Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 92, Atlanta Hawks 97

After overcoming their fatigue and coming back from a 21-point deficit and putting themselves in position to win, the Nuggets failed to execute down the stretch and lost a close one to the Hawks. Denver ends up going 2-3 on their five game road trip, which was highlighted by last night’s big win in Miami.

The grades are below the fold.

Denver Nuggets 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

97 Atlanta Hawks
Kenneth Faried, PF 27 MIN | 9-13 FG | 7-13 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 25 PTS | -18Faried kept on rolling offensively tonight, scoring 25 points on 9-13 shooting. He is now averaging 21.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in March. Missed free throws were a problem tonight, however, as he went just 7-13 from the charity stripe, including two misses with 1:13 remaining that would have given Denver some badly needed points down the stretch.

Wilson Chandler, SF 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | -18Chandler was quiet tonight, and the fatigue of the road and the back-to-back was more noticeable than much else he did on the court. DeMarre Carroll got the best of him in the energy department, pulling down 10 boards to Chandler’s paltry lone rebound, and generally outhustling him all game long.

Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -4In the first quarter, Mozgov did his best JaVale McGee impersonation with some comically bad turnovers that must have made Pierre proud. He did bounce back to an extent, however, and was part of the unit that got Denver back into the game in the third quarter.

Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 0-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 11 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -10The Denver Nuggets organization needs to go ahead and pay the ransom to whoever it is that took Lawson’s offensive game hostage. He shot 0-12 tonight, bringing his field goal percentage over the last five games down to .313, and didn’t score the first of his two points until drawing a foul with 6:28 remaining in the fourth quarter. Perhaps this could be chalked up to road fatigue, but the more worrisome prospect is that Shaw overplaying him this season is starting to take a real toll. Either way, the bottom line is that if Ty scores fewer than 10 points the Nuggets are almost certainly going to lose (they are 0-3 this season when it’s happened). On the plus side, he did at least do an admirable job setting up his teammates, which is the only thing preventing him from getting a worse grade.

Randy Foye, SG 23 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -16Foye only played 23 minutes tonight, and his impact was minimal while on the court save for allowing a slew of wide open 3-pointers while scoring just a couple of his own. It seems that Shaw is starting to place more trust in Fournier (though that may change after tonight, but more on that later), which could mean a diminishing role for Foye moving forward.

Jan Vesely, PF 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1Vesely’s run was short tonight, but he played well and brought some much-needed defensive energy to the court in a game where it was sorely lacking. It’s easy to see why Shaw appreciates his effort, and he gets a B for doing about as much as could reasonably be expected in his brief appearance.

Darrell Arthur, PF 12 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +9Have we now crossed the threshold into “Darrell Arthur’s 3-pointer is a real thing” territory? The sample size is still too small to go quite that far, but he’s knocked down four of five in his last three games, and is now 8-16 on the season. If he can keep developing in this direction, the Nuggets just might have a legit stretch four on their roster next season. Tonight, he played well and was part of the bench unit that got the Nuggets back into the game.

Quincy Miller, SF 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +4Does Shaw believe in Quincy Miller or not? From the minutes he gives him, it seems he wavers back and forth on the issue. Tonight he put him in briefly, but didn’t give him enough burn to do much one way or the other.

J.J. Hickson, C 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +4Hickson was one of the few Nuggets players tonight who appeared to still have some gas left in the tank, and he did a good job of battling for rebounds. He seems to play more efficiently coming off the bench in limited minutes, and as this also minimizes his liability on defense it’s a win-win situation.

Aaron Brooks, PG 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +12Like Vesely, Brooks is a player who makes an impact beyond his limited abilities by simply giving it all he’s got. He made some great hustle plays tonight, including two steals and (more remarkably) two blocks, and he also actually did a very good job of distributing the ball, something that’s not necessarily in his wheelhouse. The Nuggets are unlikely to retain him beyond this season since he’s basically Nate-Rob lite, but given their point guard situation, the trade for him has proven to be the right move.

Evan Fournier, SG 24 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +11Fournier has been both an encouraging and a frustrating player to watch this season. He played fairly well tonight, for the most part, but his youth, inexperience and (at times, at least) poor decision-making were on full display at the end of the game, when he literally threw away an inbound pass. Granted, the Nuggets were highly unlikely to win at that point anyhow. But it’s easy to see that Shaw is trying to give him a larger role, building his confidence and consistency in the process, and Evan is not doing himself any favors at such times in terms of earning Shaw’s trust. The potential for him to take his game to the next level always seems to be lurking just beneath the surface, but never quite breaking through, and there seem to be setbacks for every gain. Overall, a decent outing tonight, and he was an important part of the bench rally, but it’s the inbound that people will remember.

Brian Shaw
The Nuggets could have taken a beating lying down after losing the first quarter 15-28. But if one positive outshines any other from this road trip, it is that resiliency and fight have become defining characteristics of the team’s personality. It was only a few weeks ago when all the buzz was about Shaw losing his team, and how there was mutual dislike between him and his players. However much (or little) truth there was to those murmurs, if there were issues they certainly seem to have worked through them now. The guys are buying in, working hard, and seeing positive results from it (most notably last night’s win over the Heat).

Shaw ran extensively with his bench again tonight, and they in turn once again delivered a gutsy performance that put the Nuggets in position to win. And the reasons they ultimately lost – missed free throws, sloppy play, too many turnovers, poor execution – had a lot more to do with the players than the rotations.

Also, Anthony Randolph got a DNP.

You can follow me here on Twitter: @denbutsu


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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.
  • heykyleinsf

    Faried keeps on rolling!!
    Ty was 0 for 12..
    Still encouraging to me the next night after the big win.
    Wow.. Faried.. Playing out of his mind!

    • LBJ

      Watch Joshy cheapskate him this offseason.

      • Russell Hamilton

        Faried’s contract isn’t up until next off season. At that point, he’ll be a RFA. Not sure how “Joshy” could “cheapskate” him this off season.

        • LBJ

          The way he is playing the last month, we should extend him this upcoming offseason when we can get an affordable deal. Why forced him into a RFA deal next year? This will not make him a happy camper – and may produce a contract we won’t want to match. Masai extended Ty prior to his 4th year – but we now have a new “brain trust” running things.

          • Russell Hamilton

            Well, since you’ve already made up your mind on the new “brain trust,” it seems pointless to argue. Why not, instead of deciding beforehand how things will play out, let things happen, and then decide. They’ll have until mid November to extend Faried, I believe.

            So, how much is fair for him right now, considering his defensive liabilities? 7M? 9M? 11M? Is he worth being the highest paid player on the team? Rumors have him wanting somewhere north of 10M/yr. To me, even with his improved play over the last few weeks, he’s not worth that.

            • LBJ

              I’m more than willing to let things play out until the offseason – which I stated in m original comment. By my count it starts after 16 more games. I also never said Faried should be the highest paid guy on the team. But he is clearly the most underpaid guy on the team. We brought that stiff Hickson at $5 million a year to back him up – so I’d say $7-9 million is a good landing place.

              • Russell Hamilton

                If we can get him in that range, then it’d be great. I’m not sure that he or his representation are willing to accept that, though. If he’s still set on 10+M, I’d be more than willing to either let him test the market in RFA or to work some sort of trade centered around him (as much as I want him to remain on the team).

            • Craig Ferguson

              Oh, I have to admit there is a small part of me that wants to see ol Josh offer $8M and watch Faried go elsewhere. Then, after forty years, I’d not even be tempted to waste my time watching a game. “brain trust”… that’s kinda funny.

              • Russell Hamilton

                He won’t walk for nothing…he’s a RFA. And if you don’t want to watch the games, I don’t think you’re required to, although I’ve only been watching since ’78 so I might be wrong.

              • Craig Ferguson

                Well, I can only congratulate you if you can watch this year. It’s basically the most unwatchable team I can recall as a Nuggets fan. Maybe that’s just cuz it’s right AFTER my favorite Nuggets team ever to watch. A better fan than I, for sure. It wasn’t easy, though, to turn this lifetime fan into one with only apathy.

  • LBJ

    Good loss. Helps the Hawks remain ahead of the Knicks.

    • Darian Williams

      And a good overall performance. Except for Ty…..

    • Darius

      I was thinking the same thing throughout the game dude!

  • etlord1

    I wonder if Denver can pull off a sign-and-trade before the draft involving their first round pick and another player (to clear cap space) for Lance Stephenson. I don’t think Indiana will be able to sign George and Stephenson at once, which is what they are going to have to do this offseason. It’s almost mathematically impossible for them to pull that off.

    • Heisenberg

      Denver needs a star player, not another good but not great player.

      They’d be better off going for Kevin Love.

      • Darius

        I don’t think Love is a Superstar or even a great player. 5 Years in the league and not one playoff appearance. A superstar single handedly leads their team to the playoffs and he even has a great supporting cast and still can’t get in. To me, he is kinda a stat sheet stuffer

        • Heisenberg

          I’d agree if he played in the East. Too tough to win by yourself in the West.

          Durant didn’t start making the playoffs with OKC either until Westbrook and Harden came along.

        • gimpcom187

          Yeah um he doesn’t have a great supporting cast. In fact he has a very mediocre supporting cast that compliments his game very poorly (as opposed to say Lebron in Cleveland had a mediocre supporting cast that complimented his game very well, not that Love is on Lebron’s level). Pekovic is a nice piece. Rubio is a below average starting PG who is useless the last 3 minutes of games. Kevin Martin is an above average scorer and poor defender. Corey Brewer? He’s a decent backup at best. Not to mention the team is very poorly constructed around him. Rubio in theory has the skills to compliment Love’s game (Defense and penetration into the lane with good passing skills) but his shooting AND at the rim efficiency are very low making it possible to play off him slightly. His defense is strong but not an extreme asset. Pekovic is a good compliment on offense but very mediocre on defense because of a lack of mobility or shot deterring skills. Martin again poor defense.

          In addition Love is a mediocre athlete as are all his teammates getting significant minutes. Love is a stellar rebounder, great PnR guy. You want at least 2 supreme athletes with him on the court 1 being a dominant rim defender as love adds very little in that domain (Rubio is probably their best athlete in their top 6 of rotation and is above average maybe).

          Love is clearly one of the top 10-15 players in the league (a better version of Melo in fact) and you can make a contention he is one of the top 5 offensive players in the league. On a team like GSW or Washington who have some athletes and defenders to compliment his skills you would recognize this.

          Stephenson would be a waste on this team. As was said before another above average player on a team full of them. STARS are what make this league go. If you can get 4 guys in that 15-30 range you can make a run too. Ty is the only guy on this roster you can claim is in that range or even close.

      • etlord1

        Denver can’t afford him. A Stephenson signing isn’t a stretch. I agree that they need a go-to guy, but it’s looking like the draft pick is going to be out side of the top 7, which is where the talent kind of drops off.

        • LBJ

          I don’t think we can afford either one. Someone is going to throw a lot of money at Stephenson – and Indiana is no going to let him go easily.

        • Heisenberg

          Love’s under contract for a few more years. The real issue would be what it would take for Denver to get him. The best Denver could probably do is Lawson, Faried, Mozgov and their 2014 First rounder for Love and Rubio.

          Stephenson is a FA this offseason.

          • gimpcom187

            Love isn’t going to a team like the nuggets. He has an opt out after next season. He’s a smart guy. He’ll either force a trade by 2015 trade deadline or go to another team via free agency. He’s going to a team that already has an established all-star (guard or center) and a couple of other nice pieces that are still relatively young. Washington, GSW, Houston, Memphis, even phx make more sense. Even the Spurs if they rebuild after next season when Ginobili and Duncan likely leave would make more sense than what the nuggets have.

            It’s a full rebuild situation folks. Places like Denver OKC, etc need to get their stars via draft and then build around that. If they luck into a guy who becomes a legit top 5 guy they have a good shot at a few title runs. If it ends up like Melo or Chris Bosh who are top 10-20 players then you end up with a decent run once or twice unless you get lucky/make great trades like Boston did with Garnett/pierce.

            • Aaron Durkin

              I don’t live in the state any longer so I get to see limited amount of games. Of those games I do see a theme of an extremely poor philosophy. I am a firm believer that a coaches main job is to put his team in positions to win games. That implies that you are going to use the players that you have and the strengths they possess to make a system that is going to win games. You see this with great coaches around the league like Mark Jackson, thibs in Chicago, and pop in San Antonio. There teams are always
              evolving and adapting to fit the pieces that they have. The nuggets have good pieces but they are constantly asked to do things that they are poor at ( 5 ’11 Lawson trying to guard Millsap). It is a huge concern moving forward!!

              • LBJ

                Excellent point. No free agent really knows what the Nuggets are trying to do – so they are eliminated early in the conversation. Couple that with the limited cap space – and we are left to building via the draft.

              • Nugman

                Most of the Nugget fans on this blog keep saying we have to get Shaws type of player to fit Shaws system. They don’t seem to understand you can’t just go out and pick the 5 or 6 best players. Believe me, Shaw gets very little of the blame for how poor the team has played under him. There’s always another excuse to try and put the blame somewhere else

  • Chain Breaker

    Crazy that Lawson grabbed more rebounds than everyone except Hickson!! Thats a recipe for disaster! At least he impacted the game in more ways than scoring!!

  • Richard Pesicka

    Don’t get to comfortable with the lineup Denver has. They will have to dump some money players. They have too many human slugs on the team. Some bodys will have to go. Can they be smart in doing the dump? History shows us no.

  • Aaron Durkin

    Ty shot did not fall but he played a great game. He set up his teammates and kept the team organized. Plus he had to guard the only PG in the league faster then him and he did a pretty good job. That being said I watched the game on NBA TV so they had the hawks broadcast on and even they where confused why shaw kept having Ty the guards switch on millsap. I think Ty should have gotten a better grade and shaw a worse grade. Plus keep in mind it was shaw who put in all guards at the end of the game on that free throw that was rebounded and pretty much iced the game.

    • LBJ

      Our announcers were wondering the same thing….

    • Nugman

      You mean someone else recognizes all Shaws bad substitutions, or lack of substitutions besides me? Why did he leave Faried in the game the last couple possessions when we needed 3s? Why did he play Ty nearly the entire second half? Even Jordan and Kobe took their regular rests in the NBA Championships. Typical Shaw. He has done this stupid crap all year and the writers on this blog continue to give him high marks. He gets a B+ and he didn’t even have the guys ready to play at the start of the game? Any coach would anticipate a let down after a big win against Miami and make adjustments.

      I know the Shaw supporters will say he’s trying to tank or he doesn’t have the right players, or there are too many injuries, or he wants to run Ty into the ground. But these substitution issues have been going on ALL SEASON and they have nothing to do with injuries or player quality. All head coaches except Shaw put their best 5 players on the court for the situation.

      I won’t even go into the disaster called Shaws defensive “system”. Guards have been on 7 footers under the bucket all year! But of course it’s the players, not the coach fault. Only if Shaw had 7 foot guards it would work. A B+ my as…..

      • LBJ

        Playing Ty into the ground (for no reason) could very well have repercussions for next year.

  • Darius

    Nuggets better not trade Faried. Give him whatever he wants when his RFA comes along. Players with his athleticism, rebounding and scoring don’t grow on trees! Especially with a 22nd Overall Pick…

    • etlord1

      I agree. I personally wouldn’t have made that comment two months ago. Hopefully he can sustain this kind of production.

    • Heisenberg

      Too much of a defensive liability….Nuggets shouldn’t give too much to him. He provides great value for what he currently costs but I wouldn’t sign him for more than 6-7 Million per year.

  • Paul Griggs

    For all you anti-Iggy’s…http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140314/andre-iguodala-golden-state-warriors/?eref=sihp. Rip away to your heart’s content!