Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 123-Houston Rockets 116

The Nuggets really, really tried hard to blow another game to the Rockets with a bad fourth quarter performance but they were able to hold on and defeat Houston 123-116. Randy Foye turned into a human fireball with 30 points, including a 22 points third quarter to secure their 11th straight record with a winning record in Denver.

Grades are below the jump.

Houston Rockets 116 Final

Recap | Box Score

123 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, PF 26 MIN | 11-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | 0

Faried once again went over 20 points thanks to a bunch of dunks, transition layups and right handed hooks from the post. He made a few bad decisions when trying to lead the break and struggled here and there on defense but for the most part was a positive.

Quincy Miller, SF 40 MIN | 4-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +11

The shooting was rough and early on so was the defense but after a stern talking too Miller fought over screens and made an impact without scoring. It was nice growth from a young player.

Timofey Mozgov, C 25 MIN | 9-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +13

Mozgov and Faried dominated the early part of the game with energy and activity giving the Nuggets and early lead they never relinquished and tonight he even kept Omer Asik off the glass for the most part.

Aaron Brooks, PG 37 MIN | 5-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -2

Brooks had his moments tonight. He hit a tough couple of running layups in the lane and made some nice passes to keep Denver runs going but he also forced a few too many shots, especially with Randy Foye so hot in the second half and the bigs playing so well early.

Randy Foye, SG 38 MIN | 10-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 15 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 30 PTS | +28

The fact that we were in a Randy Foye 30/20 watch, even only jokingly, kind of says all you need to know about tonight’s game.

Darrell Arthur, PF 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +7

While Faried struggled a bit defensively with the Rockets mobile stretch fours Arthur was right at home and made life difficult for them. He is such a valuable piece of a good team, which Denver hopes to be next season.

Jan Vesely, PF 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -6

Airwolf doesn’t have a large amount of basketball skills but he has great athleticism, long limbs to flail and the ability to be really tall. I’m not sure if it is on purpose or accident but he is active defensively and can make random contributions if his minutes are kept low. I could understand Denver bringing him back for the veteran minimum.

Anthony Randolph, SF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -5

The Nuggets had just nine healthy players tonight and yet Randolph was only able to get five minutes on the floor. In those five minutes he missed two contested jumpers, fouled once and turned the ball over once. This has to be his last NBA stop.

Evan Fournier, SG 27 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -11

He made his open shots and attacked a closeout nicely tonight but the inability to let Fournier get even token minutes as the primary ball handler and creator for the bench unit (his turnover percentage for the year is higher than his assist percentage 15.0 to 11.8) really limits his ceiling to a three and d guy.

Brian Shaw

He won a game against a playoff team with 9 active players and didn’t play Anthony Randolph much. Sounds good to me.

Two Things We Saw

  1. I mentioned it on Twitter during the game (and before the explosion) but I don’t really get the hatred for Randy Foye. There are criticisms he is a ball stopper despite Foye having a usage rate lower than anyone on the roster that isn’t Airwolf, Quincy Miller, or Darrell Arthur. Despite the low usage rate Foye is second on the team in assists and has the highest assist percentage of any non-point guard on the Denver roster. He has a higher true shooting percentage than anyone on the roster besides Kenneth Faried, the lowest turnover percentage of all guards and a defensive rating equal to Evan Fournier all while playing the most minutes of any Nugget this season. Foye has literally done anything Denver has asked and been completely professional about it. Are there better shooting guards in the league? Yes. Are there better ones on the Denver roster? No.
  2. This season may not have gone the way Denver wanted it too but having a winning record at home with all the injuries that have happened this season is impressive. The streak of 11 straight years of winning records at home is something the franchise should be proud of.

Next up: Thursday, April 10th @ Golden State, 8:30 p.m. MST. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.

  • Nugman

    Good win for the Nuggets. However, if Foye doesn’t go off in the third the Nugs lose. I think they are a better team without JJ despite all his double doubles. There is better spacing on offense and better interior defense. They’ve played much better team basketball without him on the court.

    It’s interesting how Shaw has adopted so many of GKs tactics as the season has went on. Early they tried to walk it up and pound in to the posts. Shaws “system”. Now Shaw wants them to run all the time. He is also playing lots of small ball and using two PGs as much as possible. Of course these are things that GK got fired for, but I assume Shaw will get praise for.

    It’s funny how one coach can win 57 games, lose his best player right before the playoffs, lose in the first round and get fired. Then the next coach wins less than 35 games and there’s zero talk from the media or blogs about firing him. Yes, there have been injuries, but 35 wins is still only 35 wins. And not one comment from the writers on this blog about firing Shaw. What gives? I thought it was the medias job to take the HC to task.

    Keep Vesely and get rid of AR

    • Ckwizard

      Sigh…and then Yawn

    • Sócrates Manzoni

      Firing coaches year after year destroys any development your players have, veteran and young. You just can force the team to learn a new way of playing everyyear. Kudos to Shaw for trying to salvage the season with questionable roster fits, several injuries and the HUGE task of taking over a team built and shape in the thinking of a completely different basketball philosophy than the one that the organization wants to build.

      • Nugman

        Then why fire GK? Your entire comment argues why he should’ve been kept. As you so accurately state, it’s created all this turmoil which will take years to change. You can’t simply switch all your personnel in a season as we found out this year so we are looking at several seasons to build a team for Shaw.

        • heykyleinsf

          gee IDK..
          hmmm…

          Oh yeah!!
          Losing in the first round ten straight years.
          I KNEW it was something…

          • Poz303

            So wrong. Look at history.

            • heykyleinsf

              I did Poz.
              So wrong.
              1 time out of ten.
              So wrong..
              I’m really dreadfully embarrassed..
              1 season out of ten
              So wrong.
              About one season.
              So right about the other 9.

              I can’t believe this came from you of all people.

              • Poz303

                WRONG AGAIN!!!!

                Please review your history…AGAIN

              • heykyleinsf

                here.

              • Poz303

                History shows that he has taken his team to the playoffs 22/25 seasons. That is pretty remarkable.

                He has gotten out of the first round 8 times in his career, twice to the western conference finals (winning one).

                An * should be placed on the 2010 playoffs because he was away from the team (not coaching) due to health issues.

                Now if you want to only view GK’s coaching history as a Nugget, then you cant blanket statement it like thats the only team he has coached and use that playoff record to disparage his coaching history. And again, 2010 was probably a better team than 2009, maybe a true testament to his coaching ability would be to say that the fact the 2010 team lost in the first round was because the assistant coach was not able to do what GK did with the 2009 team.

              • Poz303

                The point is, there is no black and white on the issue, health problems and seeds should be taken into consideration.

                I like GK and his style of basketball for entertainment purposes.

                I am also willing to let Shaw coach the team and hope he does well.

          • Richard Pesicka

            But at least getting into the playoffs is something. Is it not?

            • heykyleinsf

              you seriously think things would have been different with GK and this lineup?

              • Richard Pesicka

                I seriously think that management screwed the pooch. This team has problems and management has made some bad decisions. I know GK was a good coach. Was he great, hell no. But once again, it’s not just one problem. Management made some bad decisions. If you honestly think some of the bozos on this team are better than corey brewer, you need to think again. We always get rid of good defensive players. And that’s one of the Nuggets biggest faults, no one can play good defense night after night.

        • Sócrates Manzoni

          I’m not arguing or defending anything about Karl. I believe you’re mistaken in your belief that Shaw should be fired but you’re entitled to your opinion I guess.

        • LegalizeDenverNuggets

          I thought it was well understood that GK was vying for more organizational power in a world where front office men are fancying themselves as the information analysis gurus. You can be mad at the organization if you want, but from what I understand, GK was demanding more say in player decisions, organizational sway, or other types of power that Josh wasn’t ready to commit too, perhaps because having a strong personality as a coach is increasingly being seen as risky. (see grantland’s piece about the NBA turning into a GM’s league here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/brian-shaw-lionel-hollins-and-being-a-coach-in-a-general-managers-league/ (this article paints Shaw as potentially going down the same path as Karl, but Shaw has at least bought himself time to adapt to being a modern head coach). I can’t say if this is good or bad, but asking an organization to commit more to you with such limited play-off success is a gamble Karl did not win. I’m of the mind that if change is coming, the sooner the better. (And true- I have been a GK hater at times in the past, but I’d like to think I have more perspective now).

          Now that we know why GK was fired (again- blame management if you want, I guess if you truly think we’d be better moving forward with GK), I personally think the notion that GK would have done better with this team is foolish- The mole (Iggy) was leaving no matter what, we still would have lacked the player talent to compete in a stacked West Conference, and I don’t think we would have seen this kind of development in Faried (I luv grantland& Z. Lowe- this is a must-read on Faried’s development in the 2nd half of the season: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/kenneth-faried-manimal-evolution-denver-nuggets/ ) with GK because his system would not have allowed for it. That’s why when you say ‘we are looking at several seasons to build a team for Shaw’ it bothers me a bit because that encapsulates why we hired shaw and not GK- because we don’t have to build a team FOR shaw (like you have to for GK because he coaches run&gun) because he is coaching fundamentals during a time when we are trying to identify franchise talent (Ty and Faried together?) and build around THEM (not the coach). AND to teach them real basketball decision-making skills to eventually have success in the play-offs. Or at least that’s what I’d like to think.

          God- I can’t believe I humored Nugman’s ‘opinions’ for so long. But if you read my post, do check out those Nuggets grantland pieces- good reads in a year where sports writers aren’t spending much of their precious talents on a largely flailing Nugget’s squad.

          • Andrew

            Well put.

          • sherlock

            Dude EXCELLENT post. Dig it, this is what I’ve been trying to say since GK got canned, but I can’t type logically, because I usually only respond when I’ve been rubbed the wrong way. haha

        • sherlock

          Did you really think that everything was just going to pick up where we left off last year? We have a new coach, a first time head coach. Shaw doesn’t have the players he wants to run his system. He ADAPTED, so he could win a few more games. That’s a good sign, by the way. You post the same whiney crap after every game “Nugman.” I have an idea if you hate the direction the Nuggets are headed, why don’t you become “Thunderman” or “Spurmen.” Hit up their message boards with cheery sunshine.

    • Sharkboy242

      I like how you justify Karl’s loss and then go on to completely ignore a worse circumstance that Shaw was put into. Karl was fire after a decade of mediocrity so Shaw should be fired after one year?

      In my life I’ve encountered people who have been unintelligent, yes – I’ve encountered my share of people who suffered from mental disabilities. People with downs syndrome, autism, and so on. However, I have never once encountered someone so stupid as to be capable of thinking something so unbelievably off-base. I didn’t even think it possible that anyone in our plain of existence could ever even have the capacity for this level of idiocy.

    • Kane

      57 wins from a team with Gallo, McGee, Lawson all year and Andre Iguodala.

      IF Foye doesnt go off, we lose. If a meteor crashe into Earth, we would all be dead. But it didn’t. So we’re not

    • Native Nugget

      From reading just this post, I’m hearing a legit question as to where the pressure is on the new coach given that the previous coach was fired with a better record. After reading through this string of replies (below), I get the impression that fellow posters familiar you Nugman are frustrated with your pro-Karl stance. My take is that the Karl debate will naturally continue because it’s not cut and dry. There are valid points on both sides of the scale. Some will take up the side that points out the dude was a terrible playoff coach his entire career, lost to inferior teams consistently and never once overachieved. Others will take up the view that he was a great regular season coach who regularly overachieved and had a very entertaining style of play. Unless Shaw takes the Nugs to the finals in the near future this debate will rage on and legitimately so.

      As far as the ‘where’s the pressure’ question, I agree with the ‘it’s too soon to tell’ crowd. New front office, new system, new players, new coach, and tons of injuries. I would argue that anyone landing on a clear decision either way has jumped the gun. There are signs Shaw could bring the defense around and has better player development skills. There are also signs he’s inexperienced and didn’t adjust fast enough to the style of play which his roster was built for or that his in-game adjustments are below average. No one can definitively say he’s a great coach or a bad coach – time will tell. I’m hopeful Shaw can turn out to be an awesome coach but I’m not naive enough to pretend I know what’s going to happen.

  • Nugman

    It’s amazing that we have fallen to the depths of cheering the small feat of having a winning record at home. Only 3 teams in the west won’t achieve this incredible feat and only about 30% of the entire league will fall short. I guess that means we are happy with being just slightly above the bottom.

    Foyers biggest weakness comes on the defensive end. He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of stay between your man and the bucket. He constantly gets beat off the dribble or off the cut which leads to defensive breakdowns because of the rotation problems it creates.

    • heykyleinsf

      you are a complete caricature of yourself.

    • Ryan

      Jesus man… do you ever quit? We fully understand that you don’t like Shaw and love GK… We get it…

      • Kane

        i get a feeling Nugman might just be GK.

        • Andrew

          Or a relative? Who knows, but there is a fixation going on there…

  • heykyleinsf

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    you know who you are..

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    • CoryW

      Draft LaVine

      • Andrew

        What do you like about LaVine? What about Vonleh? Maybe he could be a good, tall compliment to the Manimal…

      • Heisenberg

        I’d much rather have Napier than LaVine.

        But the Nuggets are already set at PG, so this is a moot discussion.

  • etlord1

    After watching the development of Miller, Fournier, and Faried, I don’t think that the Nuggets need to add more young players. If the draft pick falls outside of the top eight, it might be better to trade the pick and another player for someone who is going to make an immediate impact. You gotta remember, this team was the third seed in the west last year, so winning now should be the goal.

    • Heisenberg

      They were third with Iggy and a healthy Gallo. They also had an above average coach.

      Acquiring assets should be the goal. This team is not a contender.

      • etlord1

        I agree with acquiring assets. I just don’t want Denver to acquire projects. I wouldn’t mind trading the pick and someone like Chandler for a proven veteran. I think a guy like Sefolosha would also be a nice pick up in free agency. He would be the lockdown defender that was lost when Iggy left.

        • Andrew

          Is Sefo any good anymore? Seems like I haven’t seen him play in awhile. I would still like to get the big PF, like a Vonleh or Randal (hope hope) in the draft, and then try to get the SG like you say, through a trade.

          • Poz303

            He has been injured. I think he is a top perimeter defender in the NBA. Would be a good compliment on the Nuggets team.

  • Heisenberg

    Shaw supporters should realize that injuries are not a free pass. Jason Kidd has dealt with several injuries, including losing arguably his best player for the vast majority of the season. Yet he’s still improved, while we still haven’t seen a whole ton of improvement out of Shaw. And yes, tonight was a good win.

    Yes, the talent levels are different. A lot has happened and that deserves consideration. However, even considering everything that has happened this team should still be .500.

    Nugman may be a bit harsh on Shaw, but his criticisms are valid. I don’t think he should be fired after one season but there’s no denying that Shaw needs to improve substantially if he’s going to be better than his predecessor.

    • Furious_Stylez

      There’s no doubt Shaw needs to improve his coaching skills, but some of the posters on this board are totally irrational with their criticisms. He’s a freaking rookie head coach. Cut him some slack. You can sit in the passenger seat while your parents drive you around and think you know how to drive, but things change when you are actually behind the wheel for the first time. Same thing with coaching. Some of the things he learned from Jackson and Vogel will work and others won’t. His job is to figure out what works. Hopefully he’ll have a better handle on things and will be better next season.

      Comparing him to Kidd (which many have done) is flat out dumb. Both coaches lost their starting Center early on, however Kidd is working with Pierce, DWill, and JJohnson. Garnett ain’t what he used to be, but I’ll take him over Arthur or Vesely any day. They have an owner that doesn’t care about money (so the luxury tax doesn’t mean squat to them) and traded for Thornton, whose good for 10+ppg. The Nets also play in the East, which is way easier to make the playoffs and look good.

      • Heisenberg

        DWill was out for a few weeks. Pierce is done and Joe Johnson is decent. They’re 4-0 against the Heat (not that regular season results mean a whole ton) and 18-12 against the West.

        While Shaw may not have quite as much talent, this squad still should’ve been at least a .500 team. Nugman is right when people that criticized Karl for certain things (such as player interactions) are giving Shaw a pass for them.

        • Furious_Stylez

          Karl had nearly 20 years of head coaching experience by the time he got to Denver. Shaw has 7 months of head coaching experience. Shaw is bound to make mistakes due to his limited experience. Karl had no such excuse.

          Shaw is missing a combined 25ppg on the floor. I know many have already made up their mind about Shaw, but I want to see him coach a healthy team before declaring he’s awful. If they are .500 or under after 42 games next season, I’ll help sharpen the pitchforks.

          • Heisenberg

            Which is why Denver should have went with somebody that had coaching experience.

            I agree with giving him one more year though.

  • Furious_Stylez

    Nice win. A few thoughts:

    - Foye had really stepped up the last few months. I wasn’t really a fan when the Nuggs signed him, but he’s really been reliable with so many players in and out of the lineup. He’s a serious value for his production.

    -Count me in on the Brooks bandwagon. He’s been really good the last month or so. I like him better than Nate b/c Brooks actually contributes to multiple stat categories, not just scoring. However, NRob has a player option for $2m next season and since he’s not a coveted player and is coming off a major knee injury, I can guarantee he’s taking the money. Then could sign Brooks and maybe trade Nate during the season, but that all depends on if he returns healthy.

    -Give Faried a monster extension this summer. He’s earned it. He continues to develop and will hopefully add some more skills to his game. If he hits free agency after next season, he may be priced out of the Nuggets budget when at least 10 teams open their wallet for him.

    -I agree w/ etlord1: No more young players. The Nuggs need to use what little money they have on veteran players. Sefolosha should be the primary target. I was thinking Meeks, but after looking at his stats, they are identical to Foye’s. Sef is a D specialist and that is a major need. A front court D specialist is also needed. The Arthur experiment failed. Unfortunately, he has a player option and will be back unless another team offers him more years.

  • heykyleinsf

    In 25 years of coaching..
    Here’s GK’s playoff record.
    championships .. none
    conf champ.. one
    adv to conf champ 4
    knocked out 2nd round 4

    knocked out of 1st round 14.

    are we straight now?
    a few of you seem a little hazy on this.

    • Poz303

      He made the playoffs 22/25 years

      in 2010 (essentially the same team as his 2009 WC final team) he had to leave the team prior to playoffs due to having to deal with health issues (throat cancer). A team that had a year to get better. For some reason without GK THAT WC team, lost in the first round. And that is on GK???

      • heykyleinsf

        Only got past the first round 1 time in the last 10 years.
        I don’t care what sport.. I don’t care what coach..
        That isn’t getting it done.
        Look at Andy Reid. Look at Mike Shanahan.. 2 super bowls.
        Look at Hartley.. won a championship and has more wins than any coach in Avs history. All these guys were fired.
        You compare GK with everyone else in the real world..
        You see that the Nuggets were RIDICULOUSLY generous to him.

        Not only that.. you might have noticed no other team wants him either.