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.
|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.|
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.
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