In Utah, both Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried registered double-doubles, and the Nuggets blew out the Jazz 30-13 in the fourth quarter to secure their second win of the season, and first on the road.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +26
Despite his mostly atrocious defense (for which I was reluctant to grade him higher than a C+), Hickson’s offense and rebounding played a big part in the Nuggets’ win tonight, and he finished with a team high plus/minus of +26. Like most of his teammates, he was more effective on both ends in the second half, and although his willy-nilly run-around-to-wherever approach to defense won’t hold up against better teams, his overall impact was a net positive in this game.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +13
Until tonight, Faried had struggled mightily on the road. In this game he was able to find the Manimal and let him loose. Being called upon to execute from the post seems to have set him back this season, but although he still is (and likely will always be) unable to execute from the post, his comfort level in the new system seems to be growing.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 17 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -9
While it is encouraging to see J-Ham’s shot falling with greater frequency than it was in the preseason, but his offense was more than negated by the fact that he was utterly abused by Gordon Hayward in the first half tonight. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly his bad defense is on the spectrum of inability to grasp defensive concepts to simply being a bad defender, but unless it’s the latter and he starts showing improvement as the season progresses, Shaw may well leave him as the odd man out after Chandler returns from injury.
|Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 6-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +16
Lawson continues to be the best, most consistent player on the Nuggets. It was fantastic to see him relishing the role of distributor while also relentlessly attacking the basket (seven of his 13 shot attempts were taken at the rim). And while John Lucas III does not exactly present a dangerous scoring threat, Ty did a solid job on the defensive end as well.
|Randy Foye, SG 31 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +22
Hickson got a B- despite his bad defense, and the sam (but opposite) applies to Foye. If you were to go purely off his stat line, it would appear he didn’t do that much. But a big part of the reason his plus/minus was +22 (in contrast to Hamilton’s -9) is that when Shaw was going heavy on two point guard lineups in the second half, Foye was doing a commendable job of containing Hayward (who scored only four of his 22 points in the second half) at the small forward position. He’s not a lock-down guy like Iggy by any means (not even close), but he’s one of the Nuggets players who puts in the most consistent defensive effort, and that should not be overlooked.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 19 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +10
This was a decent game for Darrell, and probably about par for the course in terms of what we can expect to see from him most of the time. His long 2-pointer was falling early, but he grew cold as the game went on, and his defense was solid as usual.
|Anthony Randolph, SF 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +2
A couple of good plays save Randolph from the F grade tonight, but overall he just played really badly. Within his first seven minutes he had two missed shots and three fouls (two offensive resulting in turnovers) and it never got much better from there. I for one endorse David’s recommendation that all his minutes be given to Arthur, and one can only hope that when Chandler comes back he’ll be riding the pine.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -7
Timo has, for the most part, exceeded expectations this season, but not so much in this game. Tonight was a reminder of the guy we often saw when he got chances last season who never seemed to be aware of how big he is and how to use that size to make his impact felt. If he wanted to convince Shaw he should be starting in McGee’s absence, he probably did not accomplish that goal in this game.
|Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +19
Dre essentially put on a clinic to close out this game, scoring nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter by picking apart Utah’s defense bit by bit. I’ll avoid using the same old seemingly inescapable cliché, but tonight it was as true as ever.
|Nate Robinson, PG 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8
Nate-Rob still seems to be searching out what exactly his role on this team is. As much as it is a credit to his professionalism that he clearly is making a concerted effort to avoid playing hero ball and work more to facilitate than create his own offense, his effort to do this also seems to limit his impact. He often kind of disappears while on the court, and that’s not very State of Nate. All of that said, he basically played well in this game, including one terrific drive and dish to Faried for an easy dunk.
|Evan Fournier, SG 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -5
Speaking of disappearing, Fournier was an absolute ghost in the first half, so much so that it was almost surprising to see him get more minutes in the second. He actually had a decent third quarter then, but in sum it was another mostly disappointing outing. There is a contingency of Nuggets fans, and I include myself among them, who would like to see Evan replace Foye as the starting shooting guard. But in order for that to happen, he must first make the case for himself.
After the game Shaw said his goal for the Nuggets tonight was to hold the Jazz to 80 points or fewer, and his team was only one point over that limit. This was also his first game to deal with JaVale McGee being out with injury, which further complicated the already difficult rotation decisions he has to make. He opted to start Hickson, and though it appeared that choice would backfire in the first quarter, it ended up working out.I have been somewhat frustrated thus far with what at times has seemed to be Shaw’s too-rigid, overly stubborn insistence on the strict implementation of his new system. So it was encouraging tonight, and I credit him for this, that he appeared to cut his players a little more slack on the offensive end and let them “just play”. It’s perfectly understandable that he can’t do this all the time, and that there’s a goal he’s working towards, which is a model designed for postseason success. But if the players aren’t given, at least at times, the freedom to assert their own style of play, and the chance to develop chemistry by just cutting loose and learning by experience, that could ultimately be counterproductive in achieving that goal. Hopefully this is a sign that we may see a more balanced approach moving forward.
Next up: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. (MST) vs. L.A. Lakers. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.