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.
|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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.