In a game Denver lead by as much as 21 points, the Nuggets succumbed to the perpetuating issues that have plagued the team all season.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 28 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -12Markieff Morris torched Hickson in the post, absolutely torched him. Hickson seems wholly consumed with gobbling rebounds and slamming the ball as hard as humanely possible through the net and….little else. He’s a power forward masquerading as a center and until he is continuously put in positions to fail, through both his own doing and through Shaw’s, it’s hard to glean anything positive out of his production.|
|Kenneth Faried, PF 21 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +7Faried was chained to the bench for much of the second half, his inability to fully blanket stretch fours was being put on a painful loop and Shaw made the correct choice to play Arthur over the Manimal down the stretch. Getting benched for Anthony Randolph though…..that’s another story.|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 32 MIN | 5-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -7Chandler was great in the first half, putting the entire repertoire on display with three point shooting and a deceptive off the dribble game. The second half, as it was to must of the Nuggets, was not very kind. The defense waned as the shots stopped falling and an air ball in the fourth aptly capped what began as such a promising start.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 3-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 13 PTS | -3Lawson has the stomach issue to fall back on but it is somewhat worrying that he’s had but one game back from the hamstring injury where he looked like any modicum of himself. Denver’s offense is predicated on Ty’s drive and they just have not been there on the consistent basis that they once were. The team will go as far as Lawson takes them and, much like his dribble drives of late, that may very well be much shorter then it should be.|
|Randy Foye, SG 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +1Denver ran a decoy pick and roll for Lawson on their final meaningful possession wherein Foye came off a double screen for a wide open look. The shot barely grazed the rim. That pretty much sums up his past month of shooting the ball. Foye’s taking the right shots, he’s just not hitting them.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 22 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -5As promised on twitter a gave Darrell an A, partly to annoy people, but mostly because he once again shone brightest among a beleaguered group of Nuggets. The gap between Arthur and any of his front court mates sans Mozgov in overall effectiveness is starting to become uncomfortably large. His jump shot has had a rough couple of weeks but teams are still guarding him like it’s going in and his defense remains the best on the team. As Matt wrote a couple day ago, it may be time for a change.|
|Anthony Randolph, SF 19 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -2Randolph had a solid first half, he was a plus-13 in 9 minutes at one point, but then his inherent Anthony Randolph-ness drug him cruelly back to earth. He lost his man both in transition and in the half court half a dozen times, he cramped the offensive spacing, and turned and-ones into two free throws one too many times. Still, he’s trying, so that counts for something. It’s not his fault Jordan Hamilton wasn’t there to soak up minutes he should never have played.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +3Mozgov was generally unusable in a game wherein the majority of the time Phoenix played without a real center. The Nuggets were playing a perpetual 4-on-5 when Mozgov was on the court, he just couldn’t keep up with the blazing Suns.|
|Andre Miller, PG 17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5Honestly it was difficult to remember what, if any, impact Dre had on this game. I’ll take that as a net positive.|
|Nate Robinson, PG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -1Mid-way though the third the Nuggets put forth a lineup of Miller-Robinson-Arthur-Randolph-Arthur-Mozgov that literally had no hope of scoring. In the moment Denver needed NATEROB the most, Robinson decided to take the magnanimous route and pass the ball within the flow of the offense. Unfortunately the flow of the offense of that lineup was akin to a lawnmower spewing miniature boulders from an ill-placed rock garden straight through the neighbors windows.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 9 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +4Slowly but surely he’s looking more and more like an NBA-caliber player. Unfortunately this is a team that doesn’t have time for projects, wins have taken ultimate precedence. Hmmmm, that sound familiar doesn’t it?|
Shaw began his post game presser by assuming the entirety of the responsibility for the loss. Usually when a team loses foothold of such an enormous lead, blame is assigned to not just one player but the team as a collective, and nothing personifies the face of the collective team like a coach. In reality, Shaw is as much to blame as the players who let the lead slip away, and the Phoenix team who kind of just hit the same shot they were missing in the first half. (Whoops grade got screwed up should be a C, but hey, Shaw’s had a tough week, maybe we should just leave the A+ up for confidence sake).
One Thing We Saw
- It’s hard to imagine looking back to the start of the season but the Suns are a better team then Denver. They’re better coached, better run, and (unbelievably) they have better players. If there is no better feeling then having your expectations enormously exceeded, as is the case with the Suns, there is probably none worse then having initially cynical expectations confirmed, or even worse, unmet. Denver’s in a precarious pendulum of oscillating expectations, from the middling ones at the start of the year, to the dirt low ones the rough start spawned, to the faintly hopeful ones the seven-game winning streak inspired. Now we’ve circled all the way back to the beginning, coming to terms with the fact that this is a middling team in a loaded West, and one that will need luck as much as anything to sneak into the playoffs. And yet, in this moment, it feels as though this clairvoyance is but a lament for a path long familiar to this franchise, one that leads nowhere but the depressingly annular cul de sac of the middle.
Next up: Monday, Dec. 21, 8:30 p.m. (MST) @ Los Angeles. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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