Thanks to an unstoppable night from DeMarcus Cousins and a late Ty Lawson miss, the Nuggets dropped their 2013-2014 season opener 90-88 to the Sacramento Kings.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 33 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +1
Early on Hickson struggled defensively, at one point he literally spun in a circle off the ball, but his late game defense on DeMarcus Cousins kept the Nuggets in the game. Offensively he for the most part kept himself inside the paint and finished pretty well there.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Remember all preseason when people tried to warn against getting too excited for Anthony Randolph? That was because of things like tonight. Offensively, he just stood around outside the three point line all night and defensively he lost his man and John Salmons blew right by him. He shouldn’t have played 5 minutes, let alone 15.
|JaVale McGee, C 10 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +2
The Nuggets want this to be JaVale McGee’s team. Part of why George Karl is gone is because he wouldn’t play McGee enough. McGee played 10 terrible minutes tonight. Maybe it wasn’t all George.
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 5-15 FG | 8-8 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +12
Early in the second half Lawson looked terrific, exploding in the open court and finding shots at the rim. Then it all abruptly stopped. Denver needed Lawson to take the game over late and he didn’t deliver. The missed layup at the end hurt but he needed to be better before that shot as well.
|Randy Foye, SG 33 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +7
Foye played his role exactly like Denver wants him too. He hit a few threes and a long two. He did ruin Denver’s possession with a lazy pass that Isiah Thomas knocked to half court and almost stole, setting up a chaotic sequence that ended in an Evan Fournier missed three.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 18 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -8
Arthur played ok defensively for the most part but his indecisiveness cost Denver greatly. He waited too long to go and double DeMarcus Cousins which led to Ty Lawson not rotating down fast enough to box out Arthur’s man (Jason Thompson) who dunked home the eventual game winning basket. But he closed the game because he can defend and spread the floor and did well for the most part.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 15 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -3
Faried just doesn’t seem comfortable. He tried to post up throughout the night but his teammates never seemed to actually look for him. His one highlight was ripping an offensive rebound from DeMarcus Cousins for a basket. He just needs to stick to energy things to be effective because trying to do more than that made him invisible tonight.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +4
Mozgov was terrific for the Nuggets and it was a surprise he only played 20 minutes. He was physical on both ends of the floor and did a great job of staying vertical and not swatting at the ball, leading to three blocks and just two fouls. Now he has to build off it.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -13
Miller is going to be so important for Denver. He arguably the best half court offensive player on the roster and tonight showed how important that is for a Nuggets team that will at times struggle to score. He jolted the Nuggets awake when he entered and helped them stay in the game throughout the night.
|Nate Robinson, PG 18 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -6
Nate seems lost. Playing off the ball isn’t his forte. It will be interesting to see how things develop in regards to his role and minutes as the season goes along.
|Evan Fournier, SG 21 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | 0
Fournier was rocked with bouts of indecisiveness and after a few turnovers, a lack of confidence leading to a rough shooting night and as many turnovers as assists. He may be the type of player who needs to start quick to be effective.
I had two main gripes with Shaw on the night. One was his closing lineup which left JJ Hickson trying to defend DeMarcus Cousins. It worked but I’m still not sure it was the right move as Cousins got a few good looks. It seemed like a time for Mozgov who was playing well on the night. The bigger one was how the Nuggets shot selection broke down but more on that below.
Four Things We Saw
- This Nuggets offense is very different and not as good as George Karl’s. The Nuggets took 21 mid-range shots and 26 shots at the rim. That just isn’t a good way to build an offense. I know Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are both out with injuries but that that doesn’t change the fact that Denver needs to get to the rim more. We will see if it was just a one game thing or not.
- DeMarcus Cousins is very good. But interior defense was a worry of Denver’s before the season and tonight didn’t do anything but make it worse. It also continued the trend the Nuggets showed in the preseason of getting lit up by the opponent’s best player (CP3, Eric Bledsoe, Kevin Durant). Again, it is game one but it also has to at least be watched.
- The power forward rotation shook out with JJ Hickson playing over double the minutes of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur seeing three more minutes than the Manimal, including the most important ones of the night. Faried didn’t do anything with the minutes he played to really earn more minutes in the next game, so it will be interesting to see how Shaw handles the matter. In the end Faried has to show he fits with this new style of play or he could find himself buried as Shaw cuts down the rotation.
- It’s time to stop the Anthony Randolph is a small forward and Anthony Randolph is a rotation player on a playoff team ideas. I know Denver is injured but Randolph has already been in the league four years and has never played important minutes. He is a player that wows at practice, in the preseason and in summer league. Give those minutes to Quincy Miller or Evan Fournier. Or Shaw can play more three guard lineups with Miller, Lawson and Foye like he did tonight. Randolph just cramps spacing too much and is such a negative defensively to consider giving him 15 minutes again this year.
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