Thanks to a late important three from Ty Lawson and a key defensive stop at the buzzer by Andre Miller the Nuggets defeated the Hawks 109-107 to give Brian Shaw his first career victory.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 26 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +3
I wasn’t all that impressed with Faried’s game tonight. Offensively he was stuffed at the rim a few times and generally mucked up the offense by running into the action to set screens while other action was seemingly going on. Defensively Faried was responsible for Paul Millsap most of the time he was on the floor and Millsap had 29 points on 10/15 shooting. That wasn’t a good job.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 16 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -5
The problems Hamilton had all preseason showed up again tonight. He missed a bunch of shots, didn’t make good rotations defensively and turned the ball over when he couldn’t get a shot up. It was ugly.
|JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +12
JaVale was very active on offense tonight in ways that he hadn’t been early in the season. He caught lobs at least twice after he spun off his defender in the post and constantly found open space where teammates could find him with the ball that he could then dunk. Defensively his help was ok but he let Al Horford shoot way too many wide open jumpers. But more on that below.
|Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 9-16 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | -4
Second half Ty was incredible. He made shots, attacked the basket, rebounded the ball, anything Denver needed. Shaw called this a must win game and nothing shows it more than the 39 in the minutes column for Lawson on the first night of a back-to-back. But outside of a late missed free throw Ty did it all and willed his team to a win.
|Randy Foye, SG 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -4
Foye did what he was signed to do and then some. He knocked down his open threes, got to the rim once and chased Kyle Korver around and off screens all night. Unlike Millsap and Horford who hit a ton of wide open jumpers Korver made his fair share of contested shots, and that is a credit to Foye.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
As things have gone recently Arthur only saw time late in the second half with J.J. Hickson and it didn’t go well.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 22 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -6
The perfect encapsulation of Hickson’s night was his put back dunk in early in the game of a shot that was still on the rim and probably was going in. He missed rotations, gave up offensive rebounds and did nothing on offense. My guess is Arthur takes his minutes sooner or later.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 3-4 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -1
Mozzy continued his string of great play with a very solid 18 minutes. The only negative was leaving Al Horford open a bit too often for jumpers but Mozzy again attacked the rim, finished and made his free throws. The early season play is looking more and more real.
|Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +17
7 points, seven assists and the game winning stop on Paul Millsap? Seriously, Andre Miller got a big defensive stop on a power forward. I don’t understand it either. Miller led the Nuggets bench unit that was truly the difference in the game as they outscored the Atlanta reserves 49-17. As always with Miller it isn’t ever pretty, but somehow, someway it is kind of effective.
|Nate Robinson, PG 21 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -6
Nate’s three pointers early in the fourth quarter were huge in keeping the Nuggets close and putting them in position to win the game late. He seems to have found his role as a spurt scorer when Denver is really struggling.
|Evan Fournier, SG 24 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +10
Offensively Fournier was fantastic. He clearly was the most confident he has been all season and after knocking down a few jumpers showed off his slashing abilities including a beautiful spin move for a score early. Defensively he got beat back door a few times and had some other rough moments which kept him from an A. But the offensive confidence is the biggest thing to take from tonight.
I wasn’t enamored with some of Shaw’s decisions late. From closing the game with Kenneth Faried and four guards to bringing J.J. Hickson into the game when Denver needed defense and rebounding he still confuses me a bit at times. Also, I know how bad Denver needed a win, but playing Ty Lawson 40 minutes on the first game of a November back-to-back with traveling involved seems a bit short sighted.
Four Things We Saw
- I have no idea why but Denver refuses to believe opposing big men can make jump shots. The last two games they have left Tim Duncan, Al Horford and Paul Millsap wide open for mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper. Horford in particular is as good as any player in the NBA at those shots; three seasons ago he shot 51 percent in over 450 shots from those areas. Denver has to contest those shots; otherwise it is too many free points.
- I know that shutting down the best players in the NBA is a very hard thing to do. But so far this year Denver has been beaten by the best or second best player on every team they have played. Tonight it continued with Paul Millsap and Al Horford combining for 50 points. The Nuggets need to figure out better game plans to slow the best players on other teams or it is going to be very hard to win a lot of games.
- On a similar note Ty Lawson was spectacular tonight, especially when Denver really needed him in the second half. Lawson is Denver’s best player and after a few games where he seemed uncomfortable he really proved it tonight.
- I have no idea how the final defensive possession worked. Paul Millsap got great position on Andre Miller in the post and took a shot he makes often. On a night where Millsap was incredible it was truly unexpected. This came after a missed open layup from Al Horford that resulted in Millsap going to the line with a chance to tie the game. Millsap split the free throws but it was a few bad possessions where Denver gave up easy looks to Atlanta.
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