Sans the steady hand of Ty Lawson, Denver’s offense stuttered down the stretch as they drop a tough one on the road to the Bobcats.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -11
Faried had a rough night on offense, his drives at the rim were battered back with ease and his quick duck-ins were stifled through some well timed rotations from Charlotte.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 32 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -1
Chandler’s line is somewhat surprising to look at as it seemed he played a much better game than what the stat sheet portrays. As one of the few ball handlers the Nuggets could use in this game, he did a fair job of getting into the lane. The meal really belonged to Foye and Fournier, though, and Chandler just set the table for them.
|J.J. Hickson, C 24 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -18
It’d be easy to lay Al Jefferson’s offensive explosion in this game solely at Hickson’s feet, and by no means did he help matters with his usual poor defense, but Denver’s unwillingness to double combined with the jumper falling for Big Al had more to do with his 35 points than anything else. Still, Hickson failed to exploit Jefferson on the other end of the court and if he can’t leverage his size for an upper hand on offense there is little reason for him to be out there playing the five.
|Nate Robinson, PG 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11
The basketball gods took you from this game far too soon, Nate.
|Randy Foye, SG 40 MIN | 12-21 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 33 PTS | -4
As Nate Robinson’s first start (tragically) ended so prematurely, the universe, imbued with karmic purpose, gifted Randy Foye with the powers of NateRob. From careening off screens and into the paint with wild abandon to taking contested, fall-away, one foot on the line, jumpers that miraculously cut through the net, Foye gave us the Nate show we were unjustly robbed of.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 17 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +6
It was good to see Arthur back out there, even if his jumper still looks a little broken. Shaw has dubbed him the team’s best defender and Arthur’s team-leading net rating would suggest an intrinsic value he brings that goes beyond the stat sheet. It’s usually a cliche but in DA’s case, it’s really the little things he does that helps make the team go. It was good to see his play rewarded with crunch time minutes, even if the end result was not all that favorable.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +17
Denver is getting more and more confident running the offense through Mozgov in the low post and Shaw actually trusted him enough to close the game out with him at center. I would’ve liked a bit more aggressiveness from him in attacking Jefferson down the stretch but overall he had another good offensive game. Defensively he had about as much an effect on Big Al as Hickson did, but the effort was there at least and he did a solid job deterring Charlotte’s ball handlers from getting to the rim.
|Evan Fournier, SG 38 MIN | 8-21 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +10
Despite finishing with more shots than points and responsible for the shot game-ending shot that barely grazed the rim, Evan Fournier had perhaps his most encouraging game as a pro. In dire need of ball handlers, Denver turned to Fournier to – at times – take sole responsibility as pick and roll operator and he responded with an encouraging amount of fervor. We’ve seen flashes from the Frenchman before, a nifty spin move for a layup here, a perfect pocket pass to a big there, but we’d yet to see him put everything together in one game. Evan earned all 38 minutes he got, and seems to have aptly capped off a stretch of play that cements the case that he belongs in this league.
Growth in coaches is hard to see, we usually assign improvements in the team to a narrative that involves players, opponents, or the schedule. Coaching in general is hard to judge because we only see a part of what the job entails, everything off the court is a mystery. But, after weeks and weeks of trotting out JJ Hickson at the five in crunch time, Shaw instead resorted to his best statistical pairing in Arthur and Mozgov to close out the game. It was a move that didn’t ultimately pay off in a win but one that suggests Shaw is learning, and beginning to develop a trust in different players. Amid all the unseen complexities that goes into to grading a coach, this is something tangible that can be lauded as a real improvement.
Two Things We Saw
- If you want to make the case that Ty Lawson is an All star this year, this game should stand as your exhibit A. The offense was a flaming mass of endless dribbling, inert probing, and pick and rolls to nowhere. In crunch time Denver had no one to go to, and the ensuing panicked isolations illuminated how much Lawson’s guiding hand means to the team.
- There was a moment in the second quarter where Evan Fournier ran over to help Mozgov double-team Al Jefferson. I nearly spit up my water, it was like seeing Halley’s Comet streak ever so briefly across the sky. Pray that Evan survives Coach Shaw’s fury, pray.
Next up: Friday, January 31, 7 p.m. (MST) vs Toronto. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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