On Chandler’s return and Karl’s distribution of minutes

To preface, let me just say that I’m working with merely a two-game sample size thus far. As more information comes in, which is to say as more games are played, this picture will come into sharper focus.

That said, what has quickly come abundantly clear since Wilson Chandler’s recent return to action is that Karl intends to deploy him heavily in the regular rotation. At least in the ballpark, that is, of players such as Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee. He’s unquestionably in the mix.

For those Nuggets fans who were looking forward to seeing increased minutes from the likes of Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier and Julyan Stone as the season deepened and their development progressed, I’m afraid you (we) may have to put those hopes to rest. It would appear that Karl has his guys. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 115, Portland Trailblazers 111

Portland Trail Blazers 111 Final

Recap | Box Score

115 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 42 MIN | 8-14 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | -1

What I loved most about this game was how efficiently Gallo scored. He didn’t force anything. He mixed long-range shots with drives and put-backs. I know Gallo has been playing very well lately, but consider this: In his last 10 games he’s averaging 20 points (on nearly 49 percent shooting from the floor), six boards and 2.5 assists per game. If Gallo keeps letting the game come to him, we’ll likely see this spike in production continue the rest of the season.

Kenneth Faried, SF 31 MIN | 9-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +7

As is often the case, Faried was the heart of his team’s performance for much of the night. At half he was on pace for a 30-point, 15-rebound game and while he didn’t achieve that feat he still put up a 20-and-10 night to go with an incredible enthusiasm that none of his opponents could match. If Faried doesn’t come out and play like the true Manimal that he is, there’s a good chance the Nuggets get caught sleeping and lose this game.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +15

We can’t always be hypnotized by numbers. There are many nights when players affect the game in ways that numbers cannot show. This was one of those nights for Koufos. He played solid defense throughout the game and did many little things that helped the Nuggets win.

Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 10-19 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +7

This was one of the best games I’ve ever seen from Lawson. He’s put up these types of numbers before, but the way in which he did it was remarkable. He started the game off on a tear, cooled down, then experienced a resurgence in the fourth quarter that essentially won the game for the Nuggets. In the last four minutes of the fourth quarter he scored eight points and then continued his damage in overtime. What stood out to me most is how he got his shot blocked at the rim on several occasions but kept pounding it inside (with great success) until the final whistle. He displayed great resiliency and a will to win that only the truest of leaders possess.

Andre Iguodala, SG 41 MIN | 4-16 FG | 0-3 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +9

This may seem like a harsh grade, but let’s be completely honest: How many big games has Iguodala either showed up in, or better yet, won for the Nuggets? He’s had quite a few impressive outings but they never seem to come when the Nuggets need them most. Defense alone won’t cut it either. The Nuggets (and the fans) expect him to be much more than just Tony Allen. He’s paid about $10 million more per year than Tony Allen and if the Nuggets plan on retaining him that figure likely won’t drop much. This is only one game, of course, but Iguodala needs to start showing up when his team needs him, and not just when he decides to.

Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -4

I thought Brewer’s defense was some of the best he’s played all year. The Nuggets got a huge spark from their defense in the second half and Brewer was the often catalyst, as far as I could tell. It’s an absolute joy watching him play when he puts so much effort into stopping his opponent. Truly, an absolute joy.

JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -9

McGee has hit a rough patch. That much is clear. He’s having some problems on the court which seem to have finally driven him crazy. He’s over-thinking and yet, not thinking at all. He’s not relaxed. He’s not composed. It’s as if he’s nervous about making mistakes, which is naturally causing him to make mistakes. Now, I don’t know that this is exactly the case. I’m no psychologist. This is just a guess. But we’ve seen this before with guys Karl keeps on short leashes. Instead of being themselves (which entails making more mistakes than they probably should) they retreat to this frenetic, neurotic, bad-decision making that just compounds the problem. McGee had a few huge plays down the stretch but spent most of the game wondering about in his own mind.

Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -4

Miller seemed bound determined he was going to score tonight, which he totally did not do. He took countless bad shots and had tunnel vision the whole game — yet he still got to play meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter. If not for the several minutes of solid defense in crunch time, he’d likely be flirting with an F.

Wilson Chandler, SG 19 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | 0

This is a tough performance to grade. Throughout the middle of the game Chandler took one contested jump shot after another. His defense was great, but his offense was perplexing at times. Then, Chandler hit what was basically a game-winning 3-pointer and all was immediately forgiven. Overall, he’s been fantastic since coming back from surgery; much better than I expected. If he can limit his bad shots, drive to the hoop more and continue to play lock-down defense, the Nuggets will get a huge spark from his return to the rotation.

George Karl

Karl gets the grade he does because the Nuggets won. No matter how awful we may think he is at times, winning cannot be denied. That said… Karl did many things against the Blazers that also jeopardized the Nuggets chances of winning.

First, the Nuggets lost every timeout throughout the game. Every single one. After the Nuggets fought to gain a lead, the Blazers would immediately call a timeout and proceed to pound the Nuggets into submission. What does this mean? I’m not sure, really. Do Karl’s players listen when he is talking during timeouts? Is he being as fiery as he needs to be? Again, I don’t know. I’m not in the huddle so I can’t say. Nevertheless, this has been a problem all year and will likely continue into the postseason, sadly.

Next, Karl’s absolutely inexplicable reluctance to adapt to his opponents tactics, yet again, nearly cost the Nuggets the game. After playing McGee in the fourth quarter and building up a nine-point lead with nearly four minutes to go, Karl (again!) baffled every Nugget fan with an ounce of brain power by deciding to play Faried at center and Andre Miller at shooting guard down the stretch. The Blazers then casually went inside time after time with great success only to fully erase the Nuggets once nine-point lead and send the game into overtime. While Karl admitted his mistake and played McGee in overtime, the fact remains: IT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!! We’ve seen this entirely too many times already and we’re only halfway through the season!!! Why does Karl not understand that every scenario in the NBA is going to be different!?! He cannot simply trot out the same small-ball gameplan and expect to succeed when each team has different players and different strategies! He really, REALLY needs to adapt to different situations so that Nuggets Nation can continue to keep the remaining hair they have and not pull every single last strand out of their skulls!

All that said, I liked Karl’s defensive schemes and lineups throughout most of the game. Portland only scored 41 points combined in the second and third quarters, which I thought were some of the best defensive quarters the Nuggets have had all year in terms of activity and commitment to stifling their opponent.

Tomasson: Heat could pursue Mozgov

According to Fox Sports’ Chris Tomasson, the Nuggets are looking to deal center Timofey Mozgov. One team Tomasson suggests could be in the running is the Miami Heat. While the Heat don’t have a bevy of assets to offer, Tomasson highlights a first-round pick owed to the Heat from the 76ers as a possible trade chip. In all likelihood the Nuggets will have to include additional assets in order to successfully complete a deal with the Heat alone. With the Nuggets still in much need of a deep threat, two players to keep an eye on are sharpshooters James Jones and Rashard Lewis, both of whom currently remain outside the nightly rotation in Miami.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 116 – Golden State Warriors 105

Golden State Warriors 105 FinalRecap | Box Score 116 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +17Gallo had a very effective night, helping in almost every aspect of the game and coming up big in the second half. He had 15 second half points and a big three that put the Nuggets up 11 late and virtually sealed the game. Gallo also posted eight rebounds, including a couple of big offensive boards, and six assists, which were nice additions to his scoring and helped him post the highest plus/minus on the team for the night, with a +17.
Kenneth Faried, SF 30 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +2While Faried put the exclamation point on the Nuggets fourth quarter run with a dunk and a block, his night was average at best. A continuing problem, Faried struggled with David Lee, allowing Lee to post 23 points , 13 rebounds , and 6 assists. Faried also left his guards out to dry at points, as he played to far underneath screens to help, allowing Steph Curry to bomb away. With the Warriors looming as a potential playoff opponent, the Nuggets need to figure out a way to get around Faried’s struggles with stretch fours.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +2Kofous was solid but unspectacular in his 20 minutes. His first half, where he scored 6 points and had 4 offensive rebounds, helped the Nuggets stay close but he only played 9 minutes in the second half; as the Nuggets went small with Gallo and Chandler both seeing time at the four, and most of the remaining center minutes went to JaVale.
Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | 0Lawson was the other main reason the game was close at halftime, as he got off to a scorching start scoring 16 first half points. While those 16 points were as many as the rest of the starters combined, he let Steph Curry catch fire and added just four points and three assists in the second half. Still without his energy and scoring punch in the first half who knows where the Nuggets would have been at halftime.
Andre Iguodala, SG 32 MIN | 4-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -3Iguodala was another Nugget who only really appeared for a half, but he gets a half grade edge over Lawson because of his defensive effort. The game seemed to swing after Iggy stole a pass away from Klay Thompson for an easy dunk then forced Thompson to throw the pass out of bounds giving the Nuggets back the ball, and continuing Thompson’s miserable night. But as good as his second half was Iguodala seemed to sleepwalk a bit offensively in the first half as he went 1-6 from the field, including 0-4 from behind the line. For someone who is expected to be aggressive and help create offense for teammates it was an ugly, passive half.
Anthony Randolph, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | 0Inconclusive.
Jordan Hamilton, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0Inconclusive.
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +10Brewer really showed up in the second half, scoring 9 of his 13 points and along with Miller and Iguodala really turned up the pressure on the Warriors guards. That defensive intensity really swung the game and allowed the Nuggets to make their run so it was no surprise that Brewer posted a +10 for the night.
JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 5-8 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +10JaVale wasn’t spectacular tonight but he was effective, and he made his foul shots, which allowed him to stay on the floor late in the game. But as impressive as the 5-8 from the line was, the one rebound (which was offensive) wasn’t. Simply put as a seven footer with incredible athleticism McGee needs to grab more rebounds when he is on the floor, especially on the defensive end.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +12Miller was fantastic tonight. Offensively he was in control and attacking the basket and his ball pressure defensively, along with Iguodala and Brewer, helped change the game. His strip of Jarrett Jack and ensuing layup came right in the middle of a big Nuggets run that gave them control of the game in the fourth quarter. Add 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists to that defense and it was hard to find a problem with his game.
Evan Fournier, SG 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0Inconclusive.
Wilson Chandler, SG 21 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +5Chandler was great in his return, and for a while was one of the only Nuggets playing well offensively. He attacked the basket when available, knocked down a couple threes and made some steals defensively. There were a couple of questionable shots, but that could be expected due to some rust that was sure to be there. For a while I wondered if Karl would use him to close the game, instead of Faried, but it turned out to not be a problem. The addition of Chandler to the bench as another versatile athlete and scoring threat should really help the Nuggets.
George KarlThe Nuggets game plan of pressuring the Warriors guards and trapping side pick-and-rolls was great, and unexpected. While it took so long into the season to start to see, the defensive effort has to be attributed some to Karl. Now the real question is, will it last? Chandler should help some as the Nuggets now gain another bench body to use, and a versatile, athletic one at that. The combinations that will start to be seen should be interesting and for Nuggets fans after tonight, exciting.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 98, Cleveland Cavaliers 91

Cleveland Cavaliers 91 FinalRecap | Box Score 98 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 31 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 23 PTS | +8Gallinari started making some big plays in the third quarter that got the Nuggets back in the game. Funny how that usually seems to happen when he starts driving more aggressively to the basket. It really was his work on the offensive end that started breaking down what had been a very effective Cavaliers paint defense, and it enabled Denver to get back into their style of play and start making a comeback.
Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 6-7 FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +3This was among the worst of Faried’s defensive performances of the season. In the first half he was getting abused by Tristan Thompson and… Luke Walton. Luke Walton? He was better on the offensive end, but wasn’t really his usual explosive self for much of the game. He did come out with more energy and focus in the second half, though, and his rebounding and offensive efficiency went a long way in offsetting his defensive liability.
Kosta Koufos, C 35 MIN | 10-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 21 PTS | +12Since the entire team deserved an F for the first half, I really did not want to give any players an A for this game. But Koufos truly outdid himself tonight. He scored a new career high with 21 points in what is surely his best game of the season, if not career. On the rebounding and blocking front, the stat sheet may not look too impressive, but this was one of the most active, energetic performances we’ve seen from Kosta this season. Running the floor, battling in the paint, moving off the ball — in the second half he seemed to be everywhere he needed to be, doing all the right things. Maybe he stole what Corey Brewer usually drinks before games to get juiced up. Whatever it was, he gets the game ball.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 3-11 FG | 7-10 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 13 PTS | +10Lawson really needs to come out of the gates with aggression rather than waiting for the second, third or fourth quarter to turn it on. When he starts off sluggish it sets a weak tone for the entire team, and they have a hard time finding their groove. But fortunately, he did finally find a way to flip that switch in the fourth quarter, and his dribble penetration got the Nuggets some badly needed layups and helped to keep the defense honest. Because of that it’s tempting to grade him higher, but the six turnovers and the lackluster first half just can’t be overlooked.
Andre Iguodala, SG 41 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +9For the Nuggets defense late in the game, it was Iguodala who really made the difference by slowing down and frustrating a seemingly unstoppable Kyrie Irving. I was tempted to dock him a notch in the grading for a very poor decision he made late in the game by taking an out-of-sync corner 3-pointer with a lot of time left at a moment when Denver should have been chewing clock and looking for a higher percentage shot. But his overall game was solid, and as usual he was doing a little of everything that needed to be done.
Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | -6Brewer was absolutely worthless in the first half. And then he was almost as bad in the second, save for one steal that opened up a fast break, and maybe another play or two. This was a clear case of Karl overestimating “his guys.” At a time when the entire team’s shooting is ice cold, why not give Jordan Hamilton some run to see if he can make an impact? Only Karl knows.
Timofey Mozgov, C 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +2Karl sent in Mozzie to enforce the paint to good effect in this game. He had three blocks in eight minutes, and had a sort of dislodging effect on the Cavs’ paint packing strategy. If Koufos hadn’t suddenly blown up, he may have gotten more minutes, but he did a good job in the little time he played.
JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -5McGee missed at least three or four dunks in this game. Somehow his ability to finish just evaporated. But he made a more spirited, energetic effort than most of his teammates through the first three quarters, blocking and altering shots and contesting for rebounds (he had seven in just 12 minutes). His inability to knock down his shots and connect on his dunks dampened his net impact in this game, but at least his heart and his effort were in it from the start, which is more than most of his teammates can say.
Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | +5Firstly, Andre Miller needs to stop taking 3-pointers. It seems to be a recent trend that he takes one or two a game, and it needs to be put to rest. With that out of the way, some of both the good and bad Miller were on display tonight. He did a fairly good job of finding his midrange jumper, as well as a fairly good amount of dribbling into traffic and turning it over, and giving Cleveland’s perimeter shooters open looks. It’s not enough to bump him up into B territory, but it should be noted that, against all odds, he made a huge offensive rebound down low late in the game that resulted in a Lawson layup that decisively shifted the advantage to the Nuggets.
Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -3Fournier is fearless, a decent decision maker given his professional experience in Europe, and a spirited defender. So it’s easy to understand why Karl likes him. But he struggles to find a way to be effective outside of garbage time, and based on their respective performances this season, it’s not clear why he has come to emerge ahead of J-Ham in the rotation. He accomplished nothing tonight.
George KarlIn the Rapid Reaction for the last game against the Magic, Kalen discussed how the Nuggets always come out flat in games. Another thing they always do is play down to inferior opponents. In post-game comments, Bill Hanzlik talked about how frustrating and disappointing such things must be to Karl. The only problem with that, however, is that these problems date back years. They were hallmarks of the Melo era. And now, with only one Nuggets player remaining from that time (or two depending on how you look at i) and 13 new players on a roster that has almost entirely turned over, it’s the same old crap. It’s easy to point a finger at the players — and they do surely deserve some of the blame — and criticize their lack of effort. But this goes beyond that. It’s structurally endemic to the Nuggets culture, and the architect of that culture is George Karl. From an outside perspective, it’s hard to evaluate coaches since so much of coaching goes on behind the scenes, and we’re largely limited to rotational decisions, interactions with the refs, timeout usage, and scattered, often vague anecdotes from beat reporters. There’s a continuum of shared responsibility between the players and coaching staff, and when things go wrong it’s not always easy to discern who carries the larger burden of responsibility. Tonight, the Nuggets dodged a bullet and eked out a win against a team they should have dominated. But to say they came out flat would be an understatement. They came out utterly deflated, and given the upcoming schedule which features GSW, a surging POR, OKC twice and HOU twice in the next nine games, that’s inexcusable. Cleveland came out with a clear game plan which they pretty much executed to perfection in the first half. The scouting reports were in, their playeers were all on the same page, they knew exactly what they were doing. The Nuggets looked lost and confused, totally unprepared. They should have been up for this game, and they were not. At all. And that’s on Karl, whose team won in spite of it.

Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108, Orlando Magic 105

Orlando Magic 105 Final

Recap | Box Score

108 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +12

Quietly Gallo had a really solid game. For whatever reason I just remember him missing shots, but when I looked at the score sheet he didn’t, really. He did a nice job of rebounding and played solid defense down the stretch which helped the Nuggets secure the win. It was nice seeing him effect the game in areas other than scoring.

Kenneth Faried, SF 36 MIN | 7-10 FG | 5-7 FT | 19 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | -4

What a game. Faried was incredible. This was one of the best performances we’ve seen from any Nugget the entire year. His moxie was on overdrive. He was determined from the get-go to have a big game and nothing held him back. I tend to be a bit critical of Faried at times because I know he’s capable of stuff like this on a frequent basis. It’s games like these that make his eight-point, six-rebound performances all the more perplexing.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | 0

Wow. I did not think Koufos was this M.I.A. He played good defense when he came in and that’s what I noticed most. He has a toughness about him that none of his teammates do and it makes his presence on the floor, alone, a positive for his entire team. Although his numbers don’t show it, he was part of the rotation that gave the Nuggets life when they looked to be drowning.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 7-19 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 19 PTS | +5

Lawson has been playing with so much more confidence and swag since he criticized his teammates after the Minnesota loss. You can just tell when you watch him play. He’s no longer hesitant. He’s shooting with poise. Most of all, he’s penetrating with an All-Star mentality. Ty is capable of this type of performance every night. Perhaps all he needed was to find that inner leadership his coach has been begging him for.

Andre Iguodala, SG 32 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 11 PTS | +5

Iguodala was kind sort of messy this whole game. He never really settled in. He hit a huge three down the stretch and played really solid defense on Afflalo, but for the most part he was just not on his game.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 7-17 FG | 2-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | -2

Brewer hit a wall in the second half but was absolutely incredible in the first. We always talk about his energy, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen him as frenetic as he was against the Magic. He was slicing through the defense, getting out on the break every chance he could and most importantly, his hands were active and his feet were moving on defense. The more I watch this kid the more I want him on the Nuggets for a long time.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 1-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -6

A pretty awful game for McGee. He was out of control yet again. I don’t know what it is, but he’s been on a tear of the not so good kind lately. He needs to talk with one of his coaches (or, rather, they need to talk to him!) and settle down. He seems to have way too much energy bottled up and not a clue how to utilize it.

Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +12

Miller does some undesirable things on a regular basis, but you can’t knock him all the time — especially not this game. He was very efficient from the field and took advantage of mismatches all night. Like Faried, he seemed to be on a mission from the start of the game and he never let up until it concluded.

Evan Fournier, SG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7

Every time Fournier plays I’m always going to say the same thing: I wish he could play more. He does an excellent job of making cuts and finding open space but he never has enough time to really make an impact. I like what I’ve seen so far, but at some point in a very winnable game, Karl needs to let him lose and see what he can do.

George Karl

The Nuggets won, which is really all that matters, but what can’t be ignored is just how flat this team came out to start the game. How does that happen on your home floor? I understand that from time to time you’re going to come out sluggish, but this is basically the staple of the Nuggets for the last two years! They’re always coming out flat! I liked how he knew this was going to be a close game and kept his rotation tight, but he also played with fire yet again by relying on small ball down the stretch. Ultimately, he will get burned if he doesn’t learn.

Corey Brewer to appear in Movie 43

I might be extremely late to the party on this one; nevertheless, for those who aren’t yet aware, it looks as though Corey Brewer has landed a minor role in the upcoming comedy Movie 43. It is produced by Peter Farrelly (one half of the infamous Farrelly brothers duo) and is set to be released January 25, 2013. For those who would like a preview of the movie, here is link to a trailer in which Brewer appears right off the bat. It looks pretty raunchy overall, so sensitive types be warned!

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112- Los Angeles Lakers 105

Denver Nuggets 112 Final

Recap | Box Score

105 Los Angeles Lakers
Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 6-20 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +1

Gallo had a strange game for sure. He didn’t shoot well from the field, but he hit the big shot and combined with Iguodala and Brewer helped limit Kobe to 29 points on 26 shots, including two prayer threes at the end of the game. It was tough to grade but the Nuggets won and Gallo hit what was the biggest shot so he gets a good one.

Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | -8

Faried’s first half was absolutely brutal. He went to halftime with only 2 points and a rebound and looked like he didn’t belong on the court at all. His normal energy returned a bit in the second half and made things better but overall it was a pretty ugly game for the Manimal.

Kosta Koufos, C 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -8

Like Gallinari, a lot of what Koufos did well doesn’t show up in the box score. He was a physical presence for the Nuggets and battled Dwight Howard whenever he was on the floor. With Faried lacking his normal energy it was important for Kosta to bring some of his own, and he did that very well.

Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 10 AST | 21 PTS | +1

Lawson absolutely abused Steve Nash tonight. He got to the rim at will, and while he struggled to finish a couple times good things normally happened when he went to the basket. The three he hit was a big one as well, as it put the Nuggets up 10 late in the fourth. It was a return to the Lawson that people expected, and not the one from late in games early this year.

Andre Iguodala, SG 38 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | +14

Iggy did a bit of everything tonight. He knocked down some threes, finished in transition, rebounded, defended and found teammates all throughout the night. His plus-14 on the night seemed right, as he was always in the middle of everything on both sides of the court when the Nuggets would make a run. In another good sign, the growth of chemistry between Iguodala and the rest of the team continued as he celebrated as much as any Nugget whenever something good happened for him or his teammates.

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

Ouch. A tough night for Hamilton, even in such a short amount of minutes. He missed layups, turned the ball over on a shot clock violation (where he seemed to lose track of the remaining time), and got called for a goaltend. A learning experience for a young player hopefully.

Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +15

Brewer completely changed the game when he entered it in the first quarter. His energy was infectious as he attacked the basket and the glass, and he knocked down a couple mid-range jump shots as well. His second half was a bit rougher, but without his early contributions the Nuggets may not have been in the position they found themselves in during the second half.

JaVale McGee, C 26 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-7 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +14

JaVale was good JaVale again tonight. His energy and athleticism were on full display, and aside from a iffy goaltending call and a pull-up jumper from the foul line, there really weren’t any bad moments for him on the night. While he could still stand to grab a couple more rebounds, which will happen if he stops trying to tap them to people and grab them himself, there isn’t really anything to be mad about tonight.

Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 12 PTS | +10

Miller continued to be an enigma as he has most of the season. A second quarter sequence summed up his night pretty well. On one possession he threw a gorgeous lob to McGee for two points, but came right down the court the next possession and tried to force a lob to Faried for a turnover. A bit later in the quarter he hit his only three of the night, but the next possession he air balled a fadeaway contested two. Just a very up and down night again.

George Karl

Karl did a good job for the most part but a couple of things made me scratch my head. First off why did Andre Miller get the late possession instead of Lawson, or in the best case scenario an actual set play? Lawson was beating Steve Nash off the dribble all night but instead Miller was asked to beat Jodie Meeks. It ended up working out for the Nuggets because of luck, but I hated the call. Second why did Faried get more minutes than McGee and Koufos? The other two bigs were clearly more effective in the physical game than the Manimal, and they didn’t play terrible together. I thought it was strange. But the Nuggets won so Karl gets the benefit of the doubt.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 110, Jazz 91

Utah Jazz 91 FinalRecap | Box Score 110 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 7-11 FG | 11-12 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 26 PTS | +6It’s such a boon for the Nuggets offense when they get this kind of production from Gallo. If he can find a way to score closer to 20 rather than 15 more frequently, it will go a long way towards helping the team maintain better offensive consistency. It was great to see him relentlessly attacking the basket tonight, and do a big chunk of his damage by hitting 11 of his 12 free throw attempts.
Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +17The Nuggets did not come out of the gates with the kind of energy that might be expected in a revenge game with one division rival after a bad loss to another. But as is typically the case, Faried was one of the few making an effort to bring it. The Jazz got the better end of the offensive glass in the first half, but Faried did a fairly good job defending Paul Millsap, and played an important role in keeping the game close early until Denver opened up their big lead in the third quarter.
Kosta Koufos, C 29 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +15Koufos has struggled in some recent games, and early on it looked like that trend might continue. But Kosta has a way sometimes of coming out with a surprising toughness, and he did a great job in the second half especially, coming up with some big rebounds and defensive plays.
Ty Lawson, PG 24 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | +17If Lawson’s Achilles injury is bothering him, he did a great job of playing through it tonight. He was hitting his jumpers, and was able to find his higher gear with increasing frequency as the game progressed. Utah dictated the pace early on, but largely due to Lawson pushing it and playing with some aggression, the Nuggets were able to break the game open and play their style of basketball in the second half. Hopefully Ty is on the mend and we will see this type of performance from him more consistently from here on out.
Andre Iguodala, SG 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 8-11 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +20Iguodala played the role of scorer more than playmaker in this game, and did he ever put on a show. After seeing him turn the ball over so many times this season, I’ve learned to cringe when seeing him drive to the rim. But his skill in the open court was on full display tonight, as he made some truly remarkable crossovers and fakes that brought the house down. He and Gallo combined for 19 of 23 at the free throw line, and the more Denver can get of that, the better.
Anthony Randolph, PF 5 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4Randolph was one of about five Nuggets players to get just about five minutes tonight when Karl emptied the bench, and he accomplished nothing in the short time he was on the court.
Jordan Hamilton, SF 6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2Hamilton’s shot was not falling, though it should be noted that only one of his missed 3-pointers was a poor shot selection, while the other two were taken in the flow. Karl surely characterizes him as a “good-bad player”, and it seems J-Ham would help his own cause by not being over-eager to make a huge impact, and instead let the game come to him a little more.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | +12Brewer went completely cold on offense in this game, but was serviceable on the defensive end, including one nifty block from behind of an Al Jefferson layup on a fast break.
Timofey Mozgov, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2Timo didn’t really make a big impact in his limited time, but three boards and a block in five minutes is solid.
JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +14McGee really needs to toughen up when battling for rebounds. There are just too many times when he gets outworked on the glass in situations where, given his size and positioning, he should really have the advantage. For some reason, he seems to often struggle against the Jazz frontcourt, and this game was no exception.
Julyan Stone, PG 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -4He played! It was great to see Stone get his first minutes this season. He was moving just fine, and hopefully we will get more opportunities to see what he can bring to the table. Tonight, he looked good, playing with control and doing a good job of distributing the ball to his teammates. His single assist in five minutes would have been more like four or five if the other guys were connecting on their shots.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +11Had Miller’s grade been given at the end of the third quarter, it would have been in C/D+ territory. He was ineffective to the point of being a liability for most of the game. But after draining a big buzzer beating 3-poitner at the end of the third quarter, he found a way to at least partially redeem himself in the fourth with some pretty decent play that helped to step on Utah’s throat.
Evan Fournier, SG 6 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -5Of all the emptied bench players, the only one to really make a splash was Fournier. His stat line doesn’t look very impressive, but his hustle and energy made garbage time less trashy.
George KarlTo me, this win seems more on the players than the coach. But who knows? Maybe it ws an inspiring halftime speech that caused them to come out more energetically in the second half. The fact that Lawson, playing well, got only 24 minutes while Miller, playing pretty poorly, got nearly as many with 21 is, in this case, probably attributable to Ty’s injury.

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Timberwolves 101, Denver Nuggets 97

Minnesota Timberwolves 101 Final

Recap | Box Score

97 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -2

The Nuggets are a team full of inconsistencies, but Gallo might be the most inconsistent of them all. As I’ve said before, his jump shot is his crutch. It’s the most inconsistent part of his already inconsistent game and it’s what he relies on all the time. We’re nearly halfway through the season and he’s still barely shooting above the .400 mark.

Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +4

It’s tough watching Faried’s energy level fluctuate so much from game to game. He had one aggressive rebound against the Wolves and was nonexistent the rest of the time. The book seems to be out on Faried: Get physical and you take him out of the game.

Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 8-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +19

This was one of Koufos’ best showings of the year. He was making all sorts of crisp cuts to the basket, blocking out and getting much-needed put-backs against an imposing Wolves front line. For some inexplicable reason Karl chose to sit him the entire fourth quarter.

Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | +11I

t’s always frustrating grading Miller. It’s funny because McGee takes a lot of heat for ill-advised and often quite flamboyant decisions, but Miller isn’t far behind. How many awful 3-pointers in tight games has he taken this year? How many terrible late-game turnovers has he had because he was being selfish? Miller has such a great overall game and can be a excellent point guard at times, but he also makes some of the worst decisions on the whole team.

Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-7 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 14 PTS | +6

Iguodala didn’t shoot well but I liked how aggressive he was. This has been missing all year from his game. He was simply teeming with enthusiasm against the Wolves. If he knocks down just a few more shots, this could have been a different and much more enjoyable contest from the Nuggets point of view.

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

Randolph looked pretty decent for only playing four minutes. He had a huge block and made some nice passes. Karl likes Mozgov, but Randolph is clearly the more talented prospect. Again, I’d love to see what he could do with 15-20 minutes at the backup power forward spot as I’ve seen nothing from him that would suggest he couldn’t handle it.

Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -12

Is Corey Brewer the most consistent jump-shot maker on the entire team? Think about that. It’s definitely possible. No Nugget is shooting a particularly good percentage from the field (not including dunks) this year. While this is good for Brewer, it’s absolutely awful for the Nuggets as a whole. Nevertheless, Brewer had a solid game. He was energetic, hustled twice as much as other guys and played great defense as usual.

JaVale McGee, C 13 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -15

I rarely hand out F grades. In fact, I don’t know if I ever have. But I had to tonight. McGee played like he was high… or drunk… one of the two. He was all over the place, waiving his giant limbs around in an uncontrollable manner. He was falling over, making one completely bone-headed mistake after another. I just couldn’t believe how weird he was acting. Perhaps he was having a flashback from his days in Washington? I don’t know. What I do know is that Karl feeds off performances like this from McGee. This is exactly what he needs to use as an excuse to limit McGee’s minutes even more.

Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -1

Mozgov played well. Quietly, he might be the Nuggets best one-on-one defender of all the bigs. He’s been showing more confidence lately and it’s showing in the box scores.

Ty Lawson, PG 23 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | -25

Lawson nearly saved the Nuggets tonight. He was making all sorts of clutch plays when the team was down. His shot was falling, which certainly helped, too.

Evan Fournier, SG 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2

Fournier does all the little things right, which is exactly what Karl wants. He had some really nice cuts to the basket and had active hands on defense. He needs to be more aggressive on offense though.

George Karl

Karl drove me nuts this game. I don’t think he went two minutes without making a substitution. The Nuggets started the game off with a good vibe that he immediately squashed by messing around with the lineup over and over. People didn’t even have time to get settled in. Worst of all, I couldn’t figure out why Koufos didn’t play in the fourth quarter. What’s the reasoning behind that? Here he is having the best game he’s had in a while and all of a sudden he’s benched? Karl does this way to often for my liking.

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JaVale McGee video scouting report: 3 assists, 3 wasted possessions

On New Year’s Day versus the Los Angeles Clippers, JaVale McGee did something which for him was quite remarkable.

And no, this is not about his stunning buzzer beating 3-pointer, though that is certainly what will cement his performance permanently in the collective memory of NBA fandom.

But just as notably, he matched his career high of three assists. He had accomplished this only once before, on Mar. 20, 2011. Thus far this season, McGee has had 20 games with zero dimes, 12 games with just one, and now, a single game with three.

About a month into the 2012-13 season, I did a video scouting report calling for JaVale to make a more concerted effort to pass the ball out of the post rather than forcing so many hasty, contested shots. In this recent game we had a chance to see just how effective McGee can be when looking to share the ball, so it offers a great opportunity to follow up on the topic. (more…)

L.A. Clippers at Denver Nuggets New Year’s Day game thread

The Los Angeles Clippers are currently the NBA’s hottest team, and they roll into the Pepsi Center today riding the momentum of a 17-game winning streak. The Nuggets be will attempt to get 2013 off on the right foot with a big win that marks the beginning of their home-friendly January schedule which features only three games on the road.

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reports that Ty Lawson will miss tonight’s game:

Lawson is day-to-day with a strain in his left Achilles tendon and won’t play against Chris Paul and the Clippers. Andre Miller will likely start for Denver and Evan Fournier could get some time at backup point guard.

Lawson said from the locker room that he will get an MRI on Wednesday. He has experienced tightness in his foot for the past week, and it tightens up when he jumps.

Andre Miller defending Chris Paul all night is a somewhat frightening concept. It would be nice to see George Karl start Andre Iguodala on CP3 to see if he could reproduce some of the suffocating D that Dahntay Jones displayed in the 2009 playoffs.

Unfortunately, it appears that none of our Roundball Mining Company contributors will be available to do the Rapid Reaction grades for this game, so please use this thread to post your comments.

Happy New Year!

A New Year’s statistical snapshot of the Nuggets

We hope you all are enjoying the holidays! As the new year begins and the Denver Nuggets put the most brutal stretch of their 2012-13 schedule behind them, it is a good time to take the team’s temperature and assess where they currently stand. Below the jump is a statistical profile of what the Nuggets have accomplished (or in some cases failed to accomplish) thus far this season.

As an aside before getting to that, it appears that none of the Roundball Mining Company contributors are likely to be available to write up the Rapid Reaction for Denver’s New Year’s Day game, as they attempt to end the 17-game winning streak of the league’s hottest team, the L.A. Clippers. So please feel free to use this thread to comment on the game if a recap does not get posted.

And with that, let us take a look at the current state of the Nuggets. (more…)

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