Report: Andre Iguodala likely to opt out, weigh his options

Chris Tomasson, former Nuggets beat writer for the Rocky Mountain News now with Fox Sports, is  reporting that Andre Iguodala is leaning towards opting out of his contract this summer, forgoing the roughly $16 million remaining on his final year in favor of a longer term deal which offers more security.

Tomasson also reports that it’s not a sure thing Iguodala will remain in Denver: (more…)

Pickaxe Pulse for March 30, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets’ franchise record winning streak of fifteen games came to an end Monday in New Orleans.  The team looked disinterested in a 110-86 blowout loss, giving up 17 offensive rebounds and 14 made three pointers.  JaVale McGee led the way with a double double in San Antonio on Wednesday, and the Nuggets had a chance to win, but Andre Miller missed a tough shot at the buzzer and the Nuggets dropped their second straight, 100-99.  Back at the Pepsi Center on Friday, Evan Fournier and Kosta Koufos helped the Nuggets get back on track against the Nets in a 109-87 win.  Ty Lawson played sparingly all week due to a foot injury.

Record this week: 1-2 (1-0 home, 0-2 road)

Current record and standings: 50-24, third seed in the Western Conference, 0.5 games ahead of the Clippers and 1 game ahead of the Grizzlies

Upcoming games: Wednesday at Utah, Thursday vs Dallas, Saturday vs Houston

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109, Brooklyn Nets 87

At a time when Nuggets fans are seeing dark clouds forming over Denver’s playoff prospects due to recent news of Ty Lawson’s plantar fascia injury, a silver lining emerged in the form of Evan Fournier. Seldom used this season, he led all Nuggets in scoring with a career high 19 points, and sparked the second quarter surge that put the Nuggets in control for the rest of the game. (more…)

Nuggets well positioned to seize first round home court advantage

The Denver Nuggets recently clinched a berth in the 2013 NBA playoffs, meaning that they will soon be making their tenth consecutive postseason appearance. And while this is a very impressive streak, what they’ve managed to do less often is finish the regular season with a good enough record to secure home court advantage in the first round. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99, San Antonio Spurs 100

The Nuggets dropped a heart breaker in San Antonio tonight as they struggled for stretches to contain Tony Parker and Danny Green. Denver had a shot at the buzzer but things broke down and Andre Miller was unable to hit a difficult shot in the lane. (more…)

JaVale McGee is a good dude

JaVale McGee has had an up and down season. He often has up and down games. Almost every time he steps on the floor McGee does amazing things followed by lackluster mental lapses. Sometimes players like McGee — who’s play on the floor fluctuates so wildly and frustrates his coaches — make bad decisions off the floor as well. But McGee is not that type of guy. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Hornets 110, Denver Nuggets 86

This one was a loss from the start, as the Nuggets came out flat and never really recovered. Defense was nowhere to be found (especially from beyond the arc), offense was tough to come by and in the end the Hornets simply out-played the Nuggets in nearly every aspect of the game. Unfortunately for Denver, one game after losing to snap their franchise-record winning streak the Nuggets must go on the road to face one of the best teams in the league in San Antonio.

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Pickaxe Pulse for March 24, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets extended their franchise-record winning streak to 15 games, and the team’s depth was on full display this week as bench players played key roles in all 4 victories.  Wilson Chandler scored a game high 35 points to go with 9 rebounds and 4 assists in an overtime win in Chicago.  Andre Miller celebrated his 37th birthday the next night, helping the Nuggets cruise to a win over the Thunder.  With Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler sitting out with injuries, the Nuggets looked to be on their way to defeat against Philadelphia, but Corey Brewer finished off a career high 29 points with a late three pointer and three free throws to complete a 101-100 comeback victory.  Julyan Stone, in his first NBA game since January, provided a spark on both defense and offense to help the Nuggets get past the Kings.

Record this week: 4-0 (2-0 home, 2-0 road)

Current record and standings: 49-22, third seed in the Western Conference, 0.5 games ahead of the Clippers and 1 game ahead of the Grizzlies

Upcoming games: Monday at New Orleans, Wednesday at San Antonio, Friday vs Brooklyn

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 101 vs Kings 95

The Nuggets escape with their franchise record 15th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings.   It was also the Nuggets’ 17th straight win at the Pepsi Center.  Grades follow the break.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101, Philadelphia 76ers 100

Philadelphia 76ers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

101 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 12 PTS | +4

Truth be told, Gallo hasn’t been very good since the new year. He’s scored only four 20-plus point games in the last month and continues to take very questionable shots. He was pretty close to awful against the Sixers. He got to the line and made a few buckets but he took about three of the worst shots any Nugget has taken over the last month. The real Gallo is nowhere to be found right now.

Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | 0

Faried did nothing astonishing but his commitment to defending inside the paint was impressive and also an improvement on what he normally does. He had one great chase-down block and several other block attempts that altered his opponent’s shots.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -1

When Koufos has a bad game, nobody notices. Aside from his three blocks he didn’t play too well. He got abused in the post on more than one occasion by no-namers and seemed to be a step behind his rotations most of the night (although to be fair, so was everyone else).

Andre Miller, PG 40 MIN | 9-14 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -12

I hate grading Andre Miller. I just hate it. If you were to look at his stat line alone, you’d have to wonder how he could get anything other than an A. But watch the game and you’ll wonder why I’m being so generous with a C-plus. He totally screwed the Nuggets pace this game. He didn’t even try to push the ball up the court. And on defense — I can’t even begin to tell you how awful he was. In the first five minutes there were about three plays where he willingly let his opponent slide by him without even trying to stop him. He had me laughing out loud his defense was so bad. Overall, Miller is just not a good fit for this team and the way Karl likes to play. Miller is a ball-dominant, half-court guard, who prefers to play at his own 90-year-old pace instead of pushing the pace like the rest of his teammates. Had it not been for Corey Brewer this loss would have almost been solely on Miller.

Andre Iguodala, SG 40 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | +8

Iguodala was aggressive for about one half, then pretty much disappeared. This is a reoccurring theme with him. For playing 40 minutes he should be a little more effective than he is. Also, Holiday had his way with him on more than one occasion.

Anthony Randolph, PF 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +11

Keep in mind: This is the first game Randolph has played more than 20 minutes in a over a month. He was a bit rusty but had several key plays. His hands were active (evident by his three steals) and his defense wasn’t bad. He had a nasty crossover drive earlier in the game and ended up blocking the final shot of the game to seal the victory for the Nuggets.

Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 29 PTS | +3

If there was a way to give Brewer a better grade I would. His performance tonight was nearly ineffable. When the entire team came out flat in the first, Brewer came in to save the day. When there was no sign of defense being played anywhere on the court, Brewer stepped it up and ignited (or at least tried to ignite) the fastbreak. And in the end, when the Nuggets needed a miracle shot to win the game, he somehow drew a 3-point foul and hit ALL THREE of his free throws to win the game for the Nuggets. Brewer takes a hell of a lot of heat from Nuggets fans for being a streaky shooter but he’s been one of the most clutch players on the team all season long, especially on defense where the Nuggets patented fast-break offense gets started in the first place. Brewer was the “Anti-Miller” in this game, basically willing the Nuggets to victory off the bench. This was without question one of the top three performances from any Nugget we’ve seen this season.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | +1

JaVale was a headache most of the night. He had a few nice plays but turned the ball over four times and committed three fouls (which were pretty bad) in only 16 minutes.

Evan Fournier, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4

Fournier needs to show us something when he gets in the game. He needs to be something other than just a body with a pulse out there. He’s talented. He’s a first-round pick. So please, Evan, show us something. Thanks.

George Karl

The only thing that caught my eye was why Fournier and even Randolph got in before Hamilton. Let’s assess: If your backup small forward is out and you have another really good backup small forward, why would you pass up the opportunity to use him and instead go with a rookie shooting guard and power forward? Hamilton must have done something behind closed doors, as there’s no reasonable explanation for him to be behind both Randolph and Fournier on the depth chart. Aside from that, Karl managed to figure out a way for the Nuggets to pull this one out when they never should have. He deserves credit for that even though he once again closed out the game playing small, which I promise you, will bite him in the ass one of these days.

Staking A Claim: The Big Man Rotation

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

As the Nuggets have caught fire recently on their way to winning 13 straight games things have finally come together in the frontcourt, as all five of the main minutes getters at the center and power forward spots have taken turns playing well.

This week I wanted to take a look at that front court rotation and talk about a couple things I like and don’t like in that rotation.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 114, Oklahoma City Thunder 104

Tonight, the Denver Nuggets went into the house of one of the league’s elite teams on the second night of a back-to-back in what most Nuggets fans and NBA observers thought would likely be a scheduled loss. But they defied expectations, extending their winning streak to an NBA franchise record 13 games, in their most impressive victory of the season.

Denver Nuggets 114 FinalRecap | Box Score 104 Oklahoma City Thunder
Danilo Gallinari, SF 33 MIN | 4-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +13

It seems that Gallinari has found his way back into a shooting slump at the worst possible time. Fortunately his teammates (especially Wilson Chandler) have thus far been able to pick up the slack in offensive production, but it will be extremely difficult for the Nuggets to get out of the first round if he can’t get back his mojo. On the plus side of the scale, Kevin Durant’s 34 points seemed very quiet and contained. He’s always going to get his to a certain extent, but he never really seemed a threat to take over the game, and Gallinari played an important role in that, as evidenced by the fact he was +13 despite some very poor shooting.

Kenneth Faried, SF 34 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +5

Faried’s rebounding was key in this win. And while he’s more well known for his offensive rebounding, it was his work on the defensive glass in the second half that really paid off bigger in this game. His energy and physicality were a spark for the Nuggets that helped them weather the Thunder’s attempts to cut back into the lead Denver had most of the game..

Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +7

Koufos largely redeemed his pretty-bad first half with more focused and energized play in the second. He was struggling to finish at the rim most of the night, but he did at least find a way later in the game to be more effective in the defense and rebounding departments.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-13 FG | 7-7 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 25 PTS | +12

Lawson carried his team through much of this game, even if it was in a slightly understated manner. He played a measured, controlled game that seemed to create a levelheaded, no panic temperament for his team. He only had four assists, but he also had no turnovers. In a game where early on it looked like sloppy and mistaken play could cost Denver the game, Ty’s ability to limit the errors was crucial.

Andre Iguodala, SG 36 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +17

Iguodala has the green light to shoot 3-pointers at will, but it remains unclear why George Karl considers this a good thing (desperation go-ahead three in Chicago notwithstanding). He’s incredibly efficient at the rim and as a playmaker, so much like Andre Miller, when there’s time on the clock and he gets the ball at the arc, passing, driving and posting up should really be his only options. With that little rant out of the way, the good news tonight, as usual, was his defense. He captained an excellent team defensive effort that resulted in just 38 second half points for the Thunder, and similarly to Gallo had a high +/- (the highest, in fact) despite his poor shooting.

Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -6

Brewer also got in on the poor 3-point shooting tonight, but that was offset to a point by his four steals that helped disrupt the flow of the Thunder’s offense and keep them off balance. Beyond that, however, he really had a minimal impact on either side of the floor in this game.

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

Like Koufos, McGee got off to a pretty bad start in this game. He did less than Kosta, however, in making up for it later in the game, as some sloppy offensive play and defensive lapses had an erasing effect on his positive contributions.

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 6-11 FG | 8-9 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +4

On his 37th birthday, Andre Miller decided to take control of the game in the fourth quarter, making big shot after big shot, and sealing up the win at the free throw line. In an interview after the game, Kenneth Faried described an inspirational pre-game speech that Miller gave the team, telling them they had no excuses to lose this game. He took his own message to heart at the end of the game, and although I’d prefer to see the ball in other players’ hands more often when a big game is on the line, it was nice to see Dre shine tonight as he completed his 37th revolution around the Sun.

Wilson Chandler, SG 23 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +3

Wilson cooled off after his huge 35-point outing in Chicago the night before. He was efficient in this game, but his production was rather limited. His defense was solid, however, and the impact he did have on the game was a net positive. Unfortunately, Chandler suffered a left shoulder separation late in the game and did not return. Hopefully his unjury will not prove to be too serious.

George Karl

The Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back after a very exhausting overtime game in Chicago, and extended their win streak to a franchise record 13. Against odds that were dauntingly stacked against them, they got the job done. Mentally the Nuggets were in this game from buzzer to buzzer, not intimidated in any way, clearly confident they can not only hang with but beat the best of them. They were completely prepared to win this game, and they executed. This is just one of those cases where nitpicking rotations, time outs, inbound plays and the like just gets outshined by the results.In looking at the box score, it almost might be inferred that Karl’s game plan was essentially to let Durant and Westbrook get theirs but put a stranglehold on the production of the rest of the team. Only one other Thunder player — Kevin Martin with 14 points — scored in double figures. It’s almost as if Karl wanted to take away Oklahoma City’s “teamness.”

Koufos and McGee only played 16 minutes apiece, which meant we saw a whole lot of small ball in this game. And Denver allowed 50 points in the paint. But they scored 72 of their own, and Miller’s play in the fourth makes Karl look smart no matter where you come down on the tactical question of how much small ball is too much.

The only additional comment about Karl I’d like to make is that he took a technical foul to defend his players in the second quarter, after Westbrook had been politicking the zebras the entire game. It was good for George to show he had his guys’ backs, and surprisingly, the officiating down the stretch was not nearly as superstar-favored as one might expect.

Rapid Reaction Denver Nuggets 119- Chicago Bulls 118

Despite getting almost no good production from their starters from most of the night the Nuggets pulled out an ugly, hard fought win in Chicago. The team now travels to Oklahoma City to battle the Thunder tomorrow night on NBA TV.

 

Denver Nuggets 119 FinalRecap | Box Score 118 Chicago Bulls
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 2-7 FG | 6-9 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +1

Gallo was on the court for almost 40 minutes but for most of them you would never know. 7 field goals attempted is way to low when the rest of the starting lineup struggled, especially when Gallo was being defended by Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah for stretches in the fourth quarter and overtime. The rebounds were nice and the defense was ok but Gallo has to be more aggressive in a game like that.

Kenneth Faried, SF 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -7

Faried was out of the game early and when he returned he didn’t do much to earn himself more time. Two rebounds in 15 minutes is way to low, especially for someone who’s biggest strength is rebounding and energy. Not a good night for Faried.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +1

For as well as Koufos had been playing lately tonight was a clear step back. He struggled to finish inside and didn’t have a defensive rebound in the first half. Like most Nuggets starters he just didn’t play well tonight.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -12

Lawson was one of the players torched for 34 points by Nate Robinson, unable to get a good shot at the end of regulation and really just below average most of the night. He should have taken advantage of Nate Robinson and dominated on both ends of the floor, instead like the rest of the Nuggets starters he came out very flat.

Andre Iguodala, SG 38 MIN | 3-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Let’s not let the big 3 get in the way of the overall picture. Iguodala was again abysmal shooting the ball and unlike most nights he didn’t assist a big number of scores either. And unlike most nights Iguodala wasn’t matched up with a great scorer tonight as he spent most of the night on Marco Belinelli. The rebounding, late three and deflections in overtimes helped the Nuggets get the win but if he played any better in regulation the game doesn’t get to that point.

Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | 0

The offense was good but some of his decision making left things to be desired. Brewer gambled late on some plays he shouldn’t have in the middle of the Bulls run to get back into the game. He also had a late turnover in the same run. It was typical Brewer, but those typical plays that are ok early in the game against opposing team’s bench aren’t as ok late in close games.

JaVale McGee, C 22 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +9

The rebounding could have been better but overall JaVale was pretty darn good tonight. He finished in the paint and changed some shots for the Bulls with proper rotations. I thought he should have closed the game but George Karl thought otherwise. Clearly he was the best of the Faried/Koufos/McGee true big trio tonight.

Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 13 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +11

For most of the game Miller was great, the second best Nugget great in fact. He was posting up and making the right passes, or attacking when no help came and even rebounding a bit. In fact I advocated for him to close the game. Then the late game came and everything fell apart. He went under on the screens that allowed Nate Robinson to get off the game tying three in regulation then had some out of control drives late in overtime, including the drunk drive that somehow led to Iguodala’s game winning three. It was a great example of the two sides of Andre.

Wilson Chandler, SG 39 MIN | 13-21 FG | 8-9 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 35 PTS | +8

Chandler was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets tonight and it wasn’t even that close. The most encouraging part about it was the way he scored. Almost everything was at the rim, where Chandler got any time he wanted. The easiest way to describe his play tonight compared to his teammates is this: at halftime Chandler was outscoring all of the starters combined 20 to 16 and he also added 5 rebounds and 2 assists to those 20 points. A terrific night from Ill Will.

George Karl

I was fully ready to give Karl a good grade as the Nuggets entered the 4th quarter with a comfortable lead despite getting nothing from their starters. Then things completely fell apart. Karl went to bizarre lineups such as one with Gallo at center, refused to play any center despite JaVale having a great game, left Miller in for a key defensive possession after a timeout then put him on the player the ball was clearly going too, and not getting Wilson Chandler touches late in the game. It was just about everything Karl could have done to let the Bulls get back in the game and that was exactly what happened. Also why did Karl choose to make his team go the length of the court to end regulation? Let them have more time in the half court and run some type of set to get a look for Lawson or Chandler. Just a bizarre way for Karl to finish a game he seemed to have complete control over through three quarters.

March Madness: Scouting for future Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are winning games and making a playoff run, but the main draw for basketball attention this month? March Madness. It’s the most exciting tournament in all of sports, where teams come together to form magical runs which result in memorable moments that last a lifetime. But while March Madness is largely a team-oriented event, there’s still a level of individualism on display that appeals to those of us watching with a professional rooting interest in mind, as we’ve got our eyes on players who may one day suite up for work in a powder blue and yellow uniform.

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Pickaxe Pulse for March 16, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

Current record: 45-22

Last week: 3-0 (2-0 home, 1-0 road)

Current playoff seed: #5, 0.5 games behind #4 Memphis and #3 LA Clippers.  The Clippers hold the tie breaker over both Memphis and Denver (due to winning their division), while Denver holds the tie breaker over Memphis (due to a 3-1 head to head record).

The Nuggets finished another undefeated week by taking down the Memphis Grizzlies in a slow-paced, grind-it-out game, picking up an important tiebreaker in the process.  They also embarrassed the Knicks in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver, and picked up a road win in a blowout in Phoenix.  Denver has the longest active winning streak in the Western Conference at 11 games.  Kosta Koufos had the best week of his career, averaging 15.3 points and 12 rebounds over three games.  Coach George Karl had the team ready to play all week and made good substitutions in the face of individual players’ game-to-game inconsistency.

This week’s games: Monday at Chicago, Tuesday at Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Philadelphia, Saturday vs Sacramento

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