The Nuggets defeated a bad, tanking Trailblazer team to win their franchise record 55th game this season. The Nuggets were up 18 in the second half and let the game get closer in the fourth quarter but were able to put the game away thanks to a dominant effort from Andre Iguodala and a great game from Evan Fournier. On a down note Denver lost Kenneth Faired with an ankle injury which right now is being reported as a sprain. Faried is listed as day-to-day at this point.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1
Faried got hurt very early in the game on a drive to the basket. The Nuggets announced the injury as a sprained ankle and that Faried was day-to-day.
|Kosta Koufos, C 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +9
Koufos finished his chances inside but also had a bit of trouble with J.J. Hickson on the offensive glass. He also struggled to protect the rim as much of the night the Blazers were able to get pretty good looks inside. With the loss of Faried the Nuggets need Koufos to get back to where he was earlier in the year, super solid, as opposed to the recent stretch of a bit below average play.
|Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +22
In his first extended minutes since the injury Lawson played great. He created offense for himself and others and most importantly was able to handle the minutes and not lose any of his speed. After weeks off it was a nice game from Lawson and should give the Nuggets some confidence in the coming weeks.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 11-17 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 28 PTS | +23
One of the silver linings in the Danilo Gallinari injury may end up being that it unleashed Iguodala. He absolutely dominated Portland on both ends of the floor. Every time Iguodala stepped on the floor the Blazers runs seemed to end, typically at the hands of a play Iggy made. He made threes, foul shots and passed the ball exquisitely; he had many passes that led to foul shots for teammates and other passes that would be perfect examples of hockey assists. It was just fun to watch Iguodala do his thing.
|Evan Fournier, SG 36 MIN | 8-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | +8
In almost any other game Fournier would have been the star of the Nuggets but today he was overshadowed a bit by his veteran teammate. The only real flaw that I saw was a few of Fournier’s turnovers were plays where he just got into the air without a plan and was forced to try and squeeze a pass into too tight of a space. On the bright side he got to the rim great, finished when he got there, knocked down his free throws, was feisty on defense, and passed the ball better than his four assists show. The two big threes that he hit at the end to put the game completely away were the perfect exclamation points to his big day.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 20 MIN | 6-9 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +8
The offensive numbers were great but everything in Randolph’s past makes me take them with a huge grain of salt. He has consistently throughout his career had game like this against bad teams and defensively today he was for the most part a mess. He was out of position a lot of times and it led to breakdowns in rotations as simple passing lanes were opened up by Randolph not being where he should have. I would worry if the Nuggets need to get big minutes from him against better more disciplined teams come playoff time.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -8
Brewer did a little bit of everything well but nothing really great. What was nice was his ball movement which in the last few games had slowed down a bit as he became a bit of a chucker. Today he seemed much more under control offensively and rebounded the ball well.
|JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +3
On the bright side JaVale was great finishing offensively including one of the sky hooks that he loves to take. He also did the best job of any Nugget big protecting the rim. On the bad side McGee didn’t do a good enough job on the glass and got so tired late in the fourth quarter that he had to come out. With Faried being injured JaVale will be looked to for more minutes, and in those minutes he will have to rebound better than he did today.
|Andre Miller, PG 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -18
Miller didn’t have an impact on the game offensively at all and as we know with Miller if that is the case he doesn’t impact the game in a good way at all. The fact that Fournier played so well allowed Karl to close without Miller on the floor which is a bad sign for Miller but probably a good one for the Nuggets.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 33 MIN | 3-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -3
Chandler was too jump shot happy in this game despite being matched up with fours for most of his time on the floor. He needs to get back to what he was doing when paired with Gallo and attack the basket and finish at the rim before taking threes. Defensively he was ok but he typically struggled rebounding against Hickson which without Faried was very much needed.
Karl went away from Miller late in the game, a decision that people have been clamoring for all year. He managed to get by without Faried who was injured early in the game and let Iguodala run the offense for stretches even with Lawson on the floor. The way he is adapting his team with Gallinari is fun to watch. My only complaint would be that I think he waited a bit too long to go to McGee in the second half as his team struggled to protect the rim and it came back to hurt him as McGee was not able to finish the game because he was too tired and did not have time to rest before the final three minutes.
Three Things We Saw
- Injuries. Again: Unfortunately the injury bug doesn’t quite seem done with the Nuggets yet. Faried’s injury will really test Karl and the Nuggets bigs. I am on record as saying I do not trust in Randolph to all of a sudden play well against good teams and for heavy minutes after he has yet to his entire career, so the burden will fall to Chandler, McGee and Koufos to pick up the slack. On the bright side Lawson looked good in heavy minutes, so now the Nuggets just have to wait to see how he feels tomorrow.
- The guard rotation: Fournier is making it almost impossible for Karl to not play him come the playoffs and harder and harder to justify Miller playing more minutes than him as well. I loved the passing and spacing of the Lawson, Iguodala, Fournier lineups and think it could be a great way to replace the spacing that was lost when Gallo went down.
- Iguodala’s minutes: There probably is not a player more important right now or maybe all season, to the Nuggets plans of success than Iguodala. The way he has played recently offensively is exactly what the Nuggets expected when they traded for him. Passing, slashing it has all been there since Gallo went down. While that is encouraging what is worrisome is the minutes he has played since that point. Including today and the game Gallinari was injured Iggy has played 41,37,43,43 and 37 minutes. Those numbers need to come down to give Iggy a bit of rest before the playoffs to allow him to be the best he can come that time.
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