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.
|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.
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
- 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.
- 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.