If the Denver ends up having a relatively successful 2013-14 season, it’s likely that on reflection these two big wins against Dallas will be seen as the turning point. The Nuggets never relinquished their halftime lead, thanks mostly to 13-point quarters (third and fourth, respectively) from both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, whose heroics kept the Mavs at bay every time they tried to claw their way back into the game.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 34 MIN | 8-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +19As Dallas buiilt up a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter, disaster was averted largely thanks to Hickson’s 12 points in the period which helped Denver reverse the momentum and establish a lead they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game. J.J.’s 22 points were his season high.|
|Kenneth Faried, PF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -6Faried had a relatively quiet double-double in what was a defensively difficult outing for him. He really couldn’t do anything to stop DeJuan Blair in the post, and Shaw apparrently does not trust him enough defensively to let him guard Dirk. But even though this limited his minutes tonight, he still brought the energy and had an efficient offensive game.|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +13What exactly is Chandler’s role on this team? The answer is a tough nut to crack, but “glue guy” seems to be emerging as a leading candidate. So far since his return from injury, he’s making his impact felt more on defense than offense, but he was effective in his limited minutes in this game. It seems that Shaw still has some work to do to figure out how to better integrate Wilson into the flow of the offense. And starting him off defending Nowitzki puts him at a disadvantage out of the gates.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-6 FT | 3 REB | 11 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | 0In the first half Lawson deferred to the frontcourt for the bulk of the scoring, and was most visible when allowing Jose Calderon to drain wide open 3-pointers at will. (The Spaniard shot 3-4 from the arc, all in the first half). But, perhaps sensing an imminent effort by Dallas to erase Denver’s lead, Ty shifted into full-on aggressive mode in the third quarter, using a combination of drives and jumpers to pick apart the Mavs’ zone defense. He didn’t see much playing time in the fourth quarter, but his efforts in the third alone earn him high marks.|
|Randy Foye, SG 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +1Foye’s shot wasn’t falling in this game like it was two nights ago, which, for the most part, rendered him ineffective on offense. Defensively it was more of a mixed bag. He didn’t do a great job of keeping Monta Ellis out of the paint (not that that’s an easy task), but he did a decent job of chasing him around the court and pestering him enough to inhibit his playmaking and outside shooting, and limit the dimensionality of his game.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +19There hasn’t been a better example yet this season of just how crucial Darrell Arthur’s defense is for the Nuggets. Defending Nowitzki is often an exercise in futility, but Arthur did a fantastic job of it. Dirk still got some shots in (some right in Darrell’s grill), but he had to work hard for all of them, and was never permitted to get into a cozy scoring groove. And although Arthur’s scoring contribution was minimal, his presence on the court helps space the floor for a net positive impact on Denver’s offense.|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 18 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -2Aside from one late game turnover which could have proven costly (but fortunately didn’t), Hamilton had a mostly solid game. His propensity for mistakes is causing Shaw to keep him on a fairly short leash. But it’s easy to see now that he’s becoming more comfortable with his shot and his awareness of the system.|
|Anthony Randolph, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8With 3;09 remaining in the second quarter, with the Nuggets leading 50-38, Wilson Chandler got into foul trouble and Shaw sent Randolph in. By halftime, Denver’s 12-point lead had shrunk to five, and during that stretch Randolph contributed one missed shot, two fouls and some wretched defense for a -8 in three minutes. I’m not saying that is entirely his fault, but I am saying please, Wilson, stay out of foul trouble in the future.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -4It was really surprising and disappointing to see Mozgov have such a bad game against a team whose frontcourt is not very formidable. He was just terrible out there in pretty much every way, and at least on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be any good explanation for it.|
|Andre Miller, PG 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13While Dre’s stat line doesn’t exactly pop, he did pretty much exactly what he needed to do when he was on the court. His veteran leadership was on display at one point when, after a frenetic stretch of back-and-forth early shot clock 3-pointers by both teams, he calmed everyone down, slowed up the pace, and got things back under control. It’s also worth noting that six rebounds in 19 minutes is not bad for a 37-year-old point guard.|
|Nate Robinson, PG 24 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +22This was the Nate we’ve been waiting for all season. He absolutely exploded in the fourth quarter, essentially sticking in the dagger and twisting the blade until Dallas’ chances of coming back were all but wiped out. While we all knew from the start that we’d see both “Good Nate” and “Bad Nate” games, the ratio so far has been weighted far too heavily on the latter. Let us hope that tonight’s performance will be the spark that increases the frequency of “Good Nate” appearances.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3It was a tough outing for Fournier, who wasn’t able to do much of anything at all with his six minutes. In their last six games including tonight, Hamilton has averaged roughly 17 minutes per game to Fournier’s 13, and if Shaw ever decides to tighten his rotations (or when Gallinari returns), it would appear that Fournier might, at this point, be the most likely candidate for odd man out.|
Shaw started the game having Chandler guard Dirk again, with similar results as Nowitzki opened up shooting 3-3 in the first quarter. For this reason alone, I was pretty sure at halftime that I wouldn’t be giving Shaw anything higher than a B grade. But his decisions throughout the game proved to be effective. Both Mozgov and Fournier were in a funk, and he didn’t force the issue with either of them. Arthur’s great defense of Dirk was rewarded with the opportunity to stay in the game and keep at it. (Darrell’s 27 minutes in this game were a season high). Keeping Lawson benched for most of the fourth quarter is dubious on its face, but the Nate train was rolling and Shaw was correct not to derail it.It’s also worth pointing out that the team handled Dallas’ zone defense much more capably, and also did a valiant job of repelling all of their efforts to erase Denver’s lead. Shaw said a couple days ago that consecutive games against the same opponent are good practice runs for the playoffs, and by those standards these wins against a very good Mavericks team are a resounding success for his team, warts and all.
Three Things We Saw
- Free throw watch. Missed free throws didn’t undo the Nuggets in this game, but they still shot a sub-par .714, continuing their trend of struggling from the line. Particularly worrisome is Lawson’s poor free throw shooting of late. He shot 11-20 in the two Dallas games, and it can only be hoped that this does not mark the start of a new trend.
- The Arthur Effect. In tonight’s game we saw a lot to confirm what Matt recently wrote about in his post The Hidden Impact of Darrell Arthur. If you haven’t yet read it, I’d encourage you to do so now.
- 7994. Andre Miller is now just six dimes away from 8000th career.assist.and 972 away from catching Gary Payton at the 8th spot on the NBA career assists list.
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