4-12 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +1

Lawson was incredibly passive for three quarters of the game. He wasn’t driving or shooting with the type of confidence we’ve seen of late, yet he still managed to finish the game with 16 points. It wasn’t his best outing, but he was influential late in the game when the Nuggets rallied for a huge fourth quarter lead.

Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 5-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 15 PTS | -7

Take away the six missed 3-pointers and Iguodala has another excellent outing. His defense on Harden was great — that’s to be expected — and for most of the game he played well on offense. But there was a stretch where he took one three after another, all of which clanked hard against the rim and had no chance of going in. Just to clarify: Iguodala is shooting .312 percent from downtown on the season. It would be nice to see him ease up on the long-distance shots every now and then.

Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-8 FG | 4-7 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +4

Brewer had a rough night shooting but his defense and energy was there. That’s about all you can ask for. He did a nice job of getting out on the break too.

Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -2

I continue to be amazed at the phenomenon that is Timofey Mozgov. He’s been in the league for three years now, yet often looks like he arrived last week. He’ll go from shooting an air ball to knocking down a nothing-but-net 10-foot jumper in the span of a few plays. He’s improved, but he’s also remained inept in more ways than one. Nevertheless, he sets solid picks and plays the best man defense of any big on the Nuggets roster. That’s worth something. Let’s just hope another team realizes this so that he can get to playing and Anthony Randolph can get to being the rightful backup power forward on the Nuggets roster — like he deserves to be.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +22

Miller drives me up a wall; yet I love his game so much. This is the story of my grading experience with him. Against the Rockets he sagged off his opponent way too much and played lazy defense in general, but he also had 12 huge points and controlled the offense like the true veteran that he is. Did I mention his 12 buckets were big?

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +5

If we know anything about Wilson Chandler it’s this: He’s a good rebounder, he plays hard on defense and he also takes one too many awful shots. I love his tenacity on defense and the way he goes after loose balls, but somebody has to take him aside and teach him the art of shooting in rhythm and in the flow of the offense.

George Karl

I will continue to stand by my mantra: winning matters most. I don’t care how it happens. The fact is, at the end of the game you either win or you lose and right now the Nuggets are winning. I did not understand why they decided to switch on defense. That was a game-plan that clearly backfired. Also, the Nuggets defense in general was bad. Giving up 110 points to anybody is unacceptable. But Karl clearly got to his team before the fourth quarter started because the Nuggets came out with a vengeance and energy that we’ve only seen the likes of several times this season. If the Nuggets play more consistent on defense and don’t switch as much, Karl would likely be getting an A here.

Instant Reaction: Nuggets 102-Pacers 101

Sorry for the delay in the post. The site was having some problems last night and this morning so I am just now able to get on and post it. We are working on fixing the issues with the site.

 

 

Indiana Pacers 101 Final

Recap | Box
Score

102 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF
38 MIN | 9-16 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 27 PTS | +4

As has become the norm for Gallo, he exploded in the second half after being mostly invisible for the first half; as he tallied 19 points an assist, and a rebound in the games final two stanzas. He also provided some physicality that the Nuggets needed in the fourth quarter. On the downside though, Gallo gave up a big offensive rebound to David West in the fourth and got his final shot blocked with under 30 seconds left in the game. As with many of the Nuggets late game possessions this year Gallo went on an iso and took an ill advised shot as he fell down, over the outstretched extendo-arms of Paul George. Luckily for the Nuggets the wasted possession turned out not to hurt them but it did knock Gallo’s grade down a half a grade.

Kenneth Faried, SF 12 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +7

Faried was flat out awful for the mass majority of the twelve minutes he played on Monday. He was limited to only 4 first half minutes because he picked up three fouls, two of which were incredibly boneheaded and when he was in the game he was picked apart by David West. In a game that the Nuggets played without their normal backup power forward and center Faried needed to provide plenty of important minutes and he did just the opposite. A really bad night for the Manimal.

Kosta Koufos, C 36 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB |0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -2

Kosta had his moments in this one, two big time blocks on back-to-back possessions that both led to fast break buckets for the Nuggets were the highlights, but the long range hook shot he took was one of the low lights. After Faried got in early foul trouble the Nuggets needed more minutes than Koufos normally gives them, as they were also minus Chandler and McGee, and Kosta was up to the task. Along with Mozgov, Koufos brought a lot of physicality to the Pepsi Center on Monday, something that the Nuggets desperately needed against a tough Indiana team.

Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 7-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB |7 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | 0

During stretches of the game Lawson was the best player on the floor Monday, as he flew around the court on defense and got into the paint at will on offense, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. But with the Nuggets late game offense floundering someone needed to take control and Lawson was unable, or unwilling, to do so. That is a problem now, and will only get worse as the season goes on if Lawson continues to be unable to help the Nuggets offense run smoothly late in games.

Andre Iguodala, SG 38 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-10 FT | 10 REB| 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -2

It was a very up and down night for Iguodala and one that is hard to grade. One one hand he came up three assists shy of a triple-double and played terrific defense on Paul George, making George work for every catch and shot throughout the night. On the other hand were the late game free-throws and his shooting from the field. First came the foul that he committed on George as George hit a three, while the Pacers were in the middle of their run from 14 down to tie the game. Then he missed four free-throws in a row as the Nuggets allowed the Pacers to climb back and tie the game in the final minute plus. Finally, he got lucky when his late game steal of Paul George was deemed not a foul as the play could have gone either way. But he hit his biggest free-throw and was credited with the steal so his grade stays good, barely.

Anthony Randolph, PF 4 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8

It was Randolph’s time to try and earn more playing time with the absences of JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler and instead he just gave George Karl more reason to sit him on the bench. In four minutes Randolph took and missed 3 shots including a layup and his only rebound came on his own miss. On the other end of the court he was bullied into a foul nine seconds after he came into the game by David West. Not exactly the best way to seize an opportunity.

Corey Brewer, SF 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB |1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -7

Another night and another important performance from Corey Brewer. Along with his typical energy and defense Brewer brought along some shooting to help spread the floor as he knocked down three three-pointers on the night, all of which looked very good from the moment they left his hand. He also helped make life tough on Paul George and George Hill, though he had a couple of bad gambles that lowered his grade from an A to an A minus. But all-in-all another great game from Brewer, who is forcing himself to the top of many 6th Man of the Year lists.

Timofey Mozgov, C 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | +8

Thrust into duty due to injuries Mozgov played very well in 25 minutes. He finished in the paint on offense and battled Roy Hibbert all night on the other end of the floor making life tough for the Pacers center. While Mozzy could stand to improve his hands, the impact he had on the game is not shown in his numbers; without his contributions it is hard to imagine the Nuggets winning this game.

Andre Miller, PG 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 5 PTS | +5

Yuck. Miller had a rough night on Monday as he struggled to really do anything well at all. He had five of the Nuggets 14 turnovers, got torched on the defensive end of the floor by Lance Stephenson, Orlando Johnson, and for some reason, Paul George and even his lob at the end to Andre Iguodala was not good, as it just missed sailing out of bounds without the great catch by Iggy. At least George Karl realized it enough to not go to the small lineup at the end of the game or who knows what the results could have been.

George Karl

Karl made a couple of important in game adjustments that helped the Nuggets win the game, and drew up the lob play that gave Denver the win but the night was not all good for the Denver head coach. On the good side, despite being ready to play Anthony Randolph heavy minutes to replace McGee and Chandler, Karl went with what worked and played a lot of minutes with the ultra big Koufos/Mozgov front line and it payed off against a physical Pacers squad. Second sensing bad minutes from Andre Miller, Karl limited Miller’s minutes to only 17 and let Lawson, Iguodala and Brewer pick up the slack. But again the Nuggets late game offense broke down and almost cost them the game and at a certain point that falls on Karl and his staff. Clearly isolation plays to end games do not work with this roster, and Karl must recognize that and start using sets late in games to create movement and open looks. Also why in the world did Karl think Andre Miller could check Paul George as he asked him to for a bit in the first half?

Two Things We Saw

  1. Same Old: Another game against a physical stretch four, and another game of ineffectiveness for Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets need to figure out a solution to the problem fast, because come playoff time teams will find ways to get stretch or physical fours on Faried and it will spell doom for the Nuggets. In the end the Nuggets were lucky to steal this game when their best active big played only 12 minutes.
  2. Same Old: And right along with the first problem was another reoccurring one; the Nuggets late game offense that almost helped give the game away. This team is not built to play with one guy isoing against a defender and four players standing and watching. There just aren’t enough shooters or big men with good hands on the team for that. Yet the Nuggets continue to use it as their only late game offense and continue to get tough shots. There have to be set plays that they can use in situations like that, or George Karl needs to be drawing up plays during timeouts because it is going to again cost the Nuggets dearly at some point, and probably multiple points, this year.

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Inside the Problem: A Breakdown of the Nuggets Turnovers

As anyone who has followed the Nuggets this seasons knows, a couple things have plagued the team all season; inconsistency, a lack of perimeter shooting, and turnovers. I decided to look further into that turnover issue to see why the Nuggets continued to turn the ball over at such an alarming pace, 14.8 per game good for fifth worst in the league.

To figure out what Denver’s problem was I decided to take a look at each turnover the Nuggets have committed all year via synergy and keep track of three factors; who committed the turnover, what kind of turnover was it, and was it a live or dead ball turnover.

After tracking 667 turnovers (I must have missed a game somewhere but have no idea which) I did a bit of analysis of the numbers and found some interesting facts.

I have attached the document as a link to a public google doc at the end of the post so readers can download it and look for themselves.  (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 121, Sacramento Kings 93

Sacramento Kings 93 FinalRecap | Box Score 121 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +32

This was a quiet but efficient game for Gallinari. He didn’t shoot particularly well, and even missed a dunk, but made a couple of three pointers and did a good job getting to the line. His passing and defense were also solid.

Kenneth Faried, SF 27 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +30

Kenneth played with his usual energy and effort. He was great on the glass and mostly made his shots. His defensive rotations seemed crisper than usual. His worst mistake was an out of control drive leading to a turnover.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 5-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +24

Kosta Koufos rose to the occasion of defending DeMarcus Cousins for much of the night, limiting the Kings’ big man to 3 points and 2 rebounds. He stayed active in the paint, getting five shots at the rim and making them all. He had a little bit of trouble not fouling.

Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 11-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 26 PTS | +32

Ty was on fire tonight. He was hitting threes, getting good midrange looks, and getting to the rim. He also had several nice passes, with only one turnover in the first half. Defensively he had a few lapses, but also broke up two Kings fast breaks and had several steals.

Andre Iguodala, SG 31 MIN | 8-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +30

Iguodala had a nice showing. He harassed the Kings into a couple of turnovers and a bunch of bad shots. He was also finding his teammates for great looks. A couple of his three point attempts were ill-advised, but most were good looks.

Anthony Randolph, PF 11 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -2

He made a couple of nice stops, including a big block on Thomas Robinson. He showed good energy with his rebounding. A big dunk put the Nuggets over the taco line for the game.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 13 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3

Shot selection continues to be an issue for Jordan Hamilton. He also continues to make positive plays in other ways, including a couple of good rebounds against bigger players and a big block that led to a layup on the other end.

Corey Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -3

Brewer made a couple of very nice passes and created some easy points off of steals. On the minus side, he took a couple of terrible long two point shots and made a couple of weak passes that led to easy points the other way.

Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

He missed his only attempt in the paint, and for some inexplicable reason took two midrange jumpers and a corner three. He got outworked for rebounds by much smaller players.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +6

In limited minutes, JaVale did something on almost every possession, sometimes good and sometimes bad. He altered several shots, but also allowed some easy layups and second chance opportunities for the Kings. On offense, he got to the rim and made his shots.

Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -4

The oldest player on the roster used his veteran talents to find several open players, racking up nine assists and play worthy of a solid B before garbage time. Late in the game, he was tasked with leading the young guys, where his age really showed. On several plays, he simply gave up, including a few times where he remained on the defensive end of the court while his teammates played 4-on-5.

Evan Fournier, SG 12 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -4

Evan Fournier was careless with the basketball, turning it over on two bad passes. He struggled to stay with his man on defense. Back-to-back three pointers marked his most significant contribution.

Wilson Chandler, SG 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

His rebounding and defense were solid. Offensively, he did very little with very few touches.

George KarlCoach Karl limited his use of the 2 point guard lineup to around a minute in the first half, allowed JaVale McGee to play through some mistakes, and let the end of the bench play when the game was truly out of reach. Solid coaching effort.

Links: Faried stands up for civil union rights, Mozgov to be traded?

This past week a Colorado State committee passed a Senate Bill 11, which will allow gay couples to form civil unions. While the bill must go through a number of steps before ultimately reaching the governor’s desk in March, there’s no doubt that equal rights for gay and lesbian couples in the state of Colorado are on the upswing. Showing his support for this movement is Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who recently appeared in a One-Colorado.org civil union advocacy video with his with his two mothers. No matter what side of the argument you fall on, it’s important to acknowledge Faried’s willingness to stand up for what he believes in, especially given the controversy surrounding this particular issue.

In other news, the Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey is reporting Timofey Mozgov is “unlikely to be with the Nuggets” in less than a month. We’ve heard trade rumors surrounding Mozgov for quite some time now, but this type of definitive language suggests his departure from the Nuggets is more imminent than we may have suspected.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105, Houston Rockets 95

Denver Nuggets 105 Final

Recap | Box Score

95 Houston Rockets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +4

Gallinari might be the quietest 17 points-per-game scorer in the NBA. It seems like every time I turn around he’s scored in the high teens or low 20s, yet I never remember anything outside of a few threes, free throws and drives to the basket. His game has really evolved over the last month or so. What stood out most this game, however, was his three blocks. Gallinari’s defense continues to impress and shows he’s committed to his team, and not just himself.

Kenneth Faried, SF 20 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +2

Faried had a monster block and several big rebounds. Other than that he was nowhere to be found. Contrary to popular belief, Faried has been pretty inconsistent at times this season. He’s had plenty of games like this where he simply doesn’t show up. If he’s gonna be a big part of this team moving forward he needs to be held accountable like everybody else.

Kosta Koufos, C 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -6

Where did he go? Koufos started off the game with a bang. He was active on the offensive glass and had multiple follow-ups and hook shots that were surprisingly well executed. Then, he just disappeared. It should also be noted that Koufos played strong man defense throughout the game.

Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 8-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +2

This was one of Lawson’s best games of the year in terms of pushing the pace. He also shot the ball and attacked the rim with great confidence, which is something he has struggled with this season. In the second half (specifically the third quarter) Lawson utilized his speed to create for himself and his teammates in such a forceful manner that the Rockets defense simply broke down. He making himself look good, no doubt; but more importantly, he was making his teammates look even better.

Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +3

Iguodala might very well be the most talented player on the Nuggets roster, but he’s had a difficult time realizing his abilities in George Karl’s offense. Every now and then we’ll see flashes, but often these acts of brilliance are watered down by what appears to be indecisiveness. I’d say without question Iguodala is the smartest player on the roster; however, his cerebral approach to the game can be more of a hindrance than an asset at times. Moving forward, it would be nice to see him handle the ball more and create for his teammates, as this would allow him to exercise his brain and help his team out in the process.

Anthony Randolph, PF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -5

Incomplete.

Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +12

Brewer was quiet for most of the game but played good defense, as usual. He also hit a big 3-pointer and did a solid job of getting out on the break. When Chandler, Iguodala and him are on the court together, playing lock-down defense, the Nuggets have a whole new dimension to their team — and one that’s a joy to watch.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 6-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +16

If JaVale rebounds slightly better, he’d likely receive an A-plus for this game. This isn’t to say he wasn’t without mistakes. He took a few bad shots and did normal JaVale things that worry you, but overall he was quite effective. Aside from scoring at an incredibly high rate, he also ran the floor extremely well and was focused for most of the game. The biggest storyline of JaVale’s performance was an ally-oop he threw to himself, which I’m sure you’ll see on SportsCenter sometime over the next day or so. This was of course capped by an odd celebration in which JaVale ran down the court, eyes wide as can be, holding his index finger (with a handlebar mustache tattooed on the inside) up to his lip. Though he’s turning George Karl’s hair more grey by the minute, you simply have to admire his fun-loving approach to the game.

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +5

I’m surprised to see Miller had such a simplistic stat line. I though he played fairly decent for most of the night. He didn’t make much of an impact, but he always seemed to be in the right place to move the offense along.

Wilson Chandler, SG 24 MIN | 7-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +17

This was Chandler’s best performance in a Nuggets uniform — at least, that I can remember. He started the game hoisting up jumpers but eventually they started to go in. Though his points are what might catch your eye, it was his defense and rebounding that were the story of the game. I cannot stress just how impressive his defense was. It was on par with what Brewer and Iguodala have been bringing all year. It was utterly fantastic. And the best part was how it immediately led to fast-break points. In the third quarter Chandler was wrecking havoc on the Rockets and was without question the catalyst that turned the game around for his team. If he plays with this type of defense effort every game, Nuggets fans are in for one hell of a treat the second half of the season.

George Karl

I have no reason to give Karl anything but an A. For once the Nuggets came out prepared to play in the first quarter and never really hit any low points throughout the game. In fact, this was one of the first times all season that I actually remember being happy watching the Nuggets. (Sad, I know.) Their offense in the third quarter was a work of art. Ignited by Ty Lawson, the dribble-drive was in full effect and executed to perfection. At one point Nuggets broadcast announcer Chris Marlowe even emphatically stated, “That’s exactly what it’s supposed to look like!” I could not agree more. But of course, it was the defense that was the story of the game. The Nuggets were committed to this side of the floor for almost 48 minutes and played like they actually wanted to tear the Rockets up by stopping them, rather than shooting over them. This, to me, is how basketball should be played.

A Frightening End of Game Defensive Snafu

The Denver Nuggets pulled out a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night that went a long way toward assuaging the anguish of their loss at home the game before to the lowly Washington Wizards (although Washington has proven to be no pushover since losing a close game in L.A. against the Clippers and beating the Trail Blazers the next night at the Rose Garden).  However, there is one thing that has been driving me crazy since, even more than the last possession of regulation where Ty Lawson failed to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded (again).

The Nuggets, up three with just over four seconds left in OT allowed the absolute worst case scenario to occur.  They rolled out the red carpet for Kevin Durant to get a look at a wide open three.  Durant surprisingly failed to capitalize which is why the massive gaffe did not garner much attention.

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5-on-5: Halfway home

The Denver Nuggets are now halfway through the 2012-13 season. It’s been a wild ride so far, full of disappointment, frustration, satisfaction and elation — basically, every sensation one typically experiences throughout the course of any given Nuggets season over the last decade. There have been revelations; there have been let downs, yet there is still so much we have to learn about this team. In light of reaching the midway mark of the season, we’ve decided to poll our writers on five of the more pressing issues currently facing the Denver Nuggets. As always with our 5-on-5 series, we ask that you too participate in the comments section by posting your analysis to each of the five questions we’ve posed below.

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The Two Point Guard System – By the Numbers

In February of 2003 the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Gary Payton from the Seattle Supersonics in exchange for Ray Allen at the trade deadline.  That trade has sent a ripple effect through time that has ultimately caused much consternation amongst Nuggets fans.  It reunited Payton with his former coach in Seattle George Karl.  The thing is, the Bucks just so happened to have another high quality point guard on the roster in Sam Cassell.

Although Cassell and Payton had entered their mid-30s, they were still very effective players, both posting a PER above 20 and the two were the Bucks leading scorers once Allen was no longer on the team.

Karl was faced with a conundrum.  What do you do when you have two really good point guards on the roster?  The answer was simple, you play them both.

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Rumor: Nuggets interested in Millsap?

According to FoxSportsOhio.com’s Sam Amico, “Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Denver are among the teams that might make a play for Utah forward Paul Millsap at the deadline.”  Whether Amico includes Denver in the running for Millsap by first-hand knowledge of trade discussions or simply because the Nuggets have the pieces to make a trade, is obviously up the air. Nevertheless, it is interesting seeing Denver mentioned in connection with Millsap, as the Nuggets already have a very similar power forward in Kenneth Faried and are, of course, a division rival of the Utah Jazz.

Instant Reaction: Nuggets 121- Thunder 118

[Note: Our apologies for the delay in the Rapid Reaction tonight. We were having site issues which prevented it from getting posted in a more timely manner. And just so you know, this post was written by new Roundball Mining Company contributor Matt Cianfrone. You can follow him on Twitter at @Matt_Cianfrone. -Joel]

Oklahoma City Thunder 118 FinalRecap | Box Score 121 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 5-8 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -2Gallo was invisible in the first half of this game, partially due to foul trouble, and outside of a spurt in the third quarter and a nice drive late, it continued into most of the second half as well. He did a good job of making things tough on Kevin Durant when he was matched up with him though which raised his grade a bit.
Kenneth Faried, SF 40 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-6 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +5The only thing that kept Faried from getting an A+ for tonight’s game were the two big free throws he missed with just 10 seconds remaining in overtime. It ended up not mattering because Nick Collison picked up a offensive foul on the ensuing inbounds play, but the results could have been disastrous for the Nuggets and that has to be taken into account. But the rest of the night Faried was incredible, his numbers don’t tell anywhere near the story of what he did. He brought great energy from the outset of the game and seemingly frustrated the Thunder bigs into ineffectiveness. It was a fantastic effort from the Manimal, and one that the Nuggets needed to see against a physical front line.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +4While Koufos didn’t have quite the impact that Faried did due to foul trouble, when he was on the floor he was incredibly effective. Koufos had only three offensive rebounds but was able to keep balls alive all night that his teammates then controlled. He also did a great job at flashing to right in front of the rim as his teammates drove and finished most of the opportunities those flashes gave him. The foul trouble limited his minutes and therefore his grade but for the 21 minutes he played Koufos was every bit as important as any Nugget on the floor.
Ty Lawson, PG 45 MIN | 4-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 11 PTS | +8The nine assists are nice but the rest of Lawson’s night was dreadful, especially his play on the final possession of regulation. Lawson dribbled out the clock and didn’t even get a shot up in time which is the worst play someone could make in a close game. Even if the shot was released in time it was a terrible one, as Lawson seemed to lose track of the time left on the clock and started his drive too late. And that doesn’t even account for his turnover two possessions before. Just not a good night for Ty.
Andre Iguodala, SG 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +6Offensively Iggy struggled again tonight finishing with only nine points but he did a good job on the other end of the floor, where for most of the night he was matched up with Russell Westbrook. While Westbrook had 36, he was only 10 of 26 from the floor, and most of the makes came late in the game when Andre Miller was defending him, not Iguodala. Part of why the Nuggets got Iggy though was to help create offense, and with only 9 points and 3 assists he didn’t do that, and he wasn’t in the game late to help on defense, so its hard to go with much more than a C+.
Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 9-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | -7While Faried’s energy helped frustrate the Thunder bigs, Brewer’s energy helped frustrate the Thunder perimeter players all night. And that doesn’t even take into account his offensive explosion that included three long balls. It was a fantastic night for Brewer who helped guard the trio of Durant, Westbrook, and Kevin Martin and did a pretty good job on all three, minus some dubious calls on Durant throughout the night. A great night from Brewer overall, who was easily the Nuggets best player on the night.
JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | 0JaVale’s night started good with a running hook on Serge Ibaka but that was about the best it got for him. He was late on rotations, forced multiple shots from the block and even missed put backs from point blank range. Throw in a goaltend and its safe to say that the 17 minutes were more than enough, if not too many, for McGee on the night.
Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -3The Thunder are a really tough matchup for Miller and his specific skill set and it showed in this game. There isn’t really a player that Dre can beat on the offensive end of the floor, which showed in his 4-10 shooting, and defensively there isn’t really a player for him to guard except Thabo Sefolosha. But George Karl continued with his philosophy of playing his two point guards late and Miller got eaten up on both ends of the floor. In fact on Gallo’s drive late in the 4th quarter Miller stood out-of-bounds, taking an already non-threat because he can’t shoot, completely out of the play. Miller wasn’t very good on the night, but Karl didn’t help him by playing him as many minutes as someone who could help more in a game like this such as Iguodala.
Wilson Chandler, SG 16 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +4Chandler knocked down the two biggest shots of the game for the Nuggets, the two free-throws that put them up 3 with just 5 seconds left. He continued to be aggressive attacking the basket when he is in the game and helped the Nuggets defend the final couple of Thunder possessions well. The shooting once he gets to the rim should improve as he continues to work rust off too, which will only open up the outside for him more.
George KarlI was fully ready to give Karl an A for the night until the final few minutes of regulation, when due to some poor decisions the Thunder came roaring back into the game. First of all why was Andre Igoudala sat in favor of Andre Miller? Miller was getting torched by Russell Westbrook, who had 7 points, two assists and a missed layup in the final 2:50 of the fourth quarter when Miller was the primary defender on him. On the offensive end things weren’t much better in that time, as Miller was blocked on his only shot attempt and literally stood out of bounds on another possession. Then on the final play of overtime Karl drew up an isolation for Lawson and we all know what that brought. Yet in overtime nothing changed as the same group that finished regulation and blew the lead for the Nuggets started the extra period. What Karl did well though was keep his team under control and focused in a game that was terribly officiated, and mostly on the wrong side for the Nuggets. But the late game decisions just don’t allow me to give Karl anything more than an average grade.

Film Room: Dribble-drive-motion offense sets up a Nuggets game winner

In this latest Roundball Mining Company Film Room installment, we will take a look at how the Nuggets got Wilson Chandler open for a game-winning 3-pointer running their unconventional offensive system.

Prior to the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the Denver Nuggets hired new assistant coach Vance Walberg, famous in basketball circles for creating what’s known as the dribble-drive-motion offense. He officially joined the staff after having consulted for Denver the previous season. At that time Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post described how Walberge implemented his innovative system: as a high school and college coach: (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Washington Wizards 112, Denver Nuggets 108

 

Washington Wizards 112 Final

Recap | Box Score

108 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 5-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +10Gallo had a pretty solid first half, despite his jumper not falling. Got to the rim quite a few times. He sat for too long in the fourth quarter, and when he finally came in he took several bad shots.
Kenneth Faried, SF 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +12Faried didn’t bring a lot of energy, didn’t finish at the rim, and couldn’t stop anybody on defense late in the game.
Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +2Koufos was solid for most of the game. He didn’t get credit for any blocked shots, but I counted at least 3 that he altered significantly. Leaving Seraphin alone for an offensive rebound late in the game was a big mistake.
Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 11-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | -5Ty started out slow and had trouble finishing in the first half, but turned it on in the third quarter with 23 points scored in a variety of ways. He also had a couple of steals and played decent defense for most of the game. A poor decision to drive into traffic hurts his grade here.
Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-6 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -1When your shooting guard shoots this poorly from the field and from the line, it’s going to be hard to win. He did have several nice defensive plays, including stopping a fast break singlehandedly early in the game.
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -8If the game ended at halftime, I would have given Cold Brew an A- for the game. He was wreaking havoc on the defensive end and hit most of his shots. In the second half he gambled and ended up in the backcourt without possession several times, leading to easy buckets that allowed the Wiz to close the gap. He started missing shots, but at least decided to feed Ty Lawson when he was hot.
JaVale McGee, C 14 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -12JaVale was aggressive in the paint to close out the first half. He was exactly the opposite at the start of the fourth quarter.
Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -6By far the hardest player to grade tonight. On the plus side, he was scoring pretty much at will in the fourth quarter. On the minus side, he had several defensive lapses and missed two key free throws.
Wilson Chandler, SG 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -12He played a lot like Brewer, except he wasn’t hitting shots at any point in the game.
George KarlI try not to give out F’s very often, but when you lose a game like this, the coach has to take the blame. The Wizards had several stretches of the game where they were getting everything they wanted on offense. GK took too long to adjust, and the adjustments he made weren’t very effective.

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Link: Corey Brewer on his role in Movie 43 and his future role with the Denver Nuggets

Last week I posted a brief notification about Corey Brewer’s upcoming role in the major motion picture, Movie 43. I’ve since been able to land an interview with him on this subject, which you can find here. During the interview I was able to ask Brewer about his future with the Nuggets and the possibility of staying in Denver long term, to which he replied:

Oh yeah. I like Denver. I wouldn’t mind staying here. It’s my contract year so we’ll see what happens, but I definitely wouldn’t mind staying here.

Follow me on Twitter

Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 Final

Recap | Box Score

117 Oklahoma City Thunder
Danilo Gallinari, SF 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -21

Gallo had trouble defending Durant and that was all she wrote. His impact on the game outside of making a few shots was minimal.

Kenneth Faried, SF 21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -24

Faried was almost not even present. As is often the case with more physical and larger power forwards, Faried was swallowed up.

Kosta Koufos, C 25 MIN | 6-6 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -8

Koufos was the best player on the team. That’s all you need to know to figure out the direction this game went. He was great all night on the glass and around the basket. He converted misses as well as entry passes with the execution of a veteran. His defense was also solid, yet again.

Ty Lawson, PG 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 2 PTS | -14

It’s hard to achieve this stat line in 20 minutes of action. Lawson was clearly stifled by Westbrook, which isn’t a good sign for the playoffs. Lawson relies on his speed, yet Westbrook is one of the few players in the league who’s probably faster than Lawson. He’s also stronger, more athletic and more talented.

Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -17

While Iguodala had one of the better stat lines of the starting unit, it was still pretty bad. He was missing shots by a wide margin too. He got most of his points of easy baskets, meanwhile his defense wasn’t particularly great either.

Anthony Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 1-6 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +5

Randolph was one of the bright spots against the Thunder. He drove the basket and got fouls. He didn’t make a lot of shots, but he was aggressive. He also played pretty well on defense, evident by his three blocks and three steals. This is one player I’d like to see get some more action every now and then, considering the Nuggets don’t really have a backup power forward.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 9 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +3

What can you say about Hamilton? He clearly didn’t belong with the group he was playing with tonight. He’s a big small forward who can drive, drain threes and score at will. You have to wonder what he’s done wrong in light of Fournier ostensibly moving ahead of him on the depth chart.

Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -8

I hardly remember Brewer at all. There were a few sequences where he played solid defense but he was MIA other than that. It would have been nice to see him on Durant more…

Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +8

Mozgov logged decent minutes. He missed some pretty easy buckets and got hit in the face with the ball, but he was active, which is always good.

JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 5-6 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -19

JaVale finally overcame his slump — or so it appears. He was under control for most of the night and only made one or two “bonehead” plays. Other than that, he played with composure and verve, especially on offense.

Julyan Stone, PG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

I like Stone; always have. I just like the way he quarterbacks the offense. He’s a floor general at heart. He’s always looking to get others involved first and he never forces anything. It would be interesting to see how well he could defend guys like Durant…

Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -8

Miller’s assists are where he gets his grade. He did do a fine job of sharing the rock, I’ll give him that. But his tunnel vision scares me. I feel like he’s always on the verge of thinking he has to throw his team on his back and score every time down the floor — which should never happen.

Evan Fournier, SG 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +4

Fournier’s stat line is deceiving. For about 10 minutes of his floor time he was turning the ball over and committing awful fouls. He played better as the game progressed, but I still have no idea how he got inserted before Hamilton.

George Karl

Karl’s team was totally unprepared from the start. They were never in this game — not even in the first few minutes. It was like watching JV vs. Varsity. Durant and Westbrook are two of the best player in the league, but the Nuggets have several of the best defenders in the league. Why was Iguodala not on Westbrook more? Why was Brewer not on Durant more? Instead Westbrook schooled Andre Miller and overpowered Ty Lawson all night, while Durant took Gallo to the hole repeatedly. And it all starts with defense. The Thunder had almost 70 by half and finished with 117. That’s inexcusable. I don’t care if you’re coming off a week of hiking in the Rocky Mountains with little to no sleep — that kind of defensive effort just won’t cut it. I felt like this was a game Karl had no problems conceding from the start. At least, that’s how it looked.

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