A brief observation on own vs. opponent turnovers

The Denver Nuggets rolled to a big win last night against the Los Angeles Clippers (see Charlie’s Rapid Reaction grades here). In that game, both teams did a great job of keeping control of the ball, each limiting their total turnovers to 11 apiece.

It’s well known among Nuggets fans that turning over the ball too much has been one of Denver’s primary weaknesses this season. In January, Matt provided some great in-depth analysis on the turnover problem, and if you haven’t read his breakdown, I’d highly recommend you check it out.

Regarding the Clippers game in particular, in looking over the box score afterwards I was struck by the even, equally low turnover numbers for both teams. What jumped out at first, given the pervasive and often discussed narrative that the Nuggets turn the ball over too much, was that Denver did a nice job of hanging onto the rock.

But the fact that the Nuggets were able to beat the Clippers so handily despite L.A. also having a low turnover count got me to wondering: Which is more harmful to the Nuggets, turning the ball over too often or failing to force opponent turnovers? Or conversely, which helps them more, keeping control of their own possessions or taking possessions away from the other team?

The answer turns out to be somewhat surprising. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 107 Los Angeles Clippers 92

Los Angeles Clippers 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +13

More important than the numbers was the fact Gallo looked completely rehabilitated from his nagging injuries. Six assists is a good sign Gallo is figuring out how to make the most of his dynamic perimeter game. He scored from all over and once again looked spry doing it, busting out some of his most athletic plays of the season.

Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +20

The story hasn’t changed with Faried. He can get better defensively but it doesn’t really matter when he pumps out a nonchalant double-double with four blocks to boot. The Clippers were physical with Kenneth and it didn’t faze him. Faried’s energy was on another level and he looked like he could have kept going all night.

Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11

Not a great game out of Koufos. His first-half defense left a lot to be desired but he managed to finish strong with a great second half. Koufos continues to be a dependable guy but his production was lacking relative to his minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +23

What else is there to say? That was a masterful performance and a prime example of what makes Lawson’s signature game so good. Ty showed he can be an efficient distributor and manage his scoring with the flow of the game. He’s been a lot better at recognizing when he needs to stretch his game out and hit a tough shot. He directed with Chris Paul-like precision and it’s safe to say outplayed his All-Star counterpart.

Andre Iguodala, SG 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +15

He did a great job moving the ball and not forcing shots. Iguodala is guaranteed to provide outstanding defense and playmaking every minute he’s on the floor, but his scoring has probably been the most inconsistent it’s ever been. His flaws as a scorer are evident as his natural tendency is to shoot too many jumpers, but he’s managed it so well in Denver and focused on playmaking instead. It’s just one example of the way he consistently leads the Nuggets on both ends of the floor.

Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -2

A pretty standard Brewer game with a lot of leakouts, gambling for steals and an airball or two thrown in for good measure. Brew scored and ran hard off the bench as usual but he didn’t have a particularly good night.

JaVale McGee, C 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +4

There were the highlight blocks and then there were the four fouls and alarming number of missed block-outs for a 14 minute performance. I love Pierre but he got pretty well owned on the boards and two rebounds is just hard to comprehend.

Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1

He had his shot going early but really couldn’t get a hold of the pace all night. Miller scored and did what he could off the bench but I have to wonder how much of a role he might have in a playoff matchup against the Clippers, who will use a zone and and challenge Denver to put size and shooting on the floor. Miller was solid but didn’t have much of a role in this one.

Wilson Chandler, SG 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8

He started rough and played some really poor interior defense throughout the first half. As the game wore on the physical play seem to fire up Wil and he exploded with one of his better all-around games of the season. He was key in helping the Nuggets close the first half strong when the game was still well within reach for the Clippers.

George Karl

The Nuggets didn’t seem to have the best energy tonight and credit Karl for motivating them to turn it up in the second half. This was not one of the Nuggets’ finer performances but a solid, efficient game and a business-like win they needed to have. Lawson shined directing the flow on his own so you also have to credit Karl for recognizing it and pulling back on using the Lawson-Miller tandem in the second half.

Staking A Claim: The Nuggets Recent Success

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

As I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.

(more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 120, Sacramento Kings 113

Denver Nuggets 120 Final

Recap | Box Score

113 Sacramento Kings
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +6

It appeared Gallo returned to his normal mode of production prior to be sidelined with an injury. He did most of his damage behind the arc with a sprinkling of mid-range, pull-up jumpers mixed in as well. Aside from scoring Gallo also had some really nice assists.

Kenneth Faried, SF 21 MIN | 9-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +20

This was one of my favorite games from Faried all year. His energy was great, as were his numbers, but I loved the way he did other things, like dribble the floor and attempt shots that were outside of his comfort zone. He pulled up for several jumpers, even one that was a turn-around, and seemed to be shooting them with confidence. He also dribbled the fastbreak with a tight handle and executed the pick-and-roll perhaps better than I’ve ever seen. Faried’s energy can only get him so far so it’s very pleasing to see him tackle other aspects of his game in an attempt to grow as an all-around ball player.

Kosta Koufos, C 24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +8

Koufos can do so much by just being in the right position. I felt he was exposed on a few pick-and-rolls and failed to defend the Sacramento bigs as well as he could have, but he made up for it by getting a multitude of easy put backs and rebounds. Bottom line: He was extremely productive in the time given.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 8-16 FG | 6-12 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | +14

I haven’t been this thrilled to watch a certain Nuggets player since Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony were on the team. Lawson is not just playing basketball at this point; he’s growing as a person. His confidence is through the roof. He’s maturing. He’s understanding the nuances of the game and it’s all paying off in the form of some incredible basketball. He started the game off somewhat slow but overcame his struggles to lead the Nuggets in scoring, yet again. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the rest of the season.

Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +10

Iguodala is just not a scorer. Although he will occasionally put up points, who doesn’t in the NBA? It’s his understanding of the game and commitment to defense that make him such a vital part of this team. Against the Kings his hands were everywhere, evident by his five steals. He also moved to open spaces with the ball, drew in defenders, then found an open man on more than one occasion. His eclecticism is what was on display tonight.

Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1

It wasn’t like Brewer wasn’t there. He made a few nice plays on defense and was pretty active on that end of the floor all night. But he did blend in when the Nuggets went sloppy and never really recovered.

JaVale McGee, C 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -7

McGee continues to oscillate wildly (two points to whoever gets that musical reference) and this game was by no means a departure from that standard. He had four high-flying blocks and a few monster jams, but he also failed to rebound the ball in any way and made a number of unnecessary mistakes. I’ll always side with his talent over Karl’s double-standard grudge he seemingly holds against him, but on nights like this I can at least understand where Karl is coming from… kind of.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -3

Why can’t Miller be like this all the time? Just shut up and play. Don’t talk to the media about how you’re on the brink of achieving some monumental status in your career and how you don’t plan on taking a back seat to anybody. You have nothing to worry about, man. George Karl is OBSESSED with you! Against the Kings, Miller went about his business quietly and effectively. He wasn’t playing hero ball, he was playing smart, calculated basketball and yet he still finished with a great stat line. This was exactly how he was playing prior to his statements in the paper and it’s exactly what the Nuggets need from him. Andre Miller is most effective when he’s trying to do the least amount of things on the court, plain and simple.

Wilson Chandler, SG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -12

I couldn’t place Chandler all night. You want to talk about inconsistency? There is no player on the roster more inconsistent than Chandler. He was clearly dedicated to playing defense, which you have to admire, but 1-7 from the field won’t cut it. I really can’t put my finger on what it is that makes Chandler’s production fluctuate so much but I’m not sure playing him at power forward helps.

George Karl

Karls’ rotations were somewhat wacky — as usual. He went with small ball way too long when it was clearly not working and should have played Faried way more considering how hot he was. Also, the Kings made a conscious effort to clog the paint, therefore making this an excellent opportunity to get Jordan Hamilton some run and space the floor. But… Karl stuck with his normal rotation and decided to grind it out, which the Nuggets eventually did. Aside from that, I felt he did a good job of corralling his guys at halftime when things were clearly out of control and getting them through this game handily at the end. It wasn’t always pretty, but a road win at this time of year, with this team, is hardly something you can complain about.

Road games revisited: Karl’s seemingly low expectations

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
– Michelangelo Buonarroti

Last week in a breakdown of the remaining schedule I wrote about the importance for the Nuggets of winning road games at a higher percentage and how their success or failure in that regard will most likely define them as a team.

One point I should have included but failed to make is that the Nuggets have in fact improved – albeit modestly – their road performance over the course of the season. On the surface this may come as little surprise, given (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111, Portland Trailblazers 109

Denver Nuggets 111 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Portland Trail Blazers
Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -8

Faried had a great energy throughout the game but couldn’t really concentrate it properly. He was a bit wild and inconsistent and had trouble defending Aldridge. He did have a few nice assists, which is something you love to see from him (and would like to see more often).

Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +1

Koufos could have been better. He was solid, but there were many where he missed easy putbacks and other opportunities that would have helped his team out in the long run.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 12-22 FG | 6-9 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | +4

Lawson will finish out the month of February averaging 23 points and nine assists per game. It has been the best month of his career thus far. It’s also fitting he finishes February in this fashion — essentially leading the Nuggets to a road victory in one of the toughest arenas in the NBA. His confidence right now is through the roof. He was even talking trash to Wesley Mathews at the end of the game, which is something you rarely see from him.

Wilson Chandler, SG 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -3

Not sure I understand Chandler at this point, or any point throughout his tenure with the Nuggets. He’s right up there with Corey Brewer in terms of inconsistency. One night he pours in 23 against the Lakers, the next he manages only seven. His offense can be difficult to grasp as a fan. He has only a select few moves he utilizes and they often come at arbitrary points throughout the game. It would be nice to see him move better without the ball too.

Andre Iguodala, SG 43 MIN | 11-20 FG | 5-10 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | 0

Yep, this was Iguodala’s best game as a Nugget — hands down. His stats were insane. Like Lawson, he was playing with a supreme level of confidence this game. He was just on a totally different level. All that said, his free throw shooting is something else. He was bricking them harder than Dwight Howard. Not sure what’s going on there but it’s kinda ridiculous, to be honest.

Anthony Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4

I can’t knock Randolph too hard. The guy was really trying out there. You can tell, he’s super talented. He had several shots than I don’t think any Nugget forward could make other than him. But he also thought he was Magic Johnson kickstarting the fastbreak offense more than once, which he should never do… ever. Overall, he was a little out of control but nothing too bad. A solid outing for a guy who’s been riding pine most of the year.

Corey Brewer, SF 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +6

Brewer started off the game with a bang, then disappeared almost entirely. I don’t even remember him in the second half, yet he finished with 28 minutes. That’s never a good sign. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he also didn’t do too much right.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +9

McGee was pretty impressive in the first half… then he got in foul trouble. He didn’t see any time in the fourth, which was a bit suspect. Had he kept playing, he might very well have ended up with five-plus blocks… and five-plus fouls.

Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 5 PTS | -3

As always, it’s tough to hand out a grade here. Miller had 10 assists in only 22 minutes, but he also turned the ball over four times and played half-assed defense most of the night. At one point Damian Lillard pretty much just waltzed from the top of the arc all the way to the rim, with Miller doing absolutely nothing to try and stop him. Don’t get me wrong, he had some incredible alley oops and a clutch late-game basket, but he also spent a lot of his time turning the ball over and choosing to play only when he decided he wanted to.

George Karl

I liked what I saw out of Karl. He was yelling. That’s good. He needs to yell more. He’s too passive most of the time. I think I even saw a few curse words murmured as the camera zoomed in on his face. That passion rubbed off on his team. It was clear. This was a totally different Nuggets team on the road. They were playing like they do at home. Yes, they could have easily lost… but they didn’t. That’s all that matters. He did play too much small ball, overused Chandler at the power forward position and let Miller play defense on the last possession of the game which is insulting to nearly all living things. Other than that, the Nuggets were ready to play and got a much-needed road win. That’s all that matters.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 Los Angeles Lakers 108

Los Angeles Lakers 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Faried obliterated the Laker bigs on the boards. Earl Clark and Metta World Peace played a combined 54 minutes while grabbing only one defensive rebound. His defensive awareness on the perimeter and in pick and rolls needs a lot of work, but rebounding is what Kenneth does best and when he plays with this kind of energy he can’t be stopped.

Kosta Koufos, C 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +3

He was bothered by foul trouble and couldn’t really handle Howard’s sheer girth, but Koufos bottled him up about as well as you can in the first half. Koufos is not bruiser and is a great example of how big men can be effective on defense without having to be the most physical guy around. Koufos was constantly moving his feet and fouled when he needed to — he’s been a near-perfect role player which is exactly what the Nuggets have asked him to do.

Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 8-19 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | +11

Seven straight games of 20+ point performances speaks for itself. Lawson is playing at a very high level right now which will make this critique difficult for some fans to take. Lawson was tentative and didn’t get to the paint outside of transition. He was also very hesitant to take open shots and didn’t create at the same outstanding level we’ve grown accustomed to. Solid game, but Lawson is capable of much more and should play better against the likes of Nash and Blake.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 10-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | +6

Chandler was extremely solid in his first start of the season, shining in a brand new role Nuggets fans haven’t seen him in much since Chandler joined the team. He was asked to space the floor and create on the perimeter a little bit, both of which he did admirably despite having played almost the whole season from a big spot off the bench. Chandler can regularly produce these kinds of numbers in a starting role, which is a fantastic luxury to have behind Gallo.

Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-5 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +6

Iguodala dominated the game, but not like you would expect. He took only 9 shots, going a perfect 5/5 in the paint and 1/4 on jumpers. He also tallied an outstanding 12 assists to just two turnovers filling in for Gallo as a secondary creator. But Iguodala’s stifling defense seemed to thwart every substantial Lakers push and made even modest leads appear insurmountable for the visiting Lakers. He is a special defensive talent.

Anthony Randolph, PF 6 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +10

Really solid minutes. Randolph ran the court hard and pretty much stayed out of the way on offense. The less he touches the ball and the more he runs the better. Randolph is very active and amazingly quick up the floor for a 7-footer. His energy played a big part, along with Brewer, in terms of getting the pace going.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Another very solid performance all things considered. He took one questionable heave from three but otherwise looked good in the Nuggets up-and-down offense. Four minutes isn’t enough to tell too much but it’s safe to say Hamilton is more than capable of contributing when the Nuggets need him to fill in.

Corey Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +17

Brew doesn’t do anything halfway. When he misses, he shoots BRICKS. Two of them were extremely ugly airballs from three, yet Brewer ended up being perhaps the Nuggets’ most valuable offensive contributor on the night. I would love to give Brew a better grade, but 15 shots is kind of a lot for Brewer to take unless he makes more of them.

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

Incomplete.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +8

The numbers don’t pop out at you but his defense was game-changing. He continues to produce with monster efficiency on the offensive end while steadily improving his poise and consistency on defense. McGee has earned more minutes and it’s only a matter of time till he starts seeing them. Despite not playing a lot of minutes his production has been eerily consistent this season. Can he continue to do it in bigger role? That’s the million dollar question.

Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +3

Andre’s attitude and demeanor on the floor are markedly improved since the All-Star break. He is a problem match up for LA and exploited it from the opening tip. The Lakers had to adjust, putting Kobe on him for a while and later Metta World Peace in the second half. The Nuggets don’t win this game without Andre and don’t take LA to seven games last year without him either. It’s in these kind of matchups Andre really proves his worth. I would just love to see some consistency.

George Karl

The Nuggets did exactly what they needed to do: dictate the pace and control the boards. Even without Gallo, the Nuggets came out prepared to play to their strengths and execute an offense that would lull the Lakers into a track meet. They did a particularly good job containing penetration and fouling on every layup opportunity. The Lakers just had to work too hard for everything they got and didn’t have the defensive chops to keep up. The Nuggets also played with a swagger and an expectation to win, something that I just haven’t seen much of in big games this season.

Remaining schedule breakdown: The Nuggets will define themselves on the road

Starting with tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Nuggets have 25 games left in their regular season schedule. Here we’ll take a look at how the final stretch breaks down, what we might expect to see if Denver continues on its current trajectory, and the critical importance of improving their performance in road games.

The overall schedule picture looks (more…)

Digging Deeper: Danilo Gallinari and his role in the Nuggets offense.

The other night in my grades for the Nuggets/Celtics game, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure Danilo Gallinari could carry the Nuggets offense for long stretches if the need arose.

As expected the comment received a lot of hate, so I decided to take a deeper look into the numbers and see if my hunch was correct.

But before I get into those numbers there is a short disclaimer that needs to be mentioned. Gallo is a very important part of the Nuggets offense. He is the player that most consistently knocks down open shots, especially three pointers, and in an offense so reliant on points in the paint that floor spacing is very important. The fact that the Nuggets offense is 8.2 points better offensively when he is on the court than when he is off it proves that.

But that wasn’t what my comment was about. My comment was that Gallo was very reliant on the other players on the court with him to create that offense, and that unlike a lot of Nugget fans I am not so sure an offense built around Gallo taking 20 shots a night right now is what the Nuggets need to do to make the jump to an elite team. The numbers I am about to show prove why.

The first worrisome part for me about Gallo creating his own offense is the breakdown of the types of possessions that he has used in each of the past two seasons. Almost exactly 40 percent of Gallinari’s shots have come in either transition or off of spot-up opportunities in each of those two seasons according to Synergy data.  That means the rest of the possession types they track, isolation,pick-and-roll ball handler and roll man, post-ups, cuts, off screens, hand offs, and offensive rebounds make up the other 60 percent of his possessions; with isolation taking up another 22 percent of possession this season.

On the bright side the points per possession numbers for almost every type of possession are good, but would they be able to stay that high with more repetitions? For a player who isn’t particularly fast for his position I wonder,e specially because he tends to finish a lot of drives fading away from the basket or twisting and turning away from contact. While the contorting helps draw fouls in some situations, it also makes life very difficult in others, especially in the playoffs when the games become more physical. The other part of it is Gallo’s passing. He makes the right pass often and the flashy one every once and a while, but Gallo isn’t a great passer. The 2.4 assists he averages a game would need to rise dramatically if he wants to be a number one option. For comparison, of the 30 players that average more points per game than Gallinari at the moment only Brook Lopez, Al Jefferson and Chris Bosh average less than the 2.4 assists.

But the answers become very worrisome when you look at the difference in Gallo’s numbers when he is on the floor with either Andre Iguodala or Ty Lawson and his numbers when one of those two, the Nuggets two best playmakers, are off the floor.

With Lawson on the floor Gallinari averages per 36 minutes are: 19.5 points on 14.7 field goal attempts and 43 percent shooting. Of those 14.7 attempts 6.3 are from behind the arc where Gallo is shooting 38 percent and getting to the line 5.5 times.

With Lawson off the floor all of those numbers drop, and five of them do so by more than 10 percent. The points drop down to 14.6 on 11.8 attempts and 41 percent shooting. The three point attempts drop to 4.3 and the percentage to 31 percent. And the free throw attempts drop down to 4.7, again all per 36 minutes.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets though those drops aren’t just attributed to Lawson since the results stay the same without Iguodala on the floor.

Playing with Iggy, Gallo’s averages per 36 are: 19.5 points on 14.6 shots and 44 percent shooting. He attempts 6.2 threes and shoots 38 percent from behind the arc while getting to the line 5.4 times.

And just like when Lawson leaves the floor, when Iguodala leaves Gallo’s numbers take a significant hit, again five of the totals drop by more than 10 percent. He scores 15 points on 12.5 shots on 37 percent shooting. The three point attempts drop to 4.9 attempts and the percentage to 32 percent shooting. On the bright side the free throw attempts stay similar at 5 attempts.

The most troubling part of the numbers is the shot attempts drops. Ten percent drops in just attempts for Gallo shows what I thought I saw while I watched games. A lot of Gallo’s offense comes after Lawson or Iguodala attack the lane and kick out to him. Gallo then does an excellent job of reading the reacting defense and doing what it gives him, either the open three or a drive to the basket. But asking him to just create offense for himself or teammates is difficult and he struggles.

Now some people will claim the drops are due to defense paying more attention to Gallo when one of the other two Nuggets weapons are not on the floor but that claim holds no weight when explaining the drops when it is compared to other combinations in the league. It doesn’t happen with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard who both see increases in many stats. Or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Even lesser top options than the Lakers and Thunder duos don’t see such a stark drop. Not Al Horford and Josh Smith. Or Paul George and David West.  The drops don’t even happen with his Nuggets teammates Lawson and Iguodala.  Or to either of the two when Gallo leaves the floor.

Again, none of this is meant to say Gallo isn’t an important piece of the puzzle for the Nuggets. I explained above that he is. What it is meant to show is that Gallo isn’t quite ready to be the creator for the Nuggets that some fans think he should be. Leave that to Lawson who is doing it terrifically, especially in the last month or so, and use Iguodala as a secondary creation option. Meanwhile, let Gallo be a terrific safety valve and spot up shooter, who reads the defense and decides if he should drive or not.

One day Gallinari may get to the point of being a great creator, a first option that can make teammates better, but right now he is just to reliant on Lawson and Iguodala to ask him to be that.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113, Charlotte Bobcats 99

Denver Nuggets 113 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Charlotte Bobcats
Danilo Gallinari, SF 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +2

Gallo saw limited action tonight between foul trouble early in the game and a reaggravated injury early in the second half. When he was on the court he was fairly effective both offensively and defensively. Overall grade incomplete.

Kenneth Faried, SF 27 MIN | 7-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +14

Faried got off to a slow start tonight and wasn’t ever able to take control of the glass. He also got lost a couple of times defensively. On the plus side, he got to the rim several times and showed a nice touch on a couple of makes from the right block. His energy level increased as the game went on, and two nice defensive plays late in the third helped keep the Nuggets firmly in the lead.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +10

Kosta was quietly effective tonight. He was active on putback attempts, though they mostly weren’t falling. His defense started out shaky but improved as the game went on.

Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 7-9 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +13

Like most of the other Nuggets starters, Ty was unspectacular early this game. He opened with two turnovers and some lazy defense, and deferred far too much on offense. When Gallinari left the game and Iguodala sat with foul trouble, the light seemed to go on and Ty became a whole different player, getting to the rim and to the line. Even though he got his shot blocked several times, he stayed aggressive and kept the pressure on the defense.

Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +15

Iggy was on his way to a great game when he was derailed by foul trouble in the third quarter. He was passing the ball as well as I’ve seen from any Nugget this year, setting up several McGee dunks and a Lawson triple. His defensive activity led to several easy buckets, including his own breakaway dunk off of a steal. Were it not for a dumb fourth foul, he would have shared the highest grade of the game.

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

Of the players who came in at the end of the game, Randolph had by far the most opportunity, but made very little of it, turning the ball over on a silly foul and missing one of his two free throws.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Incomplete.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +8

Brewer is often the hardest player to grade, because he does so many good things and so many bad things over the course of a game. Tonight, the bad came out a little ahead. He created two Nuggets layups with his defense, but I counted seven major defensive blunders as well. He twice pulled down tough rebounds in traffic, but also blew a layup and messed up a 2 on 1 fast break. He started off making his three pointers, but then took a couple of heat check type shots with defenders in his face.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +6

JaVale held his own personal dunk contest tonight, using the Bobcats front line as props. On one occasion when he didn’t have a dunk available, he made a nice pass to set up a Brewer layup. He also blocked or altered several Bobcats shots (and goaltended one.) He seemed to singlehandedly deflate the Bobcats crowd on more than one occasion.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | +3

Andre made a couple of very nice passes, and a handful of ill-advised passes, such as trying to find Kosta Koufos in the middle of four defenders. His defensive effort was considerably better tonight than in some recent games. I was pleased by his efforts to get to the rim, though he wasn’t always able to finish.

Evan Fournier, SG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Incomplete.

Wilson Chandler, SG 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5

I continue to be impressed by Wilson Chandler’s defensive versatility. One play he’ll be fighting a big in the post, the next he’ll cause a turnover on the perimeter, and the next he’ll pull down a tough rebound in traffic. His impact on that end of the floor was good this game. His offense was also solid, aside from one terrible shot from the baseline. He gets a downgrade for being a little foul-happy (though one was a good foul in an end of quarter, foul to give situation.)

George Karl

There was a stretch early in the third quarter, after Gallinari got hurt and Iguodala picked up his fourth foul, that the Nuggets offense stagnated with poor spacing. This was the only part of the game where I thought Karl needed to make a substitution that he didn’t. For most of the game, he played the players who were being effective. He even stood up for his players, yelling at the officials quite a bit after a series of questionable calls in the second period and taking a tech late in the fourth after another bad series.

Home Sweet Home

ESPN Stats and info wrote up a small preview post for the Nuggets vs. Celtics clash tonight and in it was some interesting, and honestly for the Nuggets and their fans, frightening information.

“Since 2000-01, the Nuggets have won nearly 68 percent of their home games but only 38 percent of their road games. No team has seen a higher increase in winning percentage from road to home games than the Nuggets.”

We all know that the Nuggets are better at home than on the road but that drop off in winning percentage is staggering, and is the reason that it is hard to see the Nuggets advancing much farther than into the second round this year. Without a top 2 seed the Nuggets won’t have home court advantage in the second round of the playoffs, and realistically looking at the schedule it seems impossible that they catch the Thunder or Spurs for that second seed. That means a team that only wins 38 percent of the time they play on the road would have to win a game, or more likely multiple games on the road to move on to the Western Conference finals. Now take into account that the 38 percent number includes games against the worst team in the league that the playoffs won’t, and things become even bleaker.

On the bright side the problems with this year’s team seems fixable. As the post says the Nuggets offensive and defensive efficiency are both much better at home than on the road, about 7 points better offensively and 6 points better defensively. The offensive drop makes sense. The Nuggets don’t shoot the ball well from the outside, and at an unfamiliar arena with travel the night before a team’s shooting can take a hit; that just happens. Defensively things can partially be explained by teams coming into Denver and struggling with the altitude and shooting but a 6 point difference is an awful lot, and has to at least partially come down to some effort. With the way the Nuggets have defended at times this year the fix seems there, but it is easier said than done. Bring more defensive intensity.

In the end how far the Nuggets will go is all dependent on how they play on the road and judging by recent history that doesn’t bode well for them. But unlike some years in the past where the team relied more on offensive firepower to carry them through struggles, this Nuggets team has a chance to change some of those problems around with a greater defensive intensity. What they choose to do will determine their success.

5-on-5: Trade deadline

Well everyone, it’s that time of year. Late February. And you know exactly what that means. It means the NBA trade deadline is approaching; therefore, all our wildest dream scenarios about acquiring LeBron James for pennies on the dollar are on the brink of coming to fruition. OK, so maybe that’s not exactly correct. Maybe it’s the furthest thing from the truth. But here at RMC we’ll be damned to be robbed of our totally unrealistic trade fantasies. So despite Adrian Wojnarowski’s recent tweet about the Nuggets being “unlikely to make a deal,” we’ve decided to ride on into the blue and yellow sunset with visionary trade talk firmly on our minds, which we’re happy to share with you in our latest 5-on-5.

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Reaction: Brooklyn Nets 119, Denver Nuggets 108

So, technology sucks. My computer just died after typing the entire recap. I was literally right clicking to copy the entire post when it died, erasing everything. Probably a good night for that to happen though. Here’s all you need to know about the game:

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Film Room: Two botched Andre Miller plays cost the Nuggets a win in Boston

A little over two months ago I posted a video piece on Andre Miller’s clutch play that helped seal Denver’s victory against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 7. With eight points and an assist in just 104 seconds, Miller poured it on in crunch time to lead the Nuggets to a big road win at a time when they were struggling.

Unfortunately, we are back in the Film Room today to visit what essentially was the opposite scenario. In their heartbreaking road loss to the Celtics on Feb. 10, the Nuggets were down just two points with 48 seconds remaining in the game’s third overtime when Miller retrieved the rebound off a missed Kevin Garnett jumper. And as every Nuggets fan not living under a rock is well aware, from there the train rapidly derailed from the tracks.

The Film Room video, followed by analysis of Miller’s play and George Karl’s coaching, is after the jump.

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Rapid Reaction: Boston Celtics 118, Denver Nuggets 114, 3 OT

Denver Nuggets 114 FinalRecap | Box Score 118 Boston Celtics
Danilo Gallinari, SF 49 MIN | 7-20 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -12

Gallo’s shot was off for the majority of the game, and poor shot selection didn’t help matters. He had a couple of spectacular defensive stops on Pierce early in the game, and continued to make life difficult for whoever he was guarding. His rebounding was solid as well. Had his last three point attempt fallen, we might be talking about him as the player of the game.

Kenneth Faried, SF 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -11

If you only read the box score, you might mistakenly believe the Manimal had a really good game. He was his usual energetic self rebounding and running the floor. But he was consistently lost on defense, rotating to the wrong guy or simply failing to contest shots. He also missed two critical free throws, committed several dumb fouls, and got called for a technical foul at a terrible time.

Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Kosta was fairly solid in the first half of this game. He kept his guy out of the paint and made his shots when he was able to cleanly catch the ball. Despite his relative effectiveness, he didn’t play after halftime.

Ty Lawson, PG 55 MIN | 13-22 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | -6

Ty started out playing tentatively, but as the game wore on his confidence grew. He hit several big shots throughout the game, including a clutch jumper to give the Nuggets a three point lead late in the second overtime. He also did a good job setting up teammates for most of the night. Unfortunately, he became a non-factor as fatigue set in late.

Andre Iguodala, SG 20 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -8

Iggy left the game around halftime with an apparent neck injury (right cervical strain). In retrospect, it seems likely he was playing in considerable pain in the first half. His usually strong defense was instead nonexistent. He seemed to be trying to avoid contact, preferring to pass to Koufos in traffic rather than taking the ball up strong in the paint. The team performed much better with Brewer in the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 5-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +7

During the first half of the game, Brewer seemed to have Boston’s defense figured out, and he was able to get to the rim a few times in the halfcourt as well as on the break. His chaos-causing defense played a big part in keeping the game close, and just before halftime he saved the ball right to Koufos to cut the Celtics lead to four. Unfortunately, he missed a few shots at the rim and then fell in love with his jumper a bit in the second half.

JaVale McGee, C 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +9

JaVale seemed to be the antidote for what was ailing the Nuggets for a lot of this game. He erased a bunch of points at the rim, and the rest of the defense seemed to tighten up as a result. He struggled in overtime, taking a couple of bad shots, rotating slowly on Jeff Green’s tying three pointer, and simply failing to contest Kevin Garnett’s midrange jump shots.

Andre Miller, PG 40 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 15 PTS | +6

Andre Miller had one really good play, getting in position to rebound a missed free throw, which gave the Nuggets the possession they needed to tie the game. He also made several bad passes and didn’t contest some of the most important Celtics shots of the game. Finally, he twice tried to make go-ahead three pointers that were nowhere close to going in, rather than finding a better shot.

Wilson Chandler, SG 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +4

Ill Wil played some phenomenal defense during two of the Nuggets’ biggest runs this game. He negated this somewhat by taking some ugly shots, including a point blank miss that he managed to catch on the other side of the hoop.

George Karl

Coach Karl made two good decisions tonight: he called a timeout early in the game after the team came out unprepared, and he played JaVale McGee a lot of minutes down the stretch. He also gave the two point guard lineup far too many minutes, left a much smaller player trying to guard Kevin Garnett for much of the second quarter, didn’t make appropriate defensive substitutions (such as putting a player on Paul Pierce who’s tall enough to contest his shot), and didn’t choose to intentionally foul during two circumstances when the Celtics needed a three pointer to tie the game. It’s the coach’s responsibility to prepare his team to play and to put them in the best position to succeed, but neither of those things happened tonight.

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