Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 137, Los Angeles Lakers 115

What. Just. Happened? I don’t know. I’ve tried to explain it below, through grades and numbers and analysis, but truth be told, I still have absolutely no clue as to what transpired this game. I honestly feel like I was abducted by a badass basketball UFO for like two hours or something, then dropped back off at Earth where I’m supposed to do this Rapid Reaction and explain what happened in human form. I’ll try my best, but getting abducted by super-basketball UFO’s is not something that happens to me every day. Just know that.

Denver Nuggets 137 Final

Recap | Box Score

115 Los Angeles Lakers
J.J. Hickson, PF 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -3

Hickson probably had the worst game of anybody who logged significant minutes. He couldn’t guard the Lakers’ bigs down low and failed time and time again to box out. Did I mention he failed time and time again to box out?

Kenneth Faried, PF 27 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +9

Finally! This is the Faried we love, the one we’ve come to know over the last few years, and the one who should be getting 30 minutes per game EVERY NIGHT! This was his first double-double in over a month and it all started with his rebounding. He was an animal — or should I say, “Manimal” — on the glass but was always in the right position for put-backs and dunks on offense as well.

Wilson Chandler, SF 26 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +5

Chandler finally put together a solid scoring night. He’s never gonna be a great isolation player, but on nights like this when his shot is falling and he’s getting to the basket, good things tend to happen.

Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 7-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +21

Lawson set the tone for this game right from the start. He was aggressive and looked to score both inside and out. His distribution skills also continue to impress.

Randy Foye, SG 29 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +4

Foye is a shooter. That’s what he does. When his shot is falling — like it has been lately — life is good. But when his shot isn’t falling — as was the case for the last moth — he’s almost worthless. It’s great his shot has been on the mark the last few games, but because he doesn’t get to the rack it seems it’s only a matter of time before he hits another slump. In other words, enjoy this while it lasts.

Darrell Arthur, PF 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | +20

Arthur didn’t score much but he had an awesome game on the boards and passing the rock. In fact, he had a few passes that were some of the best we’ve seen from a Nuggets big man all year. If Arthur can play like this more often Shaw will have no choice but to increase his minutes.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1


Quincy Miller, SF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1


Anthony Randolph, SF 3 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1

For whatever reason Anthony Randolph is an awesome garbage time player. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 8-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +20

This is the second time this year Mozgov has scored at least 20 points. Kosta Koufos has yet to score 20 points this year and he averages about three more minutes per game than Mozgov. Moral of the story: trades take time to evaluate… and minutes matter. When Mozgov gets minutes, Mozgov produces (sounds like a good ol’ Russian proverb, doesn’t it?). He’s just like Faried in that sense. You gotta give the big guy time if you want a prolific output. As his minutes continue to climb Mozgov is looking like one of the best backup centers in the league. His post moves are improving and he’s becoming more and more comfortable with the ball in his hands. In this game, his defense against Gasol totally thwarted the Lakers attack. His impact on both ends of the floor cannot be overstated right now.

Nate Robinson, PG 20 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +16

Robinson had three dunks this game. Yes, THREE! He had two put-backs and one alley-oop from Lawson. He was doing pushups during the game and hung on the rim for about 10 seconds after one of his dunks just to soak in the moment. All I can say is: This was awesome. I’ll always be critical of Nate’s shot selection, but I have to admit, he kinda won me over after this one. His performance might have been the highlight of the season.

Evan Fournier, SG 25 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +21

Fournier is still playing a lot like a rookie but he seems to be a missing piece to the Nuggets rotational puzzle. He took some undesirable shots this game but also made a few really nice long-distance jumpers and teardrops. His seven boards were a career high.

Brian Shaw

Arthur, Mozgov, Robinson and Fournier were Shaw’s main subs outside of the starting lineup. A nine-man rotation. This is the second game he’s done it and it’s working really well. Also, Mozgov got big minutes (and produced), Faried got big minutes (and produced), and Hickson’s minutes were limited. This is a recipe for success. It’s proven. It works. Shaw would be wise to stick with it moving forward.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Andre Miller is officially on the trading block, according to The Denver Post’s Twitter account, which sent out a tweet with a link to the story reported by Chris Dempsey at halftime. The article made it sound like Miller might be on his way out soon, and from the way the Nuggets have played the last few games without him, I wouldn’t doubt if he’s already played his last game in a Nuggets uniform. I don’t know how bad the situation was with him and Shaw or the rest of his teammates, but this Nuggets team is playing like a weight has been lifted off its shoulders. Perhaps that weight was Miller? Hard to say.
  2. The five-man lineup of Lawson, Foye, Chandler, Faried and Mozgov changed this game. Prior to that lineup in the third quarter, this was a close game. After that lineup was inserted the Nuggets went on a 17-2 run and demolished the Lakers. It was remarkable. And again, it might be wise of Shaw to consider starting the game with this lineup. Faried’s energy is just too powerful to waste. Mosgov’s size and defensive potential are just too valuable to waste. Combining the two just seems so right. It seems too perfect not to try.
  3. The Nuggets got 12 points or more from seven different players, 17 points or more from five different players and 20 points or more from three different players. I don’t even remember the last time that happened, but I’m pretty sure it was sometime during the second half of last season when the Nuggets were winning like crazy and setting all kinds of franchise records. Obviously the Nuggets are still missing two key starters and don’t have quite as talented of a roster as last year, but I don’t see why they can’t have more games like this. Ty Lawson can’t carry this team every night. Other guys have to step up. Of course, it certainly helps when the best players get the most minutes, as it gives them the best chance of scoring more points.
  4. I just have to say: WHERE THE HELL HAS THIS BEEN ALL SEASON!?! I mean, this game wasn’t even close after the third quarter. The Nuggets scored nearly 50 in the fourth quarter for cryin’ out loud!!! What happened? What triggered this outburst? Why did everything come so easily and everyone play so hard and with so much heart and passion?!? This was not the Nuggets team we’ve come to know this season. This was something different. I don’t know what it was, but before we all go to bed tonight we should pray that Shaw knows what it was so that the Nuggets can keep doing it. Because this was awesome. And more importantly, it was fun!

Next up: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m. MST vs. Boston. 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.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • googergieger

    I’m pretty sure what happened was the Nuggets just played the game I’m going to rewatch whenever we suck it up in the future. Also Ty, Evan, Arthur, Mozgov, then either Chandler or Foye depending on who is feeling it that game. More of that.

  • Charliemyboy

    What can you say? Either LA is high school team, or the Nuggs regained that spirit they had when they had the 7 game streak. Shows how attitude means more than altitude. Hope springs eternal.

    • LBJ

      I wouldn’t get too excited. We beat a bunch of bozos wearing Laker uniforms. Kendall Marshall playing 39 minutes says it all. Lakers are tanking.

  • heykyleinsf

    44 points in the 4th?
    I’m glad we had this talk.
    More champagne!!

  • Sharkboy242

    Its all about that 9 man rotation. I said it last time and I’ll say it again – everyone stepping on to the court must play over 20 minutes. I’m going to be upset if the Nuggets don’t get Miller out of here and hes gobbling up more minutes in the next games. Funnest Nuggets game all season? Probably.

  • Ckwizard

    LA is that bad and the Nuggets have potential for growth. It seems like the players are listening to the coaches and the coaches are listening to the players. Fun game, the team won’t hit shots at that clip with consistency but when they do Shaw looks like a very good coach.

  • Andrew

    Beating down the Fakers is always enjoyable!
    I agree with Sharkboy that the 9 man rotation is better, though I understand how Shaw might want to make it a different 9 depending on the opposition. Really hope they get rid of Andre Miller. I don’t dislike the guy or anything, but it is time to part ways.

  • Poz303

    Well Mozgod showed up again against the Lakers. I think he should have started as he always play Gasol well. His length affects Gasol.

    Nate was great. His dunks were fun to watch. Fournier was very good again tonight.

    A very good team effort. JJ was propbably the only Nugget that didnt have one of their better games bt still managed to contribute a little.

  • Bobbgwell

    So miller needs to go and who will go after Gallo comes back? I would move Faried before he commands a 10mil/yr salary with no real offense or defense.
    Real fun to watch tonight.

    • alex47666

      Thats the reason we got hickson, so we dont have to pay faried and maybe trade him for draft picks

      • Nugman

        But keeping JJ and getting rid of Faried makes no sense. JJ doesn’t give anything, but Faried brings the energy. His rebounding tonight was big. Need to bundle JJ, Dre and Hamilton in a trade for a 2 or 4 who has a post game. Evan and Mozzy need more minutes and JJ and Foye less. Shaw has to see this so why doesn’t he do it?

        • alex47666

          Getting rid of faried, more like not paying faried what he thinks he is worth. Look I like faried but he isnt a type of player that should be starting at PF in the NBA. he does bring energy but really has hit his ceiling and wont be a better player than he is right now

          • The Truth

            Faried is the primary heart of the team, I’m not sure you get rid of him. I say they develop DA’s post game and hold tight. True Faried doesn’t need to start or get prime minutes every night, he brings the same energy and heart off the bench.

            • alex47666

              I wouldnt say heart of the team, this team flies or dies with how well Ty plays. But I do think it would be a big blow to the players if he wasnt around. That doenst mean he should get starting minutes at all he still lacks a post game his defense is just as poor as hicksons. Hickson has looked much better than faried has in the paint with the ball. He has shown he can knock down the 15ft and get his feet in position to make a jump shot. Something faried has shown he really cant do well on a constant basis

              • Nugman

                I agree that JJ and Faried have a lot of the same issues. JJ can hit the 12-15 ft jumper, but Faried can change a game with his energy. JJ hasn’t shown the ability to do that. That’s why you keep Faried and trade JJ. The problem is they’re both needed until McGee and Gallo get back. If you trade either now then Randolph gets time.

  • alex47666

    I expect no one to get lower than a B, maybe jham for missing that 3

    • Darius

      Haha nice

  • Branden Gloudeman

    Anybody got a video on the nate dunks?! I can only find the lob :(

  • Darius

    Awesome game! Really fun at the end. WE GOTTA STICK WITH THIS 9-MAN ROTATION! I think we should trade away Chandler or JHAM, Andre or NROB and JJ and get back a nice shooter. We just have too much depth, but for most.. this is a good problem.

    • alex47666

      I wouldnt trade our best wing defender aka chandler, he is a dynamic scorer and when gallo back he should be our 6th man like he was last year. You just said you like the 6 man so why would you trade either chandler or Nate. I do agree on Andre I dont hate him and he has shown he can be useful, but the nuggets have moved on so should he. and J ham I dont think we will trade him just let him walk and wish him the best of luck in the future now that evan has got his confidence back I’d rather have him than Jham.

  • alex47666

    Fours got a B-, thats a joke 3 of his missed shots were on driving layups that could have gotten him to the line. He does great with the boards cause he knows how to box out always is aggressive and plays hard. He is making a huge impact for the nuggets, but anyways oh well great win for the nuggets

  • The Truth

    The Miller blow out and the subsequent settlement of the lineup led to this spanking. I agree with that assesment.

    I also agree that the 9 man rotation can and should rotate to some degree based on match ups, and to truly have a deep bench come playoff time. The little time AR, J Ham and Q Miller got tonight is necessary. I’d have put at least two of them in with four minutes left – with a little something on the line – and lived with the result.

    When full strenghth Gallo will take some of Chandler and Foye’s minutes, he shouldn’t take any of Nate or Evan’s minutes. JaVale should take most of JJ’s, DA’s and Mozzy’s minutes – in that order. Mozzy’s stock is rising, can’t wait to see him and Hibbert mix it up.

    DA is capable of a post game as good as Faried’s best and JJ’s average, the coaches need to put in the time with him. Some guy named Dre Miller is another post option.

    Good to see them put it on the Lakers. They should get the 7th or 8th seed. Believe it or not, there’s no dire need for a trade. I don’t trust mid season trades.

    • Nugman

      I agree on about everything. Evan needs more minutes and JJ fewer. Why doesn’t Shaw see this? Don’t know about DA’s post game, but I would like to see how he does in the 15 ft in range facing the basket. I think it will be hard to fit Dre back in now. Too much water under the bridge? Mozzy just has to accept less minutes against small, quick front lines and more against big posts. I think Dre has forced the trade card. Package him with JJ, Foye or JHam for a decent post player or quality shooter.

      • The Truth

        JJ appears to be the insurance for both Mozzy and JaVale, as he already has been this year. I’d hate to lose Foye or JHam for just another shooter. We may need to partner Evan and DA, anything can happen – I hate to speculate.

        There’s not that many post players out there. I’d rather put Ill Will and DA in the post during practice and wear them out till they figure out one or two go to moves, before entertaining a trade for that purpose.

        If no contenders show interest, Dre Miller may come to Jesus, realize he lost a step, can no longer run PG 30 mins a night and ask to stay. Seems to be a smart move for him. I doubt Shaw is dead set on getting rid of him.

        • Nugman

          When Gallo and McGee come back JJ will be expendable. DA tried a post move against lakers and it was pretty ugly, but Will should have the ability. He’s quick, long and has good hops. I just hate the idea of trading Evan. He’s so young and has shown so much. I really think he has been the difference the last two games. Just think we need to package someone with Dre to get a reasonable player in return. Dre by himself won’t upgrade us.

  • alex47666

    I dont understand the much hate on hickson really, why attack a guy who is a PF trying to play center trying one of the best centers in the NBA. the last 2 games gasol avg 24 and 11 I think something along the lines of that. so its not like hickson is the only one that cant guard the man, he is more reliable on offense than faried is I think. Dont get me wrong thou he does have lots of stuff to improve on, but sometimes kalen you tend to go overboard on the things you say about him. Again just my opinion no disrespect towards you at all

    • slader

      JJ is truly an atrocious defender – a liability for 30 seconds of every minute he’s out there, and that’s if his shot is falling. For the moment he is gamely filling in at center, so I think we keep him until the season ends, even as McGee eases back in. Maybe he will improve on D, but…
      A lot to like about this game, although it did smack of a parallel universe, as Kalen implies. What now?
      Move Dre for cap space; trade JHam to Clips for Reggie Bullock straight up; be patient, wait for Gallo and JaVale; then trade JJ to Magic for Andrew Nicholson. VoilĂ , Nuggs dynasty.

  • heykyleinsf

    Awww come on with the B- on Evan!! He gets as many boards as Tinafey A+ Mozgod… as a guard… he also had the highest over under on the team.. 3 dishes, 21 points.. and B freaking minus? I agree with all the other grades and great write up.. but yeah.. come on.

    • alex47666

      maybe a draft pick cash consideration, we cant get much for him really

      • heykyleinsf

        there is such a thing as “addition by subtraction”
        I suppose that’s what we are looking at.
        I think also for a non-lottery team
        say the GSW…
        a 1st rounder might be cool

  • David Acker

    the system offensively seems to be working. They need to tighten up on D though

  • alex47666

    Fours +/- was a +21 the tied the lawson for highest on the team last night

  • TomRMC

    This is the team I was hoping to see in the preseason. Guys who lit it up from deep last year (40%+ from Nate, Chandler, Foye, and Fournier) came out and hit shots. Two speedy point guards combined for 17 assists (and 41 points and 9 rebounds) while the old slow point guard wasn’t with the team. The bigs mostly played defense and rebounded and took good shots in the flow of the offense. Add Gallo to the mix and this team will actually be pretty darn good.

  • Stunt55378008

    Nuggs are finally looking good, but I worry about the McGee return. While I like him, the structure of this team just doesn’t have enough defenders. You need either Arthur or Mozgov to pair up with one of the three poor defenders (Hickson, McGee, and Faried), which is tough to figure out form a numbers sense. Even if we get rid of Hickson (pairing him and Miller into some low-rent deal would be basketball Christmas), you’re still in a situation where your IDEAL lineup involves a $10M center coming off the bench. Even if we want to build around the modest pieces we have, we’re STILL going to need at least three deals to give Shaw something to work with.

  • Darius

    SEMI BLOCK-BUSTER TRADE FOR THE NUGGETS (And YES I am a Nuggets fan) http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=plqawao

    • Darius

      Yes, this is my fantasy.. Don’t call me crazy yet. I love how the Nuggets turn their soon-to-be players leaving the rotation players into trade bait and get our much needed SG of the future in Iman Shumpert. We take on Amare’s contract to sweeten the deal and his contract interlines perfectly with Kenneths to give him a big contract after the 2 years are over. Why the Knicks would do this: They are desperate for depth and need rebounding and pieces to build around Carmelo for him to stay. Nate gets shipped to the Nets for salary cap issues.. he is hit or miss anyway. There is a 110% chance this WON’T happen, but a man can dream.

      • LBJ

        The knicks already offered the nuggets Shumpert for Faried. Our FO rejected it.

        • Nugman

          Hate to say it, but the idea of trying Amare is intriguing. I know he’s had his troubles the last few years but he might be worth a flyer if we could get him on the cheap. I’m sure the Knicks would do about anything to get rid of him.

        • Darius

          Yeah, we aren’t giving up Faried in this deal tho