Denver fell behind 8-0 to start the game and never was able recover as they fell to a struggling Suns team in Phoenix by double digits 117-103.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -16
Faried played just 13 minutes and with the way he played it could be argued that even that was too much. He missed layups, including a reverse that he didn’t really need to take, didn’t help on the glass and as usual was a disaster on defense. I continue to think it is extremely likely we see Faried moved before the trade deadline passes as he just isn’t capable of doing the things Brian Shaw wants from a power forward.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 40 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -14
In the first half Chandler missed a bunch of wide open looks from behind the arc but in the second half he started to knock those same looks down. The problem was it became too little too late for the Nuggets as Chandler took just six shots from inside the three point line despite shooting 4/6 on those attempts. The shooting is nice but Chandler really needs to start attacking the rim more often, it makes Denver much more dangerous when he does.
|J.J. Hickson, C 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-7 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -4
The offense and rebounding were nice but in typical Hickson fashion his defense was ugly and really hurt Denver. He is constantly out of position and can’t help as his guards get blown by (which happens often) leading to easy shots at the rim for opponents. Hickson also had a few times when he started leaking out on a Suns miss despite the fact that the ball was still loose, leading to Ish Smith and other Phoenix guards grabbing those balls and helping the Suns score.
|Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 14 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | -16
Kenneth Faried and JJ Hickson get crushed for their defensive problems often (and rightfully so) but Lawson is making a case for worse defensive player on the team. I understand that he is small and asking him to constantly fight over screens is tough but it seems at points that Lawson doesn’t even try and because of it opposing guards get into the paint with ease and get easy buckets or drop offs to big men for easy points. He needs to get better on that end if Denver has any hope of being more successful than the eighth seed and a first round beat down.
|Evan Fournier, SG 33 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +4
Offensively Fournier was great tonight by doing the things he normally does, attacking the rim, finding teammates for open looks or hockey assists and knocking down open threes. But defensively he struggled to stay in front of people including Leandro Barbosa. All in all I thought it was a nice night for the young Frenchman.
|Quincy Miller, SF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2
Quincy didn’t play much but please stop with him shooting threes. It often isn’t close at all and serves no purpose as opponents don’t respect the shot anyway.
|Anthony Randolph, SF 22 MIN | 6-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -4
Randolph was arguably the best Denver player on Sunday night which says more about the team than it does about Randolph. It shouldn’t earn him any more minutes because games like these happen once or twice a season, which makes it even worse that Denver lost the game.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -3
Mozgov protected the rim well when he was matched up with Alex Len or Miles Plumlee but he struggled to help the defense when he was stuck on one of the Morris brothers or Channing Frye. I still believe it is time for Mozgov to start though.
|Nate Robinson, PG 24 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -15
Nate has to score to be effective with the second unit, especially when they are missing Evan Fournier who started in place of the ill Randy Foye. But he missed too often tonight to do that despite he energy and defense.
Shaw did a good job of not sticking with the ineffective Faried tonight but as has been the case all season a stretch big destroyed the Nuggets as Channing Frye went off for 30 points on 12/16 shooting. At some point he has to figure out a way to defend those type of players, especially with LaMarcus Aldridge, Serge Ibaka, and Tim Duncan all looming as potential first round opponents who can shoot the ball from 16 feet and out.
Four Things We Saw
- It is becoming clearer and clearer that there may not be a more important big man on the Denver roster than Darrell Arthur. Altitude showed a graphic tonight that Denver is giving up just 102.5 points per game when Arthur plays as opposed to 115 when he doesn’t. There is something to be said for an understanding of rotations and the ability to make them and no other power forward on the roster (JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried and Antony Randolph) has it.
- The Suns had 14 offensive rebounds tonight and beat the Nuggets to a ton of loose balls. In a game against a fellow contender for a 8th seed it is inexcusable for Denver to get beat to so many of those balls. It leads to easy buckets and extra possessions and with a team that struggles so much defensively allowing teams to gain both of those will always spell trouble for the Nuggets.
- This Ty Lawson plays 40 minute a night thing is very, very silly and dangerous for Denver. In the last 10 games Lawson is averaging a whopping 38.9 minutes a night. With the team not even halfway through the season and the undersized Lawson taking a beating every night through attacks in the paint and fighting through screens on defense things are leading to Lawson being burned out before the Nuggets get to the end of March. With a player so important to success that doesn’t seem like a good idea.
- I am going to write about this in the next few days, but 40 games into the season it is very clear this Denver team isn’t going anywhere good. They may be able to go on another long winning streak and earn themselves the 8th seed but they also can go on a losing streak that plays them out of the playoffs and into the high lottery. Trades seem to be many people’s answer to this problem but there aren’t exactly a ton of super valuable assets on the roster. What happens the rest of this season will be very interesting to watch and can determine the direction of this franchise going forward.
Next up: Thursday, Jan. 23, 7:30 p.m. (MST) at Portland. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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