Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109, Detroit Pistons 126 – Lawson fractures left rib

Things went from bad to worse for the Denver Nuggets tonight. Not only did they get blown out by the Pistons the night after getting blown out by the Knicks, but injury was added to insult as they lost Ty Lawson late in the second quarter to a lower back strain. He did not return, and the Nuggets announced that his left rib was fractured.

More on Lawson’s injury, as well as the grades, are after the jump:

Denver Nuggets 109 Final

Recap | Box Score

126 Detroit Pistons
Kenneth Faried, PF 20 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -7

Although Faried had an efficient offensive game, he didn’t make much of an impact, and he struggled mightily on the glass, pulling down only three boards and getting outworked and outmaneuvered by Detroit’s bigger bigs. Perhaps the most significant stat of the night for Kenneth was zero minutes in the fourth quarter, where Shaw apparently had more trust in Arthur and Randolph to close out the game.

Wilson Chandler, SF 33 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -19

The good: Chandler had his best 3-point shooting game of 2013-14, knocking down a season-high six shots from the arc. The bad: He wasn’t able to do much on the floor or on the glass to stop Josh Smith, who double-doubled with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

J.J. Hickson, C 34 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-6 FT | 16 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 15 PTS | -22

Hickson’s line tonight is a near-perfect nutshell encapsulation of who he is. A player who can put up a 15-point, 16-rebound line that would thrill fantasy owners (save for his 1-6 mark at the free throw line), but nevertheless manages to end up with a +/- of -22. With J.J., it always comes down to his defense (or lack thereof) being, more often than not, a greater liability than his offensive production is an asset. Andre Drummond (not coincidentally +22 on the game) had his way with him all night long.

Ty Lawson, PG 19 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -1

Lawson was helped to the locker room late in the second quarter and did not return. Prior to that, he had a decent first quarter and a quiet second, doing a good job of pushing the pace, but doing little to keep Brandon Jennings out of the paint. Needless to say, whatever happened in the first half pales in comparison with his injury, which is discussed further below.

Randy Foye, SG 33 MIN | 9-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | -20

Like Chandler, Foye put in a solid 3-point shooting performance, and his 25 points led the team in scoring. Like Lawson, he couldn’t stop Jennings, and as usual he struggled when called upon to run the point. He’s admirably trying to be a leader for the team, and while he’s reportedly doing a good job of that in practice and in the locker room, those are shoes that are just too big for a player of his caliber to fill.

Darrell Arthur, PF 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -18

Arthur hasn’t been the same since returning from injury. That may be a function of his recovery, but in this game it also seemed somewhat due to confusion. He didn’t seem to know where to be on the court, largely spending his time lingering around the corners where he does not usually dwell. If Shaw is directing him to do this, it’s not really his fault. On the other hand, his poor defense in this game is entirely on him.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 10 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -3

J-Ham didn’t do much with his 10 minutes, but it’s hard to expect much from a player who has essentially been relegated to a permanent bench warmer. Granted, he’s not a point guard, but with Andre Miller officially a persona non grata, and Nate Robinson being out for the season, it’s fairly inexplicable that Shaw hasn’t dug deeper into his bench more consistently. (But more on that later).

Quincy Miller, SF 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -2

Q-Mil had a bigger positive impact on this game than shows up on the stat line, but it was still minimal. He was part of the bench unit that narrowed the Pistons lead down to six with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and did as good a job as may have been expected for playing within what could only generously be called the flow of Denver’s offense. Shaw clearly believes in cultivating Miller, and it’s probably a worthwhile project, but he will need more minutes to develop better consistency.

Anthony Randolph, SF 12 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +4

When Anthony Randolph is the player with the team’s highest +/- (+4 tonight), you know it’s probably a bad game for the Nuggets. But that does not reflect poorly on him individually, and he was one of the few bright spots in this game.

Timofey Mozgov, C 22 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +2

Instead of searching a thesaurus for a litany of 17 or so synonyms for “abused” to list off, let’s just put it simply: Timo got abused by Drummond, Monroe, and just about any other Detroit player that took it to him all game long. And he was no better on offense, missing his one dunk and two layup attempts, The frustration got to him in the second half as he melted down and got called for a technical foul. So why does he get a better grade than Hickson? See Shaw’s grade for the answer.

Evan Fournier, SG 21 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +1

Until the fourth quarter, it looked like Fournier was headed for another disastrous performance as he started off shooting 0-4 and making a number of blunders. Fortunately, he picked up his game after that making five of his last six shots, doing a better job of initiating the offense, and helping the Nuggets get within reach of the game before the Pistons blew their lead back open. Like Q-Mil, Evan is another young player for whom the talent is there, but the minutes to develop it aren’t. And like J-Ham, given the depletion of Denver’s guards, it’s hard to understand Shaw’s justification for not utilizing him more.

Brian Shaw
Unlike Hickson, who basically doesn’t even try to attempt to prevent the other team from scoring, it can be said on Mozgov’s behalf that the reason we saw him getting abused so much tonight is because he was at least attempting to protect the rim and defend the post. The easiest way to avoid getting put on a poster is to simply step out of the way, and Mozgov, even when he struggles like he did tonight, at least consistently shows up and puts in the effort. Shaw said repeatedly early in the season that the players who worked the hardest would earn larger roles, but he has yet to back that up by starting Mozgov, and his excuses for not doing so continue to be vague and unconvincing.

It’s hard to knock Shaw too hard when he really has been dealt a crappy hand. When life hands you lemons, it’s not realistic to expect you to make orange juice from them. But Foye’s injury last night followed by Lawson’s tonight are evidence of reaping what you sow. With Andre Miller and Robinson out, he (as Matt, David and others have already been pointing out) has been severely overworking Ty and Randy. When you’re already dealing with limited options, it behooves you to take every possible precaution not to limit them further, especially when they are your most valuable ones.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Ty Lawson: left rib fracture. The Denver Nuggets have announced that X-rays revealed he has a left rib fracture, and is “doubtful for Monday.” Doubtful for Monday? I fractured a rib last year, and just from anecdotal experience I would expect him to be out at least three weeks, if not longer. That’s pure conjecture on my part, and we will have to see what Denver’s medical staff has to say, so take that with big grains of salt. But it’s incredibly painful. But more importantly, the risk of greater injury, such as a total break that could result in the puncturing of internal organs, that would be present if he were to attempt playing before the bone ws completely healed, is far to great, I assume, for the team to allow him to set foot on the court. If he plays before March, you can consider me surprised.
  2. Unforced errors. Following their 24 turnover debacle against the Knicks last night, Denver turned it over 20 times in this game. The Nuggets average 14.7 turnovers per game, and Philadelphia, the worst team in the league in this regard, averages 17.2, just to put that into perspective. Additionally, The Nuggets went just 12-22 (.545) from the free throw line tonight. There may not be any easy solution to these problems, but the end result if they’re not addressed will be losing a lot more games than they should, especially tough road games where the margin of error can be razor thin.
  3. Now what do they do? I’ll be writing a post soon on Denver’s many injuries, their current roster, and what direction the team should take from here. Needless to say, if Ty is out for weeks, that all but completely eliminates the Nuggets’ chances of making the playoffs, and the front office will need to do a serious reassessment of the approach they will take now.


You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu


Next up: Monday, Feb. 10, 5:00 p.m. (MST) @ Indiana. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Kody R

    I can’t… this is what losing feels like. We’ve been spoiled the past 10 years. My brother is a Raptors fan, after all these years of rubbing in how good we are, he’s finally getting his revenge.

    • LBJ

      Notice how Masai unloaded two bad contracts – and improved the team. Our bozo can’t move a guy we suspended a month ago.

      On a side note – the Pistons FO was so impressed by beating the hell out of the nuggets, they fired their coach.

  • matymaddog

    One and done every year is not being good or being spoiled. It’s mediocrity at its absolute worst

    • Dan Sivertson

      One and done is way better than not making the playoffs at all. Yes it’s very frustrating to watch, but, at least that Nuggets had an entertaining team last year that were well-coached with hope for the future. What we have today is a travesty by comparison.

      • matymaddog

        I’m no it’s not. You aren’t bad enough to get any better through the lottery
        And not good enough to win a series. It’s the worst possible limbo for a team.

        • matymaddog

          And no they were not well coached. Karl’s line ups were just as bad as shaws and he didn’t develop anyone

          • slugdugg

            Agreeded. Remember that the thing that allowed us to go to the playoffs for a decade included fielding a team that started Vincent Yarbrough and Junior Harrington in our backcourt, and almost set the NBA record for losses. That got us Carmelo Anthony. Teams that are midmarket have to hit home runs in the draft to have a chance. The Spurs had to tank to get Duncan and then find gold with Parker and Ginobli.

          • LBJ

            Because Kosta and C-Brew (just to name 2) were all stars when they got to the Nuggets. And Ty was a complete player when we drafted him.

            Shaw is doing a great job of “developing” Faried.

            • Darian Williams

              What do you want Shaw to do? He gives Faried enough minutes to develop and I swear his defense has gotten worse over the year. Sure his offense has gotten slightly better, but I guarantee he averages a negative +/-. Sometimes there are things you can’t develop in a player. He’s not worth it without a defensive anchor, especially after his rookie contract is over.

          • Dan Sivertson

            Karl did amazing things with a limited line-up last year. He knows how to get the most out of his teams while limiting the change of injury. The big exception to this for last year was Galo.

  • Richard Pesicka

    Any respect I had for Shaw went down the toilet. When Ty was hurt and you never called a time out thus giving up six straight points, I lost my appetite for Nuggets basketball. My wife says Shaw sucks. I don’t think he’s ready to coach. He brought nothing to the table.

  • aneal

    what a defence!!!

  • heykyleinsf

    This season can’t end quickly enough. too many injuries. Worst I’ve ever seen for the Nuggets. It has to be the worst season for injuries.. by far. RBMC.. please tell us this is so.

  • Darian Williams

    tank. tank. tank. Ih

    • heykyleinsf

      3-4 weeks I’m thinking

    • Wes

      Couldn’t agree more but no trades, let the bums go, free up cash for better players in the future, probably a four or five year plan and we will be way better than Karl’s teams

      • Darian Williams

        It doesn’t have to be that long. Trade foye, hickson, faried, A.Miller, JHam, and put mcgee in just to dump his contract. We could get a good get 2 and a good 4 as well as a draft pick. We can be competitors in 2 years

        • LBJ

          Get serious – we aren’t going to get a good 2 and 4 for a bunch of guys that no one wants.

          • Darian Williams

            ok maybe just one or the other. somebody will take foye and A.miller with a second round pick.

            • LBJ

              Utah didn’t want Foye. Andre is 37 and hasn’t played in a month. The only kind of player we will get for that combo is an overpriced, underperforming player (see Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans).

              We would have been better off pursuing Monta Ellis or OJ Mayo than Hickson, Foye, Nate and Arthur in the last offseason.

        • Dan Sivertson

          Getting rid of Faried is a big mistake.

        • Wes

          That’s a perfect world but your talking about the nuggs, define mediocrity for almost 40 years?

  • Kody R

    Fractured Rib? Wow we don’t have a point guard yet again. Why is our GM reluctant to trade Miller? Instead he’s on his couch laughing at us while we pay him.

    • LBJ

      Timmy and Joshy are getting it done!!!

      • Dan Sivertson

        Completely agree. This team is trashed. It’s over.

  • googergieger

    Yeah, let us see if this finally makes the front office do something. I get they are scared to make a move that makes them come out the losers in the deal, but they put themselves in this situation. Just bite down and take it with some dignity, cause right now we are still taking it something fierce, but don’t even seem to have an end game in mind.

  • Cory

    Look at us losing in great fashion….Make a trade already. Give your fan base a clear understanding of what our future holds. We already know we are bad and we aren’t going anywhere but that isn’t the thing you want your fans to have.Our defense is so bad that even when we are hot we are losing so we probably can still into the top three with the bad teams starting to win, maybe. Not encouraging tanking but it’s better to know your team is going to lose than to hope for something to click between Shaw and a squad that does not have the talents he wants. I don’t care what anybody says until we have a team that is coachable we won’t be able to win. Defense is the obvious problem but only Arthur, Mozgov, Foye, and Chandler have some. And it doesn’t matter that they do because other peoples defense stinks. Ty gets a pass because he is a stud. But can’t expect to win if you don’t have reliable offense and absolutely no defense thrown together with a team that can’t be coached. Dude is obviously trying don’t blame Shaw for the deficiencies this team has had ever since Karl has been here. Karl didn’t exactly preach Defensive culture. Nothing other than run and gun and how you can win with it and it never worked.

    • googergieger

      And yet Shaw still would rather play Hickson at center over Mozgov any chance he gets? Shaw probably deserves some leeway considering what the front office gave him coming into this season and is continuing to give him right now, but he does have a lot of flaws, and seemingly very few positives at the moment.

      • Cory

        Understood completely. Hickson is not better than Mozgov by any means and he deserves some of the blame. I’m just saying im not giving up on Shaw because he doesn’t have a capable team. Guys like Popovich and Carlisle have steady teams with good talent that they can coach. Even Thibadeu has this but the Nuggets have a team that has been having the same problem for 10 plus years and Karl hasn’t wanted to fix it. Shaw isn’t helping to change the culture but if he is supposively wanting a half court team…let him build his team with help from management. This team as we saw from the beginning was flawed as it has always been. Add worse defenders and you get worse results. Keep Lawson, Foye, Mozgov, Fournier and QMiller as bench threats. Tired of hearing about how everyone else has flaws and the gets exposed as the reason we lose. It is our defense, it is Faried and the other bigs and whoelse isn’t playing d. Sometimes you can’t teach defense. And if Shaw isn’t stressing it he isn’t doing his job.

    • Dan Sivertson

      There is no future with these clowns in charge. LOL. :)

  • etlord1

    This team is a work in progress if the management wants to run Shaw’s system effectively. It won’t work without an inside presence like he had in LA and Indy. The only way it’s going to work is through transactions. That’s why I’m holding off on criticizing the head coach. If I was psychic, I would’ve kept Gobert knowing that McGee would be injured and Hickson would be the starting center. Connelly has some tough decisions to make later this month.

  • Darius

    I’ve been positive all year, but after all these tough injuries leaving us without 5 of our 6 best players (Faried is the only one left) I think it is time to trade away some pieces and look to do damage next year. This just isn’t our year.

  • Sheena Allen

    Lawson was hurt because he’s been playing way too many minutes because A.) Shaw doesn’t know anything about rotations and B.) We only have one PG on the roster. Either trade Miller or let him come back to the team.

  • Blaze Gunn

    It’s Funny how George Karl made the Denver Nuggets look better sure we’re without Javale mcgee and Gallinari but damn this team is so hard to watch it’s sad

    • Dan Sivertson

      I agree. I don’t have the time to watch this team. It’s too depressing. I barely watch the replays. Last year I watched nearly every game in it’s entirety. I greatly enjoyed listening to Karl’s post-game analysis – the professor speaking on the great subject of basketball. I really, really miss that.

      • Sharkboy242

        The professor who assigned Andre Miller to guard Stephen Curry in the playoffs.

        • LBJ

          Considering Miller didn’t start a single game in the series, our other guards didn’t have a lot of success with Curry either. Or even with Jack for that matter, either.

          • Sharkboy242

            Yeah because we totally didn’t have one of the best perimeter defenders in Igoudala… Why do you think Karl got fired?

            • LBJ

              Iggy was guarding Thompson most of the series. Do you think Ty or Andre could have handled him?

              Karl got fired because Joshy is trying to play GM – and is destroying the team in the process.

              • Sharkboy242

                Iggy should have been on Curry at all times no matter what.. Karl was fired because of the upset. He would have still been here had he not lost that series but alas, he was out-coached in the playoffs.

              • LBJ

                So Lawson could have been abused by Thompson on the low blocks? That would have been brilliant – Ty probably would have gotten into foul trouble and we would have had to play Andre even more minutes.
                You are always telling us how great Lawson is – if that is the case, he should be able to match up against the other team’s PG.
                Karl – the NBA coach of the year – was fired 6 weeks after the playoff loss. Best of seven series in the NBA are almost always decided by the players, not coaching. Golden State showed up – and a lot of the nuggets did not.

  • Jazz

    Nugget Nation! would you do this trade. A. Miller, W. Chandler J.J. Hickson and maybe a 2nd round to Pistons for G. Monroe and R. Stuckey. Pistons need a SF, back up PF and a point guard, there you go. Nuggets need a Big and a scorer. So Nuggets can start c. Monroe, PF Arther, SF Q. Miller(his time to develop) SG Foye(I guess) and PG Lawson.

    • LBJ

      Of course. The question is why would the Pistons?

      • Jazz

        Because Chandler is the wing they need in the worst way. Miller would be a 2 year fix to back up Jennigs. Back-up PF, take Hickson a stat filler. 2nd round, why not?

        • LBJ

          Why would they give up Stuckey? They also have Chauncey to back up Jennings. It looks like they need a SG more than a 3 – they could simply move Singler there. It’s going to take a lot more than that from the nuggets to get Stuckey and Monroe.

  • Aaron

    For all who think the previous years are the same as this year or worse. . I don’t know how you can call yourself a fan. There is something very satisfying about winning 70-75% of your games, tuning in on nights like last night expecting, and getting a victory, and just a simple attitude of contending every night and in the playoffs. This is totally different and has been since Shaw showed up. Injuries to 3 starters is huge, but I’m skeptical anyway, of Shaw’s skills. I’m hoping we do sit Ty for a long while, trade some pieces and get this thing back. Was Karl a terrible playoff coach? yes. But, we miss him right now.

    • heykyleinsf

      TY Aaron..
      I have no idea what the interest of some people on here is.
      Negative and disparaging.
      nothing else and when we do win…
      where’d they go?

  • Richard Pesicka

    Maurice Cheeks team wins a couple games in a row and starting to look good. Then the Detroit Pistons Management fires him, for winning. So if Cheeks had continue to let them lose, maybe still coaching, like Shaw.

  • Furious_Stylez

    I’m with everyone on the “Let’s blow it up and focus on next year” bandwagon now. I was really hoping this team could turn the corner and string together some wins, but with the injuries, it ain’t gonna happen. You can try to blame Shaw, but only a fool would that. He didn’t have much to work with. No Gallo, no McGee, and a sorry bench leads to overworking the starters until injuries occur. Karl wouldn’t do any better with this crappy bench and the injuries.

    The management has exactly 10 days to figure this out. Should be easy: Ty and Gallo are the only untouchables. Faried only goes if they’re getting an All Star PF. Everyone else is one the block. McGee isn’t going anywhere because only Ujiri was dumb enough to give him $40m and nobody will touch that until it’s expiring. As long as the plan is building for the future and not slashing payroll for the long term, this team has a chance for next season to compete.

    • LBJ

      Wait a minute – I saw the press conference after Masai left. Joshy boy claimed that everything the FO did was done as a team.

      So if he wants to hog the credit for Ujiri’s work – we can also give him “credit” for McGee’s contract extension. Not to mention that it was Josh’s stupid idea to change to a low post-centric offense that featured McGoof.

  • ny nugs fan

    saw the replay on nba tv and even when ty went out the nugs played hard and were in striking distance to steal the win; then they started making some of the most bone-headed plays ever seen… the pass that hickson was trying to make at the top of the key that was stolen for an easy conversion was just embarrassing and that was just the beginning

  • The Truth

    I put the hope to bed after Nate went down. The Knicks game confirmed it was a done deal.

    The whole Evan or J Ham but not both Evan and J Ham thing did me in, and showed Shaw was bending to dogma in the NBA around the 9 man rotation. It stabilized the team for a minute but was fool’s gold. We just went through a decade of the non sustainable 8/9 man rotations.

    NBA is tough on coaches. Maybe the playoffs should of been secondary from the beginning to building the new system – yeah right.

    With all the long term injuries its tough to even get excited for next year let alone this year. Tough luck year all around. Trades are still a waste of breath and for wannabe pundits.