At the buzzer, Randy Foye blocked Carmelo Anthony’s fadeaway jumper and denied Denver’s former star his first win as a Knick in his old stomping grounds. The Nuggets won their fifth straight game, and are officially on a roll, having won eight of their last ten.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 32 MIN | 4-9 FG | 5-10 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +6Hickson had a big impact early in the game, scoring nine of his 13 points and pulling down seven of his 11 rebounds in the first half. But in the second half he did something between mostly disappearing and turning into a liability as he missed four of his eight free throw attempts in the fourth quarter, helping the Knicks to stay in the game down the strretch. He also did practically nothing defensively to stop Andrea Bargnani, who scored 22 points on 11 shots.|
|Kenneth Faried, PF 21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +12Faried was injured in the second quarter, and had to leave the game in the third due to what was reported as a right quadricep contusion. But even before getting hurt, he really wasn’t very effective in this game. Hopefully his injury will prove not to be too severe and he won’t miss any games, but given how badly he was limping in the second quarter, the decision by the training staff to allow him to continue playing seems questionable.|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +6Chandler had a fairly efficient but quiet game on offense, but did a commendable job of defending Melo, who ended up shoooting 8-22 and did more of his damage when being guarded by Arthur. It still appears that his role is less clearly defined than that of most of his teammates, and that could be limiting his touches and his impact.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 5-10 FG | 10-12 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +6In the first half, Lawson was having his way with the Knicks, aggressively attacking the rim and basically executing in any way he desired. Later in the game, however, Mike Woodson made an adjustment and put Iman Shumpert on him, which successfully impeded the damage Ty was able to do. On the defensive end, he was completely unable to keep Raymond Felton out of the paint. The Knicks really took it to Lawson and Hickson with Felton-Bargnani pick-and-rolls they couldn’t find answers for, and although Felton only scored eight points, he created many more off his repeated drives to the paint. Most of his seven assists were dished out there, and not showing up in the stat line are all the free throws resulting from his passes down low. Lawson did make a couple pretty great defensive plays in the second half, but moving forward the Nuggets will either need to find a way to help him get better or hide him on defense.|
|Randy Foye, SG 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +4Randy Foye’s block on Melo was the play of the night, but not to be overlooked is the fact that he played a very solid all-around game, including a few big 3-pointers. Foye does not escape culpability for allowing Felton into the paint as well, but his game-winning play makes it hard to drop his grade.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 15 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -4Arthur struggled defending Carmelo. He has the size and strength to face him up, but just not the lateral quickness to stay with him, and Melo exploited that mismatch to the fullest extent possible, burning Darrell with crossovers and spin moves that left him little resort but to foul. Being forced to defend out of position is not, of course, entirely his fault, but he wasn’t able to contribute much on offense, either.|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 14 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -8J-Ham followed up a couple of solid outings with a disappointing performance tonight. Part of the reason Arthur ended up spending so much time defending Melo was that when Shaw sent Hamilton in to give it a go, it ended about as disastrously as might be expected. To make matters worse, he couldn’t get his shot falling either, and was essentially a liability in this game. He has been plagued by inconsistency this season, but the one exception to that – and perhaps the brightest silver lining here – is his rebounding.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 16 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -3It continues to defy logic how unaware Mogov seems to be of his own size and strength. Against a team like the Tyson Chandler-less Knicks, with no real presense in the middle to speak of, it would be hoped that Timo might try to play more aggressively and throw his weight around a little more. But instead he found a way to make himself — the biggest guy on the floor — fade into the backdrop and disappear, with the exception of a few blocks. In the first five games with JaVale McGee, Mozgov averaged 17 minutes per game, and in the five after that, 19.2. In the latest five, however, his playing time has slipped down to just 15.7 mpg on a team in which he’s the only true center available. What looked like a promising start to the season for Mozgov is now looking more concerning.|
|Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | -5Miller didn’t do a whole lot of good or bad in this game, but his minus-5 tonight could have been much worse if more of the open shots he gave to J.R. Smith had been dropping. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, however. Miller also extended his “hot 3-point shooting” (scare quotes intentional) by hitting his one attempt tonight, a buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter. He is now 7-9 from the arc (.778) this season.|
|Nate Robinson, PG 18 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -3Robinson scored the first ten points of the second quarter, single-handedly keeping the Nuggets afloat, and had a similar scoring spurt in the second half. Nate has really ratcheted up his performance lately (more on that below), and now appears to be the clear leading sixth man for the Nuggets. And while, like Lawson and Foye, he shares blame for not guarding the perimeter very well, he was the guy who kept Denver ahead when Lawson was resting on the bench.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1If you didn’t even notice that Fournier played five minutes in this game, you probably were not alone. If he wants to earn more playing time, it specifically is on nights like these when J-Ham is struggling that he needs to make the most of his chances. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do much in this game. When it comes to Fournier, I’m like Fox Mulder with UFOs: I want to believe. But at this point it seems more likely that Shaw could cut him out of the rotation than that he’ll suddenly turn it around. I hope not, but it seems that that’s where things could be heading.|
Shaw was faced with one very difficult decision before this game even tipped off: Who will guard Melo? It was a night when we could see clearly just how much this team misses Gallinari, and Shaw didn’t really have a lot of great options. But his team at the very least kept Melo’s game on the inefficient side.
What wasn’t there at all was defending the pick-and-roll and 3-pointers. The Knicks quite easily sliced up Denver’s defense (especially with the above-mentioned Felton and Bargs) by repeatedly running P&R’s at them, and if J.R. Smith and Felton hadn’t been ice cold from the arc, thus missing the many wide open looks they got there, the Nuggets would have lost this game.
Woodson clearly made the better halftime adjustments, and along with the defensive issues there were some other sketchy decisions made by Shaw, including some outright terrible inbound plays which could have cost the game, and the way things were going, if Anthony had sent the game into overtime, the Knicks would have had the momentum. It’s hard to downgrade a coach when he gets a win, but the grade shouldn’t necessarily get a bump when he just gets kind of lucky, either.
Three Things We Saw
- State of Nate. Nate Robinson has finally found his groove. Through Denver’s current five-game winning streak, he is averaging 12.6 points per game, compared with 6.6 in the previous ten games, and is getting those points more efficiently in every way possible. His percentages are all up (.444 FG%, .524 3pt% and .923 FT% in the last five compared to .324, .364 and .778 before that, respectively), his shot selection has become more efficient (.467 3-point attempt rate in the last five compared to .324 in the first ten), and he’s getting to the line more frequently (.289 free throw rate in the last five compared to .132 before). If history is any indication, we will see some more inconsistency from Nate through the course of the season. But if he can deliver “Good Nate” performance the majority of the time, it will be a great boon for the Nuggets.
- No Melo drama. As the course of the game went on, it seemed that the intensity and volume of Nuggets fans booing Carmelo tapered off. The boos will always continue, I’m sure (as they have with Kobe), but it sounded to me like when it comes to the trade and Melo’s dissing of Denver, people are pretty much over it. But hopefully they’re keeping a healthy stock of boos in reserve for the return of The Mole on Dec. 23.
- Eastbound. The Nuggets are heading east for a six-game road trip that includes a 4-in-5 in the middle. The schedule will be hectic, but all the teams they’re facing are ostensibly beatable: Toronto, .Brooklyn, Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington all have losing records. Exhaustion may be Denver’s biggest impediment to success on this trip, but Shaw has a deep bench to lean on, and if they can win a blowout or two they can get extra rest for their starters. Also, please be advised of the early game time this Sunday (see details below).
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Next up: Sunday, 11 a.m. MST at Toronto. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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