The Nuggets went into Sleep Train Arena the night after knocking off the NBA best Indiana Pacers and took advantage of a few key Sacramento injuries to defeat the Kings 125-117.
Ty Lawson led six Denver players with double digit points with 27 points while Nate Robinson contributed 12 points and eight assists to lead the bench.
Grades are after the jump.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 34 MIN | 7-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +5
Faried did what Faried does and was very effective tonight. He ran the floor when he got the chance, which was often as Denver racked up 33 fast break points, and generally flew around the floor. The energy was apparent early and contagious as Denver never really seemed like they were on the second game of a back-to-back.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 34 MIN | 6-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +3
Chandler continued his recent trend of not settling for just three pointers and again was very effective. He has started to consistently provide that secondary scorer to back Ty Lawson, which makes life a lot easier for the Nuggets.
|J.J. Hickson, C 33 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-8 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +4
The Hickson/Lawson pick-and-roll is just about the only good thing that comes from JJ Hickson most nights. It continues to be inexplicable why he closes games instead of Timofey Mozgov.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 8-10 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +2
Lawson again gets penalized a bit for his defense. Isaiah Thomas isn’t an easy cover by any means but Lawson almost refuses to stay in front of his man despite his speed and athleticism. Luckily for Denver his offense makes up for it most nights.
|Randy Foye, SG 26 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +3
It was a rough night shooting for Foye which can be expected on the second game of a back-to-back.
|Quincy Miller, SF 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +5
Miller always plays hard and makes a few things happen during his minutes but tonight he actually hit two threes. If that shot ever becomes a consistent weapon, a very big question at this point, the Nuggets may have something in the youngster.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 5-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +6
The game completely changed in the third quarter once Mozgov entered the game. The Kings were in the middle of a huge run (I believe 13 or 15 to 2) when the big Russian entered and things immediately changed. Mozgov scored on his first offensive touch after entering and continued to make an impact until he was taken out with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter right after he blocked a Marcus Thornton layup in the middle of another Kings run. He continues to be a consistent force that needs to be starting, or at least finishing, games.
|Nate Robinson, PG 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +8
Outside of a forced jumper or two Nate was in complete control tonight. He found open teammates as evidence by his season high eight assists and knocked down a few important jumpers when Denver needed them. It showed just how useful and important Nate can be, even without massive scoring outbursts.
|Evan Fournier, SG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +4
Fournier was fine, nothing too great or too bad. He did make a play that shows flashes of his potential when he made a great backdoor cut to get free in the lane and finished the play with a nice floater. While he doesn’t have flashy athleticism or anything it showed the type of basketball IQ that should allow Fournier to be a pretty good player in the future for the Nuggets.
Shaw gets credit for getting his team to play with energy and enthusiasm a night after getting a very nice win over the Pacers. But I will continuously dock him for closing games with JJ Hickson instead of Timofey Mozgov, especially on nights like tonight (and really most nights) when Mozgov is clearly playing the better game.
Three Things We Saw
- We saw a Hack-A-Hickson for the first time this season in the fourth quarter and I would expect to see it more often now. Hickson is shooting just 55.8 percent from the line this season and is constantly on the floor for Denver late in games so it will probably be a smart move from most teams. The Nuggets have a perfect counter to the tactic in Mozgov who shoots 73.3 percent from the line and again is the better player anyway.
- People joke plenty about JJ Hickson stealing rebounds from teammates (I meant to keep a counter tonight and forgot) but tonight Kenneth Faried tried to steal one from Hickson. Instead the two collided and the ball squirted loose and Aaron Gray picked it up. Both guys have a tendency to do this so I think the situation will repeat itself again at some point this year.
- As much as last night’s win was a schedule win (and it was, especially with the Pacers coming off an OT game the night before) tonight had a chance to be a schedule loss. But Denver took advantage of the fact that the Kings were missing two of their three best players and stole a win that can be vitally important later this season as they fight for the eighth seed.
Next up: Wednesday Jan. 29, 7 p.m. (MST) vs. Charlotte. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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