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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The Least Significant Retirement Announcement You Will Ever Read

I love the Denver Nuggets.  I have blogged about them for almost six years.  I took to the internet in the spring of 2007 to complain about Allen Iverson’s shot selection in the 2007 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.  Born a Nuggets Fan was, well, born.  When I started blogging I never imagined anyone would ever find my work, let alone take the time to read it.  Regardless, I spent hours watching and re-watching the games every night.  Charting the number of passes the team made before every shot like Norman Dale or recounting a step by step defensive breakdown.  I agonized over mistakes as if by documenting them, I could prevent them from happening again.


Staking A Claim: George Karl

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.

In the Nuggets fan community there are a few questions that have groups of fans divided on the answer.

Who deserves more minutes, JaVale Mcgee or Kosta Koufos? Is Andre Miller worth it? And who has the highest ceiling Gallo or Ty seem to be some of the most common.

But no debate brings out more opinions, or more intense debate, than if George Karl is the right coach for the Nuggets.


Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 117 vs Knicks 94

The Nuggets spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver with a blowout win.  ‘Melo left the game with a sore knee and spent some time in the locker room, inspiring chants of “where is Melo” from the crowd.

New York Knicks 94 Final

Recap | Box Score

117 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +17

Gallinari looked really good when he went to the rim or got to the line, and really awful shooting jumpers. He played great defense on Carmelo Anthony for part of the first quarter, and later forced two turnovers by drawing offensive fouls away from the ball.

Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +28

Faried started out the game taking several jump shots. He eventually settled down and started taking shots closer to the rim, but missed several tip tries. He outhustled the Knicks for several offensive rebounds, particularly after Tyson Chandler left the game.

Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13

It seems like every game I grade, I end up writing something like “Koufos was quietly effective”. He continues to play fundamental basketball with good positioning, and make the most of his opportunities.

Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +11

Ty was aggressive getting into the paint all night, but had a bit of trouble finishing over Tyson Chandler. His shot was falling from the outside and his passing was crisp. He would likely have finished with a double double if Gallinari’s shot had been falling.

Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +32

Igoudala has emerged as a solid secondary playmaker for the Nuggets, setting up a ton of easy scores. Tonight he tried to do a little too much and forced several passes into traffic. He was hitting his own shots from everywhere except the free throw line. He had a few spectacular defensive sequences in the second half.

Anthony Randolph, PF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1


Jordan Hamilton, SF 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5

On one late sequence, Hamilton missed a jumper that led to a Knicks fast break off the long rebound, and then got downcourt in time to swat James White’s layup attempt into the stands. His shot wasn’t falling, but he was making good contributions in other parts of the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6

Brewer usually provides the Nuggets with great energy, but tonight the starters had all the energy they needed, and he seemed a step slow by comparison. He did a little bit of everything, but nothing particularly well.

Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Mozgov was involved in two highlights tonight: a nice two handed dunk, and a Prigioni pass between his legs that led to a Knicks layup.

JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5

In a game where the Nuggets were completely dominant in the paint, and the Knicks’ only center left with an injury, the athletic seven footer decided to take a 16 foot jumper that missed everything. He also had one nice block and a layup from freakishly far away from the basket. It was a very inconsistent game overall.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13

Andre Miller surprised me by playing fantastic defense for most of his first half minutes. He was also on target with his passing.

Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -2

Fournier looks completely lost on the defensive end of the court, and too often gets caught needing to foul. He stepped up offensively when tacos seemed to be in doubt, setting up Chandler for a three point play and scoring five of his own to push the Nuggets over the 110 point mark.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 9-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +10

Wilson Chandler spent most of the night taking advantage of the Knicks’ lack of shot blocking. On two occasions he grabbed a rebound, dribbled fullcourt, and got a lightly contested layup.

George Karl

The Nuggets came out ready to play, and they didn’t let up until the game was out of reach. His small lineups worked well against the Knicks’ small lineups.

Two Things We Saw

  1. That was anticlimactic: In Carmelo’s first game in Denver since the trade, the game was over before halftime, and he left for good less than three minutes into the second half.
  2. That was oddly familiar: Four former Nuggets played at least 20 minutes for the Knicks, and many of the Nuggets’ old habits were on display, both good and bad. There were times the Knicks seemed content to settle for long jumpers off of little ball movement, and times when J.R. Smith looked completely unguardable. This game definitely highlighted the change between the Carmelo era and the new Nuggets team era.

New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets Game Thread

Unfortunately some things have come up and it looks like they will prevent any members of the RMC staff from being able to catch the game in full tonight and provide a recap. Please leave any thoughts you have before, during and after the game. Also I will be Tweeting for the first quarter or so, so please follow me on Twitter for that. Thank you and enjoy the game.

On Melo’s return… and what could have been

It’s been over two years since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks. To this point he’s still yet to step foot inside Pepsi Center without being a member of the Denver Nuggets. Tonight, this will change. Tonight, Melo will become will endure a long-awaited basketball baptism and become free once and for all.


Andre Iguodala undecided on contract options

Andre Iguodala faces a big decision this summer which will have massive implications for the Denver Nuggets.

He can choose to complete the final year of his contract next season at the hefty salary of $16.2 million. Alternately, he can exercise his early termination option (ETO), becoming an unrestricted free agent and either working out a longer-term deal with the Nuggets or signing elsewhere. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108, Phoenix Suns 93

Denver Nuggets 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

93 Phoenix Suns
Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +10

As Joel tweeted during the game, Gallo’s scoring average has decreased from 19 points per game in January, to 16 in February and now 13.6 in March. He’s been injured, but you have to wonder just how much that is affecting his play. If he’s in more pain than he’s leading us to believe, it’s probably best he sits a few more games so that he’s ready to play when the playoffs arrive.

Kenneth Faried, SF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +3

Faried was frenetic in every sense of the word. He had a nice, solid game but was almost too wild for his own good at times, letting routine rebounds slip through his hands more than once. Nevertheless, he made up for it with his hustle which is always admirable.

Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 10-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +10

Koufos’ best game as a Nugget? You tell me. I’ve said forever that as long as he puts himself in the proper position on the floor to make a play, things will fall into place. That’s exactly what he did tonight. He was constantly moving into open space and cutting towards the basket at the right time for a tip-back or alley-oop. He also did a great job on the boards and made excellent, calculated decisions all night. This was a new career high in points scored for Koufos, beating his old career high by one.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +17

This is how far Lawson has come: He didn’t score a point in the first half yet finished one shy of 20 on the night. He’s getting to the point where he knows when and where to really turn it on — and for his competition, that’s a scary thing. It’s worth noting that his last three points came from a desperation heave just inside half court as time was expiring in the waning seconds of the game.

Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11

Nights like these tend to subdue Iguodala’s main strengths. He didn’t have a premier counterpart to try and shut down and wasn’t hitting his shots, therefore he tended to blend in. Still, he finished with a respectable stat line considering just how easy the Nuggets coasted to the win in the second half.

Corey Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 7-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +7

Twenty points in 26 minutes from a bench player is nothing to scoff at. Brewer can be wildly inconsistent but continues to score well into double digits on a regular basis. Against the Suns he spent most of his time out on the break and cutting to the basket, which are by far his biggest strengths, offensively speaking.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +1

His stats do not tell the story; not in any way. McGee was unbelievably bad tonight. For those who claim I’m a McGee hater, please, spare me. I love this kid. Just like J.R. Smith, I think it’s ridiculous Karl plays games with his head. You should either have faith in a guy and let him do his thing or not play him at all if he’s really that bad. McGee deserves more minutes and freedom but on nights like these I can at least understand where Karl is coming from. McGee was doing almost nothing to help his team. He was constantly out of position, late on his rotations (sometimes not even rotating at all), falling for every pump fake that came his way and even fouling away from the ball on multiple occasions. He had a monster dunk — WHEN DOES HE NOT?!? The fact is: McGee needs to take his destiny into his own hands and start playing smarter, more fundamental basketball. Karl deserves blame for not helping him with this, but McGee is still a grown ass man. It’s time to put Shaqtin’ a Fool in his rear view mirror.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +12

Miller was pretty inconsistent. He had a few nice dimes and drives to the rack but also had a couple of boneheaded turnovers. He also played spotty defense for most of the night. On one possession he didn’t even try to close out. He just stood there. Staring at his man. With his hands by his side.

Wilson Chandler, SG 27 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +4

Chandler didn’t have a potent night offensively but was still efficient, which is what matters most. The best part of his performance was that instead of hoisting up bad shots he made himself useful by hitting the glass and playing solid defense. That’s really all you can ask from anybody who’s not feeling it on a given night in the NBA.

George Karl

The Nuggets played sloppy, unorganized, unprepared basketball in the first half but clearly refocused at halftime and came out with a vengeance. Karl deserves credit for this. In the end, his team won by 15 on the road against a team who’s had some quality wins as of late. That’s about as good as it gets.

Film Room: JaVale McGee’s improving defense

During his days on the Washington Wizards, JaVale McGee became tragi-comically famous among NBA fans, known much better for his gaffe-packed blooper reels on YouTube than for the actual quality of basketball player he was. With frequent assists from Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segment on TNT, and the spread of the “That’s so JaVale!” meme, McGee’s many bizarre, head scratching blunders went viral, and the “knucklehead” label stuck so hard that he’s still trying to shake it off.

But he is in fact making progress, and many around the league – including Shaq – are starting to take notice that there’s more to JaVale than just being the NBA’s court jester.

Which is not to say he’s all the way there yet. He continues to be (more…)

Pickaxe Pulse for March 10, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

Current record: 42-22

Last week: 4-0 (3-0 home, 1-0 road)

Current playoff seed: #5, 1.5 games behind #4 Memphis, 2 games behind #3 LA Clippers, and 7 games ahead of #6 Golden State

The Nuggets picked up a potentially important playoff tiebreaker by defeating the Clippers to take the season series 2-1.  The team has won 8 in a row overall, and 13 straight home games.  Danilo Gallinari appears fully recovered, averaging 18 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists over his last 3 games.  Ty Lawson, named Western Conference player of the week at the start of last week, averaged 24 points and 7 assists in this week’s games.  Corey Brewer continues to struggle on three point shots, making only one of eight attempts over the same timespan.

This week’s games: Monday at Phoenix, Wednesday vs Knicks, Friday vs Memphis

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111, Minnesota Timberwolves 88

Minnesota Timberwolves 88 Final

Recap | Box Score

111 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 28 MIN | 2-7 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +22

Gallo didn’t get a lot of touches tonight, but he did something positive almost every time he touched the ball. He was solid on defense and especially on the defensive glass. After one particularly strong rebound he threw a great full-court pass to a leaking Brewer that started the 16-2 run to put the game away. He found several other teammates in easy position to score, as evidenced by his team high six assists. The only negative was his inability to finish in the paint.

Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13

Faried’s rebounding was great most of this game, but two runouts from near the free throw line allowed the Wolves to pick up long offensive rebounds in that area. His lone assist came on another great full-court pass to a leaking Brewer. His defense contributed both to Derrick Williams’ bad shooting night and Mickael Geleable’s good shooting night.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +14

Yet another solid but unspectacular night for the Nuggets’ starting center. He made a couple of small mistakes like failing to adequately contest one Rubio layup and committing offensive basket interference. He also made a number of good under-the-radar plays, like setting a great screen to give Ty Lawson a wide open look at a three pointer.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 12-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 32 PTS | +21

Ty’s jumper was on the money tonight. He was also able to get by defenders and into the paint pretty regularly. When he looked to score, he was nearly unstoppable, dropping in twelve points in a four and a half minute stretch of the fourth quarter. The only reason he doesn’t score an A+ for tonight’s game is his four turnovers, including an offensive foul for a kickout (on a three pointer he made).

Andre Iguodala, SG 32 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +10

Iguodala’s strength is his ability to keep the other team off the scoreboard, and he did so in a variety of ways tonight. He had one spectacular JaVale-type block and stripped a Wolves player after an offensive rebound as two of his combined seven blocks plus steals. He also had a highlight-reel dunk and took a lot of contact (with no call) on what should have been another.

Anthony Randolph, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

With his only offensive opportunity, Randolph chose to look for his own shot, and missed. He balanced it out by making a good defensive effort and coming up with a blocked shot.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 4 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0

Hamilton had a clean look from three that he buried, and hit another long jumper. He tried to force the action a bit when he went to the rim against multiple defenders.

Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +15

I cringed when Andre attempted his only three pointer of the night. But I cheered three times as much when he was finding JaVale McGee above the rim, or throwing a great long-distance pass to a leaking Corey Brewer for an easy dunk. His “wily old man” game was on full display twice late in the game, when he got multiple defenders turned around with crossover moves on successive plays.

Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +8

There was a little bit of bad Corey Brewer tonight: a pair of long, contested two shots with plenty of time on the clock, missed threes, a missed free throw, a bad bailout foul, and a defensive possession where he simply stepped aside and let his man drive unimpeded to the rim. But there was much more good Corey Brewer: energetic, chaos-bringing, beating the defense upcourt and catching all those long passes mentioned elsewhere in these grades.

Timofey Mozgov, C 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1

Coming in early to replace an ineffective JaVale McGee, Mozgov put on an equally terrible performance. He made one positive play, blocking a shot by Gelebale, and then committed a lazy foul and fumbled the ball into Barea’s hands. He did nothing else of note when he returned late in the game.

JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -8

In the first half, JaVale earned a D- with play so bad that Timofey Mozgov got some early playing time. In the second half, he earned a B+ for a much better, but still uneven, performance. His steal on Rubio that he took the other way for a dunk was incredible, but his attempted behind the back pass into three defenders was the other kind of incredible.

Evan Fournier, SG 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1

In his few minutes on the court, Fourner twice got the best of J.J. Barea, forcing a missed layup and drawing a foul.

Wilson Chandler, SG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +17

This was a frustrating outing for Wilson Chandler. He got whistled for seemingly every kind of foul possible, often within seconds of checking into the game. He played tentatively on defense and never seemed to find a rhythm on offense.

George Karl

I was really pleased with Karl’s quick benching of McGee, and then Mozgov, after both came out looking awful in the first quarter. He also seemed to make the right adjustments coming out of halftime. His well-earned technical foul late in the third quarter seemed to bring the team to life, and they closed the door on the Wolves’ mini-rally shortly thereafter.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Home Sweet Home: the Nuggets are again tied with the Miami Heat for the best home record in the league at 28-3. The Nuggets are within 1.5 games of Memphis, and would earn homecourt in the first round of the playoffs by passing them.

A brief observation on own vs. opponent turnovers

The Denver Nuggets rolled to a big win last night against the Los Angeles Clippers (see Charlie’s Rapid Reaction grades here). In that game, both teams did a great job of keeping control of the ball, each limiting their total turnovers to 11 apiece.

It’s well known among Nuggets fans that turning over the ball too much has been one of Denver’s primary weaknesses this season. In January, Matt provided some great in-depth analysis on the turnover problem, and if you haven’t read his breakdown, I’d highly recommend you check it out.

Regarding the Clippers game in particular, in looking over the box score afterwards I was struck by the even, equally low turnover numbers for both teams. What jumped out at first, given the pervasive and often discussed narrative that the Nuggets turn the ball over too much, was that Denver did a nice job of hanging onto the rock.

But the fact that the Nuggets were able to beat the Clippers so handily despite L.A. also having a low turnover count got me to wondering: Which is more harmful to the Nuggets, turning the ball over too often or failing to force opponent turnovers? Or conversely, which helps them more, keeping control of their own possessions or taking possessions away from the other team?

The answer turns out to be somewhat surprising. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 107 Los Angeles Clippers 92

Los Angeles Clippers 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +13

More important than the numbers was the fact Gallo looked completely rehabilitated from his nagging injuries. Six assists is a good sign Gallo is figuring out how to make the most of his dynamic perimeter game. He scored from all over and once again looked spry doing it, busting out some of his most athletic plays of the season.

Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +20

The story hasn’t changed with Faried. He can get better defensively but it doesn’t really matter when he pumps out a nonchalant double-double with four blocks to boot. The Clippers were physical with Kenneth and it didn’t faze him. Faried’s energy was on another level and he looked like he could have kept going all night.

Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11

Not a great game out of Koufos. His first-half defense left a lot to be desired but he managed to finish strong with a great second half. Koufos continues to be a dependable guy but his production was lacking relative to his minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +23

What else is there to say? That was a masterful performance and a prime example of what makes Lawson’s signature game so good. Ty showed he can be an efficient distributor and manage his scoring with the flow of the game. He’s been a lot better at recognizing when he needs to stretch his game out and hit a tough shot. He directed with Chris Paul-like precision and it’s safe to say outplayed his All-Star counterpart.

Andre Iguodala, SG 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +15

He did a great job moving the ball and not forcing shots. Iguodala is guaranteed to provide outstanding defense and playmaking every minute he’s on the floor, but his scoring has probably been the most inconsistent it’s ever been. His flaws as a scorer are evident as his natural tendency is to shoot too many jumpers, but he’s managed it so well in Denver and focused on playmaking instead. It’s just one example of the way he consistently leads the Nuggets on both ends of the floor.

Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -2

A pretty standard Brewer game with a lot of leakouts, gambling for steals and an airball or two thrown in for good measure. Brew scored and ran hard off the bench as usual but he didn’t have a particularly good night.

JaVale McGee, C 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +4

There were the highlight blocks and then there were the four fouls and alarming number of missed block-outs for a 14 minute performance. I love Pierre but he got pretty well owned on the boards and two rebounds is just hard to comprehend.

Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1

He had his shot going early but really couldn’t get a hold of the pace all night. Miller scored and did what he could off the bench but I have to wonder how much of a role he might have in a playoff matchup against the Clippers, who will use a zone and and challenge Denver to put size and shooting on the floor. Miller was solid but didn’t have much of a role in this one.

Wilson Chandler, SG 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8

He started rough and played some really poor interior defense throughout the first half. As the game wore on the physical play seem to fire up Wil and he exploded with one of his better all-around games of the season. He was key in helping the Nuggets close the first half strong when the game was still well within reach for the Clippers.

George Karl

The Nuggets didn’t seem to have the best energy tonight and credit Karl for motivating them to turn it up in the second half. This was not one of the Nuggets’ finer performances but a solid, efficient game and a business-like win they needed to have. Lawson shined directing the flow on his own so you also have to credit Karl for recognizing it and pulling back on using the Lawson-Miller tandem in the second half.

A PSA from RMC

Fellow readers,

I’d like to take this time to first of all thank all of you who read our site and (for the most part) speckle the comments section of our blog with thoughtful insight and analysis. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your input, as many of you contribute to the overall success of our site just as much as our writers do. We recognize Roundball Mining Company has one of the very best readerships of the entire TrueHoop Network and that without you our writing and level of passion for the Denver Nuggets would not exist.

At the same time, we need everyone to be on the same page in terms of respect. We strongly encourage you to voice your opinion no matter how much you disagree (or agree) with what we have to say, but please do so in an intelligent and humane manner. Ad hominem attacks, name calling and a general sense of disrespect for others is something RMC aims to distance itself from as much as possible. We feel the intelligence of our community is our greatest asset but lately it has been watered down by lazy and unthoughtful statements in a variety of different articles. It’s understandable that from time to time your required to be blunt with your assessment of our writing, but if you chose to critique us with straightforwardness at least attach some humility and respect along with it. That’s all we ask.

Thanks again for your cooperation and continued support of RMC. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Go Nuggets!

— Kalen

Staking A Claim: The Nuggets Recent Success

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 I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.


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