Ty’s back! And that was a legitimately fun game, so there’s something.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 32 MIN | 9-11 FG | 3-5 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +15
Faried’s match ups with Love are always interesting. Love is likely the single hardest cover for Faried in the entire league, he struggles with stretch fours regardless but when you throw in a similar work ethic around the boards and a savviness in the pick and roll you have a disastrous matchup brewing. But Faried’s offense also seems to benefit from battling with Love, and while not quite matching Love’s impact, he did a good enough job to mitigate his mistakes on defense.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 38 MIN | 11-22 FG | 1-3 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | +8
Chandler had an erratic shooting night but those two threes towards the end of the game were obviously huge. The 10 rebounds were a nice touch as well but the defense – and this will be a running theme here – was lacking.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2
I can already tell people are going to be complaining about Minnesota’s ridiculous number of free throw attempts but consider 1) how many they purposefully took at the end of the game and 2) how many dumb fouls Denver committed. Mozgov was a prime example, he was out of position for nearly all 10 minutes he was on the court and in lieu of playing defense, he fouled. That’s what poor defensive teams do.
|Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 11-16 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 11 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 31 PTS | +8
Man, I’ve missed watching Ty Lawson play basketball. He doesn’t do much in the way of helping the defense any but he damn sure makes the offense click again. It’s amazing what happens when you give a decapitated chicken its head back. As long as Ty’s healthy the Nuggets might not be good, but they’ll at least be watchable again.
|Randy Foye, SG 43 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | +4
The ripple effects of Lawson’s return spread far, and Foye not having to be the primary ball handler anymore is a boon to his offensive game. Now he can just do what he does best, curling off flare screens and letting it fly from deep.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -17
The jumper seems to be coming back which is good but he looked understandably lost in the utter chaos of Denver’s defense in this game. He’d be hedging on a pick and roll, and when the ball handler got past him, the help was never there.
|J.J. Hickson, C 27 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -19
Hickson had the same issue except Minnesota was targeting him in the pick and roll so it was amplified. Hickson just can’t blitz the pick and roll, he’s too slow to recover. He’s essentially a turnstile that jumps at you aggressively, but accommodates your passing with a wink and a wave.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 18 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | 0
Seeing him run the floor with Lawson and spot up behind the line in fast breaks was fun. Seeing him do anything else was not so fun.
|Evan Fournier, SG 14 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -16T
his was a rough one for Evan. He’s getting playing time out of necessity but his growth has been erratic at best. Maybe he can be a productive role player in the league one day, it just seems less and less likely he’ll ever be one for the Nuggets.
Funny how much better things look when a borderline All Star returns to the lineup. Coaches in the NBA tend to get too much credit and blame, this is a player’s league, and there are only a select few who have a comparable impact to even the third or fourth best player on a team. Still, Shaw worked his timeouts and bent the clock to his favor towards the end of this game and gave Denver every chance to pull out a miracle comeback.
Three Things We Saw
- The defense is getting annoying to watch. The bigs are blitzing the ball handler in the pick and roll but they’re never impeding his progress, basically the whole point of blitzing, and the middle of the floor is wide open. If that’s going to be your defensive scheme your bigs better be fast and aware enough to hedge and recover to their man (Denver’s aren’t) and your rotations have got to be crisp (Denver’s are nonexistent, outside of the occasional foul).
- Watching the Knicks’ flounder in despair is half fun ( because, hey, it’s the Knicks) but also half depressing. Denver had the perfect season all set up. They could’ve made a run at the playoffs, had a couple fun games, built confidence in the new regime, and even after losing in the first round, still have a tank-worthy pick in the loaded draft from New York. This was the year they could’ve indulged in all the fun of being a borderline playoff team without having to endure any of the consequences. This was the year they didn’t have to tank. Ah well.
- 9,849,600 seconds until draft day.
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