Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City Thunder 105 – Denver Nuggets 93

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.

Oklahoma City Thunder 105 Final

Recap | Box Score

93 Denver Nuggets
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.
Brian Shaw
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  • Robert Dinsmore

    Is it just me or did Brian Shaw determine before the game tht he would lose? He played to lose against the #1 team. He must have some motivational thing he I doing because he sat Faried, Miller, and Robinson a lot of the game while playing Fornier and Jham for way more minutes than they deserved, Then, with 1 1/2 minutes remaining he put in Quincy which is more embarrassing than anything for QMill. Strange game for sure. I think that they had a chance if the coach would have gone for it.

    • heykyleinsf

      Would agree with everything except worrying about Fournier’s minutes… seemed to me he deserved them a lot more than Foye did.

    • Shae Crombie

      I only disagree with one thing you say and that is “I think they had a chance if the coach would have gone for it.” We had chances all game, but we couldn’t take advantage of any opportunities. KD was getting his usual superstar calls and they started pulling away quarter after quarter. We couldn’t hit anything at one point we were 1-11 on field goals only down by 10. We had chances just lacked focus all night.

  • heykyleinsf

    IDK David.. you seemed pretty generous to Foye and mean to Robinson… Foye played 24 minutes and did what again? Nate at least did something even if one dimensional.. But maybe I’m just biased against Foye… who is to me.. by far.. the least impressive starter we’ve had all year. Don’t understand or like that he is a starter for us. I guess I’ll keep looking for good in him.

  • Paul Griggs

    Wow, this was a grinchly game…stink, stank, stunk…bring back George Karl!

    • Sharkboy242

      LMAO

      How am I not surprised you’re a George Karl apologist?

  • Richard Pesicka

    I generally only watch the Nuggets when they are fun to watch. And I don’t like Westbrook as a player or his attitude. Watching last nights game was a waste of time. Putting the nuggets in a gym against an overly matched team like OKC is like
    Modesto single A farm team playing the Rockies. Oh wait, Modesto would probably win, bad example. But you get my drift. Out played, Out classed and out coached.

  • Poz303

    Ok, I am wondering how a stat line of 0-4, 2 pts, 16 min gets an A because he played some good defensive possessions? A plus/minus of -12.

    Dont get me wrong, I like Arthur, I think he is our best defensive PF but I hardly think this performance merited an “A”,

    While Hickson is certainly not the best defender and missed a couple of shots that are harder to miss than make he did have a much larger contribution. I think a “B” grade was the correct grade but if you give Arthur an “A” then I think Hickson probably deserved better.

  • Evan Fiala

    man, watching this game got me thinking… we need to make a trade or something. there’s no way we’ll be able to compete with the top teams in the west with the roster we have right now. like it was mentioned above, we can give it our best shot but they are just too good. 2 superstars to rely on will win easily in a series over a team like Denver. we’re too good to tank but not quite good enough to make a serious run.

    we control our destiny… none of this waiting on gallo to come back/bank on the knicks losing. if we keep this complacent attitude we’ll just be sorely disappointed come seasons end, which isn’t anything new.

    • Charliemyboy

      Didn’t we beat them with that poor George Karl last year?

      • Richard Pesicka

        George Karl was a better coach, is a better coach, and ever shall be a better coach.

        • heykyleinsf

          right now.. I would say yes.. Indefinitely?
          Why don’t we wait until we get our 2nd best player back before we decide that.

  • Paul Griggs

    Sharkboy, I’m no Karl apologist. His successes and failures speak for themselves. He had this team play better offense (I’d guess by about 4 ppg so far), better organized and more energetic defense (but he had better defenders in Koufos, Gallo and Iggy) and better success that Shaw has had so far (too soon to tell, if he can get them to play team defense and box out better, I think he’ll be good). Karl was a defensive minded coach that liked to play a bunch of 6’8″ guys and he got the most out of his talent. This team is not contending for a championship under Shaw–not with this talent and not until Shaw shows more consistency. Karl is a HOF coach with more wins than all but 6 coaches and the 10th best winning percentage for a large number of games. This team better start playing better or we’ll miss the playoffs. Sharkboy, you must think that basketball is all about turning your back to the rim, pound the ball and keep backing your end into the defender and then turn around and shoot. You need to learn about team players–like Tim Duncan. Not the most talent but they get results b playing with their teammates and doing the little things. Nate Robertson is the exact opposite of that and so is your man Monta Ellis–good stats, won’t win titles.

    • Adam

      If you want people to take you seriously, you should probably learn the name of the players you’re trying to discuss. Nate RobINson, not RobERTson. Didn’t even bother to read what your points were.

      • Paul Griggs

        That was intentional–I think so little of the guy

  • Aaron

    Only thing positive right now as a Nuggets fan is that the Knicks keep losing…Nuggets are just a normal 7th or 8th seed with a 5 game exit in the playoffs again…

    • Andrew

      Yep. The pick is could be absolute gold. Nobody thought Nuggs would be a contender this year, anyway. Even had they kept Karl and Iggy and the rest of the players from last year, they would not be a contender. They have holes to fill, and need to get Gallo back and playing well.

      • gimpcom187

        Likely it will end up toward the 8-10 pick or so. The EAst is so horrific there is almost no chance they end up behind Orlando, Philly, Milwaukee and Utah. Toronto has made indications that tanking is a possiblity. Sacramento and Chicago. Brooklyn and Boston will likely end up toward high 30s wins but it’s not out of the question the knicks will too. Knicks won’t tank. Best case scenario is Melo or Chandler goes down for another 20-30 game stretch (or melo gets shoulder surgery he was looking at) and they end up toward 5th worst record.