[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]
|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.|
Four Things We Saw
- Lost Possessions: Despite the win the Nuggets had 23 turnovers, a number that is just way too high for a team who doesn’t shoot the ball well. If they were able to cut that number down the game probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as close as it was, especially because a couple came late in the game as the Thunder made their run.
- Gained Possessions: What allowed the Nuggets to get away with those 23 turnovers was the fact that they had 20 offensive rebounds. Chandler, Faried, Koufos, and Brewer all had 3 or more, and the extra possessions allowed for the cancellation of some of the turnovers and kept the Nuggets alive. It was great work against a team that has great size with Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant on the front line, and most of it came down to hustle plays.
- Wasted Possessions: The Nuggets had a chance to end the game in regulation but weren’t able too because of a couple of problems. The biggest of those was a lineup issue as the grouping of Brewer, Miller, Lawson, Gallo and Faried made spacing difficult. With Miller, Brewer and Faried on the floor the Nuggets were playing with three non-shooters allowing the Thunder to help from all over the floor especially once Lawson or Gallo started on drives since there was only one semi-respectable outside threat left on the perimeter. Yet the only other option to attack in the isos that Karl wanted was Miller, who struggled to score in a game with so many athletes. His late game drive showed this, as his jumper was blocked by Kendrick Perkins, the worst athlete on the Oklahoma City roster. While the Nuggets don’t have a lot of shooters the last possession was perfect for letting Iggy create and surrounding him with Chandler, Lawson and Gallo spotting up with Faried ready to chase an offensive rebound. But instead the Nuggets went with the two guard lineup they are so fond of and it almost cost them the game.
- Condolences: Thunder head coach Scott Brooks coached Sunday’s game despite the death of his mother on Saturday. Roundball Mining Company would like to extend their condolences to the Brooks family during this difficult time.
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