Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112, Milwaukee Bucks 111

In an ugly, frustrating, poorly officiated game, the first of the season without Kenneth Faried’s energy to help keep them afloat, the Nuggets survived their final regular season road outing to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and put themselves one home win away from locking up the third seed.

Denver Nuggets 112 Final

Recap | Box Score

111 Milwaukee Bucks
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-6 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +16Koufos’ stat line is deceptively good in light of the ways he actually struggled through much of this game. He was having a hard time finishing around the basket, and the Bucks frontcourt was absolutely dominating the offensive glass, which led to a ton of second chance points. This was his first game of the season without Faried starting alongside him, and the absence of his energetic counterpart may have put him out of his comfort zone.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 7-13 FG | 11-13 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 26 PTS | +1If Lawson is still feeling any ill effects from his plantar fascia injury, he sure didn’t show it tonight. His high gear was in full effect as he got to the rim at will, shot 11-13 from the free throw line and ultimately made the game-winning mid-range jumper that sealed Denver’s victory. If this is the Lawson the Nuggets will have in the playoffs, that bodes very well for their chances of success.
Wilson Chandler, SG 29 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +16After a lackluster performance last night, Chandler put in a very efficient and productive offensive game tonight which provides further evidence that he may indeed be able to fill much of the vacuum left by Gallinari’s absence. A remaining concern is his tendency to get into quick foul trouble, and it seemed to make him slightly more tentative on defense.
Andre Iguodala, SG 35 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +6Iguodala continued his playmaking ways tonight, matching Lawson’s team-best seven assists, and even running the point at times when Ty was on the floor. I still cringe every time he launches a 3-pointer, but he made two of his four attempts, and he often seems to time his makes just when the Nuggets need them. And not to be overlooked is Jennings’ 1-11 shooting, which Iguodala had no small part in.
Evan Fournier, SG 29 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +6The Frenchman came out guns blazing from the opening buzzer, scoring ten points in the first eight minutes of the game. He wasn’t able to provide much offensively after that, but he was one of the harder working and effective defenders out there, including on Ellis’ late game 4-point play, which Evan wrongfully received a penalty on. As Lawson and Fournier get better acclimated to playing alongside each other, it’s going to be extremely hard for opposing defenses to keep Denver out of the paint when they’re both on the court.
Anthony Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 5 PTS | -9After an error-prone stretch laden with fouls and turnovers late in the third quarter, Randolph had somewhat of a frustration meltdown and, as Kalen pointed out on Twitter, got into a bit of a shouting match with George Karl. With Faried also out for Denver’s final regular season game, keep your eyes on how Karl approaches this situation. His usual modus operandi would be to put a player in the doghouse, but given the injury-thinned roster he’d be left without any genuine power forwards if he benches him.

As for Randolph’s play prior to that unfortunate closing sequence, it was a fairly underwhelming mixed bag. He did have a couple nice layups, but like the other frontcourt players he had little success in keeping Milwaukee off the offensive glass, and really didn’t make that big an impact on the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 0-6 FG | 5-8 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11On a night when Denver really needed the kind of spirited, energetic, dynamic play that Brewer usually brings to the court, he really wasn’t able to provide much of it. And when he doesn’t have that going on to balance off a 0-6 shooting performance, it’s just a bad night for Corey.
JaVale McGee, C 25 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-5 FT | 17 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -13Like Kosta, JaVale’s stat line – especially his 17 rebounds – belies an inability in this game to prevent the Bucks from pulling down a truckload of offensive rebounds, the one thing Milwaukee did consistently all game to keep themselves in it. Also like Koufos (and Brewer), he had his hand in the mistake-addled late third quarter sequence that got the Bucks on track to reclaiming the lead. On the positive side, McGee did put a few nice post moves on display, but the bottom line (and this applies not only to him but the entire roster) is that if the Nuggets can’t find a way to be a better defensive rebounding team that could be a shortcut to an early playoff exit, as they keep giving their opponents every opportunity to come back from big deficits.
Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 2-12 FG | 8-8 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -7Any Nuggets fans who took issue with Matt’s post on Miller’s defense need to rewatch this game and count the number of times he literally stood 3-5 feet away from his defensive assignment, hands down, and watched hip put up an open 3-pointer. (I counted about three). Veteran “wisdom” and “craftiness” does no good when a player doesn’t exert the effort to actually utilize it. But maybe I’m being too hard on the old man, because it sure looks like he just might be exhausted and fatigued from being overextended all season long. Which is all the more reason for Karl not to have done that.

But I digress. On the plus side in this game was the fact that he went 8-8 from the line. He needs to recognize that not all defenses are created equal, and that his post-up game – good as it it – is not always the best way to pick apart a defense. The Nuggets were at their most effective in this game when slashing to the basket – and that is true for Miller as well. When he took the ball in the low post, dribbling it to a boody pulp, the Bucks consistently had three defenders in the paint just waiting to thwart him. I like Miller’s post game, and it can work very well, but when, like tonight, it’s *all* he does again and again, and there’s no mixing it up (say, pass back out to the perimeter so they can swing it around to the weak side for a better look), it plays right into the hand of the opposing defense. The one trick of this one trick pony is a pretty damn good trick much of the time, but I just hope that if a similar situation unfolds in the playoffs he’ll find his way to bringing a more varied approach. Denver’s offense is predicated on dynamism, and when that goes flat, the air goes out of the balloon.

George KarlThe Nuggets found a way to win this game with many cards stacked against them, even if it was less than beautiful. The officiating was terrible leading to foul trouble (most harmfully to Wilson Chandler); they were exhausted and injury-depleted; the Bucks were playing their final home game on fan appreciation night and were more highly motivated than one might expect from a team thatt can’t alter its playoff seeding. Karl’s options were limited, and for that there’s some slack to cut him.

If there’s one decision he made I’d disagree with, it was sending out Fournier rather than Miller midway through the fourth quarter when Lawson came back in. Some may disagree, but to me it is pretty clear at this point that even though he’s a rookie, Fournier is already the superior perimeter defender. And it appeared that the biggest Bucks scoring threat was going to come from the outside shooting of Ellis and Redick. To his (asterisked) credit, Karl did send Fournier back in for Miller on that one last critical defensive possession. But it was very nearly too little too late.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Home sweet home. Win this win, the Nuggets can finish no lower than fourth in the Western Conference, and they have clinched home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They also need only win their final regular season game at home against the tanking Suns to lock up the third seed and avoid matching up with Memphis.
  2. LOLfficiating. This was one of the most poorly called games of the season. I’m sure Bucks fans will say that Nuggets fans have nothing to complain about, being that Denver led Milwaukee in free throw attempts 46-23. But the fact of the matter is that there were a host of just plain awful calls both ways all game long, and it really sucked the life out of what should have been a more exciting matchup.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Tyler

    JaVale got about 5 extra minutes and ended up with an incredible (for JaVale) 17 rebs to go with 10 pts. the team showed Resiliency and Ty Lawson proved once again why he is a top PG in this league. It was ugly but the good guys perservered. One more win and a post season series win and I say this is the best Nuggets team ever asssembled. Good ugly win!

  • Aaron

    BS 4 point play call. . . absolutely atrocious. And, to be fair. . the Bucks had some bad calls go against them too. Just awful.

    It’s unfortunate that we had to expend so much energy in this game. We probably need to win Wednesday now because the Grizz won tonight. If LAC loses tomorrow, we could sit some people. We could’ve put this game away earlier.

    • Ban Johnson

      Grizz are #5 no matter what now. Clips loss or Nugs win against Phoenix and Nugs are #3.

      • Ryan

        True, but the Grizzlies will still play hard because if the Clippers lose a game (very unlikely, but you never know), they can still get home court in round 1 with a win. I wish they had no chance of getting home court so they could rest people and give the Jazz a chance to knock the Lakers out (who could lose to Houston, but the refs will likely not allow that to happen)…

      • GK4Prez

        That isn’t true, the clippers have 54 wins and 2 games left, if they lose their last two, the would open up on the road against the grizzlies. I guess the grizzlies would technically still be 5th, but they can still get home court.

        • Ryan

          If the Grizzlies beat the Jazz, the Clippers would only have to lose one of two and they would not have home court.. the two teams are currently tied in losses…

  • Ban Johnson

    Make a layup already!

    God, what a frustrating game! Really good effort on a B2B, but, holy cow, so many stupid mistakes. And the officiating wouldn’t cut it at a high school game — worst officiated game we’ve had all year, in my opinion.

    Randolph and McGee should not be on the court at the same time. Too similar. Too many non-fundamental plays. Too many mistakes. Faried is sorely missed, — at least he doesn’t get in his own way out there.

    Say what you will about Andre Miller, but he can do 2 things:
    1) create plays
    2) make free throws
    That’s a big part of why GK almost always has him closing games.

    Ty Lawson is back, y’all.

    Need to put the Suns away in the first half Wednesday. They’re similar to the Bucks in that they shoot it well enough to be dangerous.

    And then 3rd seed baby! On the side of the bracket with Warriors, Rockets, and Spurs….

    • Darren

      I was impressed with Andre at the end. I wanted to strangle him when Ellis got hot, but I don’t know if even Iggy could keep up with Ellis’ hot hand at that point. Miller’s free throws were clutch so I’m happy with him… for now…

    • Ckwizard

      Say what you will… here I go then MILLER OS ONLY NEEDED to do those two things you mentioned BECAUSE HE CAN’T PLAY DEFENSE AND ALLOWS THE OTHE TEAM TO STAYING THE GAME…

      GK benched Miller last game and THE LEAD WENT UP TO CLOSE THE GAME… This game Miller was on the court AND THE OTHER TEAM GAINED THE LEAD…

      Only reason Miller was needed to close out the game is because he YES MILLER KEPT IT CLOSE.

      Did you watch the game every time Miller and Brewer were in the court the Nuggets lead went BYE BYE… But let’s love on some Miller heroics and call GK a good coach as his dreaded TWO point gaurd line up is validated by making a game harder than it needed to be…

      Fun times being a fan but come on I hope this crap doesn’t COST the Nuggets a playoff series.

    • Phillip

      LOVE Andre Miller at towards the end of games, but not at the END of games – the last possession. I agree – he creates and can make free throws, but he is also a liability. But specifically, on the last possession of games, I just don’t see the clutch killer instinct out of him, and I’m not sure why. On the last play, I’d give the ball to Ty over Miller 10 times out of 10.

  • Darren

    I finally got to watch most of a game over here in Michigan, and I got the same “good news, bad news” reaction that I usually see here in the Rapid Reactions. Yes, we got the win, and yes Ty looked fantastic down the stretch. However, the lack of perimeter presence on defense towards the end of that game was slightly troublesome. Today, it was against Ellis and it didn’t hurt too bad. In the playoffs, though, we can’t do that against Harden or Curry… Concern? Yes. Then again, I don’t expect fouls on Fournier when he touches all ball against Monta with 14 seconds to go…

  • Scott

    How do the Nuggets not get the respect of the refs??? We are a team at is 30 games above .500 against a sub .500 playoff team! Or any team for that matter. Its just unfair to this great team.

    This game also worries me about the warriors… take the Bucks 3pt spam and multiply it and you have Steph Curry + Klay Thompson. Hopefully we match up against Houston.

    • AaronCAPS

      Stern wants the Clippers to get the #3 seed so they can advance earlier & have a better chance. Even though were the better team we don’t get the respect sense L.A. is more popular then Denver.

  • Aaron

    Yeah agreed on Houston. . we own them, and each game against GSW has been uncomfortable.

    I think Brew, JVMG, Randolph, etc. . play better at home, I think Phoenix starts to smell the golf course on Wed.

  • spalding

    Dre almost lost that game for us. He can shoot free throws but he went into hero ball mode in the last 2 minutes of the game and attacked strangely early in the shoot clock. I’m officially a believer in a closing lineup of Lawson, Fournier, AI, Chandler, KK…. Other then that, Ty, you the man. Saved us from a grind of a first round.

    • heykyleinsf

      from day one on this board.. I have been yipeing
      about that. Ty Lawson. Unquestionably our leader.
      He’s back. Life is good.

  • googergieger

    Past few games we’ve really missed Gallo’s IQ, defense, maturity, and killer instinct. Without him only Iggy is left with all those qualities that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Chandler is arguable, but guy can’t stay out of foul trouble it seems. I think part of it is he doesn’t flop or yell or anything. So refs just always assume a foul is on him. Randolph isn’t going to get minutes for a good long while, so you Jham fans might see him get some time come playoffs. McGee was great tonight except for two bad plays. One of those games where plus/minus really shows how much the people around the player matter more than the actual player sometimes. As Koufos was playing like ass again tonight. Except for down the stretch where he got himself open. Though those missed free throws hurt a lot. Don’t know. Hope Faried is alright for the playoffs. Even though we’ve been winning without Gallo, it is easy to see how much he is missed. Usually you can have him or Iggy out on the court to settle things down and anchor the defense and keep the foot on the pedal. One win away from the third seed, where we should win, and give the Spurs a fight in the second, where we do have a shot.

    • Ban Johnson

      Definitely miss Gallo, for the reasons you mentioned + just his size and versatility.

      But the emergence of Fournier fills some of those Gallinari gaps: IQ, shooting, poise, secondary playmaking off the pass.

      • googergieger

        Fournier is a smart kid, but he doesn’t have the NBA experience to go along with his basketball IQ. Gallo would never have helped off of Redick as much as Fournier was helping off at times and he never would have given the refs a chance to call that four point play. It was a bad call mind you, but while Evan is impressive considering his age, Gallo is still going to be missed come playoff time. As we’ve seen with the Mavs game, Portland game, and now tonight.

        • LBJ

          Fournier is getting jobbed with a bunch of BS fouls. Hell, his 3rd was even worse than te 4th.

          Chandler is always in foul trouble because he grabs and doesn’t know how to take a charge.

    • Ackdog

      I would argue that Ty has all those qualities even on defence. I think I’m coming around to you’re Gallo argument on defence though. His size on the wing you just can’t make up for. Ty has really matured into the point guard we all wished he would be since about Jan. Have to disagree with Randolph, he will get time in the playoffs because he is really the only true back-up 4 on the roster. If we were going to have a Jham sighting we would have had it by now. You won’t see him in the playoffs unless it’s garbage time. I really hope that Javelle can get 25-30 mins a game in the playoffs. Yes his rebounding is questionable at times but when he is in the paint the dude changes the way the other team plays. It will be interesting to see if GK stays with Fournier as a starter or goes with Wilson maybe it will all depend on match ups

  • heykyleinsf

    Joel you stole all my thunder with that first line you wrote!!

    but just to echo that (at this point)

    First.. let me get it out of the way.
    Andre Miller. No matter how badly he
    is shooting.. he still shoots. And GK
    keeps him in to let him keep shooting.
    It can happen to any of them any night…
    but this seems to be 3 in a row by my count.

    Second..
    HOW IN THE FxCK.. DID THEY CALL A FOUL
    ON FOURNIER??? I LOOKED AND LOOKED..
    WHERE WHEN HOW DID HE TOUCH HIM???
    Also the out of bounds call on Chandler.. I
    watched a Milwaukee feed… Yeah pretty
    obvious it was out on Chandler.. but just as
    OBVIOUS THAT THE DUDE WAS ALL OVER
    HIS FOREARM!!
    In the stretch once again.. calls go against
    the Nuggets.. I hate conspiracy theories with
    a passion.. but I’m starting to wonder.

    Third… what we miss about Faried the most..
    JUMPING UP IN THE AIR TO GET A REBOUND.
    Randolph, McGee and Koufos are playing the
    boards like their shoes are cemented to the
    court. Faried is an all star mostly because of
    hustle. I wonder how dominant we would be
    if everyone applied themselves like he does?
    I don’t want to be rough on Koufos.. he came
    through with some plays at the end.. but offseason?
    Let’s work on the clumsiness with the ball.
    He bats that thing around like it’s a hot potato..
    Pick it up..pull it down.. get your hands around
    that thing son.

    HOME COURT IS OURS!!!

    • googergieger

      McGee had 17 boards.

      • heykyleinsf

        I know. Love him.
        But if he jumped in the air and pulled the ball
        down with authority on a consistent basis…
        Everyone should be very afraid.
        I’ve never seen anyone with the reach and
        size combo McGee brings.. and it works.
        All I am saying is.. (cue Van Halen).. JUMP!!!

    • TyroneH

      Every game we get the worst calls against us @ Dallas we got no fouls called for us in the 3rd. I was at the game yesterday and we were up by 20 then the refs start blowing the whistle against us. That same ref who called that foul always calls fouls against us mostly made up or imaginary calls. I’ve been to all the home games except maybe 5 and I’ve watched every away game on tv and everytime I mean everytime we start getting ahead by double digits the refs just start making up stuff to call it is a conspiracy against the Nuggets. The NBA doesn’t want a small market team to win the Tittle that’s why they do this to us.

      • heykyleinsf

        I think that foul on Fournier should be sent to the league office.
        IDK how that shxt flies. But IDK if I have ever seen such an
        unbelievably bad call in my life.. like it was scripted almost.
        TERRIBLE TERRIBLE CALL.

        If anyone hears what GK or any Nuggets say about it..
        please keep me posted.

  • Cory

    Only kept up with the score and stats throughout the game was intrigued to how Milwaukee kept up with us. Any answers?

    • Ban Johnson

      1) Nuggets missed more layups than they made.
      2) Nuggets missed 14 fts.
      3) Bucks hit a bunch of 3s and long 2s — some wide open, some with defenders draped over them.
      4) Bucks had 18 offensive rebounds. Nuggets’ defensive rebounding without Faried is pretty poor.

    • googergieger

      We’re an immature team that lets up, and sometimes our coach lets them do just that and hope they play their way through it. Also some bad calls down the stretch. Besides that bad free throw shooting, poor three point defense, and turn overs. You know. The usual.

      • heykyleinsf

        thank you Ban..
        that’s exactly what I was talking about Goog…
        18 offensive rebounds.
        JUMP UP OFF THE GROUND AND IN TO THE AIR.
        Please. Act like you want that thing!

        • trank

          if koufos jumps like me it’s 6″ max

          • LBJ

            His hands concern me more than his lack of leaping ability. He handed it the Bucks once – and trying to dribble out of the steal was almost a disaster.

            • heykyleinsf

              I agree and went in to this in a post just above this
              thread. He’s got hands of stone.. I like him. He did
              come through in some plays tonight. But wow..
              those hands..wow.. got to really work on that.

    • Cory

      Yeah sounds like the usual unfortunately. Good thing we don’t play like this all the time. Wish we could dominate like I know we can. But just a part of being young and not focusing on that part of the game. I mean all it takes is a mentality it’s not skill. But sometimes a mentality is harder to gain that skill.

    • spalding

      Let us not forget this was night 2 of a B2B….

  • idlejack

    Lets hope Faried will be back on time because without him there is a big problem at the PF position.
    Did anyone notice that our 2 PF today(AR&WC)
    had 6 boards.Miller had 6 in 23 minutes while they got 6 in 45(29+16)!!!!
    Thank god both McGee and Koufos were excellent in the glass tonight.

    • LBJ

      Randolph was a freaking disaster out there tonight. He actually made McGee look coordinated! Koufus was horrible shooting the ball – and his FTs showed why GK doesn’t close with him. While McGee had 17 boards (half of them must have been his own missed shots) – he contributed nothing in the second half. If our bigs don’t play better – we are going to struggle.

      • Cory

        Although it isn’t the most difficult way to get a board by grabbing your own missed shot it still should be commended because he is a) not giving up and b) putting in maximum effort.

      • Daniel

        McGee missed 4 shots (out of 8 attempts), so it may be truth that half his offensive rebounds were from his own shots (though I don’t think so). but he’s also got 9 defensive boards in 25 mins. that’s not bad AT ALL!
        he actually did a great job on the boards tonight, and didn’t give up as many offensive rebounds for the Bucks as Randolph, Koufos and Chandler.

  • magster

    I thought that BS 4 point play was the ball game. Ty Lawson saves me from despair.

  • Cory

    Did Ty take the guy off the dribble and create a shot for the game winner?

    • magster

      Yes, and he was wide open. Beautiful. He didn’t do the Bernie because there was 9 seconds left, but in many ways it was sweeter.

      • Cory

        Thanks magster, good to know Ty has confidence in his J and he breaking ankles in the process!

  • Nick

    Pheeeeeewwwww.

    As an oldschool nuggets fan I am an eternal pessimist. I was sure we were going to lose tonight. So happy things worked out. Still think we’re screwed in the playoffs without gallo (pessimism thing).

  • GB

    The Nuggets are a great team, but a few bad lineups will bounce them from the playoffs.

    Just as OKC could lose a series if Brooks plays Derek Fisher too much, we can lose playoff games by having too much of a Miller-Lawson back court, or if Javale stays at 18 mpg. Let him loose, and let Miller come off the bench to spell Lawson, no more of this 2-PG backcourt bullshit.

    GK has had a great regular season (as always), but his stubbornness with his go-to guys could be enough of a margin to get them bounced.

    • Cory

      Agreed. Miller is useful no doubt but he is an experienced JaVale. He just knows how to use his talents effectively at a higher rate than McGee. But when he starts floudering he has to be pulled just as C.Brew just as Faried, McGee and so on. We can’t battle through ever players personal slump of he is costing us points on both ends.

  • Nugget Pablo

    No grades this time?
    Ty Lawson deserves an A++!!

    • Cory

      Takes time lol

  • CJP32

    Some notes from an ugly win:

    McGee – 3rd game in a row he has put up decent numbers – just in time for the Playoffs, needs to stay focused

    Ty – hes back and looks great, hopefully the health is 100% by Playoffs

    Evan – started well at 5/5, but then went 1/6 and got some iffy foul calls. Does he play 20+ mins in Playoffs though?

    Iggy – was hoping he would be more aggressive but played well all around.

    KK – grabbed some rebounds and played solid

    Chandler – made some silly fouls but his scoring was efficient

    Randolph – 5 TOs is not good

    Dre – 2/12 FGs but 8/8 FTs – good I guess

    CBrew – has gone cold from the field over his last 2 games, but still getting to the FT line – 6.2 FTAs per game over his last 7 at 77% – thats a positive I guess

    • will

      at least we won’t overreact and throw money at Brewer.

      • heykyleinsf

        that drives me crazy.
        Brew in the streak and the homestretch has
        been golden for us. A couple of bad games
        and people have stone amnesia…

        • CJP32

          Yeah weird hey. Scores 20+ in 3 straight games (only Gallo has done that) and now people are ready to throw him under the bus!

          People also forget that this guy won 2 titles in the NCAA and a ring with Dallas – dude knows what it takes to win and is always ready to ball. He will be just fine come Playoff time when the wins really matter!

          • CJP32

            My bad: Gallo, Ty and CBrew have scored 20+ in 3 straight games.

          • Ckwizard

            Hope you are right because Dallas didn’t keep him after he showed up for one great game and then dissaeared… Nuggets need consistency from him especially with Gallo hurt, not just one Great Game.

            • CJP32

              Yeah if you watched the Dallas Championship run, you would have known that he was barely used. He did have a great impact in the one game vs Lakers, but still, the guy makes winning plays as you would have seen in the 76ers, Dallas games recently.

              No one here is expecting him to put up Gallo numbers, but I agree that he needs to be consistent.

      • nugswin

        “at least we won’t overreact and throw money at Brewer.”

        I hope this wasn’t said in jest because it’s absolutely true. Resigning Iggy is priority #1, #1-A, #2, #3-7, #8, #9 and also #10. I’m optimistic that Ujiri and Kroenke understand that locking up Iggy to a multi-year deal is critical to our long term success.

        If we lose him to free agency this year’s successes will be in vain as we would surely regress next season. It would be better for us to “overpay” Iggy with the money we would theoretically give to Brewer and let Brewer walk than to lowball AI and lose him. Iggy is a one-of-a-kind, team USA level player compared to Corey who you could easily replace.

        I like Brewer. He’s a nice addition to the team. But he’s still a below average player (at best, even in this career (contract) year for him, he’s just average) who is imminently replaceable. I know I’ll take a lot of guff for that comment but it’s true. It’s not hard to find players that could come in and fill his shoes. Heck, we have one in Fournier, who is going to end up a much better player overall than Brewer (and could seamlessly eat up Brewer’s minutes next season without a drop-off in on-court quality). Many teams have somebody that would adequately fill the role for less than the MLE salary rate and there are several examples of guys who better than Brewer who initially or currently come/came quite cheap: Wes Matthews, Jimmy Butler, Matt Barnes, Quincy Pondexter, Ronnie Brewer, Danny Green.

        And here’s a partial list of guys that are all on par with him — some better, some not, some slightly different skill sets, but all useful — CJ Watson, Marco Bellinielli, Alonzo Gee, Brandon Rush, Lance Stephenson, Jodie Meeks, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Chris Singleton etc. I don’t want to get in an argument over the specifics of each of these players but just note that they all could perform at close enough to Brewers level, especially at the expense of signing him to a multi-year $5+ million dollar contract. You know, the kind of contract that can hamstring your ability to resign guys like, AI, Faried and Fournier when the time comes.

        • LBJ

          I agree.

  • googergieger

    People are going to hate on McGee regardless of how good he plays and how utterly shit Koufos plays. You guys deserve Karl.

    • Cory

      Ididn’t watch the game but looking solely at stats i thought McGee would at least get a B. I know about the 18 offensive boards given up but didnt see them happen so don’t have much of a say other than 17 is a really high number for a guy that can struggle to get 5.

    • heykyleinsf

      IDK if that’s fair or you are seeing it objectively.
      Did any of us complain when McGee swatted the
      ball back in Duncan’s face?
      (not that I don’t like Duncan.. he just has owned
      us over the years and it was sweet to see for once)

      McGee’s ceiling is through the stratosphere.
      Expectations are high and there’s some
      frustrations in that..

      You didn’t like what I said.. but what about
      a point being with those 2nd and 3rd tries
      for the Bucks? You’re not worried about that?

      And re: K2.. I don’t think you necessarily have
      to throw him under the bus to defend McGee.
      We need them both in a big way.. along with
      Randolph here on out and maybe indefinitely.
      We seem to be set in the frontcourt.. it’s our
      bigs who are inconsistent.

      All in all.. I think McGee’s emergence of late
      is the biggest element of hope. It’s turned in
      to a huge season for him and a turning point
      in his career. Nobody here.. at least that I
      will respect.. will make the mistaken assumption
      that we don’t need him to step up right now.

      • googergieger

        Those second and third tries are in your head. He tipped in the ball three or four times on other peoples misses. Once on his own. Beyond that when he was in, nobody attacked the paint. Most offensive boards happened when he wasn’t in there or when he went for the block and nobody helped the helper. Much more he played good solid defense tonight in general. At one point in that first half he forced Smith to dribble around him and forced a twenty four second violation. He was also trapping smart and not fouling when he trapped. He had one really bad foul where he tried to tip the ball out and he had one travel that was honestly a foul on the other player but still a bad move to do considering how far out he was. Besides that he played great tonight and has been our best big for about five games now. Even when he isn’t getting the numbers. But much like Karl, fans here just can’t seem to believe McGee can do any good because they don’t realize Shaq needed someone to market his rip off of a segment on Inside The NBA where he is known to be the weak link.

        Not throwing Koufos under the bus either. Past number of games he hasn’t been boxing out(something McGee always gets called out for), has been getting abused by bigs, has been getting into peoples way on offense, and has been out of position on defense a few times as well. Much more he’s been awful at finishing shots near the rim again because he’d rather throw an awkward hook up instead of throwing it down. Granted he doesn’t have the hops others on the team do, but he could still try to dunk hard and at least go to the line. Make or miss, he puts another foul on the other team.

        • Ackdog

          I know you don’t like GK but it was the right call to start KK at the beginning of the year. Fundamentally he is more sound. But what you see is what you get. Don’t expect KK to get or be any better. McGee is the best big on the roster. He also has loads more to offer. However I do feel that it is too late to change the rotation regarding those two. Next year however I think GK will start McGee. Like I said earlier I would hope he gets 25-30 mins a game in the play-offs

          • heykyleinsf

            honestly the reason I said all of that in
            the first place was based more on one
            single defensive play. (there were more
            than that).. but this one in particular..
            involved both Randolph and McGee on
            the same play.
            Flat footed and playing volleyball.
            Ball right to them.. simply either one
            of them jumping in to the air and grabbing
            it would have changed the possession.
            Instead. BOTH OF THEM.. looked like they
            were warming up in the shoot-around
            before the game. Pretty indifferent to
            getting the ball. FARIED NEVER DOES THIS.

            I was disgusted at that point.
            I appreciate the 17 boards.
            I appreciate everything in general he has
            been bringing lately…

            But this is far from the first time I noticed this.

            McGee has to stop playing volleyball.. and get
            dominant.

            • googergieger

              So one play? Faried has done a few like that as well. Heck often times instead of resetting the play he forces something up and makes the offensive rebound, null and void. McGee was about ninety percent good to great tonight, and ten percent out of control. Guy deserves a B+ at worst.

              • heykyleinsf

                No.. not just one play..
                but one play in particular
                that Randolph and McGee
                were too busy playing patty cake
                with the rebound.

                both of them volleying it up..
                to let the BUcks have it back.

                All I am saying.. is EFFORT!!

                I would probably lean on a B-
                as well.. but 18 offensive rebounds.
                McGee was on the court and not
                battling to slim that number down.

              • googergieger

                ……..

                *walks away*

          • Tom

            >> “Don’t expect KK to get or be any better.”

            Koufos is a year younger than JaVale. I don’t expect him to get any more athletic, but I do expect him to get better.

            • dynamo.joe

              Exactly. You have a 7′ big who is 24 years old and getting the 1st significant minutes of his career and you think “he won’t get better”?

              That’s just stupid.

    • zorba

      I don’t think anyone on the blog hates on McGee. We all know what his potential is… but criticize a player because of his inconsistency is human for a fan…
      I’m one of KK’s fans but when he sucks I’m the first to admit that… and this is recently happening…

  • heykyleinsf

    good stuff Joel.. thanks for all the time and effort in that.

    • Cory

      Yeah nice recap that focused on playoff play as we are heading into our final game.

  • Ryan

    As terrible as the officiating was, we still missed 14 FTs and gave up WAY too many open 3s (hint hint Andre Miller) to a team where everyone knows they’re going to shoot from the perimeter. We got very lucky they shot such a poor percentage from 3, otherwise we’d be looking at a date with Memphis. This isn’t going to fly against Golden State in the playoffs. Glad to see Ty has improved significantly from his early struggles in late-game situations, I knew he had it in him. Let’s take care of Phoenix and make some noise in the playoffs, go Nuggets!!

  • AaronCAPS

    Houston lost tonight. Warriors won tonight.

    Looks like we’re gonna have to go against GSW, which in my opinion is not a good thing. On Houstons side…Well yeah just dominate them. On GSW side. Is not as convincing, mainly because David Lee has a huge size & weight advantage over Faried. Great 3 point shooters that are going to light it up no matter what, & it also does not at all help to know that Miller is awful at covering the 3. I’m a hells lot more nervous about the Warriors then the Rockets. Just my opinion though.

    • CJP32

      I agree, I would much rather face HOU in Rd 1 – we won every game this season. GS scare me because they have 2 great 3PT shooters and are not afraid to shoot, plus a decent bench with Jack and Landry. Lee seems to play well vs us to.

      However, we can throw Iggy, CBrew, Chandler at Curry/Klay.

      Randolph, McGee, KK, Mozzy are bigs that can protect the rim. Bogut may not be available or 100%

    • googergieger

      Should still beat Warriors in six, but yes Rockets would be a lot easier. Keep in mind both Houston and Warriors rely a lot on the three, but with Houston you just have to shutdown Harden. Which Iggy can do. With Golden State they have a bit more of a complete team. We still have the more talented team, but with Gallo out and Faried hobbled, it isn’t all that black and white. Always a chance Warriors lose on Wednesday and Rockets beat the Lakers, but Rockets seem to want to get that seventh seed and avoid us and the refs would never let that happen.

      • heykyleinsf

        I think the fans should have the same mentality
        as I hope the team does.

        It doesn’t matter who we play.

        We’re the ones everyone doesn’t want to play.

      • Ryan

        Problem is, Rockets will fall to 8th if they lose to the Lakers. It all depends on the Memphis vs. Utah game earlier on Wednesday. If Memphis wins and eliminates the Jazz, the Rockets may get a fair shake to see if they can lock up the 7th seed, as both the Lakers and Rockets would be assured a playoff spot at that point. If the Jazz win, the refs will make sure the Rockets have no chance in hell of beating LA and the Rockets will fall to 8th…

        • heykyleinsf

          good points .. but that’s why we don’t let the
          refs be a factor.

          LISTEN..

          WE BEAT EVERYONE OR TIED THEM.

          It’s us.. that nobody wants to play.

  • http://yahoo.com prospector

    Karl is a freaking idiot… He actually went mega small with TY, Miller, EVAN, and BREWER…. Are you freakin kinding me???? REALLY??? Then at the end of the 4th the Bucks had their 3 point shooters on the floor, and KARL has MILLER on the floor (along with TY)…. yesterday we won by a bigger margin cause Miller’s sorry self was on the bench in crunch time… But today ON THE ROAD (Memo to KARL shooters shoot good at home), he leaves no defense MILLER to almost lose the game for us… The casual fan see’s no wrong in this because they only watch offense and do not understand defense… To anyone who HAS PLAYED, this is unacceptable…. Miller is a defensive liability.. PERIOD… Him and TY on the court means NO perimeter defense…. As I have said many times KARL refuses to learn from his mistakes, he makes them over and over again…
    For the slow:

    NEVER, EVER, EVER put EVAN, TY, MILLER, and BREWER on the floor together ever again…. (hell throw freakin JHAM out there for a bone)…
    When Randolph starts playing like crap consider KK or even MOZZY in his place.. Earlier in the year we would have KK and Mcgee on the floor together sometimes… Let’s do it again….. Let EVAN and IGGY be in the backcourt together for a few minutes… IT WORKED BEFORE…..

    We got lucky today, but this crap can’t go on in the playoffs….. KARL better wake the hell up..

    • James

      All these problems, and yet we keep winning. Hmm. . . .

      • Ckwizard

        Actually the Nuggets might get the 3 seed, yeah but hey all these problems are the reason the Nuggets lose games that they shouldn’t , all these problems are the difference between the Nuggets having home court for one series or every series. All these problems are the difference between winning by Ten and Winning by 1 even with missed free throws, crappy officials, and stupid turnovers. Even though a 1 point win is a win it is a one possession win where a 12 point win is at least a four possession win… A one possession win or lose involves a little to a lot of LUCK, Nuggets needed luck to win this game for a lot of reasons but what fans like Prospector are really saying is THIS TEAM IS BETTER THAN NEEDING LUCK TO WIN and we only need LUCK because our COACH keeps the Games close with his SMALL BALL LINEUPS.

        • James

          I’ll admit, there’s something to what you say, but I tend to think all these problems (or according to Prospector, one problem – Karl) don’t make nearly the difference you think, as much as the players themselves do.

          We will finish with the fourth-best record in the NBA, which is about what we are (I think) – the fourth best team. Having a better record than the Thunder would be damn impressive, and I don’t think we are quite that good. The Spurs, maybe, but I think they have taken their foot off the gas here at the end, and been injured. Miami, we’re not that good.

          Maybe if Karl does a few things different, we win a few easier games, or one or two that we otherwise wouldn’t, but maybe not. No guaranty a non-small ball lineup wins all those games, either. I just have a hard time with the nit-picky level of criticism when they are this good, and more entertaining than any team in the league. They play super unselfishly, and play hard every night, so Karl must be doing something right.

          Now, I do think next year they should challenge the Thunder for best record (would help to have Gallo, but oh well). Maybe those issues matter more then, but hard to argue he’s not maximizing his talent this year.

          • Ckwizard

            Hope we get a Thunder vs Nuggets WCF so we can have the “Talent” debate because This is an ongoing argument that even without Gallo I will take the Nuggets “team” talent as greater than the Thunders.

    • Charliemyboy

      You obviously never played. There were other factors you didn’t see. I think you are a Sacramento spy.

  • Daniel

    I agree with all grades, but Miller’s and McGee’s.

    Miller did recognize his post-up game wasn’t working and his shots wasn’t going in (unlike last game, when he just kept shooting brick after brick) – then he went down to the post late in the game and draw fouls. That’s “wisdom” and “craftiness”. He scored 8 points in the 4th quarter, 6 of them from the charity stripe. yes, he’s also missed 4 FGA and only converted 1 down the stretch, but you know some of thoses misses should’ve been fouls.
    I’d give him at least a B-, because 2-12 is terrible no matter what, but on the other hand, he was vital for the nuggets win with his hot FT shooting. and despite not being great on defense, I’ve seen some effort from him tonight, sometimes really bothering some shots, and getting two steals (while not turning the ball over once on offense). but he won’t do that at every possession, and that’s for what yourself pointed up: I mean, his age; at the 81st game of another season in which he haven’t missed a game, it doesn’t help.

    About McGee, man, as I’ve commented before, he grabed 9 defensive boards in 25 mins, that can’t be considered bad under any circumstances! He did give up a few, yes, (because of his addiction for taking off to block shots, I believe) but most of Bucks’ offensive boards I’d put on Randolph, Koufos and Chandler (only two boards for him; if he’s going to play PF he’s gotta do better than that). anyway, a 17 rebound game isn’t and will never be bad (not even in 48 mins, let alone in the 25 he’s got). He was breathing really hard, looking tired as hell, and still was the most energetic and active player on the team tonight. I’d give him a B+.

  • googergieger

    So if Lakers win they get the seventh seed? Chance to upset the Spurs. Then meet us in the second round where we have home court? As long as we beat Phoenix anyways. If Lakers lose then chance they don’t make the playoffs at all if Utah wins. Win/win for us huh?

    • Jeff

      I believe if we win, Lakers win, and Warriors lose, we get the Lakers.

      • Jeff

        Ah nevermind, Warriors won tonight so that is not a scenario.

    • Ryan

      Spurs won’t lose to the Lakers, but even if they did, I wouldn’t really enjoy playing them. It’s exhausting to play 5 on 8 every game. NBA would love a “Lakers band together to do the impossible and win without Kobe” narrative…

      • googergieger

        Well that is the reason I think Lakers could be the Spurs. We saw OKC beat Spurs last year with the refs. Granted OKC is much better than the Lakers but still. Lakers I’m not afraid of. Even with the refs, we’ve dominated them this year. But you never know. Refs aren’t above cheating so bad it becomes obvious.

        • Woobly o Balls

          REFS MAKE MISTAKES. THEY ARE NOT TOLD TO FAVOUR A TEAM BY THE NBA FOR “THE NARRATIVE” FFS.

          I DON’T MIND PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT OFFICIATING BUT IMPLYING THERE IS MATCH FIXING SERIOUSLY OR SARCASTICALLY MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE AN UNEDUCATED TWAT.

          end of rant

          • googergieger

            Alright. So, it is impossible for refs to make sure one team wins and one team loses. With that said, it is very easy for refs to make it a lot easier for one team to win and a lot harder for another team to win.

            OKC attempts about forty percent of their shots at the rim, Durant thirty percent of his shots, Westbrook forty percent of his shots at the rim, yet they attempt a ridiculous amount of free throws that simply don’t add up. Heck during our series with them this year, Durant and Westbrook alone have attempted more than our entire team combined.

            If the Lakers/King series hasn’t even given you a moment to pause, so be it. But if you want to argue this logically. By the numbers. With Common sense. We are not only leading the league when it comes to attacking the paint, but we are setting a record for points in the paint. Yet we attempt the third most free throws in the NBA. Much more when we match up with teams with “star power” despite the fact we attempt and make double the points in the paint than damn near every team we face, we often times don’t have the free throw total to show for it. Beyond that, Mavs not called for one foul in a quarter? Us being called for sixteen straight fouls when we were up double digits against Utah during our first meeting with them on their home court this year. You are telling me this is all just refs making mistakes? You are telling me their isn’t an agenda? You are telling me a touch foul called on the guy checking Lebron James is a foul but when James defends his guy in the same fashion if not more aggressive and he isn’t called for a foul, that is straight up fair and the refs not letting anything at all cloud their judgement? You are telling me the Lakers haven’t had a lot of help to make it into the playoffs this year?

            Alright. I’m a twat I guess. Better than being a naive cunt.

            I apologize ahead of time if the “c” word offends people. For some reason that is a lot of people’s, “line”.

  • Marcus

    It’s wild that George Karl is hailed by every basketball analyst and peer as a top tier coach, and is a possible favorite for coach of the year.

    You would never know that by checking these boards. I’ve never seen a coaches every minute decision get such criticism from know-it-alls.

    People who think Javale should get KK’s minutes probably don’t understand defensive rotations, weakside help, and rebounding fundamentals. It’s not as exciting as awesome blocks and dunks, but it wins games. I love Javale, but he is undisciplined compared to KK.

    As for Andre, I don’t know. He’s a wildly inconsistent player and his perimeter d is inconsistent. I do know that he has single handedly won the Nuggets numerous games in the last two minutes though, and that seems to be unrecognized.

    All these other criticisms are just plain ol armchair coaching from people who probably have never coached and for certain don’t have a hair of the experience and savvy GK has.

    But keep complaining. I’ll keep rooting for (and trusting) this team and coach that has brought us a record number of victories with no all-star and massive injury problems in the last few weeks.

    And for those who want a finals run or bust. That’s awesome. I’m all in. Just realize that the level of competition we’re going against is no joke.

    • Woobly o Balls

      Thank you. Without Karl this team would be nowhere.

      My only criticism is playing Miller in crunch time when he is obviously having a bad game. I understand he wants the experience out there but usually one of the strengths of Karl’s coaching is he is afraid to drastically change playing time for players game to game based on matchups and how well they are playing. But when Miller gets killed on D/isn’t making shots he still gets to play most of the time.

      Otherwise great comment, and nuggets fans need to appreciate Karl’s basketball IQ and decisions much more

  • Fed

    How do we not have the number 3 seed locked up? Even if we lose to Phoenix the best Memphis or the Clippers can do is tie us at 56-26. We own the season series against each team 2-1 so we have the tiebraker so how do we now have the 3 seed automatically? Can anyone explain?

    • Ernie

      I believe if there is a 3 way tie with Mem and LAC that the tie breaker is the Clippers winning their division. Denver gets the tie breaker over Memphis to get the 4th seed. So right now all the Nugs have clinched is the 4th seed.

      If Nugs win tomorrow or Clippers lose then 3rd seed is clinched.

  • mr. spalding

    Maybe it is just me, but GSW don’t really worry me at all. Yes they have the 3 ball but they live and die by it. This match up reminds me of the Pelicans series and we remember how that went. The biggest thing for this team is not letting up on the gas peddle for the entire game. That has been a problem as of late but I think with some playoff intensity they will be just fine. As for all this arguing between KK and McGee, I’m not really sure what the problem is. Seems like they both are legit centers and giving split minutes has been effective so far. McGee gets gassed fast so his minutes need to be managed better by Karl. You saw at the end of this game why it doesn’t really matter which one of them is in in crunch time as long as one of them is in. KK was cold all night and then makes 2 crucial baskets…. Those free throws were ugly though.

  • Fed

    Ok that makes sense, I didn’t think about a three way tie, just a tie with each separate team.

    • Ernie

      From the Denver Post:

      “If Denver ties with the Clippers and Memphis — Memphis wins Wednesday, the Nuggets lose Wednesday and the Clippers win Tuesday and Wednesday — the Clippers get the tiebreaker by being a division winner, Denver gets fourth and home court, and Memphis is fifth.”

      Frankly if they can’t beat a terrible PHX team at home they don’t deserve it.

      • Ryan

        Exactly. Phoenix is the worst team in the Western Conference and has won 8 road games all year. They can still be dangerous when they get hot and they aren’t playing a strong defensive team (as seen last night) and the Nuggets lost to them in Phoenix earlier this year, but with so much on the line, I would be absolutely shocked if they don’t lock up the 3 seed on Wednesday…

  • Z

    starting miss Gallo IQ?….lol

  • Asckerabiz

    hi losers, the Warriors beat the Nuggets in first round … hi miller .. hi karl

  • dynamo.joe

    I’d just like to say I like this Brewer who is willing to shut it down if his shot isn’t falling. Scoring 5 pts on 6 shots isn’t horrible.

    Scoring 11 pts on 3-18, that’s horrible. And the kind of thing we have seen from Miller in the past.

    So congrats to Brewer for not giving us a JR/Melo “I know, I’ll shoot my way out of this shooting slump” performance.

    • dynamo.joe

      Oops, replace Miller with Brewer.

  • Woobly o Balls

    Most surprising thing from this season so far for me: that Evan Fournier actually looks like a really good player in his first season. In particular his ability to get into the paint and finish depsite athleticism.

    The thing I like most about him is his attitude. He’s passionate and cocky. He has a bit of alpha dog in him as weird as that sounds. I love his potential on this team. Hope he plays well in the playoffs.

  • David

    Coming to the discussion late:

    – Koufos is in a slump. Those rhythm floaters aren’t going any more. He still hasn’t learned this year that he’s going to get his shot blocked when he has to gather. We need him to get some confidence back.

    – Chandler, Brewer, Miller were tired. Back to Back, long season, more minutes due to injuries. I’d attribute most of their struggles to fatigue.

    – Fournier shows promise. I like his game and length. I also like that he can shoot (either you can or you can’t). If he can develop into a legit threat from 3 as a pure shooter the rest of his game will flourish. He’s smart and confident. For Negatives he dribbles into trouble too much, gets caught without options at the end of a drive too much, and loses track of his man too much on D. But that’s inexperience for you and that’s why GK and most successful coaches don’t like to play rookies in the NBA.

    -Lawson is back. Thank God. The time off might have been good for his shot, he’s been shooting with confidence the 2nd half of the year and looks even more confident now. If he becomes a premiere shooter he is nearly unstoppable. I don’t see him as the defensive liability that some do. His strength and quickness offset his size.

    -McGee has been rebounding a lot better over the last 4-5 games. Too many times before he would jump himself out of position to rebound. I wonder if they are telling him to stay put and grab the ball when it’s in his range? Say what you will about GK but this staff has taken cast offs from other teams and made them genuine contributors to the 4th best team in the league. They know how to develop talent and McGee is a perfect example.

    -Iguodala is finally finding his game with this team. He still looks to pass when you should shoot too much (especially instead of finishing) but Gallinari going down lit a spark under him. He is becoming a leader on the team. His defense is huge, not just in the course of the game but especially at the end.

    Watch in the playoffs how nice it will be to have Iggy to place on the other teams’ primary scoring option in crunch time.

    -Karl is a great coach. I do blame him for Miller repeatedly stumbling into three defenders in the middle in search of a foul. Maybe now that Lawson has shown he wants to take and can make the last shot Karl will go that direction more often. Play calling in crunch is his weakness I think (remember not being able to inbound vs. the Lakers?) but at least he gets us to crunch time.

    Can Karl become a better coach at crunch time? Maybe that’s why they say you need a star in the NBA. Phil Jackson could say, “give it to Michael”, or “give it to Koby”. Still, I always feared the last second shot from a Phil Jackson lead team because he knew how to draw up that final play. We’ll see if Karl can evolve this year, he’ll need to. Go Nuggets!