Denver got up big early and held on late to win the first of three straight elimination games, thanks to a dominant effort by Andre Iguodala who scored 25 points and added 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block. Denver also got good games from Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson among others.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -1
The energy was there. The rebounds were there and on a spectacular transition block the defense was there. But Faried let Harrison Barnes get going early on again as he just seems lost in where he should be as the Warriors forward wanders the perimeter. It will be interesting to see what happens in Game 6 with the match up.
|JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | +2
JaVale had an incredibly important 20 minutes. He brought energy and activity through dunks and blocks and general JaValeness. A nice way to earn another start for sure.
|Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 5-14 FG | 7-10 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +6
The shooting wasn’t as good as it had been in the past few games but Lawson distributed the ball well and got to the line, two very important things for Denver. The difference between tonight’s game and others in the series was that Lawson finally had help through the whole game.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 40 MIN | 10-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | +16
Denver needed someone to step up and will the team to a win and Iguodala did just that. Offensively he made threes, finished lobs, found open cutters and just dominated. On defense he took it upon himself to make sure Stephen Curry did not hurt Denver again and sure enough he didn’t. The key will be if he can continue it for two more games; if he can Denver will have a great chance to complete the comeback.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 39 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +12
The five threes that Chandler hit were a huge part of what made the Nuggets offense so different tonight as opposed to earlier games in the series. When Denver has someone knocking down those threes it opens up space for others to attack the middle and tonight that happened. Chandler also played tough defense frustrating the Warriors shooters.
|Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 1-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +2
Brewer is a hard grade tonight. On the bright side he created havoc at times on defense jumping passing lanes and deflecting passes. Yet at other times he left his man and wandered allowing open corner threes. Offensively he was a mess, chucking up a shot for every two minutes he saw the floor, despite only hitting one. Brewer needs to be more disciplined on both ends of the floor to help Denver the best he can.
|Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +4
Koufos did everything people have been asking from him in his fifteen minutes. He grabbed rebounds, finished at the basket better than he had and even gave a hard foul. He doesn’t have to be a superstar to be effective, just tough and physical like he was tonight.
|Julyan Stone, PG 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2
Stone played five minutes but didn’t really do much of anything as evidenced by his stat line, though it did come as the Warriors made their fourth quarter run.
|Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -5
11 points on 10 shots isn’t great production, especially when your defensive production is so poor. Lost in Faried’s fantastic block of Jarrett Jack at the rim is the job Miller didn’t do at stopping Jack from getting there. This just isn’t a series where Miller should be seeing more than 15 to 18 minutes.
People had been screaming for adjustments and Karl finally made some, moving McGee into the starting lineup and removing Evan Fournier. It worked as the Nuggets got off to a roaring start and held on for the win. Karl called a timeout to stop a Warriors run and forced Mark Jackson to react to what he did. While the small lineup at the end almost hurt him, he knew when enough was enough and ended that following the timeout.
Three Things We Saw
- Curry Corralled: Stephen Curry struggled a bit to get going tonight as Denver did a better job of making sure every catch and shot was as difficult as possible. Andre Iguodala in particular did great work, never really helping that far off Curry and unlike earlier in the series not switching on every off-ball screen Curry would run around.
- Faried’s Defense: I said before the game I didn’t really like the big lineup because of the situation it left Faried in on defense. For someone who struggles with his rotations at times on the back line I felt it was unfair to ask him to know make those and perimeter rotations as well. Faried took care of that problem but in a bad way, and a way that can cost Denver. As was the case in Game 4 Faried just plays too far off a spotted up Barnes. Part of it is Faried’s nature as a rebound chaser where he wants to be around the rim once a shot goes up and part of it is unfamiliarity. Either way he needs to be closer and able to contest more of Barnes shots, because another 20 point game from Barnes is possible and for the Nuggets that is dangerous.
- Game 6: The Nuggets season now comes down to Game 6 in Oracle Arena. Win and the season lives on, coming back to Denver for a pivotal Game 7. Lose and the season ends, in disappointment and what-ifs. Some things need to stay the same for a victory to happen (rebounding, Iguodala’s aggressiveness) and some things need to change (Dre Miller’s minutes, Faried’s defense on Barnes). It will come down again to adjustments. Can Karl make more? Can Jackson counter the seemingly new starting lineup? We will all find out in a few days.
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