|Kenneth Faried, PF 33 MIN | 8-18 FG | 2-7 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 18 PTS | -3
Shaw loves running that dribble handoff where the big screens for the in-bounder at the top of the key at the end of games. Faried broke the play off early when he saw how glued Iguodala was to Foye and it’s a testament to his confidence at this point that he chose to end the game on an isolated post up. Additionally it’s kind of amazing we’ve reached the point where, before the shot, a 16 point, 17 rebound game would’ve been looked at as nothing too special. If nothing else can be taken away from this cursed season, Faried’s development can still be lauded as a reason for why this season mattered.
|Quincy Miller, SF 24 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -10
Poor Quincy. I fear his greatest impression in the basketball zeitgeist right now is his ankles getting reaped by Iguodala. And, even worse, I fear that may be all it’s ever going to be.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 43 MIN | 10-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 29 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | -2
#MOZGOD. Hakeem OlajuMOZ. Kareem Abdul JaMOZ. The fact that this detonation happened against someone as objectively great at defense as Andrew Bogut makes it all the more special. Most of the rebounds were accrued from sheer effort and most of the points were borne of lackadaisical play on the part of the Warriors. But still, the fact he played the entirety of the second half and that he was this close to a 20-30 game is impressive no matter what the circumstances. Mozgov has exceeded all expectations we had for him before the season but to what extent his future with this team can be remains uncertain. Night’s like this, though obviously rare, are encouraging – and incredibly fun – nonetheless.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 39 MIN | 3-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -5
Aaron Brooks is a fun player to have as a complimentary piece to a Lawson-led squad on a team with nothing to lose. He becomes much less appealing when he is handed sole control of the point guard duties and I fear that he will be even less so when Denver starts attempting to build a solid defensive foundation next year, should they choose to re-sign him.
|Randy Foye, SG 39 MIN | 7-23 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -4
As much as my bias against Aaron Brooks leads me to constantly view what his does through a negative prism, the opposite is true for Foye. There were many moments in this game where mental lapses on both sides of the floor cost the Nuggets precious points in what turned out to be a one point game, 2-for-1 opportunities gifted to the opposition, closeouts made on the wrong guy, shots that shouldn’t have been attempted. And yet I can’t help but look at the 20-7-7 stat line (albeit garnered inefficiently) and come to the ultimate conclusion that Randy Foye is good for this team. I’ve got a basketball crush, what can I say.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 20 MIN | 4-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +8
Frustrating game from Arthur for most of it, he kept taking ill-advised jumpers (he at one point attempted a Dwayne Wade-like bank shot from the right wing) that refused to go in. But his couple of three pointers in the fourth helped immensely and it’s nice to see him in a place where he can trust that three point jumper no matter what.
|Jan Vesely, PF 13 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +12
Denver fans apparent love for Vesely’s effort is emblematic of a more fundamental problem I have with the way the team is being perceived, which I’ll get to in a moment. But to me, he’s another version of Anthony Randolph. His energy is rarely channeled in the direction it needs to be and if he ever saw a good decision, he’d probably try and foul it.
|Evan Fournier, SG 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +9
At this point he’s a necessary redundancy of Foye, just a bit worse at everything. Once Wilson Chandler and Gallo return healthy next year, it’s hard to see him being a necessity anymore, even as a small-ball three.
The last play was a tad unimaginative, the designed Mozgov threes are starting to border on the insane – as though he is being consumed with the need to justify the monster he birthed at the end of that Grizzlies game -, and Mark Jackson and his ghost staff of assistant coaches seemed despondent throughout the entirety of the second half, Shaw needs to get the credit for creating an atmosphere that has Denver caring about winning these games that they really shouldn’t give a damn about. The cynic in me wants to say that the players are playing to fight for their future earnings but it’s getting harder and harder to hold onto that idea as Denver keeps getting worse for wear injury-wise yet solid in this final stretch.
Two Things We Saw
- I don’t mean to rain on the parade, this was a great win in a fun stretch of competitive games that shouldn’t have been as close as they were. But the outpouring of jubilation from Nuggets fans on twitter and in comment sections at it has been rather jarring. The middle of the season, personified by that horrendous nationally televised, “everything is falling” loss to the Nets, was so horrific that there seems to have been a shift in what deserves to be lauded with such fanfare as this recent wins and competitive loses have been. If the team shows “effort” or “fight” now, the game is constituted as a moral victory. They’re certainly more entertaining to watch but should fans really be taking this late push this far? Has Denver, but a season removed from 57 wins, on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, fallen so low so fast that seeing players compete is now a harbinger for great things to come? If anything, the opposite is true. Lauding effort as something worthy of this degree of celebration is the mentality of not just an underdog in the playoffs but an underdog in nearly every regular season matchup they enter into. This is a new-normal that I, for one, am not too happy to embrace.
- That said, these games are infinitely more fun. You can tell, from the Mozgov threes to letting Faried run the fast break, that Shaw is letting these guys play loose, like there’s nothing to lose. There was real tension in the locker room just a few weeks early, perhaps this new-found leniency, this removal of the pressure of a playoff race for a first year head coach, helped bury the hatchet.
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