-Here we are again. Denver led by 13 points in the middle of the second quarter thanks to a combination of Evan Fournier and Airwolf Jan Vesely but ultimately things all fell apart in the third quarter when they were outscored 39-18 by a bad Kings team playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Randy Foye tried as hard as he good to drag Denver back into the game and the Nuggets even cut the lead to 10 in the fourth quarter before the Kings ran away for good thanks to Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to win the game by 14.
Grades are below the jump.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 30 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | -26
Brian Shaw keeps talking about how he points things out to his players in film and practice that need to be fixed if Denver wants to be successful. It is hard to imagine one of those things isn’t Kenneth Faried needing to stop leading breaks. Again tonight he led three and all three times Denver failed to get points. It almost never works and at some point Faried has to cut it out. On a related note four turnovers for a guy whose entire offensive game for the most part is layups and dunks that is way, way too high.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 30 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -25
When Ty Lawson went down everyone expected Chandler to step up and provide a boost to keep Denver afloat. Tonight he didn’t score until 10 minutes remained in the game when he hit a three and he never really stopped Rudy Gay. It was just an awful showing from him in general.
|J.J. Hickson, C 16 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 1 PTS | +1
Hickson stinks. DeMarcus Cousins is a monster. Tonight was as simple as those two facts.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 32 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 9 PTS | -30
There is a reason Brooks was available for just Jordan Hamilton at the trade deadline. The eight assists were nice but five came in the first quarter. Otherwise he just missed shots and didn’t stop Isaiah Thomas at all.
|Randy Foye, SG 34 MIN | 8-18 FG | 5-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 27 PTS | -2
Foye did everything he could in the second half to keep Denver in the game. In the fateful third quarter he had 14 of Denver’s 18 points. Ultimately though if your team is too reliant on Randy Foye things like 14 point losses to bad teams will happen.
|Jan Vesely, PF 16 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +10
The Airwolf was amazing in his eight minute stint in the second quarter when he recorded two steals, a block, two dunks and a bone crunching screen that led to an open (but missed) three for his team. But just like Randy Foye if your team needs to rely on Jan Vesely having dominant eight minute stretches you aren’t going anywhere.
|Quincy Miller, SF 25 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | +14
Miller plays hard but he also makes some really silly decision. Tonight he had a completely stupid turnover without any real pressure on him and missed basically every shot he took. It was rough.
|Anthony Randolph, SF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +4
Four minutes isn’t enough to grade him on but the fact remains: Anthony Randolph is terrible at basketball. But he plays hard.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 3-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -20
This was one of the worst, if not the worst, game Mozgov played all season. Against many opponents Mozgov is much bigger and can use that size disparity to his advantage. Tonight he ran into one of the few people on the planet that matches his size. And boy did he struggle. He missed chippies, couldn’t contest the Cousins pick-and-pop jumpers. Flat out, he got dominated.
|Evan Fournier, SG 36 MIN | 8-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 27 PTS | +4
Almost all of Fournier’s points came in the first half but his defense in the fourth quarter was a nice thing to see as he caused a jump ball, grabbed a steal and in general made life tough for the Kings. That first half was the game’s highlight for Denver though as Fournier showed the flashes that gets everyone excited about his future. He made threes, got to the foul line and scored in transition. It was really fun to watch.
Grading Shaw in this one is tough. While I do think he could have gone to Fournier earlier in the second half there really wasn’t much else for him to do. No big man on the Denver roster seemed capable of stopping Cousins from doing whatever he wanted, no guard on the roster could slow down Thomas and no wing could contain Rudy Gay. His team played hard but his players didn’t execute. At some point the players have to take more of the blame than Shaw. Tonight was one of those nights.
Two Things We Saw
- Tonight was a good example of why losing and tanking isn’t a bad thing in the long term. DeMarcus Cousins didn’t even play all that well and completely dominated the game, putting up 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks. Even with everyone on the Denver roster healthy the Nuggets have no player as talented as Cousins. The chance to land someone like that, or like almost all of the best 15 or 20 players in the league, is in the top eight or ten picks of a draft. In fact a few weeks ago I listed 20 of the best players I could think of off the top of my head and of those 20 around 15 were top 10 draft picks. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. That is where the best players in the league come from, especially to small market teams. Denver looks like they will have a chance at finding a guy like that this season.
- There isn’t much else to say about this game. With Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee healthy the Nuggets are a fairly mediocre team to good team. Without them they stink. That was the case tonight. When Wilson Chandler or Randy Foye (take your pick) are your best players expect troubles winning games. Denver played hard tonight though.
Next up: Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m. (MST) vs. Portland. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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