Recap: Chicago Bulls 94, Denver Nuggets 89

In what turned out to be an exciting game, the Nuggets ended up losing to the Chicago Bulls in the final few possessions after a back-and-fourth affair all night. JaVale McGee turned in an impressive performance with 15 points and eight boards in 25 minutes, while Ty Lawson looked dominant in the early periods of the game before succumbing to injury. The Nuggets finish the preseason with a 2-5 record and lots of room for improvement heading into the season. Here are a few more notes from Friday’s action…

— The Nuggets offense is obviously a work in progress, but it’s looked better as the preseason has unfolded — at least, at time it has. Everybody still seems to be operating on a different page but when plays are occasionally executed the way they should be, it’s impressive. Fans will have to be patient but when the Nuggets are finally clicking on all cylinders it could be quite the treat, especially after witnessing years of George Karl’s do-whatever, no-play offense.

— None of the Nuggets bigs are really skilled enough to post up on a consistent basis, yet Shaw has clearly made a commitment to doing so. It’s nice to see a coach make this type of investment into the development of his players, however a potentially critical point of assessment for Shaw this season will be his ability to recognize when he’s gone too far. Mozgov just isn’t the type of guy who’s ever gonna kill dudes in the post — at least not on offense. And the same goes for all the Nuggets bigs, really. One or two post-ups for each guy every game is fine, but some deserve more than others, and in general the Nuggets must distribute these possessions wisely. The average NBA game just doesn’t have enough possessions to waste on low-percentage shots, plain and simple.

— Ty Lawson was hot in the first half before leaving with an injury. He flourished under Karl’s run-and-gun offense relying mostly on his speed, but he looked great Friday night in the half court. A lot of people might think his speed would be underutilized in a more traditional offense, but he’s still shown the ability to blow past people due to the fact he’s just as quick as he is fast. In the first half of Friday’s game he had several outstanding passes and hit a few tough jump shots in the lane with Bulls players all around him. This Nuggets team has many talented players, and it is early, but you can already get the feeling this squad will only go as far as Lawson takes it come playoff time — if the Nuggets make it there.

— Anthony Randolph continues to impress. I thought he was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets outside of JaVale McGee. He made a few nice midrange jumpers, rebounded well, had some great put-backs and most importantly, he played smart basketball. One of Randolph’s biggest struggles throughout his career has been his decision making, yet he’s been solid so far this preseason. If he continues to play like this, I have little doubt he’ll earn himself a spot in the rotation.

— I really enjoy watching Quincy Miller play basketball. Shaw might be exactly what the doctor ordered when it comes to his development. There is a very distinct contrast between his demeanor and style of play this year as apposed to last year under Karl. He’s much more confident. He knows his role. He takes shots when they’re open. And, at times, he’s seeing the floor with the vision of a point guard. He still has a long way to go before his jumper is anything near pretty, but if keeps playing like he is, there’s a decent chance he could turn into a valuable contributor to this Nuggets team in the not-so-distant future. After all, he is only 20 years old!

— I’ve seen Andre Miller play with the Nuggets for over two years and I still don’t know what to expect on a nightly basis. In this game he was pretty bad. He tried to beat guys off the dribble but often turned the ball over or got rejected. He had a nice lob to McGee in the second quarter, but outside of that he spent most of the game contributing to turnovers or bad possessions in some fashion. As awful as he was last year on defense, he deserves a second chance under a new coach — but he’ll need to play much better than he did tonight to secure consistent minutes.

— Do you realize the Nuggets traded away Kosta Koufos this past summer and in turn signed Timofey Mozgov to a three-year, $15 million contract? Yes, Timofey Mozgov. The guy who couldn’t even crack the rotation last year. The guy who’s been in the NBA for four years and has NEVER cracked a rotation. Honestly, my flat out incredulity about the above sentences is hard to put into words. I’ve watched Mozgov more than enough to know what type of player he is, the potential he has and how much money he should earn in the NBA — AND I’M JUST A NUGGETS-FAN-BLOGGER-DUDE!!! How in the hell does the front office of an NBA franchise not understand this!?!?! I’d love for nothing more than Mozgov to prove me wrong, but at this point, I’d be absolutely shocked if (A) he makes the rotation, and (B) is still in it by December. Absolutely shocked.

— If Nate Robinson isn’t carrying the entire offense on his back, I’m not sure how valuable he is. He played a more traditional point guard role in this game and was nonexistent. It’s a bit difficult imagining where he fits into this offense if he can’t be unleashed on a consistent basis.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

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  • mmj5280

    Nuggets are definitely a playoff team. Like Shaw better than Karl already. Shaw doesn’t play small ball. Are front court is A LOT better than people think. I like hickson starting at the 4. We need to keep Andre Miller. A. Miller is too smart, better all around game than Robinson. Can’t wait for the season to start!! Also q Miller is progressing well & fournier has good handles on the ball.

  • herpderpnuggets

    Great breakdown of tonight’s game, I’m just ready for the season to start.

  • mmj5280

    Mozgov never cracked the rotation in his career?? He was a starter in New York & hewas a starter for the nuggets 2 years ago. He knows his role come regular season. Defense & spread the floor.
    I agree with you on Randolph though. He is impressive at the 3. He should get playing time while Gallo is hurt.

  • John

    Didn’t get to watch the game. Hopefully Lawson is fine. Also, i’m happy for Randolph if he produces like stated in this article. He has always underperformed and if he finally puts it together that is great. This buzzin got me ready for the season to start!

  • heykyleinsf

    Mozgov is horrible and I am still not over that decision either.
    unbelievable that they would invest that much in something that will never help us.

    • mmj5280

      Never say never.

    • Russell Hamilton

      Mozgov was less than good last night, but for the most part this preseason, he has been solid – especially on the defensive end. I think that a lot of people are looking for reasons to be negative about Mozgov due to the K2 trade. And, unfortunately, last night Mozzy provided that fodder.

  • Charliemyboy

    You know, I hope to eat crow. Disdained at losing Karl, and vociferously critical of management’s modus operandi, I am watching my recording, and, the first quarter doesn’t look too bad. There is some coaching going on. Ty was bettering Rose! Still some deficiencies, especially with the 2nd team, but optimistic. So glad for Randolph. Chicago is tough, and we were there! Hope springs eternal! And we are missing 3 starters!

  • Len Nunes

    First Q Cheers

    Lawson 5-8 (one of the missed shots was an attempted quarter
    ending buzzer beating three) Driving the lane with authority and making
    some pretty passes (hopefully Arthur learns to expect them) In the
    battle of point guards, the score is Lawson 1 Rose 0.

    First Q Jeers

    The Nuggets did NOT make a shot from outside the paint.

    Where’s JHam? I know he has not earned himself much playing time but is benching him the best way to build his confidence?

    First Q Frustration

    This is the first time I saw what I keep reading about when it comes to Hickson.
    He finished 3 of 5 shooting but the two misses were bricks (we could
    get that out of Faried) On one defensive sequence the Bulls got three
    straight rebounds with Hickson being outworked efforted for the ball
    (that does not happen with Faried) His long pass to McGee leading to a
    dunk was quite pretty and he did go perfect at the free throw line (1-1)

    Speaking of McGee, chalk up another goaltending violation. Is
    there an official stat for most goaltending violations in a season? If
    there is then McGee may be re-writing record books.

    Randolph is not a 10 minute per quarter player. He is showing he can
    create space for his shot but is also showing a lack of ability to drain
    shots. His line will show he was 2-3 but his made shots had lucky luck
    doing everything she could to make the ball foul. For every defensive
    play he made, he balanced with a basket against us by leaving his man or
    being slow off a pick.

    Second Q Cheers

    Evan Fournier was on a mission! 2-3 shooting does not look
    impressive but when you can feel the sheer determination he was playing
    with from your living room couch, a boy tips his cap to the Frenchman.

    Mozgov neatly poked away a Bulls shot from the rim then ran down
    the floor and made a very nice basket. It was the first sequence this
    preseason that made me see a reason to believe in this guy.

    Second Q Jeers

    Andre Miller after a lob pass to McGee was a great asset to the
    Bulls in the 7-0 run to end the quarter. He was late on the low post
    for two points, was intercepted by Rose then sent him to the line for a
    point and had a turnover to Rose which lead to an easy bucket.
    Meanwhile he twice attempted driving to the bucket and got zero results.

    Second Q Frustration

    Free throw shooting at .500 (6-12). Silver lining, the Bulls only saw the charity stripe a total of 6 times in the entire half!

    Shots from outside the paint, 2-6. I was thinking of leaving this off
    the list but seeing Randolph force up a shot with just under ten seconds
    frustrated me. With the Bulls in the penalty, why not drive and try to
    get fouled? Why give the Bulls more time to play with than necessary?

    Third Q Cheers

    Jordan Hamilton in about 2:36 scored on both his touches including a three second dash to end the quarter. Where have you been all preseason?

    Third Q Jeers

    Hearing Ty Lawson is out for the rest of the game. Totally assuming he would be playing with this was the regular season.

    Derrick Rose>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Nate Robinson Mr Robinson’s agent will be burning all tape of this quarter upon behalf of his client

    Carlos Boozer>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Timmy Mozgov Mr Mozgov’s agent will be burning all tape of this quarter upon behalf of his client

    Remember the tip of the cap I gave Fournier for his determination in the second quarter. The determination went missing in this quarter.

    Third Q Frustration

    All night the Chicago broadcasters have been saying, “let McGee take his
    shots, don’t bail him out by putting him on the free throw line” The
    Nugs were in the penalty not even half way through the quarter and the
    Bulls made a game of drawing contact. Throughout the entire meltdown,
    that was the most frustrating element of the game watching the Bulls add
    one to most of their drives to the basket.

    Fourth Q Cheers

    JJ Hickson figured out how to secure rebounds and make shots.

    After the monstrosity that was the third quarter, Shaw seemed to be able
    to get the collective team head out of their collective team butt.

    Fourth Q Jeers

    0’fer on three point attempts for the game and I believe 0-4 in the
    fourth quarter. Defensively, I counted three uncontested Bulls
    attempted 3’s including one with about four minutes remaining that
    featured all five Nuggets standing in the paint watching the shot

    Fourth Q Frustation (Pet Peeves)

    Pet Peeve One – – giving up the rebound on a missed free throw. Hickson would be the one to blame on this one.

    Pet Peeve Two – – a freakin time count violation coming out of a timeout.

  • alex47666

    Hope we can start the season on a good note

  • tigglon

    Don’t worry about this preseason record. Firing Karl has assured the Nuggets of a championship.

    • Charliemyboy

      Did you watch SA vs Hou? Championship? You will be my age first.

      • tigglon

        I was sarcasming.