In a high-scoring affair that didn’t feature much defense, the Nuggets ran up the score early on the Lakers and strung together their first consecutive wins in over a month. Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 32 points, and Lawson matched his career high with 17 assists.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 38 MIN | 14-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 32 PTS | +24Faried had his best game of the season (and arguably, his career) scoring a career-high 32 points on 14-20 shooting to go with a stacked stat line. Perhaps most impressively, he had his mid-range jumper falling, which was a potent illustration of just how much more effective a player he could become if he develops the ability to do that consistently.|
|Wilson Chandler, SF 28 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +18Brian Shaw called upon Chandler to be a more aggressive scorer, and he responded by delivering right out of the gates. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, and although he quieted down in the second, it’s clear just how beneficial it is to the other players on the court when he gets it going. Hopefully he will continue to assert himself more as the remainder of the season winds up.|
|Timofey Mozgov, C 26 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +28Mozgov had a relatively quiet game, and Pau Gasol pretty much had his way with him. But aside from Pau, he did a reasonably good job of contesting shots at the rim and helping the Nuggets defense to prevent easy buckets in the paint, and in a game where his teammates are shooting as hot as they were tonight, that’s all the Nuggets need from him.|
|Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 12-22 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 17 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 30 PTS | +10Lawson matched his career high of 17 assists, and became the first Nuggets player with 30+ points and 15+ assists since Allen Iverson in 2007 (h/t @SportsCenter). I was opposed to Denver rushing Ty back before his rib was fully healed, but it sure is a relief and a pleasure to see him bouncing back so well and playing at such a high level. Tonight, against a Lakers defense even worse than Denver’s, he was able to score, penetrate and create at will.|
|Randy Foye, SG 33 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +25Foye was solid and efficient, if not prolific in this game, and was the third Musketeer in the Lawson-Chandler-Foye 3-point barrage that helped the Nuggets get out to their big early lead. (The three combined for 12-18 (.667) from the arc.) Foye looked worse in Lawson’s absence, but he’s a natural niche is as a role player who was asked to play beyond his abilities during that time. One good thing about him is that he knows his job very well, and plays within his limitations as long as he has the luxury of playing alongside Denver’s primary scorers.|
|Jan Vesely, PF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5Shaw made the somewhat head-scratching decision to send in the Airwolf with 8:52 remaining just as the Lakers had cut the lead to 13 and were making a push to get back into the game. I’ll give him this much: The guy has heart. But not much else.|
|Darrell Arthur, PF 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -16After averaging a field goal percentage of .464 in Memphis, Arthur has dropped to a paltry .403 with the Nuggets this season. Tonight he continued the disappointment, shooting 0-4. The frustrating thing is he’s a player who seems to be tailor made to fit Shaw’s system, but then again, Shaw hasn’t really been able to implement his system given the mostly inconducive roster. If Darrell opts in this summer and returns next season, Shaw may be able to integrate him into the offense more effectively, but for now it mostly is just not working out very well. Tonight, he managed to tally a plus/minus of -16… in just nine minutes.|
|J.J. Hickson, C 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -15Hickson was limited in both minutes and impact tonight. He had a couple flashy dunks, but more notably he, like Arthur, was part of the even-worse-defense-than-the-starters bench contingent that did their best to let the Lakers get back into the game.|
|Aaron Brooks, PG 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -13The Nuggets need a backup point guard so Lawson can catch some rest, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Brooks is a significant downgrade from Robinson, especially on the defensive end. He scores some, but doesn’t do much beyond that. It would seem to be a no-brainer at this point that the Nuggets will let him walk when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, which presumably was the plan in the first place.|
|Evan Fournier, SG 24 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -16It seems that Fournier has regained some of the confidence that seemed to be missing early in the season. Shaw has continued to give him significant minutes despite Lawson returning, and he has responded well. Like the rest of the bench, defense was his shortcoming tonight, but he at least balanced it out with a very efficient 13 points on an eFG% of .833.|
The Nuggets have allowed their opponents to put up an average of nearly 111 points per game over their last 18 games. Many will see the score of tonight’s game and think it was all about the offense, but in reality was a battle of which team’s defense was worse. Denver was lucky enough to be playing a really bad team and got the win, but giving up 126 points is never excusable, and even if they say “you can’t coach effort,” some of that falls on the coach. Whatever progress was made in getting the players on board with a simplified defense over the past few days pretty much went off the rails tonight.
On the positive side of things, the Nuggets really did have their offense flowing better than it has in a very long time (even if the accomplishment is asterisked by the fact they were playing against the Lakers). The chemistry between Lawson, Chandler, Faried and Foye was really excellent, and if the coach gets poor marks for bad team defense, it’s only fair that he be credited with good marks for great team offense. And as the Nuggets have essentially become bottom feeders, any win is a win they’ll take at this point.
Two Things We Saw
- More missed free throws. Once again the Nuggets were terrible from the charity stripe, shooting 12-21 (.571). Their big lead was enough to pad the difference, but against teams better than the Lakers (which is most teams), it won’t be. When they scout free agents and draft picks this offseason, a high percentage free throw shooting pedigree should be a high priority consideration.
- Ty Lawson breaks Jodie Meeks’ ankles:
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