Thanks to 27 and 16 from Aaron Brooks (I know I’m confused too) the Nuggets used a second half rally following the ejection of Josh Smith to beat the Pistons 118-109. The Nuggets also got contributions from Randy Foye and Kenneth Faried on their way to the victory.
Grades are below the jump.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 32 MIN | 4-8 FG | 7-10 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +5
Faried played well during the Denver comeback but really struggled when Josh Smith was in the game, especially on defense. He continues to shoot well from the free throw line and the field and has to be giving Denver a lot to think about moving forward. But man the defense was bad, especially the two times Jonas Jerebko beat him backdoor for dunks.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 4-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +3
Outside of his first layup attempt, which he didn’t even hit rim on it missed so bad, Mozgov was a force. He put Josh Smith on a poster and knocked down a mid-range jumper in the flow of the offense. The 18 minutes seems low but Denver made their run without him on the floor in the second half so I understand Shaw sticking with what worked.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 47 MIN | 10-19 FG | 6-7 FT | 6 REB | 17 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 27 PTS | +12
27 and 17 in 47 minutes for a guy who has barely played all season. Brooks was terrific tonight, getting to the rim in the pick-and-roll and knocking down the mid-range jumpers. On a night with no other healthy point guard Brooks delivered what will probably be the best game he plays all season.
|Randy Foye, SG 44 MIN | 8-18 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +11
Without Lawson Foye had to pick up an even bigger scoring role and he did so, catching fire in the third quarter as Denver started to pull away. He has been everything Denver could have asked for and more this year, tonight was just another example.
|Evan Fournier, SG 24 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -5
Fournier was the toughest grade of the night. He was able to score without knocking down the three and had a few nice moves to the rim but he also had one of the dumbest turnovers I have seen all year, leaving his feet in transition to throw a blind pass back towards the three point line for Randy Foye. Then when it was intercepted because Fournier threw the ball right to a defender he had the gall to try and blame Foye. He also got bullied by Rodney Stuckey a few times and had issues keeping Kentavious Caldwell-Pope off the offensive glass a few other times.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 20 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +5
Darrell Arthur threes are a thing now apparently. It is a strange but promising development with Arthur that makes his fit on next year’s team even better. If he can come off the bench and play his usual brand of good pick-and-roll defense and knock down threes to space the floor Denver has a great weapon sitting on the bench.
|Jan Vesely, PF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1
He is so bad. Poor Airwolf.
|Quincy Miller, SF 7 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -7
Quincy got beat off backdoor cuts and a bit on the glass but he played hard and knocked down the three. It is really tough to grade him in just seven minutes though.
|Anthony Randolph, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +15
He is Anthony Randolph. He did one good thing and a bunch of bad things including bricking a jumper. But he also had one of the most Anthony Randolph moments of the season so that was fun, but more on that below.
|J.J. Hickson, C 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5
11 and 11 off the bench is nice but at one point he let someone go right by him for a wide-open layup which prompted Scott Hastings to say, “Well that is JJ.” That isn’t a good sign. At least you know what you are getting I guess.
Shaw continues to push the right buttons and ride lineups that are working to let Denver get back into games and finish them out. With the injuries the talent isn’t there to win every night but Shaw is doing a good job of coaxing out good performances from a bunch of different guys. He has his problems, like playing guys too many minutes, but there is plenty to be excited about as Shaw’s career moves on.
Two Things We Saw
- At one point in the fourth quarter a ball was going out-of-bounds, potentially off Denver. Instead of trying to grab the ball and get it up court as a Piston lie on the Anthony Randolph turned his back to the ball and found an official to point at the player on the ground and yell “it went off him.” Kenneth Faried saved the play and threw it towards Randolph who had no idea what was going on. Luckily someone on the Nuggets was paying attention and grabbed the ball but it was a very good example of why Anthony Randolph is who he is, which is nothing but a bad role player. But man was it funny.
- The Atlanta loss was tough but as a second game of a back-to-back it was expected. Outside of that Shaw has the Nuggets playing well recently which is a nice sign. It doesn’t guarantee anything for next year as many pieces are going to be added and roles changed but Shaw clearly has an idea of how to handle things and has figured out how to put a variety of different players in roles they can be successful in. Denver has a tough schedule to close the season so there are more chances to add nice wins to this run.
Next up: Friday, Mar. 21, 7:30 p.m. (MST) @ Dallas. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
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