Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 134, Los Angeles Lakers 126

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.

Los Angeles Lakers 126 Final

Recap | Box Score

134 Denver Nuggets
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.

Brian Shaw
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

  1. 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.
  2. Ty Lawson breaks Jodie Meeks’ ankles:


You can follow me here on Twitter: @denbutsu


Next up: Sunday, Mar. 9, 4 p.m. (MST) at New Orleans. 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.
  • Richard Pesicka

    Lots of points. I really wish the Nuggets had some kind of defense.

    • Nugman

      Wasn’t that GKs problem?

      • Pickles1731

        Can’t blame Shaw for the front office handing him a defensively challenged team. Karl wanted a run and gun, offensive minded team and that’s the team we have right now.

        • Nugman

          I’ll. blame Shaw. His defensive schemes have been ridiculous. In case you don’t read the DP, he even admitted it the other day. But what’s really stupid of Shaw is that he stuck with those ridiculous schemes for 60 games! Damn, if it ain’t working, CHANGE IT COACH!!!

          • Russell Hamilton

            Pretty sure he went back to the scheme he had in the first 35 games. The switching was a capitulation to the lack of overall defensive talent on the (healthy) roster, not what he wanted to do. If you’re going to take Shaw to task, take him to task for not sticking to his guns and maintaining the defense he wanted from the start.

            • Nugman

              I’ll take Shaw to task for sticking to his “system” regardless of the results. Little kids learn that a round peg won’t go in a square hole. But a 40 something NBA head coach who’s been around basketball his entire life doesn’t understand this concept. You have to adjust your game to your players strengths. If Shaw had stuck to his guns as you suggests we may have won 10 games this season.

              • Russell Hamilton

                Except that when he was sticking to his guns, the defense was better, and they were over .500.

  • Bobbgwell

    I like this new team we have. It scores really high, plays no defense and doesn’t break my heart by getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

    • Blaze Gunn

      Just makes you shake your head everytime we lose a game in the regular season and miss the playoffs

  • heykyleinsf

    two wins in a row. Ty back. coincidence?
    Screw you if you don’t like it.

    • gimpcom187

      YEAH!! Screw me

      • heykyleinsf

        wasn’t about you or anyone else in particular
        but then again..
        if the shoe fits

  • Jay Lorance

    Seriously? This is the same Lakers team that lost by 40 plus last nigh to the Clippers. We shot near 60% from the field and got a win against one of the bottom feeders of the league. It’s disappointing for sure but a win is a win although I am wondering for what.

    • Russell Hamilton

      It’s also a Lakers team that beat Portland two games before that. They’re not a good team, but let’s not act like they’re a D-League team. They’re still NBA players.

      • Jay Lorance

        Agree, I just get so frustrated each year with the Nuggets.

  • LBJ

    The lakers know how to tank! Wesley Johnson, sacre, x Henry, Farmar, Bazemore – that is some real scut. Watch them land a top 3 pick.

  • Darian Williams

    Sure its nice to win but why flip the switch so late? This team has had no direction all season, somewhat because of the injuries but really because of the shitty FO. How much better is being mediocre for ever than being bad for just one season? The talent is there but its too late. Its like we got halfway through tanking then just said screw it.

    • Nugman

      I would say it’s more because of the coaching. Shaw just seems to have no direction. He waits 50+ games to start Moz over JJ and we immediately see the benefits when he finally makes the switch. Moz provides true size in the paint at both ends and Faried is freed up to be Faried. While JJ was always in Farieds way because their games are alike, Moz gives Faried room to play his game. In turn, JJ has more room to do his thing coming off the bench. The change was a no brainier.

      The strange thing is why did Shaw wait so long to make this change when it was so obvious? We would probably have 6-8 more wins if he had made this change 50 games ago. He is the most confusing head coach I have ever seen.

  • Sócrates Manzoni

    Fun game! Isn’t this the whole point of the game? We can worry about the defense another day.

  • heykyleinsf

    you seriously don’t think a team is going to try after they had the biggest loss in franchise history? A franchise, maybe only 2nd to the Yankees in winning tradition? I don’t think there has been one game this year that the Lakers more urgently wanted and needed.

    We dropped some seven in a row.. then got our best player and won two in a row.. the first against a definite playoff team and the 2nd to a team that seriously wanted to play hard.
    Lose… “fans” are miserable. “win” .. “fans” are miserable.

    How did the Nuggets manage to corner the emo fanbase?

    • gimpcom187

      Yeah!! Screw me.
      I think its pretty obvious whats about to go down. Nuggets are gonna win out to get in the playoffs. And triple sweep to get into the finals. Then 5 games to crush the heat. YEAH!!

      • heykyleinsf

        Has there ever been any year that anyone really believed that?
        And while we’re at it..
        I don’t see the Heat getting past Indiana.

    • Heisenberg

      Of course they’re trying. In fact, they’re trying night in and night out, pretty much everyone outside of Kobe and Nash is a FA next year. They’re all playing for jobs next year, whether it’s in LA or elsewhere.

      That doesn’t change the fact that LA is terrible. It’s a decent Pau Gasol and a bunch of guys who are role players.

      Wins aren’t going to help this team at this point. They’re 9 games out of 8th with 21 to play. Done. As nice as it might be to see them win, it costs them in the lottery.

      • LBJ

        I agree the laker’s players are trying- they just suck. The coaches don’t seem to be putting much effort into winning. We had Vesely in the last 9 minutes and they didn’t even foul the bricklayer. That is coaching to tank.

      • Ryan

        The likelihood of the Nuggets getting a Top-3 pick via the lottery is pretty minimal. The Knicks are playing better and may even make the playoffs by default due to the nature of the 8th seed being so horrendous, which would eliminate one lottery pick. We are likely looking at the 9th-12th pick with our own pick, regardless of whether or not we win a few games the rest of the way. May as well try to play hard and give the young players as much experience as possible…

  • Tyler

    My God, plays like this make up for this season

    • heykyleinsf

      it would seem that a packed Pepsi arena would agree.,
      Feels good to know this team still has some love.

      • Tyler

        Almost reminds me of the time when Ty Lawson dunked on Mbenga and the whole place went nuts

        • heykyleinsf

          17 dishes is nuts. Just one of them right here.
          Ty is the most under-rated player in the NBA

  • Nugman

    Joel, I would argue that one of the biggest reasons for the offensive improvement is having Moz in the starting lineup. Not because of his offensive skills, but because of spacing and balance he creates at the offensive end. Faried has really benefited from this switch. However, it should have been made two months ago.

    I do question why Ty played 41 minutes and Faried 38 when the game was fairly secure. Save big minutes nights for close games. I think this is another example that Shaw must get caught in the emotion of the game and loses his awareness of substitutions and game situations. This has to be a concern going forward, although he has made better use of his timeouts and substitutions recently.

    I agree Foye knows his role and can provide offense, but his defense is terrible, especially away from the ball. I’ve never seen a defender get beat so much on cuts. Doesn’t he know how to bump and back peddle?

    If DA posts up again Shaw should get fined. I don’t think he,s scored on the post all year, yet Shaw keeps trying. Tonight’s two attempts were the ugliest part of the offense for the Nugs tonight.

    • LBJ

      Notice how the lakers limited Gasol to 30 minutes. Their front office/coaches know how to tank. The nuggets are even screwing this up!

      • Nugman

        Of course, I was thinking about the players health, not tanking. But I did think playing Vesely the last 9 minutes was a tank attempt. That was a strange substitution even for Shaw

        • Ryan

          If we’ve learned nothing else this season, I think we’ve seen that Shaw definitely has a sense of humor (even if it’s laughing at his own team)… Maybe Jan was inserted for comedic purposes?

          • Nugman

            His one handed runner from 13 feet was pretty funny

      • Ryan

        30 minutes is about right for Gasol regardless of the circumstances at this point, given his age and injury history. In my opinion, it’s classy that the D’Antoni isn’t running him into the ground for no reason, maybe he feels bad about doing that to Stoudemire in New York…