Although it could never truly be #THUNDERNUGGETS without Russell Westbrook (get well soon Russ), Denver still treated the game with the usual amount of reverence. Ty Lawson ran really fast, Randy Foye flipped off his shooting slump, Evan Fournier did some cool stuff, and Quincy Miller did the Mailman dunk. It was a pretty good night, all things considered.
After the infinite abyss that was the seven-game losing streak, Denver has shot off four in a row. It’s almost as if the sky is, in fact, not falling after all.
|J.J. Hickson, PF 25 MIN | 1-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +3
Hickson has to circle games against teams like the Thunder, who either play a piece of flotsam or an undersized Serge Ibaka mostly at center. It means he can gobble up the rebounds he so dearly covets and rim-run to his hearts content. His weak side defense, rather shockingly, was pretty on point as well.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 32 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-4 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +6
Faried seems to be somewhat mirroring Hickson lately, as they both once again played a similar type of game. He also threw in a few jumpers that didn’t involve that awkward, one-hop floater, which was nice to see.
|Quincy Miller, SF 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5
In perhaps his most important game as a Denver Nugget, Quincy was forced to try and make his mark while checking the most potent offensive player in the NBA. He was torched, predictably, but he had the last laugh in the form of a Mailman dunk homage.
|Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 14 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +16
Lawson’s burden has always been a large one and one wonders when the extra allotment of minutes and energy is going to cost him. But as of now Ty is enjoying another great streak and, amazingly, the Nuggets seem to be on a very similar ride. Coincidence? Maybe, but I doubt it.
|Randy Foye, SG 38 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | +9
If anyone had any doubts, Randy Foye kicked his December slump in the groin with this game. When the three is falling, everything changes for both Foye and the offense. An example: Foye will pull this trick in transition when a big picks him up where he’ll feint a pull-up behind the line before unleashing a crossover that catapults him into the paint. When used with restraint, Foye’s off-the-dribble game can be a nifty weapon.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 16 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +8
Arthur, who has done a solid job on KD before, was torched as well, although its hard to blame him for it. The mid-range jumper is still struggling but he ran the floor well with Ty, and set the proper drag/down/flare screens that helped the offense hum along.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 22 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +14
Small ball was working well for the Nuggets defensively, so Timo’s impact was not as required as it usually is. Still, when OKC went big, Mozgov did his job well.
|Nate Robinson, PG 23 MIN | 3-13 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +1
Everyone got to partake in the free-flowing fun of this game but Nate. Try as he might to match Foye’s ridiculous threes or Ty’s assault of the paint, the shots just would not fall.
|Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +11
Fournier had by far his best game of the season, as a diet of steadier minutes seems to have borne fruit. Fournier is an interesting cog in this team, he is the only wing on the team that provides a certain uniqueness to his game. When he has his off the bounce game going, he can do a decent impression of Gallo on offense when the team is in sore need of one.
Brian Shaw’s decision to start Quincy Miller over Hamilton, and to give basically all of J-Ham’s minutes to Fournier, was vindicated by game’s end. He continues to rid Lawson’s hot streak hard with another 40 minutes night and now seems more keen to stagger his lineups. Whatever occurred in the darkest days of the losing streak seems to have taught the team a lesson, as they are back to playing the way Shaw wants.
Three Things We Saw
- This game felt very reminiscent to the countless home games Denver has had in the post-Melo years, where a superior opponent comes in unprepared and just gets annihilated by a locked-in Nuggets team. This season has seen precious few of those, or really many convincing home wins in general, so it was comforting to see it make a return.
- The rotation, through both injury and Shaw’s tinkering, remains in a constant state of flux. It somewhat speaks to the amount of redundancy on the roster that despite all this toying, the results have shown very little variance regardless of who was getting minutes (outside, of course, of Anthony Randolph). Last year the ease in which Denver could interchange parts of the rotation on the fly was comforting, this year it seems somewhat disconcerting.
- This mini winning streak is a nice response to a losing streak that painted the team as much worse than they truly were. That said, like the extended winning streak earlier in the year, it is also somewhat of an illusion. The three point shooting especially, 49-113 (43%), seems unsustainable.
Next up: Friday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m. (MST) vs. Orlando. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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