The shorthanded Nuggets pushed the Clippers all night long before finally dropping the game in overtime 118-111. Some thoughts on the game:
Things I liked:
- Quincy Miller had some really good defensive moments tonight. With his length he could cause a lot of problems for people if he is able to stay in front of small forwards. Offensively, he even hit a three which is important if he wants consistent minutes as a wing player. I am all for Miller getting regular season minutes spelling Wilson Chandler.
- Evan Fournier was incredible. He started the game with a few catch-and-shoot jumpers and started to cook from there. Fournier hit a few step back jumpers and slashed inside to create some looks at the rim. He also added seven rebounds. Brian Shaw said the other day Randy Foye was basically entrenched as a starter but Fournier showed tonight he can provide valuable bench scoring.
- The Nuggets really competed down a lot of rotation players. Without Nate Robison, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari the Nuggets really could have packed things in and taken a loss in a preseason game that really doesn’t matter. Instead they competed all night, with most of the minutes being filled by projected bench players like Fournier, Mozgov, Andre Miller and Miller. That matters.
- Andre Miller played well and was the point guard on the floor when the Nuggets got back into the game. The slower paced system may fit Miller better than anyone else on the roster and it showed. The two point guard lineups are probably going to be important for Denver this season as it gets two of their best three playmakers and passers on the floor together. To see Miller play this well is a good sign.
- The Nuggets execution overall was really good. They got open looks from all over the floor and for a lot of different players. It was encouraging to see after a few tough games of it.
Things I didn’t like:
- JaVale McGee again looked smooth in the post, making moves with a purpose and quickly, but at some point the shots need to drop. If the Nuggets are going to play through the post often, and make no mistake Brian Shaw has made it clear they will, someone needs to be efficient there. McGee also had a few late fouls that were just silly. It wasn’t his finest night.
- Defensively the Nuggets are going to continue to struggle defending the pick-and-roll when McGee’s man sets the screen. McGee just hangs deep into the lane, giving up open foul line jumpers. With the size of the Nuggets guards that is going to lead to way to many points as the guards are going to get caught on screens and not be able to contest shots if they do get through.
- Chris Paul and Darren Collison torched the Nugget point guards. It is preseason and all, but Lawson had five fouls in 16 minutes and Miller wasn’t much better on that end. Nate Robinson won’t help things with his size. Paul is the best point guard in the NBA so giving up a big night to him isn’t as big a deal but Collison was 10-13 from the field and got to the line 5 times for a total of 27 points. In total the two point guards combined for 66 points on 23-34 shooting and 15-17 from the line. That isn’t good. After getting torched for 36 points by Kevin Durant in the last game Denver can’t be all that confident with the early perimeter defense even without Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari.
- I know Anthony Randolph had some really good moments in this game but I can’t see why he shoots so many jumpers. He doesn’t consistently make them enough for it to be a real weapon and a lot of times his misses aren’t even close. A guy with his length and athleticism needs to attack the basket more, not spot up for long jumpers he almost never makes.
- Jordan Hamilton’s job is in jeopardy if the Nuggets are willing to eat the money he is still owed. Hamilton has a reputation as a shooter but it has never really translated into games. He hit nothing but air with his first two shots tonight and never saw the court in the second and fourth quarters or overtime. He isn’t a good defender so to earn playing time he needed to prove he can make shots, which he hasn’t done at all this preseason. On the bright side for him Damion James didn’t really see the floor either and that seems to be who he is battling for his roster spot.
- Randy Foye also continued to struggle shooting the ball and was forced into ball handling duties in the first half. Foye will start shooting better at some point as he has proven the past few years but he becomes a liability anytime he puts the ball on the floor.
- JJ Hickson was invisible for most the game despite having a chance to set himself apart in the battle for the starting power forward job with Kenneth Faried sidelined. Then Antawn Jamison started to cover him and like most people when Antawn Jamison starts to cover them Hickson came alive. If Hickson can at the very least take advantage of mismatches like that one he will help the Nuggets offense in an important way.
- The last play of regulation was ugly but I kind of expected it. Brian Shaw wasn’t going to draw up a real play and give away something he can save for a key regular season moment. So instead we got whatever Denver actually did.
Please leave your thoughts below.