Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 137, New Orleans Hornets 107

Nearly everybody on the roster came to play in what turned out to be one of the Nuggets’ best team performances of the year. Kenneth Faried scored a new career high, while Ty Lawson got back into the double-double category and Aaron Brooks put on yet another show off the bench. Now if the Nuggets could only do this for 82 games…

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Denver’s laboratory experiments

The Nuggets have had to deal with the disheartening reality that they’ve not been a playoff team this year for the better part of the last couple months. While we tend to not think of them as such, NBA players and coaches are professionals whose job is essentially to attempt to get into the playoffs and beyond. Even the worse of teams go into the season with this goal (or at least the illusion of this goal)* and when its attainability is mathematically eradicated, lethargy sets in.

*Everyone except for the Sixers this year, who made no attempt to disguise their intent. Which is probably the biggest reason why tanking has all of a sudden become such a big talking point this season.

Players are still playing for job security, future earnings, and pride but, for about half the league, this is the time of the season where the learning curve tapers off. These teams are who they are this year. Brian Shaw and the Nuggets understand this so, in an attempt to make use of the otherwise meaningless games left on the schedule, they’ve turned these few weeks into an experiment. Might as well start asking questions and seeing what turns up.

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Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 92

In what turned out to be one of the more exciting (and odd) games of the season, the Nuggets ended up falling to the Grizzlies in quite, well, interesting fashion. Timofey Mozgov had a career night in more than one way, and Brian Shaw certainly assisted in helping Mozgov achieve this feat. If nothing else, this was a fun game worth staying up for… until the end. That was just awful.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102, San Antonio Spurs 133

After a competitive start to the first quarter, the Spurs proceeded to thoroughly dismantle the Nuggets, extending a 19 point halftime lead to a 31 point blowout.

The grades are after the jump. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 103-San Antonio Spurs 108

The Nuggets tried. Oh man did they try. But ultimately putting yourself down by 19 points against the defending Western Conference champs and current best team in the NBA is a bad idea and Denver fell just short of completing their comeback by falling 108-103 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Please leave your thoughts on the grades in the comments below.

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Roundball Roundup: Part III – Faried’s blossoming, Arthur’s bombing, and Denver’s pre-preseason

Faried’s blossoming post game:

Matt had a great write-up on Faried’s improvements but I thought it was worth reiterating it a bit here. Faried began the year a player adrift. The GM who coveted him when so many others had passed and the coach whose up and down offensive style seemed designed to maximize his athletic ability while minimizing his half court deficiencies were both gone. Trade rumors swirled around him and Brian Shaw seemed dead set on forcing him to go to work on offense with his back to the basket. Faried’s subsequent failures started costing him minutes.

And yet, something weird happened. Despite what seemed like irrevocable differences between play style and offensive capability between player and coach, Faried did the thing that Brian Shaw was always purported to be able to do to players, one of the core reasons he was hired. Faried got better.

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Winning vs. tanking? Pretty much a moot point now

The Denver Nuggets have the most difficult remaining schedule in the NBA, and arguably the most injury-devastated roster to boot. Taken together, these two tough realities suggest that it will be very difficult for the Nuggets to win many of their remaining games.

But while proponents of tanking might take heart in this likelihood of losing, at the end of the day it almost certainly will hardly matter either way. As has been the case for months, Denver’s best chance for a high draft pick remains with the (increasiningly unlikely) hope that the Knicks will crash and burn down the stretch. And even if the Nuggets lose out, they probably won’t move up more than a single spot in the draft. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Denver Nuggets 106

The Nuggets were outscored in the first quarter and never could recover. Durant was hot, Butler (see: Caron) was hot, and that’s about all it took for the Thunder to ride this one home. Grades inside.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105 – Washington Wizards 102

A thoroughly entertaining Sunday afternoon game ends with a solid, albeit unnecessarily dragged out, Nuggets win.

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Breaking News: JJ Hickson Out for Season With Torn ACL

JJ Hickson left last night’s game with a knee injury and after an MRI to determine the damage was done it has been determined that injury will keep Hickson out for the rest of the season.

According to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post the MRI revealed that Hickson torn his ACL, which makes him the second Nugget this season to tear the ligament and the third to have an issue with it that put them out for the season after Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari. It also marks the fourth member of the roster who will end their season with a major injury as JaVale McGee is out with a leg injury of his own.

Hickson had seemingly found the perfect role on the bench recently, putting up 13.9 points and eight rebounds in his last ten games where he had been a reserve. The injury will probably lead to more minutes for Jan Vesely and/or Anthony Randolph as well as the addition of another tough offseason decision for Denver. With so much money tied up in Hickson, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur the power forward spot takes up a large portion of the salary cap and roster space and yet Denver will enter next season with Hickson working his way back from a major injury and Faried being eligible for his contract extension that will need to be signed before October 31st.

It just adds another bad result in a season full of them for the Nuggets.

Please leave your thoughts on the news in the comments below along with what you want Denver to do about filling his minutes for the rest of the season and beyond. 

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 106 – Dallas Mavericks 122

After starting the game strong the Denver Nuggets surrendered their early-game lead in the second quarter, as the Dallas Mavericks used a huge second period to go ahead and keep Denver playing catch-up for the rest of the night. Game grades can be found below.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118-Detroit Pistons 109

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.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110 -Los Angeles Clippers 100

In a sloppy, miss filled, physical game the Nuggets outlasted the Clippers 110-100. Denver got big performances late from Ty Lawson, Randy Foye and JJ Hickson to end the Clippers 11 game winning streak.

Grades are below the jump.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 92, Atlanta Hawks 97

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. (more…)

A Monster March: Why Kenneth Faried’s Recent Offensive Explosion is Encouraging.

Things clearly haven’t gone well for the Nuggets since the start of 2014. The team went into a tailspin, largely thanks to the injury bug that ripped through the team, forcing multiple games of Randy Foye at point guard and other drastic measures. But just because the team hasn’t been headed in the right direction doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any good to come of the season. In fact recently something very encouraging has been happening.

Since the start of March Kenneth Faried has been on fire.  The Manimal is averaging 21.1 points and 10.1 rebounds in seven games this month while shooting 64.5 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the free throw line. The stretch is probably the best Faried has played in his entire career and is encouraging for the Nuggets to see as they start to think about what kind of extension they will be offering him next season.

What makes things most exciting for Denver is how the growth has come in one of the places that it seems like Brian Shaw eventually wants to run his offense from—the post.

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