|Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -10
Brewer did what he normally does as far as energy goes despite being moved into a starting role due to the injuries to Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, which helped the Nuggets as they tried to recover from an early double digit deficit. What didn’t help though was the abysmal shooting night though. On a night where the Nuggets were missing around 30 points due to injury someone needed to step up and Brewer was not the answer. His good defense helps his grade a bit but it is hard to overcome those shooting lines.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | -11
Faried did his normal Faried things for the Nuggets, score his points in ultra efficient ways and provide energy for the team throughout the night but a large part of the problems the Nuggets had on the defensive glass has to fall on the team’s best rebounder. When a team gives up 15 offensive rebounds it is hard enough to win, let alone when they give up two on one of the final possessions of a close game when they are down four key rotation players. What hurts the most is the rebound that eventually led to Rudy Gay’s game winner hit Faried in the hands, but he was unable to corral the ball.
|Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3
Koufos missed some easy shots and made some tough ones, rebounded the ball pretty well but still allowed to many offensive rebounds, and had a nice block when the Nuggets were making a run to get back in the game, but also blew some rotations. Basically he played about as average as one can in his limited minutes.
|Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +8
Lawson was absolutely incredible for the Nuggets tonight, and was the reason the game ended up as close as it did. Lawson created more offense for his teammates than the nine assists indicate and got himself to the basket at will. He also had two great steals that led to easy Nuggets baskets in a game his team desperately needed easy points. While losses are never easy to take Nuggets fans should be excited about the rest of the season if Lawson can use tonight as a springboard for more dominant performances.
|Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -10
The offense looked good for Fournier for the most part, but a couple of bad decisions on not shooting the ball and some rough defense hurt his grade. With such a pure stroke Fournier needs to be willing to shoot the ball even if the window he gets is not a big one, and a couple times tonight he was not and instead drove into traffic and got into trouble. On the defensive side of things Fournier had a nice moment where he jumped a Raptors dribble hand-off but for the most part he struggled to stay in front of Demar DeRozan. The offensive flashes that should get people excited were there, but so were the defensive problems that should cause worry.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +10
There are going to be plenty of people who disagree with me on Randolph’s grade due to how his final boxscore reads and his pretty good play in the fourth quarter, but a couple of things stood out to me that don’t allow me to go higher than a B minus. Early in the game Randolph had a sequence that went like this: Dunk, steal, try to dribble to much after the steal and get the ball stolen from him, hit nothing but backboard from four feet away, charge. It was just ugly. Add in the fact that he missed a dunk/layup that was wide open, completely whiffed on a pretty good pass from Andre Miller when he was wide open in front of the rim with no one around him, and missed another layup on the break and he cost the Nuggets plenty of easy points in transition. Then the end of the game comes, and Randolph is on the floor while the Nuggets struggle rebounding and he fails to set a good screen on the final inbounds play then gets knocked backwards on the hand-off once the ball gets in. In the end it was a typical Anthony Randolph night; on one hand flashes of good and on the other plays that make you realize why he doesn’t get more minutes.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +2
Hamilton was aggressive but as a player who is known as a shooter he needs to shoot better than 3-10 from the floor in his opportunities. On the bright side he made a great block in transition after turning the ball over and played hard the entire time he was on the court. Like Randolph and Fournier the flashes were there, but the overall game wasn’t good enough.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0
Mozgov was a big body while he was in the game. Four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes isn’t bad, but he got put on another poster by DeRozan and was slow in his help a couple of other times.
|JaVale McGee, C 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
Two fouls in five minutes isn’t good, but McGee left the game due to injury and didn’t have a chance to make up for it.
|Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +7
Like Randolph, Miller’s line looks much better than what he gave the Nuggets on the floor during the game, mostly on the defensive end. Multiple times Miller was part of a miscommunication that led to open shots for the Raptors, and other times he walked when he was supposed to be stepping in to help on drives. The most telling moment was on Hamilton’s stellar block. The Raptors had a 3 on 1 break against Miller and looked to have an easy bucket after Miller stepped towards the player who received the first pass and they swung the ball back to I believe Kyle Lowry running the break. Miller turned back around and just stood there as Lowry took another two steps and went airborne for his layup. Luckily for Miller Hamilton came flying out of no where to block the layup but it is the kind of effort that “veteran leaders” shouldn’t be demonstrating.
I just flat out didn’t get a lot of George Karl’s decision making tonight, and in the end a few of the decisions ended up costing the Nuggets the game. First of all, if a coach wants to preach accountability and unselfishness, how can he continue to clearly play favorites? JaVale McGee got in the game, scored a basket and committed a foul, and was taken out all in one minute in the first quarter. Meanwhile Andre Miller, who in pure selfishness cost the Nuggets the game on Sunday against the Celtics, plays 31 minutes. Then as the Nuggets are getting killed on the class late in the game Karl continued to play Anthony Randolph instead of going to either Koufos or Mozgov. If his problem was the Raptors playing small then why have Randolph on the floor anyway forcing him or Faried to have to play Alan Anderson? Isn’t that a perfect spot for Jordan Hamilton? Then on the final possession of the game Karl used Randolph, clearly the most frail member of his team, to try and set a screen for Cory Brewer and then take the inbound pass from Lawson and execute a hand-off to get Ty going towards the basket. Except Randolph was knocked back, fumbled the ball and Lawson was unable to get a good shoot. Isn’t that a perfect situation for a big body like Koufos or Mozgov? It was just a bad night for Karl even despite being short handed.
Three Things We Saw
- Flashes: While I don’t believe in moral victories what I do believe in is being able to see some good in bad situations. The Nuggets saw some nice flashes from some young players that have seen limited minutes this season in Fournier, Hamilton and even Randolph. While all three players made mistakes, there were plays that gave glimpses into what the Nuggets see in the three players.
- The Flash: Lawson was incredible tonight and after seeing it the Nuggets have to hope he can do it more consistently. If he can create shots and alleys to drive like he did tonight for Gallo and Iggy and Chandler instead of Brewer, Fournier and Hamilton, the Nuggets may have found a solution for the creator at the end of games problem.
- Flashes in the Pan: That is all the Nuggets will be if they continue to not be able to win on the road. I know the team was missing four key players but they had a chance to steal a game against a probable lottery team and didn’t execute simple things like layups and defensive rotations right. As has been the problem all year, this is a different team on the road, and that has to change or the Nuggets will stay as just a team no one wants to play in the first round, instead of a true contender.
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