The Nuggets withstand a furious second-half comeback from Dallas and grind out a two-point win to move back to .500 on the season. It wasn’t pretty but the Nuggets put six scorers in double figures and make just enough plays to escape with a win, their fifth in a row at the Pepsi Center.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 29 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -11
JJ is usually pretty reliable on the defensive glass but he didn’t show up there tonight against one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Hickson is also becoming a ballstopper on offense as he now has 20 turnovers to just 8 assists on the season. Against a perimeter-oriented team like Dallas he doesn’t bring much to the table defensively and he was only effective for a short opening stint against Dalembert, who doesn’t need to be guarded.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 31 MIN | 7-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +2
Faried’s relentless energy earns him the only A of the night. It wasn’t perfect nor pretty as Kenneth consistently missed rotations on the perimeter, but he was the least up-and-down of all the rotation players and his constant presence on the boards is probably the biggest reason the Nuggets escaped with a win.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 21 MIN | 4-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -7
Brian Shaw followed through on his plan to get Chandler more involved on offense and the results were pretty brutal to watch. As the screener Wilson was content to stand still and hoist perimeter shots early and often. Force-feeding him touches took Lawson out of the pick and roll game with everyone else and hurt the offense in general. I do give him a lot of credit for being extremely active on defense. His versatility was on display as he provided solid perimeter defense as a small ball 4.
|Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 5-10 FG | 8-14 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +4
The numbers are gaudy and would have been even better had Ty not missed nearly half of his 14 free throw attempts. However Lawson just played a passive game and failed to provide sustained energy and leadership throughout. The Nuggets were reliant on garbage buckets and transition offense the entire second half. It seems harsh but the brutal offense in crunch time and inability to properly execute largely falls on him.
|Randy Foye, SG 29 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +2
Foye sank the biggest shot of the night and generally stuck to what he does best: spotting up for threes.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 16 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +4
It really is baffling he could not get more minutes in a game like this. Arthur had the hot hand and naturally was the perfect counter against the Mavs, who are not going to pound it inside and wanted to force Denver’s offense to run through the perimeter. Dallas was small most of the game and I don’t understand why Shaw continues to treat Arthur as if he’s on some kind of medical minutes restriction.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 12 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +10
Vince Carter was a -27 in the first half, before a three-point barrage in the third brought Dallas all the way back into the game. Hamilton just didn’t pay attention to his assignment and his +10 in limited minutes is the most misleading stat of the night.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +4
The plodding 7-footer was manhandled by the 6-7 DeJuan Blair and just looked a step slow the entire night. The Mavs weren’t running anything through the post and didn’t play a traditional center, so I have to wonder why Denver needed the poor rebounding and stone hands of Mozgov on the floor for 13 minutes.
|Andre Miller, PG 14 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4
It’s tempting to give Miller an incomplete, but he moved into ninth place on the all-time assist list and used his veteran savvy to draw a few doubles and create open looks. On a night the Nuggets were struggling to execute on offense Andre did what he could. Miller really isn’t getting enough burn to properly judge his play though.
|Nate Robinson, PG 26 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2
Nate made his threes and didn’t get into trouble with his shot selection. He is kind of an odd fit to be playing off the ball so much and that is what makes his performances pretty tough to judge. Overall his impact has been hard to notice, not just tonight but throughout the entire season.
|Evan Fournier, SG 10 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0
Fournier is not getting enough time to properly judge and assess his contributions. He is playing well but without more guidance on his role and what is expected of him it’s hard to understand where he’s at or what’s going on here.
I thought Shaw should have called a timeout up one with the ball and around 40 seconds left. For the first time in years the Nuggets have an offense with set plays and it was the perfect opportunity to run one. Instead the Nuggets looked confused at how to manage the clock and won the game crashing the boards for hustle points. Shaw made some great adjustments like speeding things up against the zone and yanking Hamilton, but he curiously stuck with a struggling Hickson and Mozgov for far too long. It’s been tough to assess Shaw all season because he has generally followed a script of playing 11 guys with very minor adjustments night-to-night.
Two Things We Saw
- Lawson’s struggles aside, the Nuggets actually made free throws tonight. Denver was 13-16 from the line not considering Ty’s uncharacteristic 8-14 performance. I’ll take a bad night at the line from Lawson if he earns 14 trips. Denver improved in this area of emphasis even though it doesn’t look like it and that’s one of the few positives on the night.
- The Nuggets scored just 37 points in the second half and narrowly avoided what would have easily been the worst loss of the season. They are a .500 team once again but have missed multiple opportunities to prove to themselves and others that they are getting rid of some of the habits that make the Nuggets appear like one of the most decidedly average teams in the league.