Well, it was a fun game with a boring and, ultimately, painful ending. Or as I like to call it, just another typical #THUNDERNUGGETS game.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 33 MIN | 7-14 FG | 4-8 FT | 19 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -4
This game was the cherry on top of a pretty nice looking cake Hickson has been making over the last four games. His offense is slowly rounding into form as he has started integrating transition buckets and pick and rolls with Ty Lawson into his game, and cutting down on all those icky post ups. Even better was his defense, he constantly made the right rotation and his coverage on the pick and roll wasn’t disastrous, which is an enormous upgrade.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 26 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | 0
Faried’s bad game was magnified by all the minutes Shaw gave to him over more deserving players, which wasn’t really Faried’s fault. That said, Ibaka demolished him on the glass and the his rim-runs were few and far between.. Without those two things, Faried is essentially useless on the court, and it showed.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 32 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3
Chandler started the game great, showing off an improved handle as he sliced his way into the lane and provided a pressure valve for Ty Lawson with a couple jumpers. And then he went cold, and the bad shots started compounding upon the good ones that he was just missing. His defense on Durant was not great but you can’t really blame him for that, and he did well elsewhere. I get why Shaw kept him out there so long, the Thunder still respected his shot, right up until the end, and that gave him some use.
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 9-17 FG | 10-12 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 29 PTS | -4
Lawson was playing on the same level as he was all season, which has been at an All-star level, through the first three quarters. But in the fourth quarter he consistently passed up open shots in favor of ill-advised passes and it wasn’t until Denver absolutely needed a bucket that he took control. The offense cannot function with him off the court and stints in the fourth quarter, where for a good majority of the time he didn’t attempt a shot, can’t happen. It’s a tough burden, but them’s the breaks for a lonely star on a middling team.
|Randy Foye, SG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11
Foye did his job and he did it well. As long as they don’t ask him to do much other than spot up and cut baseline, he’ll be a fine rotation player for the Nuggets.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +4
The “Shaw has it out for Darrell Arthur” conspiracy theory (that I just made up right now) gained real traction with this game. How in the hell did he only get 15 minutes? He defended Durant the best out of anyone else on the team, his offense was clicking, he’s been a 70-plus percent free throw shooter the last two years, he only had one foul…..And Shaw LOVES the Arthur-Hickson front-court to end games! I don’t have an explanation here.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -9
Hamilton is the mini-Chandler of this team, just minus the defense. And that’s the biggest reason why he didn’t see more minutes.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +2
He started out well, when Kendrick Perkins was his assignment and when the Thunder weren’t blitzkrieging the rim like they did in the fourth, but once Serge Ibaka grabbed a hold of him, that ended quickly.
|Andre Miller, PG 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +2
Not much to say here, Dre’s command of the offense when Lawson is out has taken a nose dive from last year and his defense certainly isn’t getting him any playing time.
|Nate Robinson, PG 9 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -3
This is what Nate Robinson is paid to do. So far this season, the offense has sunk to unspeakable depths when Lawson sits and stretches like Robinson had in the second quarter are a must when he’s out there alone. Problem is, when Lawson comes back in, NateRob doesn’t always want to relinquish that responsibility.
|Evan Fournier, SG 17 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -6
Shaw stuck Fournier on KD in the post all game so we now have definitive evidence he has it out for Evan. Actually, that worked a lot more than it should have and on the offensive end Fournier was fantastic. Why he wasn’t out there to close the game over Chandler? The world may never know….
Rotations were good, the offense was running smoothly, the defense was playing alright and then….the fourth quarter happened. It’s not Shaw’s fault that one of the best teams in the country decided to turn up the gears late in the game, but it is his fault for putting a clearly struggling Faried back in the game over Fournier or Arthur and it was his fault that his out of timeout plays at the end of the game were…..simplistic to put it kindly.
Four Things We Saw
- What in hell was that last play call. A clear out for the lob????? TO MOZGOV???? Shaw struggled mightily with the set plays to close out the game, at one point Denver ran an isolation play to get Faried the ball in the post. It ended predictably. If you’re not going to run a play, at least not run a play with the ball in Ty Lawson’s hands.
- The Westbrook-Durant pick and roll is deadly and Denver’s strategy to switch every time the Thunder rolled it out ended pretty poorly. Foye spent more time bodying up Durant than maybe anyone else on the team, which is not ideal.
- While it may not look that way now (or from reading this clearly embittered recap), this was a solid performance for the Nuggets. Their offense is rounding into form and while the defense is bordering on beyond help, we knew that going into the season. Like the Rockets before them, the Thunder are a much better team then Denver and it showed in the fourth quarter.
- Another note on Shaw, I learned from Marc Jackson of Golden State never again to judge a first-time head coach in his first year in a bad situation. This team is still missing its second best player and the roster is clearly not finely tuned to the system he is trying to instill. But that’s fine, just as we are with rookie players, patience is required in judging the merits of Brian Shaw.
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Freshman at FSU. Love the Nuggets, the beach, and the game that involves a ball that occasionally goes into the hoop.
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