Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112, Toronto Raptors 98

After a slow start, the Denver Nuggets eventually built a comfortable lead late in the fourth quarter and beat the Toronto Raptors on the road.

Denver Nuggets 112 FinalRecap | Box Score 98 Toronto Raptors
J.J. Hickson, PF 17 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -10Hickson started the game off poorly on both ends of the floor and was pulled very early. He started the second half but was once again a non-factor on both ends. The Raptors kept feeding Jonas Valanciunas the ball when Hickson was on him, and the Lithuanian finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Kenneth Faried, PF 20 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11Just like Hickson, Faried was benched after a slow start. His injury didn’t seem to bother him, and once he was inserted back into the lineup he was crashing the glass, grabbing nine first half rebounds in just 12 minutes. He only played 20 minutes but still put up a solid double-double.
Wilson Chandler, SF 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1Chandler was the only starter that Shaw left in the game early in the first quarter, and it’s understandable why. Wilson was doing a great job defensively, forcing Rudy Gay into tough shots, while also knocking down a couple of his own. The offense really didn’t come to Chandler though and he forced a couple of tough ones further into the game.
Ty Lawson, PG 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | +1Before the game Lawson mentioned that he is not a morning person and that he hates early games. It showed as he looked indecisive and unengaged. He got settled into the game eventually and made some shots, but nothing spectacular from Lawson.
Randy Foye, SG 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -15Foye lands borderline to an F tonight. He wasn’t hitting his shots, DeRozan was going off when Randy was on him and he had a couple of silly turnovers. His decision-making was also very questionable, as he drove down the lane several times only to force up tough fadeaway jumpers.
Darrell Arthur, PF 23 MIN | 7-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +15Arthur had his best game of the season so far. His effort on the defensive end was great to watch. He was highly effective in the pick-and-pop with Ty Lawson and finished the third quarter with a last-second steal and score. Arthur was perfect from the field, made some big shots and influenced the game in just about every possible area.
Jordan Hamilton, SF 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +15J-Ham wasn’t particularly visible throughout the game, but he held his own in the 18 minutes he played. He knocked down a couple of threes and scored in double-digits.
Timofey Mozgov, C 31 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +26So many exciting plays by Mozgov in this game. He had a ridiculous rejection on Rudy Gay and a monstrous dunk in the first half. He was hustling on the glass, was great on help defense and just had an overall fantastic game.
Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +23Miller quietly had a great first half. He created several looks for himself in his very own crafty ways and contributed a lot offensively in general. He essentially played in two spurts and showed great patience in the pick-and-roll on several instances.
Nate Robinson, PG 24 MIN | 9-14 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +2123 points in 24 minutes. 18 points in the fourth quarter. A double dagger late in the fourth to seal the deal. Welcome to the Nate show.
Evan Fournier, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6A bunch of zeros in the box score and only six minutes played pretty much sum it up.
Brian Shaw
Shaw made smart lineup adjustments throughout the game. He pulled four of his starters (everyone except for Wilson Chandler) to stop the bleeding early. Shaw trusted Arthur and Mozgov, who gave the team some solid interior defense, and didn’t force Hickson back into the lineup when he was having a bad game. His three-guard lineup to close the game out also proved very effective.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Mozgov and Arthur remain the defensive spine of this team. It seems that whenever the Nuggets are struggling defensively Shaw falls back on that particular big men tandem. One of the two could eventually earn a starting spot in order to make the starting unit more solid defensively.
  2. Much like Mozgov and Arthur, Andre Miller and Nate Robinson seemed to thrive when they were on the floor together as well. The cautious and crafty approach of Miller and the erratic style of Robinson somehow seems to work.
  3. The Nuggets once again showed their depth. The game quickly got out of hand in the first quarter, but the bench pulled it back and kept Denver in it. A long road trip awaits and the reserves will have to continue to perform.

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Vytis Lasaitis

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  • NuggZeit

    2 for 2 – 8 more to go b4 OKC

  • herpderpnuggets

    Timo and Darrell ARE THE DUDES!!!!!!! Those guys have been playing so great lately, and can make up for faried and hickson not playing so well….also, what is up with Fournier? He has been invisible lately on the offensive end.

  • Poz303

    The bench was huge today. Mozgod’s 2nd coming, Nate was huge (pun intended), Arthur was money, Miller was great, Faried was the only starter that played well.

    Great road win.

  • abrut

    Mosgov for the all-star team. . . my goodness. He’s a matchup player.. . and if the other team isn’t playing small with uber-athletic bigs,motion o, etc. . . He’s a beast and a huge weapon for us. He’ll struggle against OKC and Miami, etc. . But, on alot of nights, I’ll be glad we have Mosgov and they don’t.

  • Sharkboy242

    Nice road win. Its always great to see the Nuggets score over 110 while keeping their opponent under 100.

  • googergieger

    Dominated a team we should have. Started out awful and they were making bad shots, still glad to see Shaw play the effective players. He rewarded the bench for showing up to play. Hope we win the next few very winable games. Can’t play down to competition. Hope Shaw corrects that problem we’ve had the last couple of years.

  • heykyleinsf

    Nuggets 1, Ujiri 0.

  • Scott

    Just picture 2 months from now with Gallo back…

    A bench of Wilson, Nate, Moz, Dre, DA, and Jham/Evan…

    Oh my god.

    • Capital G

      The bench isn’t going to matter as much in the playoffs–they need a solid starting 5, and a couple key reserves. Our talent is spread too thin. It would be better to package some of our bench depth for an impact player(s).

      • Erlingur Grétar Einarsson

        It’s alright. We have the Knicks’ draft pick next year. Keep all the good players and add Andrew Wiggins next summer :)

        • Brokate

          We won’t have that pick I am pretty sure Orlando gets its choice of the lower pick between Denver or NY.

          • wusteehlo2002@yahoo.com

            Actually we get the more favorable, so we want Knicks to keep losing

            • Brokate

              Ah good to hear must of got it backwards when I saw the trade while ago.

  • David Acker

    Didn,t see the first half but liked what I saw in the second. I think we should get used to seeing games like this. Without Gallo Ty is the only real “star” type player. The others are all role players and will struggle from time to time. That;s the great thing about having such a deep bench. I’m still not sure what Shaw is doing with Fournier though. Either play him more or don’t play him at all. I’m liking 3 of the 4 offseason pickups Hickson is the only one I am not sure about. Shaw is going to have some problems if this team ever gets healthy

  • Greg Boyarko

    The team seems to be maturing. They didn’t panic after the bad opening and they put the Raptors away in the 4th. Hopefully that kind of play continues. Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch it, but I’m glad to hear Mozzy had a good game.

  • Poz303

    I agree JJ Hickson did not have a good game and glad to see Shaw make the move to Mozgov who matches up with Valanciunas much better.

  • Ban Johnson

    not actually convinced the Nuggets are a good team yet, — they’ve benefited from A LOT of wide open missed 3s by the opposition so far this year — but Arthur/Koufos trade and Nate and Foye signings are looking quite defensible now. Hickson still an open question. Karl not playing Mozgov all of last year is looking far less defensible.

    Shaw seems to get the Nuggets to play hard. That’s got to be about 60% of coaching.

    Looks like there are 3 playoff spots available in the West, and Nuggets will be competing with Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Lakers, Timberwolves, and (maybe) Pelicans for them. Yikes. Better rack up wins against the bad teams of the East on this stretch. Is there anything worse in the NBA than just missing the playoffs? At least the Nuggets have the Knicks’ pick.

    At least the Nuggets have a lot of fun, easy-to-root-for players. That sequence where Nate had to talk Lawson into passing him the ball (by pointing at Tyler Hansborough), and then drained the 3 over him, was pretty priceless.

  • Fingolfin

    The nuggets will rise again….

    Go nugs from Italy!!!!!

  • Darren

    It looks like Shaw is starting to find the most effective combinations for certain matchups. Sure, a hot guard is probably still going to carve us up, but if Nate can counter with days like today, that mitigates the big runs. If he and Dre work well together, they can give the team the jolt it was missing when they would be down in 4th quarters last year.

    I disagree that the Nuggets would work better with a smaller rotation. I think the rotation should tailor to the team you’re playing against. For example, Mozzy thrives in a few matchups, and looks aloof against others. I don’t want him starting every game of the playoffs if he’s going to trip over his matchup’s feet.

    Keep experimenting for now, but go to your reliable lineups in a pinch. Isn’t that part of what the regular season is for?

  • David Acker

    Good article in the post. It puts a good perspective on Shaw’s thinking. http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_24631049/balancing-when-winning-collides-development-can-be-difficult-coaches

    • alex47666

      Yes a very good read, he knows he has to develop players to make this a winning team

  • Trafalgar Law

    The hickson signing just doesn’t look good, he had some good games but has killed us defensively, I would rather start Arthur.

    • Poz303

      Think you are being a little too critical. He has had a few double-doubles this season and a few good blocks. He had a very bad match-up today and Shaw probably should have gone to Mozgov earlier. Plus JJ is playing out of position. The same could be said for Arthur, he had a great game today but had a shocker against the Knicks.

  • Trafalgar Law

    Knicks get us a top 10 pick i feel it.

  • Poz303

    On a different subject, Karl says Iguodala is “definitely” the mole from latest years series with GSW.

    http://bluemanhoop.com/2013/11/28/george-karl-calls-andre-iguodala-the-mole-rips-mark-jackson/

  • Poz303

    Vytis, JJ Hickson played for 17 minutes. I hardly think he was solely responsible for the 18 points and 11 rebounds that Valanciunas ended with in 37, READ IT, 37 minutes of play. Simple math, Valanciunas played more than half his minutes with JJ on the bench. “The Raptors kept feeding Jonas Valanciunas the ball when Hickson was on
    him, and the Lithuanian finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds”. I read this as placing the majority of the blame on JJ Hickson.

    I agree that JJ Hickson had a poor game and deserved a poor grade but COME ON!!! STOP BEING SO BIASED on his performances. Yes, I get it, you like Arthur.

    • BigDubz

      I hear ya but Hickson was excessively poor against Valanciunas and deserves to get called out for it. Obviously he’s not a C, but that’s not a good enough excuse because he still has the size to be a useful defender against opposing 5’s.

    • VytisRMC

      I’m aware that Valanciunas played a lot more minutes than JJ, but he did most of his damage with Hickson guarding him. He wasn’t nearly as visible and didn’t get nearly as many touches when Hickson was off the floor. If you are a starter, you are expected to put up starter production, which Hickson didn’t do on either end. Not biased just calling it like I see it.

  • BigDubz

    I have to say this Nuggets team has surprised me a bit. Not because they’re winning, but because they seem to have gelled very quickly. Chemistry is extremely important in the NBA and conflicting personalities can often times derail a talented team. This team seems to be filled with good character guys who work hard and display humility. On another note, I believe it’s time for Mozgov to start. Hickson has been very serviceable this year, but I like the tone Mozgov sets defensively when he’s in the game and by throwing out a few blows in the early stages of a game, he can disrupt the opposing team’s rhythm. Solid win.