Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 87, Memphis Grizzlies 80

Memphis Grizzlies 80 FinalRecap | Box Score 87 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +4 

Gallo got off to a pretty good start, but pretty much disappeard through the second and third quarters. But he came up big in the fourth on a critical possession, when he knocked down a huge 20-foot jumper which began a great close out that put the game out of reach. The stat line may not impress, but the win has his fingerprints all over it.

Kenneth Faried, SF 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +9 

Faried had a pretty terrible first half. He was a non-presence for the most part. Marc Gasol had his way with him, partly because he could shoot right over him, but also because Kenneth repeatedly failed to close out on his mid-range shots. He got into early foul trouble, and his energy just wasn’t up to his usual par. But after Karl sat him through the third, he came out with ferocity in the fourth quarter and almost single handedly tilted the dynamics of the game to the Nuggets’ favor. In a game that demanded physicality, he stepped up to the challenge and then some.

Kosta Koufos, C 31 MIN | 7-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +7 

Koufos recently scored his career high in points, but tonight may have been the best game of his career as he grabbed a career high 16 rebounds and shouldered a large share of Denver’s paint points. I can’t in good faith give him an A+ simply due to giving up far too many offensive rebounds, but he still deserves high marks for hanging tough down low with one of the league’s best front courts.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -5 

We saw some shades of early season Lawson tonight. He lacked confidence, was very hesitant in his decision making, and Memphis’ physical style of play really seemed to knock him off his game. But he did seem to recognize that he would need to be effective in other ways to close out the game, and he did an admirable job of defending Mike Conley, who was held to just 4-13 shooting.

Andre Iguodala, SG 34 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +7 

Games like this foreshadow just how valuable Iguodala might be in the postseason. As Scott Hastings said, Memphis is an Eastern Conference team playing in the West, and Andre is right in his comfort zone in these grinding battles. He was effective on both ends with a great balance of defense and playmaking, he was second after Koufos in defensive rebounding, and in a faster paced game he would have bagged a triple double.

Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +6 

Like Faried, Brewer just did not seem to be his usual energetic self tonight. In the final sum, his gambling on defense did not pay off against a smart, sound Grizzlies team that knows how to take care of the ball and capitalize on defensive errors. My gut wants to give him a C, but like Gallo, he saved a key possession by hitting a big shot in clutch time that extended the Nuggets lead, and that outshiines the rest of his game.

JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -6 

JaVale only played 12 minutes in this game, and they were actually pretty good minutes for the most part. Karl probably pulled him for failing to keep the Grizzlies off the offensive glass (not that they weren’t abusing every Nuggets player in that regard). But for whatever reason, he played so little that there’s not too much to conclude about his performance.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +18 

Andre Miller had an outstanding first half on the offensive end, including one downright spectacular drive in which he took it straight at Tony Allen like a whirling Dervish. His stamp on the second half was less pronounced, but he played well throughout. I don’t put too much stock in single game +/-, but the second highest Nugget in that category was Koufos at +9. Dre was +20.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | -5 

Chandler’s offensive game was off in a pretty big way tonight. It wasn’t just that his shot wasn’t falling. He seemed to be completely out of the offensive flow, ad when he got the ball, good things were not usually happening. What saves him from getting a D — and saves the entire team from being knocked down a peg for that horrendous third quarter — is defensive effort. That’s what kept the Nuggets in the game when their offense derailed, and he was solid on that end of the court.

George Karl

There are times, when grading George Karl, that I feel ambivalent, that I see many more cons than pros throughout the course of the game — but then the Nuggets win and it’s hard to argue against results.But tonight was not one of those times. This is one game where I wholeheeartedly, unequivocally endorse the A+ for Karl. (For those who accuse me of being a hater, please bookmark this page for easy future reference). Simply put, George coached this hell out of this game.

Firstly, the Nuggets came out solid in the first quarter. They were prepared, they had a plan, and within the constraints put on them by the Grizzlies’ defense, they executed it. Memphis did dictate the pace, but the Nuggets were ready to work within those parameters.

It’s always hard to know how much of what a team does can be chalked up to game plan versus just what the players do spontaneously on the court. But in this one they did seem to have a clear defensive game plan, and they executed it well. They got killed on the offensive boards, but don’t lose sight of the fact that Memphis shot only 35.3% from the field. Before this game, the Nuggets lost their first three games of the season in which they scored under 90 points. They won tonight largely because their defense held the Briz to 80.

Karl also gets kudos for minutes management in this one. It was a huge gamble to bench Faried in the third quarter due to foul trouble, but it paid off dividends bigtime when the Manimal came roaring back in the fourth. And his micromanagement of rotations at the end of the game might be the best coaching we’ve seen from Karl all season, or in years. Taking out both point guards to go with big, lengthy defensive lineups, followed by speedy playmaking lineups on the other end. George usually has his routine and he sticks with it. Tonight, he was responsive to the dynamics of the game, and perfectly so.

But my favorite thing of all was what Altitude reported from the huddle before the fourth quarter. They said Karl had told his guys that this was a great chance, a great experiencee, a great opportunity to prepare for the playoffs and to learn how to win these tough, gritty, frustrating games they’ll inevitably experience more of in the postseason. It was a great message to send, and the players obviously responded to it with the renewed energy and confidence they needed to win the game.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Sowing seeds. With this win, the Nuggets clinch the tiebreaker with Memphis, which increases their chances of finishing in the third or fourth seed and going into the first round of the playoffs with the all-important home court advantage. There has been some confusion about who holds the tiebreaker between the Nuggets and Clippers, but it is in fact Los Angeles. They will finish as division champions, and that supersedes the record between the two teams in their season series. Denver is now only a half game back behind both Memphis and the Clippers, and the 3/4/5 seeds are entirely up for grabs.

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  • Evan Woodruff

    Iggy is the MVP. Defense won this game, plane and simple.
    Oh and 7 assists?

    • Brazil

      Sorry KK MVP, without him we lose the game hands down. He was so good we barely saw any of JaVale who I wished we had seen more of by the way.
      But I appreciate Iggy, maybe co-MVP.

      • LBJ

        McGee was horrible tonight – a B is absurdly high. Karl could only play him 12 minutes because he was getting abused on the boards. Hell, I was calling for Mozzie – at least he can put a body on their freaking maulers!

        • googergieger

          Too true, when Javale was out we rebounded much better. You know except for the fact we totally didn’t. Kid played good. Didn’t have enough of a chance to make an impact any which way, but if you were to judge the whole of his little minutes, he did more good than bad.

          • mike

            javale is impossible to play for more than spot minutes when he can’t be hidden against an inferior offensive big. Memphis has two very talented and savvy bigs (and ed davis is developing into an impressive player). Javale needs to go to a summer camp with middle schoolers to understand box out standards.

            • mike

              I completely agree that Mcgee needs help out there on the defensive end. I would like to see both KK and him get some short runs together. KK is always where he is supposed to be and Mcgee could roam a little more which suits his skill set. Mind you I’m talking SHORT runs with miller out there as point maybe Chandler and Brewer.

            • googergieger

              He actually has been boxing out for us and he is one of the better defenders on Randolph. Randolph hates playing against him because he can’t shoot over him and Randolph only took it to the rim once on McGee, missed, and then wasn’t called for a push off(most of the night actually). The rest of the time McGee did what Koufos was doing plenty of times. Helping poor perimeter defense and no one ended up helping the helper. Memphis got twenty offensive boards. Where they all during the twelve minutes McGee played?

              Come on already.

          • theo

            Oh geez, what game were you watching, Pam.

        • al68

          Mcgee D-, no rebounds, no defense.
          GK D- the pace was set by Memphis, only with Faried we were able to impose our pace.
          KK the best.

        • emie

          Agreed. Absolutely horrible.

          “…he played so little that there’s not too much to conclude about his performance.”

          I concluded that he played too much.

    • heykyleinsf

      this is the kind of stuff that tends to make Iggy
      my least favorite player.. although no fault of
      his own.. it’s the same thing that made me want
      to see Tebow get the ef out of town…

      ridiculously lovedrunk fans.

      COME ON..
      Take it out of your mouth every so often..
      gushing about 7 assists..
      you’re embarrasing yourself.

      K2 played out of his mind great.

      ANdre Miller was far more important in this game.

      SOOO SICK AND TIRED OF FANS
      DESPERATELY NEEDING A SUPERSTAR..

      Like they miss MELO but don’t want to admit it.

      This is a team.

      I wish more fans appreciated the beauty in that.

      • Joey Alston

        ur so dumb heykyleinsf! u obviously dont watch him play if u think he’s not important to the nuggets! IGOUDALA is the one that MAKES the nugges a great team! he’s their best defender, and he plays his role to perfection. If it wasn’t for igoudala, they would not have the cohesiveness and the defensive tenacity that they have today. show some respect.

        • Evan Woodruff

          Judging Iggy on his scoring is like judging Dwight Howard on his assists. -It’s not his game.

          • emie

            Exactly.

            • heykyleinsf

              the first thing I want to say..
              is that it’s ironic someone actually put
              this in a a sentence…
              “ur so stupid”
              Just have to get that out of the way.

              Iggy is a good player..
              I never said he wasn’t..
              I DID NOT PUT IGGY DOWN.

              ITS THE FANS I AM PUTTING DOWN.

              You’re like Tebow zealots.

              It’s gross.

  • thawk

    Pick n Pop!

  • googergieger

    Winning solves everything. We won ugly. We have beaten Memphis three out of four times playing their game. Karl did a pretty horrible job first three quarters but that last quarter, especially to close he did a great job.

    Koufos put up great numbers, Gallo didn’t put up great ones but hit the dagger, but defensively those two were amazing for us. They didn’t back down from the officiating and dirty play of Memphis. They fought back and found ways to be effective for us defensively.

    I say give an A to everyone tonight, and a triple A plus for Kous Kous.

    • theo

      Thought 55 was the upper limit at start of season, but that looks conservative now even though that would be the most in NBA team history. Still skeptical about our ability to truly contend with this roster and like most Nugs fans would consider the year a disappointment if we don’t make the 2nd round, but hey, right now I’m ready for a big swig of swag. 57 wins looks very reasonable at this point, and if we can split the Bulls/Thunder trip maybe even 58. Pretty impressive for a team that played at a 47 win pace last year adjusted for 82 games. Hard to argue we haven’t clearly improved.

      Still 2 games back in the loss column to Memphis with 15 to play. Clippers are the more reasonable target. But why not the 3 seed? Maybe we broke the Memphis momentum tonight.

      Argued a couple of times here that we match up well with old school big teams that play old school D—Indiana and Memphis—because they can’t score enough to beat us even when they control the tempo like Memphis did tonight. We’re 5-1 v Memphis and Indiana this year. Yes, the playoffs are different—why I’m still skeptical—but encouraging evidence. Tonight was the closest thing to a playoff game in the regular season.

      • Ackdog

        The Clippers are fading and I think we can pass them in the standings. I am not so sure about Memphis though. They are even better defensively without Gay and their style is suited to the playoffs.

        If we pass the Clippers and finish 4th dothey still get home court because they will win their division??

        • Tom

          The Clippers are guaranteed a top four seed because they’ll win their division. But the fifth seed (either Denver or Memphis) would have home court in a 4-5 matchup if they finish with a better record.

          Finishing in a tie would give the Clippers home court, since “winning a division” is the first tie breaker.

  • Bobby

    When Miller plays like that it almost makes me forget the Boston game. Almost

    Kosta played like a man and I liked the line-ups Karl put out there in the 4th.

  • mcz84

    cant believe some people still wanted to have afflalo instead of Iggy.Would much rather have Iggys defense even if he didnt give us any offense haha well maybe a few points.Great win lets go for the 3 seed !!!!

  • Ckwizard

    Say what you will but the Nuggets didn’t fold in a physical contest… Miller who I don’t always like proved his worth and is essential to a Nuggets playoff run as the play becomes more physical he has a positive impact on the character of this team that is measured as an intangible not a lot of us fans realize… Igoudala is also needed as he is a calming factor that steadies the ship so to speak. George Karl believes in this team and given what was reported as his remarks over the game he is doing a goo job not only coaching but building the confidence of this team. Peace and grrr why does this team do this every year please please make some real noise in the playoffs this year!!!

  • Ackdog

    Koufus, Miller, Defense. This team can beat you in so many ways. Great tune up for the playoffs! GK gets an A+ tonight, I thought he coached his ass off. How was the big D rotation at the end of the game. I belive a little more after tonight!

  • Arrawak

    Kouuuuuuufooooooooosssssssssss!!!!!

  • nuggo

    Koufos played outstanding….I like how George Karl is leaving him in longer and longer to build his confidence and give him a chance to show how good he is. When he doesn’t worry about splitting major minutes with McGee, he plays very well (like the last three games)…

    • emie

      His play really is surging. He’s by far our best center.

      Yeah, I know that JVMG has tons of potential. But that potential has yet to be realized.

  • Ackdog

    Good thing we have the tiebreakers over LAC and MEM becuase this thing is going to be paper thin at the end of the regular season! A couple more road wins at the begining of the season would have been nice…………

    • Ckwizard

      I don’t think that is quite accurate???

      • Matt

        we won the season series over both but dont know if we have the tiebreaker over the clips.

        • Tom

          The first tie breaker is “(1) Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division.” This means the Clippers hold the tiebreaker over the Nuggets, despite Denver’s 2-1 head to head advantage.

          http://www.nba.com/standings/playoff_picture.html

          • Evan Woodruff

            unless of course the nuggets pass the thunder.

  • Dan

    And people say the Nuggets can’t win playoff basketball. The two big criticisms people have of the Nuggets is that they can’t play a grind it out half court game and that they don’t have a reliable big man who can put up numbers on the inside. Tonight the Nuggets showcased both of those. Koufus has always had a certain level of skill that he rarely tapped into, but it seems as though he has the confidence now to step up on the offensive end and play with toughness.

    • Andrew

      I still worry whether they can win tough playoff games, and a series, on the road, but this was certainly a tough home win against a grinding, “playoff type” team. Koufos has to be the Nuggs’ most improved player. I remember back when we had the running K2 versus Mozilla debates. Glad I was on the K2 side, but I had no idea he would develop into an 18/16 guy in a huge game like this. Well done, Sir! Ha ha. Remember when we had no Centers? (Nene is still a PF in my book). This is a strength now. GO NUGGETS!!!!

      • Dan

        Well with the way the Nuggets have been able to dictate their pace at such a high level this year I doubt that even in the playoffs they will get pulled into this kind of game every night. Instead they will have at least a couple games at their own pace and I don’t see them losing too many of those. This game proved to me that they can pull out the win in at least a few of these grind it out games.

    • Will

      Nuggets depth helps them in regular season but irrelevant to the playoffs. Unless playoffs means Koufas takes all McGee’s minutes, the Nuggets aren’t going to look as strong as they do now when teams are playing their full rotation. But GK would never make a dramatic lineup change just because McGee’s season +/- is 29 and Koufos’ is 209 and Koufos plays better defense, doesn’t waste shots and doesn’t commit unnecessary fouls

      • Ckwizard

        Depth like the nuggets have will help. Match ups matter and Denver’s depth allows for GeorgevKarl to exploit match ups. Not to mention pace will effect teams because even though Westbrook can go 40 minutes he is not that much better than Ty rested and Ty gains the advantage when Ty has played 25 to Westbrooks 35. Same for Durant at 35 minutes vs Gallo at 25 minutes. Then take that into series minutes and if the series goes on longer Denver can gain the upper hand and should perform better. Denver’s Bench also forces teams to adjust defensivly and alter their defensive game plan which can make defenders a step slower in reacting and in basketball a step is an advantage. For all of the Hate for small ball a lot of teams don’t match up well against it. OKC is a perfect example if Perkins and Ibaka are out Denver has a huge advantage and Perkins gets tired very quick at altitude. Denver’s multitude of lanky, athletic, competent defenders also creates frustration even for the best players and being able to throw different defenders at Harden, Durant, Paul, Duncan and so forth is advantage Denver. Time will tell and the playoffs will determine if the right depth can make a difference!

    • Thomas

      Not sure yesterday’s very close win indicates much regarding playoffs. The game was decided on 2 late possessions, one of them a silly turnover by Memphis.

      Faried got us back in this game and still was relegated to the bench in the end – the kind of decision that will not pay dividends if repeated often in the playoffs.

      Pray that Miller has a breakout playoffs, because he will certainly be used by GK at end of game situations. I am not fond of our chances when it occurs.

  • CJP32

    The 17-4 run to start the 4th was awesome. CBrew had 7 and along with Faried and KK played great D. Gallo and Iggy closed the game well. Ty was quiet scoring wise but was solid across the board

    Great team win and we are almost at 3rd seed. Gotta keep winning.

  • Zorba

    kk has been building his confidence recently and now almost everybody can see what he is able to bring to the table…
    Great, solid team D!
    Go Kosta, go nuggets! Wcf is not a mirage…

  • http://espn herpderpnuggets

    the refs were so ridiculously bad….nice win grindin it out

  • theo

    Just read the B grade for Javale and question about why he didn’t play more. I’m surprised by the grade. He did close to nothing. He had a minus 6 and embarrassed himself defensively. Took a couple of dumb shots when he was obviously too excited to play smart ball. Karl made the right moves. Memphis has the best and highest bball IQ bigs in the league. Why would we want one of the lowest bball IQ bigs on the court v this particular team?

    • LBJ

      Bingo. The B grade for McGee is absurd. There is a reason Karl only played him 12 minutes against a team with 2 quality bigs.

    • googergieger

      And early on Koufos was getting abused by Randolph, and was tossing up weak shots instead of finishing strong, and guess what? Karl let him play through it. Not saying McGee would have done what Koufos did tonight with more minutes, but perspective and unbiased goggles should be used here. If we were to judge Koufos on his first twelve minutes played, a C plus would be generous. Heck if we were to judge Karl on the first three quarters an F plus would have to be invented.

      • LBJ

        You must have been watching a different game. KK was fine in his first 12 minutes. Faried was the weak player in his first 12 minutes (FYI – he is the guy with dreads).

        • googergieger

          Nope. Randolph bullied him and got like six offensive boards that first quarter with Koufos on him. Heck Koufos was the main defender on Randolph all game, and he did go eighteen for eighteen, if you want some perspective.

          Swear to god you all either just look at the box score or watch the final quarter of games…

          Though that still wouldn’t really explain the horrible bias you all constantly show.

          • Ackdog

            As much as I hate to say it I gotta agree with the goog man on this one.

          • LBJ

            KK missed 2 shots the whole game – so he wasn’t “tossing up weak shots.” He was getting offensive rebounds and scoring! He was also getting to the FT line. Fortunately, for the Nuggets the coaching staff could see the difference last night. Hence, the 31 to 12 minute difference in playing time.

          • mike

            Just for accuracy in the 1st quarter. Randolph had 3 offensive rebounds with koufus in the game (2 on the same possession when he and Tony allen were volleyballing it under the rim) in 8:22. He had 1 offensive rebound with Mcgee in the game for 3 minutes. In addition obviously it is a ridiculously small sample size but minus 6 for mcgee and plus 7 for koufus. And of course the quarter they played stellar defense Mcgee played very little. Certainly nothing in this game suggests mcgee needs more minutes as his Blocks are mitigated by the fact that he ends up completely out of position hunting blocked shots on the weakside that lead to free layups or offensive rebound layups.

            • googergieger

              And lay ups and offensive rebounds were gotten when McGee wasn’t in there. I’m not arguing about his little minutes and Koufos’s excess minutes. It worked for us. We won. The point is, McGee is getting crap for his twelve minutes of play and a “B” score. Which is probably on the money. Again he did more bad than good out there. In that first quarter he did get two offensive boards for us as well.

              I’m just pointing out, Koufos was allowed to play through Randolph having his way with him(and he ended up giving as good as he got more or less), and McGee wasn’t. Despite the fact that Randolph could only score on McGee by not being called for offensive fouls, or when McGee left to help Miller’s sometimes defense or Brewer’s let me try to always get a steal defense.

              Not to mention in general when McGee is big for us he doesn’t get the minutes or praise he deserves. Heck even the Warriors show Biedris some love.

              • theo

                Will all due respect, your stuff is repetitive. When we win you begin your comments with something like ‘I was going to go on a rant about Karl but we won so guess I won’t.’ When we lose you rant on Karl. We all get you think Karl is the problem and that if we just played McGee more minutes or almost any player more minutes we’d be winning 45 games at this point. Oh wait, we’re winning 45 games at this point

  • Cephus

    Sweet win ! Koufos & Miller making the difference. I NEVER would have predicted it, but I’ll take it. Busting up the Clippers, Oklahoma, New York & now Memphis in relatively rapid succession – wow! I can’t even say what I’m dreaming of, for fear of jinxing it.

    Still wanna throw away Karl’s crutch, prospector ? I’m as guilty of you in thinking G,K. was overusing him ( though I never wanted to trade him ) . But if this keeps up we’ll have to call George – Coach Nostradamus. Pass the ketchup, to help me swallow this heaping helping of crow, please.

  • AaronCAPS

    Amnesty McGee after this year, Hes a good player, but NO WAY in HELL McGee should be getting $11 Million a year. Maybe his whole contract for 4 years should only be worth $11 Million overall. Extremely disapointed in JaVale McGee man…Other then that though, Nuggets a hella of a team lately man, 33-7 in the last 40 games, imagine if we would have played this well all year! Easily #1 seed & maybe plenty of room to spare as well, now lets go get the #3 seed!

    • googergieger

      Ugh. For a stretch of about ten games he was our best big. Koufos was getting bullied and providing lazy defense, Faried seemed uninterested, and McGee was fundamentally sound and again our best big. Granted he has been bad these past few games, but tonight he didn’t do anything that bad in his limited minutes. Heck his two offensive boards in his first few minutes were more than Faried and Koufos had done up to that point, and Karl taking him out despite Chandler, Brewer, and Miller being the reason we were bad on defense. Not to mention Brewer and Miller being the reason McGee had to be out of rotation when making up for their gambles/lazy defense.

      I mean at least I can give Koufos credit for his big game and Karl credit for the win. McGee just gets shat on all the time and not even the slightest bit of credit when for ten straight games he was our best big.

      Ugh.

      • Tom2

        If McGee were making Koufos money, then he would get a pass. For the money he’s making, he deserves all of the ridicule he receives. Worst contract on the Nuggets by far, and even worse than Nene’s contract.

        • googergieger

          Smh. Love the short sightedness. Same type of person that didn’t see the great in getting Iguodala for what we gave up right? Same type of person that didn’t get that when we gave up Nene for McGee that allowed us to resign Chandler? Same type of person who early on in the season was willing to right Lawson off as a barely above average point guard right?

          McGee is a big with unlimited potential who came from what was basically a poorly run college team in Washington who has improved since being here. He’ll get better. Bigs take longer to mature, especially when you have to break them down and start all over again. His contract was given due to the fact, that Denver didn’t want to have him for two years, make him better, and then have him walk away to another place willing to give him a max.

          In a year, I wager everyone will champion Masai’s genius like we have on every other move he’s pulled. Again McGee was our best big for ten games and still was given no praise. Heck not even given minutes as a reward for it.

          Karl and people like you almost make it hard to cheer for Denver(not really, but come on already). Because at least I can criticize my favorites when they do bad, and give props to players I’m not the biggest fans of when they do good.

          • Tom2

            What are you talking about? I predicted the Nuggets would get 58 wins this year and that they would be 12-11 after the first 23 games. I might be a bit short on the final wins, but I’ve been very high on the Nuggets the whole year. I thought Iguodala was a great pick-up, but I lamented having to give up a 1st-round pick, because those things are worth their weight in gold to a small-market team. And if he opts out of his contract and doesn’t re-sign, then yes, the Nuggets gave up too much for one year of Iguodala. What, you can’t see that with your vast foresight? Trading Nene had nothing to do with re-signing Chandler. Chandler was a restricted free agent and the Nuggets could have matched any offer made to him and could have waited till the end of the season to make him an offer. On top of that, last year was an uncapped year, so what the heck are you even talking about?! Nene only makes $2 million per year more than McGee, and you know what, he’s worth it (when healthy)! Washington has played great when their team has been healthy, and Nene has been a large part of that. It’s amazing to me how little respect that guy gets. I understand wanting to get younger and healthier, and that was the main reason for moving Nene while he still had decent trade value. Lawson has played like one of the top 5 PGs in the league over the past month or so, but you can’t just ignore the rest of the season, man. That’s the very definition of cherry-picking. If Lawson could play like this the whole season and in the playoffs, sure, he’d be a potential all-star and top 5 PG, but the season is 82 games, man, 82 games, and the fact remains that over the whole season, he has been maybe top 10 depending on what you value. That is the definition of above average. I can list several PGs I might take over him right now (when healthy): Paul, Parker, Westbrook, Irving, Rose, Curry, Williams, Rondo, Lillard, Conley.

            McGee has “unlimited” potential? Really? Let me guess, the same unlimited potential that JR and Melo had, right? Man, the NBA is chalk-full of athletic freaks, but it takes more than that to be a good basketball player. Peak athleticism only lasts for a very narrow window in a player’s career, and if that’s all a player has to offer, he will quickly be out of the league. NBA history is littered with McGee types that never quite learned how to play. Give me an average athlete who can ball any day over an athletic freak who doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground.

            It’s funny to me the people who look at small sample sizes (best big for 10 games!) and wonder why it can’t always be like that. People like you are the reason why players like Turkoglu get huge contracts after playing above their heads. All it takes is a stretch of 10 good games to earn yourself a fat 4 years, $44 million. *Shaking MY Damn Head*

            • googergieger

              Chandler is offered ten million, we match it, what happens, when we try to resign Iguodala next year? What happens when we try to get a free agent next year? What happens for our flexibility next year and the years after that? Kind of proving the short sighted point, love. Yup healthy. How has the worked out? Much more if miraculously he stayed healthy forever and ever, how much better does he make our team? And for how long does he make us that much better?

              Yup take the whole season and circumstances into account as well. Achilles problems and schedule problems. Most of our guys were playing bad during the first part of our schedule. How has Curry been playing lately as soon as their schedule got any sort of tough? How has Williams played all year? Lillard and Irving our young and great talents, most smart GM’s would take them over any guy they have. Anyways, Conley? Meh. To all of it.

              Nope. McGee is coachable. He wants to learn and get better. He loves his team mates. He loves Denver. He is a total different personality than that of Melo and JR. Again, came from Washington. Is already better than he was last year. Should be much better next year with a ceiling he is well on his way of reaching.

              Totally missing the point. Mr. Koufos had two great games but let us ignore the fact that for those ten straight games McGee was our best big, Koufos was arguably our worst!

              Quite a mouth full on that name, sport. Suffice to say, the point was, when McGee plays great he doesn’t get any credit. Or minutes. When Koufos plays bad, he gets the minutes, and he gets the, “he tied his own shoes! Give that man the MVP trophy” treatment.

              Anyways, luck with the whole hypocrite thing you got going for you. Me? I’ll give praise when it’s deserved, and criticism when it’s deserved.

              • Ceisel

                Give it up Tom2, goog got you on this one.

              • mike

                Who in the world was giving chandler 10 million? I hope you are saying that as a 2 year deal The guy is paid exactly what a number three forward option should be paid (especially a guy that seems to be allergic to setting up teammates with passes and has ALWAYS been that way). He’s a nice piece. No more no less. Chandler wasn’t going anywhere else unless the nuggets decided they he wasn’t worth 5-6 million a year.

                As for Mcgee a majority of the time when players are lamented for not being fundamentally sound it is nitpicking. But there are guys that are 10% great at that type of stuff that it does create advantages (Billups, Chris Paul, Shane Battier) and guys that are 10% bad (Tyrus Thomas, current version of Javale, allen iverson on defense) who decrease their value significantly. The guy COULD make improvements, but he hasn’t made much this season in that dept. I said this in an earlier post. They need a former player who was fundamentally sound to be his individual coach for the summer and all regular season (McDyess?, Horace Grant, etc.) to see how he can develop. 3 weeks with Hakeem who should be used to round out a good player into great is not the answer.

                The contention isn’t that Mcgee doesn’t have the ability to be spectacular. It’s that he is far from that now and it has been an entire season with limited growth suggesting the optimism for him developing significantly that most had going into the season SHOULD be downgraded (I thought he was a 50/50 shot to be a more skilled offensive version of Tyson Chandler, but he hasn’t shown the ability to play fundamentally sound and understand his strengths and weaknesses yet. Tyson figured that out in NOH, but unfortunately was injured and has played great the past 3 seasons. HE HAS NOT EARNED more than 15-20 minutes a game against top 10 teams in the leauge.

                Lawson is rated exactly where he should be (as last night suggests) He is a top tenish PG. Not top 5 when his competitors are fairly healthy. As Tom noted there are 4-6 guys you can’t even make a contention with (I disagree with Conley and Lillard is early to make a decision, but currently ty is better). As was said he hit an extreme hot streak hitting the 3 as a regression (progression) to the mean on his horrible shooting of the 3 for the first 6 weeks of the season. He is an average defender. He is a top 7-12 point guard.

                Goog: As I have said numerous times with you. You are unrealistically pessimistic with Karl and unrealistically idealistic with the current value with many of the teams players. You get guys like mcgee to develop their in game fundamentals by teaching them during practice and by making minutes IN GAMES contingent on using those skills. Mcgee does not consistently use those skills. When the game is chaos he is very valuable, but most top tier teams don’t allow for that type of chaos for prolonged periods of time (at least their starters). Don’t think just because you state the possibility that he will become great others don’t see that too. You just are being unrealistic about where he is at right now.

            • Fraser

              JaVale IS A FREAK athlete man, you can’t dispute that. Has there EVER been a player with his unique skill set??

              He’s 7 feet tall, 7’6.5″ wingspan, got a 32″ vertical and according to Steve Hess, weighs in at 260 with 5% body fat!

              if you can find another athlete like that on the face of the earth I would be surprised

              JaVale IF he reaches his potential will be fantastic! Let him grow!

              • http://soundcloud.com/maculate Maculate

                2nd in dunks this season to Blake Griffin as well with significantly less minutes. McGee is da truth! Let him continue to mature and develop.

        • emie

          Yes, by far the worst contract on the team.

          My biggest disappointment with JaVale is that he doesn’t really seem to have learned much since last year. Okay, maybe he’s positioning himself slightly better defensively than he did, but for the money he’s paid? He’s awful. Blocks where the ball doesn’t wind up with the Nugs and occasional alley-oops just aren’t worth the money.

          And Moz wasn’t traded at the deadline despite interest from other teams. It makes me wonder whether Masai is thinking along the same lines I am.

  • buffalo soldier

    As a 3 seed we will play Lakers first round. Epic for first round.

  • buffalo soldier

    As a 3 seed we will play Lakers first round.

    They beat Indy on the road tonightr without an effective Kobe.

    Epic for first round.

  • Zorba

    Joel, are you kidding me on kk’s grade? You would be more credible if you said he doesn’t deserve A+ because of his nose…

    • Andrew K

      He does have a point. As much as I would love to buy dinner for Koufus for such a big night offensively, his defensive tactics were not A+ quality.

  • GIANLUCA

    Gallo and Iggy A ….
    Iggy was solid and Gallo cluch-Gallo :)

  • Tom2

    About two weeks ago, I said the Nuggets would lose 5 games the rest of the way. I thought that was slightly optimistic, but definitely reasonable. In that prediction, I expected them to beat Memphis, NYK, and LAC at home, and so far they’ve played up to my expectations. The 5 games I thought they would lose are still on the schedule: @CHI, @OKC, @SA, @MIL, and one other let-down game (SA or HOU at home, perhaps). If they can win two of those games, then I think they have a good shot at the 3rd seed. These next two games are really the true test of how well the Nuggets are playing right now, because we know they’re virtually unbeatable at home, but the road has been a much different story for them this year. If they can win two of those four road games I listed, they’ll be in great shape heading into the playoffs. But if they lose them all, well, that’s to be expected, honestly; winning tough games on the road is tough, no matter the team. Just ask the Grizzlies, whose only two losses in the past 16 games were at @MIA and @DEN, the two teams with the longest current win steaks.

    • googergieger

      We’ll lose against OKC. As bad as the refs were when we played them at home, they’ll be five times as worse in OKC’s home. Refs will make sure OKC win. Unless we play perfect for the entire game and OKC misses everything including a few free throws anyways. Which on a back to back of all things? I’m okay with OKC being a loss, as long as Karl doesn’t allow it to become an embarrassment like last time. Heck wouldn’t mind him just giving his bench and rookies some playing time like Pop.

  • GIANLUCA

    NUGGETS can finish #3 .

    DENVER HAVE 4.0 GB > of INDIANA ( 2° in est )

  • zorba

    As far as we keep playing fast paced basketball, it will be difficult for any other team to beat us. I hope we’ll have the same energy and maybe even more chemistry when it’s time…

    By the way, GK is proving to be right with his philosophy

  • Giovanni

    The most important won of the year..
    Nuff said!!!

  • Anthony

    we win and score 120+ they say that style won’t win playoff games. We win by scoring less then 90 and they say nothing.
    I’m talking about all the journales, reporters and so call experts of every sports show or newpaper. It’s about time these nuggets start getting some repect from the wider NBA community.

    If the LAL, LAC, BOS, CHI, NYK won 11 in a row they would be the talk of the country.

    #whereistherespect

  • https://twitter.com/denbutsu Joel

    For those in disagreement with McGee getting a B, I’ll concede a C probably would have been more accurate. But I still wouldn’t go below that.

    His defense was really not as bad as some of you are making it out to be. Certainly no worse than the bar being set by the teammates he was playing alongside with. And he was part of the unit that put the brakes on the Grizzlies’ big run in the latter part of the third qurter (http://goo.gl/Fk4LT).

    On offense he was 2/4. Yeah, he had a couple of out-of-control plays, but he had a couple good ones too. And the larger point is that he really didn’t get enough touches to impact the game much either way.

    As for the rebounding, he had 2 offensive and 1 defensive in 12 minutes, which is actually better than Faried’s 3 offensive and 1 defensive in 19 minutes. Translate those numbers to per 36 minutes and that’s 9 per 36 for JaVale and 7.6 per 36 for Kenneth. Now obviously Faried made a big impact in the fourth quarter, which is probably why nobody is complaining about his lack of rebounding. But let’s not pretend that Memphis dominating the offensive boards was all on McGee, especially when he only played one fourth of the game.

    And let’s not pretend that McGee had much to do with the biggest problem for the Nuggets in the game, which was allowing Memphis to go on a 23-4 run from the end of the 2nd Q to late in the 3rd. He was only in on one minute of that, and FWIW, Iguodala and Koufos were in for most of it.

    And I don’t see anybody complaining asking them, or Faried due to his rebounding, to be downgraded.

    Like I said, I’m happy to downgrade JaVale to a C in this case. I won’t always hit the mark exactly right the first time, and in many cases there would be a lot of disagreement about what that mark is anyhow. But I think there is some overreaction to McGee’s grade, and some glossing over of the flaws in some other players’ games going on here. And my guess is that’s partly due to the fact that even when JaVale is merely mediocre, he does mediocrity with a dramatic flair that makes people take notice.

    • googergieger

      It’s the Shaq thing honestly. Same reason Karl is that way with him. That is literally it.

  • Greco_21

    Loved the ΟΠΑΑΑΑΑΑΑΑ – OPAAAAAA by the Altitude commentators.

    18/16 was great and was greatly celebrated in Greece.

    Not many comments by my side for tonight’s game. I will go Gianluca mode and Harlem Shake for KK performance!!!

    P.S. Googergieger… McGee was great. Some patience in the post will get him the next level

  • espresso

    Kosta Koufos !!!
    KK –> PF McGee –> C
    (for 5-10 minutes)
    They both deserve to get more time.

  • Markos

    KK was the best man on the court!!

  • Amel

    The grades are absolutely ridiculous. Gallo and Faried got the same grade? Are you kidding me? Faried got abused all night on defense, if anything he deserves a D+, just because he had 2 or 3 nice plays in the fourth quarter that lifted the team morale, but aside from that he was useless. Same with McGee. He had one good play that, however, resulted in a TO in the end. Should’ve received a D-.

    “I can’t in good faith give him an A+ simply due to giving up far too many offensive rebounds” – I can’t help but laugh at this. Did you even watch the game? Randolph was throwing elbows everywhere, but none was called. Koufos was simply the best Nugget all night long; if it wasn’t for his rebounding, defense and hard offensive work we’d have lost this game before the second half started. He friggin deserved that A+, more so when you give McGee a B, what a joke.

    On another side, what the hell were the refs thinking?! Gasol, Randolph and Allen should have fouled out after 3 quarters already but the refs did nothing, absolutely nothing. Instead we got called fouls on us that were overlooked on the other end. I mean, yeah you get some extra calls when you have a reputation for being a hard defensive team but Memphis got them every single time a Grizz was challenged for the shot. That’s no fun anymore.

  • Greco_21

    Faried changed the momentum of the game on a really critical moment although he had troubles up to that point.

    For that he deserved the B

  • googergieger

    Mike:

    Again. And I do mean effin again. When McGee plays fundamentally sound basketball. Like he did for ten straight games. He still doesn’t’ get the minutes. When he plays bad, yanked immediately. Sometimes when he doesn’t like last night, and honestly he wasn’t playing bad. Those around him were. When he plays good he still doesn’t get the minutes to show for it. So what is Karl plan with the kid?

    How many games in a row does Lawson have to have where he plays fantastic for him to get even the teeniest amount of credit from you folks? Last year post all star break he was doing the same. All while not even getting half the calls manufactured star players get.

    If you don’t like the team, I have no idea why even bother following them.

    • LBJ

      One reason that McGee doesn’t get more minutes is his lack of conditioning. He is usually gasping for air after an 8 minute stretch.

      I actually like the trade that brought him here (and would do it again, if I were Ujiri). I also agree with re-signing him – but I will also admit he is the most overpaid Nugget.

      He needs to get his head of his butt and come ready to play every night. No more rushing stupid inbounds passes or outlet passes and learn how to freaking box out.

      Finally, McGee is not a kid – he is older than Koufus. He needs to become more than a novelty and start producing every night.

  • http://yahoo.com prospector

    I hope the 3qtr shows all of you why small ball sucks… We got pucked against a team playing playoff basketball. Despite faried’s troubles in the game is the FACT that he plays hard.. He will make key blocks or steals and will find a way to make an impact… Also when teams are boxing him out it allows KK to get all the rebounds and junk points.. Which is why FARIED/KK/McGEE need more minutes.. They should get like 80 minutes combined, and they got 62 against a smash mouth team.. That is stupid… It is also games like this that shows why WILSON needs Small forward MINUTES…. His stats were terrible, but I can’t get mad at him when a SF-SG is guarding Randolph and GASOL (which by the way is stupid)… Also 6-8 2nd year player FARIED guarding GASOL.. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT? Faried is not a center… OK???? This was a game to use MOZZY, MCGEE, and KK to beat GASOL up and use their combined fouls…. FARIED and RANDOPLH should have been banging on Randolph.. And Jham should have received some minutes in the 3rd for scoring and spacing.. Let me explain for the slow, when MILLER is on the court that is one cat that you can leave alone at the arc.. Plus he is slow, so as a defender you can play the paint.. Which in turn hurts our rebounding when we are playing small… Jham brings a 3 point threat.. Spacing opens up.. GET IT?
    The fact we won was a testment to our guys playing hard and at home.. On the road we would have gotten punked in a game like this… Which is why KARL loses playoff series… Also if you don’t want TY to disappear let him be THE MAN… Get MILLER off the floor when TY is out there…. OK… To Sum it up… USE BIGS more… PLAY CHANDLER AT SF-SG in games like these… USE YOUR DEPTH….. Limit the 2 pg crap… Memphis can not score on the road, but they play hard.. If we play Memphis is the playoffs we need home court advantage.. I love our boys.. I just wish KARL would play big more.. We won and KARL finally made some defensive substitutions late in the game.. I would have like FARIED on the floor with KK in those situtations, but as we all know Big for KARL is having a center on the floor… KARL BIG LINEUP= CENTER, SF, SF,SG,SG.. Which by the way is stupid….

    • LBJ

      Apparently, you didn’t notice that we won the game last night – and the season series.

      More time for JHam – what the hell for? If you think Jham will be better than Miller in the playoffs you are crazy.

      Playing Chandler at the 4 does open the floor – which is the reason Karl does it.

      McGee beating up anyone is a stretch – let alone Gasol and Randolph.

      • http://yahoo.com prospector

        Having Chandler a sf-sg playing PF for SPACING in game where boards are precious is stupid.. How did Chandler do in this game? I want my bigs banging inside getting some rebounds…. We almost lost the game due to the 3rd when Chandler was playing PF…. The whole so what “we won” crap is not what I am talking about.. I am talking about the playoffs.. The same playoffs that KARL gets punked at year after year… Those playoffs… And in playoff basketball, you have to play big.. Which is why KARL ALWAYS gets punked….. Why the hell do we have MOZZY and Randolph on our team? We should save the money at keep scrubs on the pine…
        I see more potential in our team than most…Instead of playing small, we could have a line-up sometimes of KK, FARIED, GALLO, CHANDLER, and STONE.. Let’s try that for 8 minutes… Hell let IGGY run the point…. THAT’s creative….. But rolling out KARL’s small ball lineup works at home at altitude, but on the road the other teams will win…. We need to develop our playoff basketball lineups now….. And MILLER??? Come on, how many open threes does that cat give up?? How many turnovers??? He is KARL’s crutch, and he is holding back TY’s development…. But keep listening to the media and KARL…
        SCOTT HASTINGS 101: He mainly calls out the young players for mistakes.. However when he says, Denver is lacking energy that means MILLER is failing to cover the threes… Denver is not switching fast enough: MILLER is cheating inside the paint…. HASTINGS always says DENVER when a VET is messing up… No wonder KARL loves him…

        • LBJ

          You are freaking clueless. First, you bitch about Karl not spreading the floor – and them you call for a lineup with Stone (wtf?), KK, and Faried.Our bigs are not the strength of the team – why should we focus on them instead of our athletes. We have won 11 in a row, if you don’t like it go find a team with a bunch of big oafs that play thug ball – Memphis would be a good candidate!

  • Trip

    2 great games for KK this week is huge. I hope he is starting to come out of his shell. He needs to prove that these 2 games were not a fluke but something he can and will start doing on a more regular basis. ( I know he cant have a career night every game, but strong performances scoring, rebounding and playing decent defense should be a common thing for him. I am still not fully in his corner but am excited that he is proving me wrong.

    It sucks that the 11 game win streak has to come during the heats even longer streak. 11 games is pretty impressive, but all the media talks about is Miamis 21 game streak.

  • Henry

    It’s time to say it: The Rapid Reaction feature with its grading system doesn’t do much work. I hope you folks will go back to writing an honest game recap that gives your informed assessments of the contest and how it was won or lost. A team sport tilt tells a story, or rather it provides fodder for many different stories, and that’s what most sports fans want: your version of the story.

    Also, the game recap format doesn’t prevent you from grading how each player and the coach performed. If you deem that to be indispensable, by all means stay with it. But it doesn’t do much work isolated from the larger story of the game and its dynamics.

  • googergieger

    “Will all due respect, your stuff is repetitive. When we win you begin your comments with something like ‘I was going to go on a rant about Karl but we won so guess I won’t.’ When we lose you rant on Karl.”

    Well that is how it would work.

    “When we win, you say you’ll get everyone pizza’s. When we lose you don’t get anyone pizza’s.”

    Logic, ftw.

    “We all get you think Karl is the problem and that if we just played McGee more minutes or almost any player more minutes we’d be winning 45 games at this point. Oh wait, we’re winning 45 games at this point”

    Talk about an actual straw man. Anywhoots, I’m defending McGee in this thread. That is what this is about. We won, so I won’t argue Karl’s rotation during an eleven game win streak. But people are shitting on McGee for twelve minutes of play, despite the fact that he did more good than bad in said minutes, and offensive rebounds and the like were gotten when he was on the bench.

    So either come at me with actual arguments or replies to what I said, or expect to get your straw mans shot down and challenged to argue what I actually said.

    • theo

      I’ve been giving stats and numbers since I got in the mix. When McGee plays big minutes we’re usually a bad team. When Karl plays the lineups he usually plays we win. Not that complicated. Numbers and facts with a large sample size late in the season. Some real reasons to criticize Karl but you don’t raise many of them.

      You take up a lot of space here. Again, break it down for us with numbers. Love the passion. More interested in actual arguments. We get that you think Karl is the problem, we have the talent to contend, if McGee played 30 minutes a game we’d be contenders or at least in position to become contenders at some point in the future, etc, etc. I don’t agree. I back up my stuff with numbers. Go for it. Make your case with numbers. I look forward to it.

      • googergieger

        Yes your numbers were already challenged on the fact that the sample size was too small, and again I’m not arguing for more minutes for McGee. Why are you purposely trying to have an argument I’ve never raised before? Once again.

        Again.

        McGee played twelve minutes. People are getting on the fact he got a B. Saying he was abused by Memphis while he was on the court because they got offensive boards and the like. Well they got that when he was on the bench. In twelve minutes out there he did do more good than bad. That is all I am saying.

        In general?

        When the kid plays good he should see the minutes for it. When he plays bad, he along with anyone else that plays bad should sit and someone else should be sent out. The point of depth and all.

        But yeah, won’t play the loaded question game with you. You see, I’m not an idiot. Know how the internet and debates in general work and all. Might try your luck on BR or I don’t know, ESPN? Twitter even.

  • Cephus

    An embarrassment of riches: I personally am so loving this streak- I agree with GG that Javale needs minutes to develop as his long term upside is better then KK’s. Yet I totally respect the quandry of vying for best possible seeding position by playing whoever gets the job done here & now.

    Javale is under long term contract that given his team attitude & potential would be easy to deal if need be. I love watching him but you never know. Koufos is on a roll- his upside is considerably more murky. Let’s respect the hot hand & gauge whether he can improve over his lackluster showing when Bynum killed us.

    With Iggy and Brewer’s contracts in question , it’s
    best to know who as ‘ a center piece’ ( or quite possibly both ) fits best in next year’s puzzle. Meanwhile I’m loving the W’s amidst the drama.