Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111, Memphis Grizzlies 108

After dropping eight games in a row the Nuggets were finally able to hold it together for 48 minutes and secure a win at home. Randy Foye, Evan Fournier and Timofey Mozgov all shined, but it was Ty Lawson’s 18 points, 12 assists and three steals that sealed the deal for the Nuggets.

Memphis Grizzlies 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

111 Denver Nuggets
J.J. Hickson, PF 23 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -2

Not only was Hickson impotent on offense, but he couldn’t do anything to prevent Zach Randolph from scoring down low.

Kenneth Faried, PF 29 MIN | 7-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -1

This was the most points Faried has scored since November 23. That’s sad. Faried is a much better player than this. Unfortunately, this is his role now. He had a lot of typical “hustle” baskets and was one of the only players on the floor showing visible emotion all game long. He couldn’t defend Zach Randolph at all, but neither could anybody else. This was one of his better games in a long time.

Wilson Chandler, SF 31 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -2

Chandler once again didn’t do much. Given half an hour of playing time, you’d expect more than eight points and four rebounds, but thus is life with Wilson Chandler these days.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | -9

Lawson was great. He started hot and never relented. He had a double-double by halftime and hit a huge three down the stretch to virtually seal the game for the Nuggets. His ball handling and distribution in particular were impressive. It seems he’s finally learning how to distribute at an elite level.

Randy Foye, SG 34 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +1

Foye continued his solid play as of late. He made a few long twos (that probably won’t fall for him next game) but his shot selection in general was good. He took what was available to him and shot the ball with confidence. He also did small things — like play defense, rebound and hustle — to help his team win. Hopefully his slump has passed.

Darrell Arthur, PF 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5

Arthur had an OK game. He played admirably against Randolph but couldn’t contain him in the end.

Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 7-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +14

I was so impressed with Mozgov all game long. The gamut of his offensive repertoire is vastly overlooked, partly due to his own decision making. But in games like this where he plays with confidence there’s no way he can’t score. Whether it be hook shots, jumpers, up-and-under baskets or simply monster dunks from running the floor, when Mozgov puts his mind to it he can really make a difference. He also had two huge blocks and was the only one who gave Z-Bo problems down low.

Nate Robinson, PG 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +13

Yes, Nate played well. His distribution and hustle were great. But there were still two or three shots he took that were awful and could have easily not gone in. In such a tight game, those types of shots can cost you a win. And at this point, the Nuggets need all the wins they can get.

Evan Fournier, SG 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +6

Story of the game, hands down. Fournier hasn’t played a lot this season and hasn’t played this many minutes in a month, yet his 12 points match a season high. I feel his biggest problem is thinking. He does too much of it. Tonight he just went out and played. But the real reason he gets an A is his defense. He actually played with intensity on that side of the ball, unlike most of his teammates lately. Let’s hope he continues to log minutes moving forward.

Brian Shaw

The Nuggets came prepared to play. They played hard on both ends of the floor all night and won. Though I take issue with how they came out in the second half (again), I can’t downgrade Shaw too hard as the Nuggets actually won for the first time in forever.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The biggest question facing the Nuggets right now is whether they’re a good team that’s playing bad, or a bad team that’s playing about how they should be. I have a really hard time assuming it’s the latter. This team has a lot of talent. I’m not saying they’re anything other than a seven or eight seed in the West, but I do think they could be that. Losing eight games in a row is just not acceptable. Shaw still needs to find an identity, rotation (notice the small one tonight, and thus, the win) and some form of cohesion and consistency from his team. If he can’t narrow down his rotation and give players consistent minutes night in and night out, I just can’t imagine this team getting on track.
  2. I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m a huge Kenneth Faried fan. I understand he sucks at defense and has many limitations on offense, but since when did the NBA become a league where you’re defined by what you’re not good at? Prior to this year Faried was on nothing but a positive trajectory with a few minor bumps in the road. Now, he’s just another role player with a good game every now and then. I tend to think that’s somewhat ridiculous. Faried is too young, too energetic and too good in general to be relegated to this type of role. Shaw must feed the Manimal. Feed him minutes and he will produce. It’s simple. It’s just like Field of Dreams. You build it, they will come. Feed the Manimal, he will produce. Same freaking thing. It’s not rocket science. It’s basketball.
  3. Fournier gave a pretty interesting postgame interview. He’s mostly a stoic type of dude, but he talked with emotion and vigor about his performance. He said he had some bad thoughts going through his head lately and went out of his way to ask coach Shaw what he could do to get into the lineup. Apparently Shaw gave him an answer and Fournier listened, as he’s logged significant minutes in the last two games. This is great news. Fournier could have easily moped on the bench and presumed his playing time was out of his hands, but he chose the opposite approach and took his destiny into his own hands. I can’t wait to see how he reacts in future games.

Next up: Sunday, Jan. 5, 7:30 MST @ Los Angeles Lakers. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.
  • Tyler Stevens

    It’s about time we got the W, and Ty plays like the guard we know he can be.
    And look at it this way: 15-17, Still top15 in the west! haha

  • googergieger

    I won’t be a negative nancy tonight. Glad we got the W. Hopefully this starts a streak or something.

  • Sharkboy242

    Finally Shaw distributes the minutes to only nine players. I don’t care if people have to get benched, this is what our rotations should be every night. Nine players getting 20+ minutes a night. Doing so will not only instill confidence into every player but it will also give them a feeling for having a certain role on the team.

    Miller is old and really has no business playing in anymore Nuggets games. Right now any minute given to Miller should be used on our actual future (Even Fournier or Quincy Miller). Management needs to get him out of here, he should be playing for a contending team.

    Nate and Fournier came up big for us. Finally a win!

    • Darius

      What happens when A. Miller, Gallo and Javale come back? Who leaves the rotation.. we are in serious need of a trade

      • herpderpnuggets

        I think, and this may be a longshot, but since CP3 just went down, and Miller just bitched out Shaw, the Clippers might have a case to make a trade with us.

  • trank

    fournier needs to be included every night. maybe shaw played jordan a few games to point out the limitations. Q miller needs time too. if nugs can get playoffs good- otherwise get some good young players for the long run. the idea that the new recruits have to produce right away is ridiculous. if you draft someone you cant fit into a 2 or 3 year assessment you’re an idiot.

  • Poz303

    Just left the Pepsi Center, nice win, much better effort and great to see Fournier out there. Bad start to the second half but Robinson provided the spark we needed and got the crowd into it.

    • heykyleinsf

      All offseason I thought Fournier was going to be our starting 2.
      It may be nothing, then again it may be reflective of everything…
      how he’s been relegated to the last option. I still don’t think of much happening this season.. which is one of the main reasons I’m done
      with Foye and Miller.
      Play Fournier. Just because.

  • alex47666

    Glad it only took 8 losses in a row before shaw played Fours.

  • heykyleinsf

    34 points in the 4th…. are we talking season high?

  • The Truth

    I still think the 9 man rotation is dogmatic and antiquated. The tenth and eleventh man must step up to win it all or reach the finals. Whoever has developed that ability and expands their bench in the playoffs, as opposed to shrinks it, has an advantage. That’s the reality.

    Isn’t this the G Karl lesson over the last decade?

    Nate is Shaw’s only bench player that needs consistent minutes to stay hot and confident. Mozzy and Evan give the same every time, no matter how much time they get. Evan should actually run more PG, he knows how to slow things down and get into a play better than Ty, Foye and Nate.

    This naturally brings us to Dre Miller. He is looking for his retirement contract, and I think he’s going about it the wrong way. He should of took a back seat and helped Shaw coach this team, playing sparingly when the veteran post up presence was needed. His resume alone would get him a decent retirement contract here or somewhere, but either he’s too much of a competitive guy or insecure over his friend Iggy apparently doing better.

    And what about J Ham? He recently failed to make the top 9. Will he lose confidence and not be ready when needed later on?

    Whatever, enough on minute distribution . . . good win tonight. They fought through that mid 3rd and late 4th quarter moment when they’ve lost games recently. They have the pieces to make the playoffs. This team – and their coach – just needs to stay confident in their abilities.

    • Nugman

      I agree on Evan. He really seem to make difference when we hit our low time in the third. His ability to get in the paint and create for himself and others was huge. He needs more opportunity to do this. I think his size is big factor when he penetrates into the paint. Ty and Nate have trouble when the bigs rotate to stop them, but Evan can shoot over them. And would someone please tell Ty to quit picking up his dribble every time a big rotates to stop him. Keep the dribble alive!

  • Nugman

    It was great to get the win and see guys step up. We needed it! But I still question why Shaw left Nate in the game on the last possession. Griz needed a quick 3 so the Nugs should’ve had long arms out there to make the shot tougher. Of course, Miller ends up getting a clear look over Nate who couldn’t even bother his view of the bucket. A taller defender would have made the shot much tougher. Shaw got lucky it missed or everyone would have been asking why Nate was on the floor. These are the things that bother me about Shaw. This is a little league substitution that he should have made, but routinely doesn’t. He should’ve had his 5 best jump shot defenders on the floor.

  • Dan Sivertson

    The Nuggets just don’t have the pieces to be much more than a mediocre team – especially limiting the minutes of players like Kenneth Faried. To be a contending team you need at least two premier players, a very strong supporting cast, and brilliant coaching and strategy. They took such a big step backwards this summer that it may take years to recover. I had hoped to see better, but I am now convinced the opposite is true. Where are the massive blowouts we have seen in recent years (e.g., 30+ point differentials)? We have none of those yet this year. So far we have one 24 point differential win against Brooklyn on 3-December – the best for Fall 2013. I was such a huge fan of the Nuggets during the George Karl years – so many teams would love to be in the playoffs as the Nuggets were year after year. I think those were the golden years. I hope the Nuggets organization proves me wrong.

    • Charliemyboy

      We win so I’m happy for a night. Dan, you are on point. Josh should see the perspective of Connelly along with his past to note that he can not see the whole picture like Masai did. He should reconsider his management at some point. Shaw got lucky but still doesn’t know how to get the team to run and it will be years to build a boring grinding team. Don’t look to getting another Melo; the all stars aren’t interested in Denver, except to pass through. That’s because of the organization. San Antonio got a super star and developed others and are perennial. But they have the coach and trust and contiguity. Miami is there. LA used to be. GS is on it’s way. With proper coaching we can win games, but will not go far in playoffs for years. Why do you think Karl had them scoring by the rim? Cause the can’t shoot when defended. People that make millions of dollars better be special. Shaw has to quit thinking about playing who plays hard and smart and think about determining how to inspire and manage players to demand that of themselves.

      • Dan Sivertson

        I completely agree Charlie. You are seeing clearly on this one. I too rejoice when the Nuggets win. It’s just very hard to see the results of the management decisions from this year. One of my friends at NASA says that “It’s all about management” – well, I’m seeing that this is very true in the Nuggets organization. Without good management, people do not flourish, they languish and die on the vine as Andre Miller is doing right now.

    • The Truth

      I couldn’t take another stellar season to see it blow away in a playoff breeze. That’s not quite my definition of golden age. Coaches make their name in the postseason.

      • Dan Sivertson

        This year’s team is so bad I’ve stopped watching the games altogether. Better to have entertaining basketball and make the playoffs than boring basketball and miss the playoffs. That’s the real choice for Denver right now. There are no championships in the near future. We don’t have the management team to make that happen.

        • The Truth

          You need a coach and a management team, there needs to be a relationship. Too soon to tell for this squad. I find the rebuilding process entertaining as we emerge from a “good” run that ultimately went no where.

          We’re talking first round exits 90% of the time, not even decent runs in the playoffs. That had to end one way or another at some point, for it to fester is proof of management’s intent to do nada.

          • gimpcom187

            Look at the previous 15 years to karl. They made the playoffs 3 times never more than 43 wins. The truth is this team hasnt started their rebuild. The truth is the warriors loss last season was the first with karl that the nugs lost to a team that had fewer regular season wins. The truth is that the warriors with a healthy curry, bogut and gallo out were the more talented team. The truth is if you watched the spurs warriors series this was VERY clear. The truth is fools like you were complaining for no reason other than you dont undrrstand basketball and the need for a top 10 guy to expect success in the west playoffs. The truth is you need to change your name because you couldnt recognize the truth if it were a 4×4 to your head.

            • The Truth

              The truth is fools like you chalk it up to talent without realizing coaches get the best out of their opportunities and what they have to work with – just like the best players.

              Build a shrine to Karl if you want, I’ll visit and pay respects. I watched the pre Karl teams with the same energy as a fan. I’m old school like David Thompson concerning the Nuggs partner. The truth is Karl is not a premier post season coach. Can you handle the truth?

              • gimpcom187

                No shrine just the best coach here since larry brown and probably doug moe is equalish. Probably be a decade or two until they get a coach his equal. Melo has proven a non top 10 talent. Kenyon martin was a 8 million dollar talent being paid like a superstar. Iverson was out of the league a year after nugs 2 year run. Karl only got 1 playoff run with chauncey who was the real deal. They went to west finals and put up a good fight vs. Lakers without even a borderline legit starting sg in 2009. 2010 they looked on same path until cancer. Last 3 years they havent had ONE legit top 25 nba player. Sorry youre wrong about the talent and just spewing nonsensical crap now. Hes a hof coach certainly top 10 in league certainly NOT top 5. As was said over and over and over last year if you werent getting van gundy you were wasting time thinking you would get a better coach than karl. Welcome to reality.

              • The Truth

                Like I said, you are making excuses for him and can’t handle the truth. There’s no doubt the politics of the NBA require a “star” to get to the line in the postseason. Melo never gained this respect due to his no snitch beginning but this franchise has had better than perennial first round exit talent.

                Doug Moe, Mike D’Antoni, Don Nelson, Paul Westhead and George Karl. Karl is the best of the bunch, he’s nothing irreplaceable – a decade was enough. He should of took the one year offer and been happy to give it one more try.

  • Richard Pesicka

    Griz had a nice win the night before and looked like they might of pulled last nights loss out as a win also. The nuggets were one shot better. Not much to build on, but it’s a win.

  • Richard Pesicka

    Rumor has it that Gallo is heading east. Not playing this season for the Nuggets.

    • alex47666

      LOL and you think that we didnt know that, look at rose kobe and westbrick

      No way the nuggets are gonna let him play this year

  • Ckwizard

    It is difficult to not take part in the discussions on this board, because for myself there is not enough evidence to make a valid argument about the front office or coaching staff. Comparing this year to last or this season and Shaw’s first year to Karl’s Career is easy to do and lazy. The problem with arguments made using these take into the success of Karl (and let’s be honest George Karl is a Hall of Fame worthy coach ) but fail to admit to his short comings which eventually lead to his termination. Then these same arguments highlight Shaw’s short comings so far in this short stint as a head coach and fail to admit his successes which obviously do fall short of Karl. It is easy to be critical sure but the biggest difference between this year and last is it was easy to see what happened as the season progressed and predict how it would end, this year however has the opportunity to yield much more than a “first round playoff exit.”

    The Nuggets are likely to get a lottery pick regardless of if they make the playoffs.
    The Nuggets are likely to make a trade at or before the deadline that makes the team better in the long run
    The Nuggets will get Gallo and McGee back at some point which will make them worse in the short run and better in the long run.

    All is not lost and Karl isn’t coming back and Shaw has yet to be proven a bust(That will take a couple of years) oh and the front office has a lot of work to do before evidence will back the crap most are talking.

    • Dan Sivertson

      The evidence is already in. We all understand that Karl has won no NBA championships. We all get that. Karl gets that. The fact is we got rid of one of the very best basketball minds in the league. Shaw is not in Karl’s league and won’t be for many years — assuming he can put together winning season after winning season like Karl did.

      • The Truth

        Is Mark Jackson in Karl’s league? What about the coach of the Clippers when they put us out in the first round? What about Dan Issell’s (?) Nuggets team that gave the NBA its first 8th seed over 1st seed in history? Is he in Karl’s league.

        Coaches should be measured by the dance, not the season. Yeah, GK’s style was respectable and challenged the status qou and even helped make the WC the better conference for years; but he could never have faith in more than 8-9 of his players to make his own system work. Much respect, but good riddance.

        • gimpcom187

          Nope they had more talent once gallo went down. It obviously doesnt help when ty shoots 19% from three in the gsw series and chandler31% brewer 25%.

          • The Truth

            The point is none of those coaches would be considered in Karl’s “league.” But they have something in common – beating Karl in the postseason.

            • The Truth

              And yes, teams have been jockeying to play the Nuggs in the first round of the playoffs during GK’s run. Why is that? I’m glad you brought that “truth” up.
              .

              • gimpcom187

                It was a 44 win team. No one here ever suggests karl doesnt get the max out of teams in the regular season. 44 wins means youre bottom 2 playoff teams in west. As I clearly stated if your choice is 60 win mavs team or 44 win nuggets youd have to be an idiot to not tank a few games. My point was la clearly more talented team. Support with facts or stats. Your “truth” smells more like biased delusion.

              • The Truth

                If you have the talent to win 40 and 50 games a year over a decade, you have the talent to get into the second round more than once. His teams barely competed in the playoffs, they folded, the bench shrunk and they ended with shame damn there every time. Kobe beat us when he shouldn’t have a couple of times, including the WC championship game. Which team was more talented in that game? Did his Supersonic and Bucks teams have talent, one NBA finals with the Sonics and one flame out.

                In the playoffs, even top four teams jockeyed to play the Nuggs near the end because the dye was cast. Karl is not a playoff coach, and was an easy exit in the first round. As an opposing coach, you knew he was going to try and run to prove his style worthy all while shrinking his bench after a long season of run and gun. You just had to beat 8 tired guys. I’ll say it again, one of the best regular season coaches who has a sad playoff history – and not just in Denver.

        • Dan Sivertson

          Mark Jackson proved he is in Karl’s league by beating Denver in the playoffs last year. Jackson’s competitive fire was intense and it showed in his team. Karl seemed to become more relaxed (almost lackadaisical) after his bouts with cancer. I loved his laid back demeanor, but a coach must have a very intense fire burning in his belly to win. Jackson had that and Karl did not. I don’t see that intense fire in Shaw yet. I don’t see the warrior burning in his eyes like a younger Karl and the current Jackson.

    • LBJ

      I agree that we will make a trade – whether it improves the team is a whole another story. So far, there is absolutely zero evidence that Timmy and Joshy are capable of accomplishing this – and a lot of evidence they are not.

  • couch gm

    The main issues with the Nuggs are:
    1. We don’t have Massai anymore and the new management so far hasn’t instilled me with confidence.They’ve traded away things with value (Koufos on a dirt cheap contract, Gobert) and picked up/signed below average/average players on over inflated contracts (primarily Foye, JJ Hickson). They’ve put together a roster that doesn’t mesh at all, regardless of playing style (3 PGs who all deserve game time, two PFs who can’t reliably play C) and limited financial abilities/trade options moving forward.
    2. Karl’s biggest problem was his allocation of playing time/lineup decisions (i.e. playing Chandler C against the Warriors last season in the playoffs). However, this was somewhat mitigated by having a talented squad (put together by Massai) and having a system that allows players to flourish and is offensively effective. Shaw doesn’t have the same talent as last season (Koufos trade, McGee and Gallo injuries, Iggy running to GSW), and to add to this he has a system that is limited to certain players and isn’t overly efficient. On top of all this, Shaw has struggled with minute allocation as much as Karl. Faried needs to play 30+ mins a night. Ty needs to play 35 mins a night. Foye should rarely see the floor, ever. The young guys who’ve shown potential like Fournier need to be given time. Without McGee and with Koufos gone, play Mozgov regular minutes.
    Because of these issues, I can’t see the Nuggets making the playoffs in the West this year. I also fear that our management, in looking to ‘upgrade’ the roster will get skooled in a trade and set us back even further. Something like DeRozan for Faried + Gallo and/or NY 1st rounder or Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for Faried + Gallo and/or NY 1st rounder are scenarios I could foresee Josh saying yes to :(

    • alex47666

      LOL the nuggets wouldnt never trade gallo unless it involves lebron