Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 75 Washington Wizards 74

Nate Robinson came up big as the Nuggets clawed their way to victory in DC with three game-saving stops in a row. It was one of the uglier affairs of the season featuring 20 turnovers and a Kenneth Faried benching in the second half, but Denver hung around and did just enough to come away with a win.

Denver Nuggets 75 Final
Recap | Box Score
74 Washington Wizards
J.J. Hickson, PF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -12

Like he has all season, Hickson provided exactly what we expected and nothing more. Although he was at a size disadvantage Hickson was so thoroughly outclassed by Marcin Gortat it was hard to keep him on the floor. His individual numbers were okay but he didn’t get any easy baskets and provided no rim protection whatsoever. Hickson and Faried continue to be a disastrous combo on the defensive end.

Kenneth Faried, PF 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -1

The hardest grade of the night by far. On one hand, he returned valiantly from a second-half benching to grab what could have been the game-saving rebound. On the other hand he missed two huge free throws and was an unfocused disaster in the first half. Like Faried’s season it was an up-and-down affair where the hustle and energy was just enough to cover up the glaring weaknesses.

Wilson Chandler, SF 35 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -3

The first half seemed like the beginning of his first A-effort in a long while as Chandler came out blazing, hitting his first five shots from the field. He cooled off and drifted for much of the second half but redeemed himself with a big block and some solid crunch-time defense.

Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 3 PTS | -10

Miller looked out-of-sync from the get-go, fumbling the ball in transition and missing a lot of routine passes he normally converts. Defensively he wandered a bit too much and lost shooters on the perimeter a lot. It was nothing special from Miller on a night where Denver was looking for him to step up and be more assertive.

Randy Foye, SG 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -4

Foye had a tough assignment being asked to cover the dynamic John Wall most of the night. Given the mismatch he did a pretty admirable job while stepping up in more of a facilitator role with 5 assists. Foye’s offense would have benefited from better team ball movement but he mostly avoided bad shots and made a crucial second half three to get Denver back in it.

Darrell Arthur, PF 16 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +7

Arthur had a tough time getting on the floor as Washington favored smaller lineups with perimeter-oriented forwards off the bench. He looked slow off his feet against guys like Vesely and Chris Singleton and struggled to keep Booker and Gortat off the boards. The matchups weren’t in his favor and DA didn’t look sharp, at one point passing up a shot to try a lob pass which missed badly.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +10

He is getting more settled into a role and it shows through his much improved confidence and better shot selection. He often tries to do too much when he puts the ball on the floor but Hamilton mostly stuck to spot-up threes and rebounding where he is very effective. He could be a little steadier throughout the game but with this kind of production it’s hard to complain.

Anthony Randolph, SF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5

Just not good. Randolph is capable of putting up stats with his effort but he often gives it all back with poor decision-making a lack of good fundamentals, especially on defense. Unfortunately nothing about his career says he’s ready to provide reliable rotation minutes and Shaw found that out tonight.

Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | +7

He did not go up against Gortat, and even against a severely depleted Washington front court Mozgov couldn’t stay on the floor. His big-rebound games earlier in the trip look like an anomaly as the poor-rebounding, foul-prone big man once again struggled to look respectable in a significant role.

Nate Robinson, PG 28 MIN | 6-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +11

You are going to get a few bad shots with Nate and there’s no way to change that. Nate took his fair share of head-scratchers but was really the only Nugget who had it going and actually wanted the ball. Denver doesn’t turn it around in the third quarter and probably doesn’t even break double-digits without his constant aggressiveness (Denver won the third 18-15).

Evan Fournier, SG 15 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +5

Hard to make the case that he actually deserves to keep getting minutes. His confidence looks shot and trying to force feed him a bit role seems like an experiment that has long run its course.

Brian Shaw

Down his best player, Shaw might have coached his best game of the season. It was a subpar, sloppy effort from a lethargic group that just couldn’t seem to figure it out. Shaw kept plugging away, benching Faried but still having the wherewithal to switch things up again when that didn’t work. Shaw got the most out of an off-night from his players, pulling the plug on Hickson, Mozgov and Randolph appropriately and making sure he got rebounding into the game when the Nuggets needed it. He set his ego aside and did whatever he could to win.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Denver has to do a better job keeping teams off the offensive glass. Gortat is a handful for anyone but Vesely and Booker also had their way with the much bigger and deeper Nuggets. Washington corralled 30.8% of their misses and it’s becoming pretty routine for teams to have 30+ OREB% against Denver. The Faried-Hickson starting frontcourt gives up too many boards while not really making up for it in any way on defense. This is a season-long trend.
  2. Denver got just 34 points in the paint and had 22 turnovers for 19 Washington points. Brian Shaw has talked about wanting to play hard-nosed basketball in the half-court but it’s become glaringly obvious the Nuggets just aren’t built to play that style. They are reliant on guard penetration for everything with bigs who don’t post up or draw fouls and can’t catch the ball on the move. Shaw often has no choice but to go small in order to get the offense going.
  • Scott

    I’m pretty sure the basketball gods just prefer the Wizards every time they play the nuggets… Too bad the wizards blew every chance we gave them.

    Great to see Wall just straight lose the ball on that last possession. He’s arrogant and overrated and cries after every call that doesn’t go his way. Like seriously, batting your chest after a mildly contested layup on your 12th point..? He blew 3 potential game winners as well.

    Nate carried our offense in the 4th and Kenneth came up clutch on D. The third quarter showed how much of a losing team we are without Kenneth on the floor and I’m pretty sure Shaw noticed that. I expect his minutes to stop fluctuating.

    Hopefully Ty is back after some rest by Friday, but rest up if needed as it is the Jazz.

    • alex47666

      I wouldnt say overrated, but he cant finish like ty can. thats why I see ty as a better player can do everything wall can but better. Finishes at the rim better jump shooter. But I would never say he is overrated

      • LBJ

        I would say Wall is overrated. He acted like he didn’t even want to shoot in the last 4 minutes. He had a midget guarding him and he should have been shooting every time he touched the ball. He was kicking out to scrubs instead of making open 15 footers.

  • Ban Johnson

    Wilson Chandler. Just a basketball player. He tied everything together last season on a far more talented roster and he’s doing the same thing this season.

    The stats and PER and all that don’t begin to capture his defense and versatility.

    • MacKenzie Pantoja

      I respect PER, because it’s creator, John Hollinger, readily acknowledges that it doesn’t measure on ball defense. It measures offensive everything, rebounds, blocks, and steals. But Hollinger knows it doesn’t capture everything. Still, name a stat that captures more.

  • TomRMC

    I’m with Hastings: this was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen.

    But there’s no column in the standings for “ugly”. Finishing up an NBA road trip 4-2 is pretty good no matter who the opposition is.

  • David Acker

    Didn’t get to see the first half. Why was Faried benched? Shaw finally found the right combo. Good hard fought ugly win. Good teams find a way o win games like that. No doubt in my mind that this is a good team.
    Also good to see JHam hitting he three!

    • MacKenzie Pantoja

      Faried screwed up a few box outs

    • trank

      jham has to get priorities straight, grow up. he was whining about not getting the ball when he was open, even though they just scored a short 2

      • Adam

        When the team was down the way they were, and he was hitting the way he was, he has the right idea that he could give the team a better chance to get them back in the game with a 3 ball. Playing with his heart on his sleeve. I’ll give him that emotion every time.

        • trank

          you’re right, thinking about it- i was thinking it was moot after the fact, but it was also on the court coaching – keep an eye out

  • googergieger

    Only caught the last two minutes of the game, but yeah we were beyond lucky. Don’t really have much to say beyond that, as I didn’t catch most of the game.

  • alex47666

    This was a win for sure at least, hey you can say you won scoring 75 points you played defense

    • LBJ

      We really didn’t play that great of D. They missed a ton of wide open shots.

      • matymaddog

        There’s a lot of games where teams miss wide-open shots. Was did not score 74 because they missed THAT many wide open shots. He said we played defense, we did. Maybe not GREAT defense, but the team sure as heck played defense.

  • Andrew

    This is just a question. Did last year’s Nuggets win any low scoring, close games like this? I don’t recall if they did, but it’s part of why I like this team this year.

    • alex47666

      Cause they play defense and can hit the 3 ball. I like this team cause B shaw will be a great coach for us for many years to come

    • MacKenzie Pantoja

      Just looked it up. Fewest points we scored in a win last year was an 87-80 victory over the Grizzlies.

      • alex47666

        was that the home game

        • MacKenzie Pantoja

          yes

        • TomRMC

          Yeah, that was a home game late in the season. Nuggets trailed almost the entire game and then just turned up the defense late.

    • http://americablog.com magster

      We had an ugly tough win at home against Memphis last year late in the season.

    • James Murray

      To be fair i’m a nuggets fan living in the DC area, and we won the game because wizards didn’t want to win either. Give those same opportunities to a half-decent team in the last minute and it’s a loss for sure. let’s not kid ourselves we played some amazing defence, i made a comment on how the nuggets are an offensive team and have been throughout their history, until that changes we go nowhere in the playoffs. Both teams shot lyk 40% or lower in the game, missed a lot of wide-open looks, don’t make this low-scoring game into what it’s not!!

  • kwelitysoul

    We’re watching basketball again, not street. In the least it’s a good hybrid, a good foundation for the new Nuggets era…

    • LBJ

      Looked more like grab ass than basketball.

      • Andrew

        Ha ha. That one reminded me of my Dad when we were growing up. He loved that phrase.

  • http://americablog.com magster

    Still feels like its only the end of the 3rd quarter….

  • LBJ

    I missed the intro. Why was Nene out? Hangnail?

    • http://americablog.com magster

      Loose dreadlock.

  • heykyleinsf

    Chandler finally showed up tonight.
    But 57% from the FT line.
    that’s damn disgusting.
    Glad for for the win and all..
    but that’s disgusting.

  • Ckwizard

    This next week is huge, this is where coaching makes a difference…. Good road trip with an ugly win to cap it, followed by a week of good opportunity for practice and growth. It is a work in progress after all! Go Nuggets

  • nayvee

    andre miller grade should be a D

  • The Truth

    Damn Yao, take some of that bass out of your voice. I don’t get the animosity, guess that’s what the job requires. There’s nothing disastrous about Hickson going 12-3 (or something close) as a starter, mostly next to Faried. If it was up to you Evan and AR would never see time in the NBA again, c’mon man. It’s called energy and hustle, you probably never played either. I’m not out to dog the writers here but y’all make it so easy.

    What we saw tonight was respect from the refs for a defensive effort and consistency the Nuggs put forth – effort from guys like AR and Evan. If I was a Wiz fan, the last two minutes where Wall was roughed up would of drove me to throw the remote. Respect is needed to become a good defensive team and be able foul w/out the whistle blowing, more of the Shaw impact.

    BTW, what is this innate desire among all the pundits to see a 9 man rotation and 35 plus minutes for four or five cats every night? I don’t get it. Does it make it easier to cover a team that way?

    And Ernie, you can’t look at one box score and discount my previous comment about the Championship teams ensuring 11 guys are ready to contribute.

    The point is, you either shrink the bench come playoff time or expand it. Those who expand the benches are championship coaches.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ Charlie

      Hickson as a starter has been a positive, but the defensive struggles haven’t exactly gone away. While it’s true the defense has improved in the recent stretch of winning the Nuggets are also struggling to guard the center position. If you look at 82games that is the position where Denver is weakest and giving up an average PER of 18.3

      http://www.82games.com/1314/1314DEN5.HTM

      So it’s not to say that Hickson has been a failure as a starter by any stretch, but he hasn’t turned into a different player. There are legit concerns about his D and the combo of him and Faried being able to guard the paint and keep teams off the boards. Hickson has become more efficient and reliable with his production as a starter but those weaknesses keep showing up.

      As for going with a deeper rotations I agree with a lot of your points but development has to be part of that equation as well. With a guy like Fournier I’m not sure we’re seeing any of that compared to where he was last year, when he had more of a role and more opportunites

      • The Truth

        Evan’s role seemed to diminish over time with Karl too. He gets in the paint and mixes things up, but struggles to finish. Chauncey B had the same problems his first few years. I see worth despite the numbers and lack of J Ham type success.

        Teams are targeting Faried and Hickson as expected. Hickson needs to stop trying to block shots and stay on the ground; Faried needs to protect the paint better by using his athleticism and stop fouling outside the paint. These things and rebounding are hard to teach. I still like the current lineup and wouldn’t disturb this for a so called proven big like Asik. When Gallo and McGee come back, Hickson and Faried should improve defensively. I’m more concerned about the culture of poor defensive rebounding – that Shaw hasn’t fixed yet – and Hickson becoming a part of it. I didn’t expect him to be a different player, but don’t want to see him digress either.

      • matymaddog

        Regarding development, I can’t honestly say that I have seen any of our players regress since the season started. Shaw has been in Denver for how long? Nuggets have been playing competitive games that count for how long? We are 13-8 so we have played 21 games. Just over a quarter of the season in the books with a new head coach who is trying to install more half-court offense than Denver has seen in a decade. Rather than benching players who perform below par on defense like Karl did (nothing against that approach, it’s just hard to learn from mistakes when you aren’t given the chances to make them). He does make adjustments but we aren’t seeing anyone in the dog house.

        Unless you suspect Fournier of being in one because you fell in love with him last year. I tried to tell people all off-season that I thought JHAM > Fournier and that he deserved minutes. I was mocked for it on this blog. For those paying attention, Fournier had a honeymoon period with us. He flashes play-making ability but then becomes careless with the ball, selfish with it, and also loses focus when he has long stints on the court. Karl started the kid for 6 minutes at the beginning of two playoff games against GS and then benched him until the last 2 minutes of the 4th (When the game was pretty much over). He struggled after only one good game in the preseason and looked like he had not been focusing on his game in the offseason. He had actually regressed while people point to JHAM’s struggles they forget he had just found out about the death of a family member and when he came back from the funeral he was on fire. Fournier also didn’t make the French National Team which was something he was very vocal about looking forward to while his friend and our 2nd round pick PF Joffrey Lauvergne (Who is actually doing quite well in his euroleagues being close to averaging a double double) did make it.

  • Jeff

    Man, why are the writers against using the whole roster? They’re getting paid to play not practice. Randolph is wild but he was crashing the boards and playing with a chip on his shoulder. Fornier is struggling this year but he will figure it out. I say give them a couple minutes a night and if they’re rolling let them play longer. They might not catch a rhythm in 5 minutes but they won’t catch a rhythm on the bench either. I also don’t get why te writers hate Hickson. His D ain’t great but he plays hard and puts people on posters.
    The thing I don’t love about JHAM is he always looks like he’s going at half speed. I remember seeing kevin Garnett out hustle him to a lose ball against the nets. That’s unacceptable.

  • astraight

    Liking most of what Shaw has been doing, but why no love for Quincy Miller? Is he really worse than Anthony Randolph? I want to turn off the TV every time I see Randolph on the floor, why not give Quincy a shot?

    • alex47666

      Well they play different positions for starters, When he benched faried he wasnt going to use a SF to get inside the paint and get rebounds. No you are going to use your PF Randolph

      • astraight

        Well that’s just simply not true. If Randolph was only a PF, then why is he listed as a SF and why did he start a few games at the beginning of the year at SF while Wilson was out?

        • John

          Quincy too small to play PF though. Randolph is like 6’10″

          • John

            It’s not like Quincy’s a stretch 4 either.

          • astraight

            Yeah, I guess my comment was less about the decision to not play him last night and more about how Quincy has yet to even see the floor this season when Randolph seems to me to be pretty much useless

          • TomRMC

            AR is 6’10″ and 205 lbs. Quincy is 6’9″ and 210 lbs. They’re pretty much the same size.

  • Marv

    Anyone know when Lawson will be back? It’s obvious that our team is not nearly the same without him. Kind of scary to see our offense is that vulnerable without one PG.