It was another blowout loss for the Nuggets, who trailed the Bulls wire to wire, and fell to their sixth defeat in their last seven games. If any silver lining could be found, it was that newly acquired point guard Aaron Brooks scored 17 points, and appears to be a very viable replacement for Nate Robinson.
The grades are below the fold:
|Kenneth Faried, PF 27 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -27Faried started the game off as the only Nuggets player who got anything done on offense. But after scoring six of his eight points in the first quarter, he was effectively shut out for the rest of the game, with only two points and three rebounds the remainder of the game. And defense? What’s that?|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 31 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -23Chandler was a ghost in this game, his presence on the court almost indiscernible. In Lawson’s absence the Nuggets needed him to pick up a bigger share of the offensive burden, and the fact he has failed to do so has been a real disappointment. And he couldn’t do much to stop the Bulls’ shooting guards, who were knocking down shots at will.|
|Anthony Randolph, SF 19 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -16Like the rest of the frontcourt starters, Randolph was mostly ineffectual in this game. To his credit, it can be said at the very least that played with a lot of aggression and effort. But as usual, he often looked confused about his role, and his decision making (taking the ball all the way up the court for an inevitable turnover) was, well, like it’s always been.|
|J.J. Hickson, C 20 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -13Hickson had an atrocious first half, scoring just two points on 1-6 shooting, and getting thoroughly abused by Joakim Noah in just about every way imaginable. There was a brief series of possessions early in the third quarter where he put together a string of decent consecutive offensive and defensive plays, but that was short lived.|
|Randy Foye, SG 28 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 23 PTS | -19On that stat sheet it looks like Foye had a good offensive game, but in reality when he was running the point the Nuggets offense was static, sluggish and almost entirely ineffective. This is not entirely his fault, as he is a catch-and-shoot player called upon to play out of position, and he (along with Brooks) was one of only two players who were consistently able to put points up on the board. But that said, he also didn’t do much to stop the Bulls’ guards from scoring, either.|
|Jan Vesely, PF 16 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -6Most of the minutes Vesely played in his first game with the Nuggets were during garbage time. And most of it wasn’t that pretty. This isn’t surprising from a player who many thought might be waived by the Nuggets upon trading for him. It appears they intend to keep him around, presumably more for ijury insurance and his expiring contract than for develoopment, but don’t expect much more from him than we saw tonight. But Jan gets the free pass C for playing with a new team coupled with low expectations.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 5 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5The only stretch of the game where the Nuggets played anything resembling legitimately good defense was, as usual, when Arthur and Mozgov were on the court. But that was short lived, as Darrell left the game early with a hip strain and did not return. We’ll keep you posted on his injury as updates come in.|
|Quincy Miller, SF 13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | 0The only player in the game without a negative plus/minus. But, you know, garbage time, so it’s another freebie grade. (See “Things we saw” below for more on Q-Mil and Randolph).|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 28 MIN | 3-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -15Mozgov was better than his line would suggest, and he was on track in the first half for having a pretty good game mostly predicated on defense. He struggled more later on, however, even in a meaningless fourth quarter. And while he’s not only not bad, but also improving, games like this show vividly that he struggles to hold his own against the likes of Noah.|
|Aaron Brooks, PG 28 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -17Aaron Brooks’ debut with his new team was, for the most part, one of the few bright spots in this game. He quickly went to work and demonstrated that it won’t take him any time at all to start creating offense with drives and 3-pointers, executing pick-and-rolls, and essentially picking up where Nate Robinson left off. But, like Foye, it’s still hard to let him off the hook on the defensive end.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -9Fournier didn’t make too big of an impact in this game, but he deserves commendation for pulling down eight rebounds, more than Faried, Randolph, Hickson or Chandler were able to muster.|
The only thing preventing me from giving Shaw an F is the fact that he had to integrate two new players into his team who had never even practiced with them before. But it’s all downhill from there.The cliché pop psyche definition of insanity is that one continues to repeatedly attempt the same failed method of doing something again and again, expecting a different result. And by that description, Shaw fits the profile of what is technically called “insane in the membrane” (a.k.a. “insane in the brain”). I speak, of course, of continuing to start J.J. Hickson over Timofey Mozgov against all good reason, logic and evidence that doing the opposite is more likely to produce better results.
Now that’s not to say, necessarily, that Denver would have won this game if Timo had started. Because the entire team looked confused, sluggish and utterly unprepared coming right out of the gates. They played soft. They let Chicago bully them around. We know who the Bulls are, what they do. That they will attempt to out-hustle, out-energy, out-aggression, outwork and out-fight every opponent they face, night in and night out. And if you’re going into their house, you’d better be ready to play some smashmouth ball and (figuratively, of course) punch them in the nose first.
The Nuggets looked like they’d already been beaten within minutes of tipoff. They just weren’t ready for this one. Not mentally, not in terms of a game plan, not in any way that was visible on the court. All too often, there is no fight in this team. And on some level, that reflects on the coach not instilling it in them.
Three Things We Saw
- Player development appears to be a low priority for this organization. Hickson over Mozgov. Randolph over Miller. Foye over Fournier. All of these decisions have one thing in common, and that is that they are attempts to prioritize winning in the short term over the long term development of younger players with higher ceilings who are critical to the future success of the Nuggets. Coaches and playerrs still hint at making the playoffs. Get real, folks, it ain’t happening. It’s time to commit to the cultivation of the team’s more valuable assets. And really, as long as they’re going to be losing a lot from here on out anyhow (which sure seems to be the case), what’s the downside?
- Aaron Brooks will fit right in. He looked completely comfortable playing with his brand new team, and had no trouble getting into the flow of the game. There may be some concern that he’ll be more of a scorer than a distributor, but the Nuggets need players who can create their own offense, and besides, it’s Nate who he’s replacing, so the hold in the roster should fit him like a glove. When it comes to the current front office, a lot of Nuggets fans are reaching for the pitchforks, but it seems we can chalk up at least one point for KronCon on this trade.
- Noah beasted. Plus/minus can be a flawed stat in that so much of it rides on who a player is sharing the court with. But Noah’s +33 in 28 minutes in this game, was a “real” +33 in the sense that it all came directly from his impact on the game. It was primarily only when he went to the bench that the Nuggets were able to put much together offensively. Without Lawson or Gallinari available, the Nuggets don’t even remotely have any individual players who can influence a game in the same way.
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