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.
|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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.