In a rather subdued edition of #THUNDERNUGGETS Oklahoma City displayed their superiority in a game that was sloppily played throughout. Every run had an answer and despite spirited play, Denver couldn’t help but fall in the face of overwhelming talent.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 6-9 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | 0Hickson’s stat line once again kind of overplays how well he did tonight but overall there wasn’t too much to qualm over. He rolled more then he posted and his weak side rotations occasionally lead to a block or a contested shot.|
|Kenneth Faried, PF 28 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | 0Faried had trouble rotating where he needed to be, whether it be getting caught up on a flare screen for Kevin Durant or a failure to close out on an Ibaka jumper in favor of protecting an already defended rim. His go-to move in the half court, the floater, wasn’t falling and once the running stopped, so did Faried’s effectiveness.|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 31 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +5It’s hard to judge Chandler’s defensive performance as many of his switches of Durant seemed to be schematic (more on this later). In the rare times he was isolated against the superstar forward, he did as fair a job as one could expect. Offensively it was the usual, some floor spacing jumpers and a nice off the dribble game to punish hard close outs.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 13 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -6Lawson looked himself for the first time since coming back from injury, and he was gangbusters to start the game. He still passed up a lot of open looks he should be confident in taking but his drive and kick game was on point. Defensively, Shaw attempted to hide him on Reggie Jackson and more or less threw Foye to the Russell Westbrook wolf.|
|Randy Foye, SG 24 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +10Foye’s been in a shooting slump for a bit now, but he’s still taking the right kind of shots in the flow of the offense and it’s hard to punish a guy for that. On the defensive end, Foye was Denver’s sacrificial lamb, forced to either guard Westbrook one on one or switch onto KD knowing there would be no salvation found in the double that was never going to come.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 16 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -12Arthur went 0-4 from the field and ended the day with a paltry 2 points and 5 rebounds and yet, he’s going to get the best grade out of the group. There was a possession during the middle of the third quarter wherein Arthur hedged high on the opposing point to cut off dribble penetration, got back to his popping man to prevent a jumper and then disrupted the passing lane to the weak side wing by anticipating where the ball will be. These types of plays are littered throughout his paltry sum of minutes every game and that’s why he’ll keep getting A’s in my grade book.|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -17It’s hard to say what impact Hamilton had on the game as I honestly can’t remember anything too positive or negative out of him. I guess that’s something when you consider how viscerally impactful his ineptitude on defense used to be. Being a non-factor in limited minutes (before the ejection, of course) is a step a positive direction.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -11Mozgov was another non-factor, even on the defensive end he’s consistently made an impact on. The Thunder pushed the ball against whatever lineup Denver threw out there and Mozgov just could not keep pace.|
|Andre Miller, PG 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -5Miller was not much use in this game of hot-blooded, athletically balletic guards. The YMCA game has its limits, and Shaw did not want those limits tested for more then 6 minutes.|
|Nate Robinson, PG 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | -13Nate Rob’s greatest impact on this game came during the middle of the fourth where he shot the Nuggets back into the game in the most Nate Robinson fashion possible. Other than that there was not much doing for Nate during this game, the Thunder’s ultra-athletic guards abused him on both sides of the ball.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -11Evan was resurrected from the whatever grave Shaw put him in after the first few games of the season only to….get buried once again. There’s not much Fournier can feasibly contribute to this team right now other then three point shooting, a skill he seems hesitant to employ.|
The Nuggets, despite a valiant effort, were out-matched from the get-go. Shaw attempted to do what he could with a roster devoid of any guard who can feasibly check Westbrook or even Jackson, much less a wing to defend Durant and Ibaka. The rotations look a bit wonky but he was riding what was hot and quickly pulling what was not, and sometimes that’s the only strategy you have against a superior opponent.
Two Things We Saw
- As we saw against Dirk and Durant earlier in the season, Denver decided that the best strategy to guard the un-guardable was to switch on every pick and roll Durant ran and to not double once that switch was made. This lead to poor Randy Foye getting bullied and ultimately beaten in the post by Durant. The merits of this strategy in a macro sense are interesting to consider and something I plan on delving into sometime this week.
- Forgive the redundancy but it is a message that bears repeating. The Thunder are a better team, and for the Nuggets to have any hope of beating them the elevation of their game must run congruent with the depreciation of the Thunder’s. Neither thing happened in tonight’s game and the result was a loss in which the chance of winning never truly felt that tangible.
Next up: Friday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m. MST vs. Phoenix. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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