Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 95, Dallas Mavericks 94

In a hard-fought battle to the wire the Nuggets proved they’re a team that thrives off heart and passion, rather than one that folds under emotional turmoil. Iguodala had a huge drive capped by a game-winning layup at the rim to put the Nuggets ahead by one point with only a few seconds remaining, while Corey Brewer dazzled with his energy and refusal to lose throughout the contest; however, the story of the game without question is Danilo Gallinari and his ostensibly torn ACL.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113 – Utah Jazz 96

After a slow start that left the Nuggets up only 5 at the half, a combination of Andre Iguoduala and Danilo Gallinari helped the Nuggets blowout the Jazz in Utah.  No starter played more than 33 minutes and six of the top eight Nuggets rotation players played under 30 minutes on the first night of a back to back.

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Video: Evan Fournier scores a career high 19 points against the Nets

Last Friday, rookie shooting guard Evan Fournier introduced himself to Nuggets Nation in a major way. In only 21 minutes of action he managed to score a game-high 19 points on 6-9 shooting from the field (6-6 from the line) to go with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. After this performance and with Ty Lawson still sidelined due to injury, it’s safe to say this is likely just the beginning of Fournier’s most descriptive and telling vignette as a member of the Denver Nuggets.

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Staking A Claim: Andre Miller’s “Defense”

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.

In the past few weeks there has been a dominant discussion in the comments section of just about every game recap: The staff here at Roundball Mining Company has been too harsh to Andre Miller.

Many people see his offensive line and wonder how we could give Andre such a good grade because he “kept the Nuggets in the game,” others say docking him for his defense as much as we do is not fair because he is old, slow and generally nonathletic.

What we keep trying to get across though is that the grades aren’t because Miller is bad at defense, again we don’t expect him to shut down Tony Parker or Chris Paul, but the problem is just a lack of effort.

Thanks to help from Cole Patty from the Portland Roundball Society, I have five videos from the first three quarters of the recent game against the San Antonio Spurs; which I recapped and was criticized for my grade on Miller because of his defense, to show just exactly what I am seeing that makes me kill Miller’s grades so much.

The videos will start from the simplest problems, those that you can live with if they happen once and a while and gradually get worse and worse; unfortunately the final three are just head scratchers that should not be happening.

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Report: Andre Iguodala likely to opt out, weigh his options

Chris Tomasson, former Nuggets beat writer for the Rocky Mountain News now with Fox Sports, is  reporting that Andre Iguodala is leaning towards opting out of his contract this summer, forgoing the roughly $16 million remaining on his final year in favor of a longer term deal which offers more security.

Tomasson also reports that it’s not a sure thing Iguodala will remain in Denver: (more…)

Pickaxe Pulse for March 30, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets’ franchise record winning streak of fifteen games came to an end Monday in New Orleans.  The team looked disinterested in a 110-86 blowout loss, giving up 17 offensive rebounds and 14 made three pointers.  JaVale McGee led the way with a double double in San Antonio on Wednesday, and the Nuggets had a chance to win, but Andre Miller missed a tough shot at the buzzer and the Nuggets dropped their second straight, 100-99.  Back at the Pepsi Center on Friday, Evan Fournier and Kosta Koufos helped the Nuggets get back on track against the Nets in a 109-87 win.  Ty Lawson played sparingly all week due to a foot injury.

Record this week: 1-2 (1-0 home, 0-2 road)

Current record and standings: 50-24, third seed in the Western Conference, 0.5 games ahead of the Clippers and 1 game ahead of the Grizzlies

Upcoming games: Wednesday at Utah, Thursday vs Dallas, Saturday vs Houston

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109, Brooklyn Nets 87

At a time when Nuggets fans are seeing dark clouds forming over Denver’s playoff prospects due to recent news of Ty Lawson’s plantar fascia injury, a silver lining emerged in the form of Evan Fournier. Seldom used this season, he led all Nuggets in scoring with a career high 19 points, and sparked the second quarter surge that put the Nuggets in control for the rest of the game. (more…)

Nuggets well positioned to seize first round home court advantage

The Denver Nuggets recently clinched a berth in the 2013 NBA playoffs, meaning that they will soon be making their tenth consecutive postseason appearance. And while this is a very impressive streak, what they’ve managed to do less often is finish the regular season with a good enough record to secure home court advantage in the first round. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99, San Antonio Spurs 100

The Nuggets dropped a heart breaker in San Antonio tonight as they struggled for stretches to contain Tony Parker and Danny Green. Denver had a shot at the buzzer but things broke down and Andre Miller was unable to hit a difficult shot in the lane. (more…)

JaVale McGee is a good dude

JaVale McGee has had an up and down season. He often has up and down games. Almost every time he steps on the floor McGee does amazing things followed by lackluster mental lapses. Sometimes players like McGee — who’s play on the floor fluctuates so wildly and frustrates his coaches — make bad decisions off the floor as well. But McGee is not that type of guy. (more…)

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Hornets 110, Denver Nuggets 86

This one was a loss from the start, as the Nuggets came out flat and never really recovered. Defense was nowhere to be found (especially from beyond the arc), offense was tough to come by and in the end the Hornets simply out-played the Nuggets in nearly every aspect of the game. Unfortunately for Denver, one game after losing to snap their franchise-record winning streak the Nuggets must go on the road to face one of the best teams in the league in San Antonio.

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Pickaxe Pulse for March 24, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets extended their franchise-record winning streak to 15 games, and the team’s depth was on full display this week as bench players played key roles in all 4 victories.  Wilson Chandler scored a game high 35 points to go with 9 rebounds and 4 assists in an overtime win in Chicago.  Andre Miller celebrated his 37th birthday the next night, helping the Nuggets cruise to a win over the Thunder.  With Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler sitting out with injuries, the Nuggets looked to be on their way to defeat against Philadelphia, but Corey Brewer finished off a career high 29 points with a late three pointer and three free throws to complete a 101-100 comeback victory.  Julyan Stone, in his first NBA game since January, provided a spark on both defense and offense to help the Nuggets get past the Kings.

Record this week: 4-0 (2-0 home, 2-0 road)

Current record and standings: 49-22, third seed in the Western Conference, 0.5 games ahead of the Clippers and 1 game ahead of the Grizzlies

Upcoming games: Monday at New Orleans, Wednesday at San Antonio, Friday vs Brooklyn

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 101 vs Kings 95

The Nuggets escape with their franchise record 15th straight win, 101-95 over the Sacramento Kings.   It was also the Nuggets’ 17th straight win at the Pepsi Center.  Grades follow the break.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101, Philadelphia 76ers 100

Philadelphia 76ers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

101 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 12 PTS | +4

Truth be told, Gallo hasn’t been very good since the new year. He’s scored only four 20-plus point games in the last month and continues to take very questionable shots. He was pretty close to awful against the Sixers. He got to the line and made a few buckets but he took about three of the worst shots any Nugget has taken over the last month. The real Gallo is nowhere to be found right now.

Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | 0

Faried did nothing astonishing but his commitment to defending inside the paint was impressive and also an improvement on what he normally does. He had one great chase-down block and several other block attempts that altered his opponent’s shots.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -1

When Koufos has a bad game, nobody notices. Aside from his three blocks he didn’t play too well. He got abused in the post on more than one occasion by no-namers and seemed to be a step behind his rotations most of the night (although to be fair, so was everyone else).

Andre Miller, PG 40 MIN | 9-14 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -12

I hate grading Andre Miller. I just hate it. If you were to look at his stat line alone, you’d have to wonder how he could get anything other than an A. But watch the game and you’ll wonder why I’m being so generous with a C-plus. He totally screwed the Nuggets pace this game. He didn’t even try to push the ball up the court. And on defense — I can’t even begin to tell you how awful he was. In the first five minutes there were about three plays where he willingly let his opponent slide by him without even trying to stop him. He had me laughing out loud his defense was so bad. Overall, Miller is just not a good fit for this team and the way Karl likes to play. Miller is a ball-dominant, half-court guard, who prefers to play at his own 90-year-old pace instead of pushing the pace like the rest of his teammates. Had it not been for Corey Brewer this loss would have almost been solely on Miller.

Andre Iguodala, SG 40 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | +8

Iguodala was aggressive for about one half, then pretty much disappeared. This is a reoccurring theme with him. For playing 40 minutes he should be a little more effective than he is. Also, Holiday had his way with him on more than one occasion.

Anthony Randolph, PF 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +11

Keep in mind: This is the first game Randolph has played more than 20 minutes in a over a month. He was a bit rusty but had several key plays. His hands were active (evident by his three steals) and his defense wasn’t bad. He had a nasty crossover drive earlier in the game and ended up blocking the final shot of the game to seal the victory for the Nuggets.

Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 29 PTS | +3

If there was a way to give Brewer a better grade I would. His performance tonight was nearly ineffable. When the entire team came out flat in the first, Brewer came in to save the day. When there was no sign of defense being played anywhere on the court, Brewer stepped it up and ignited (or at least tried to ignite) the fastbreak. And in the end, when the Nuggets needed a miracle shot to win the game, he somehow drew a 3-point foul and hit ALL THREE of his free throws to win the game for the Nuggets. Brewer takes a hell of a lot of heat from Nuggets fans for being a streaky shooter but he’s been one of the most clutch players on the team all season long, especially on defense where the Nuggets patented fast-break offense gets started in the first place. Brewer was the “Anti-Miller” in this game, basically willing the Nuggets to victory off the bench. This was without question one of the top three performances from any Nugget we’ve seen this season.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | +1

JaVale was a headache most of the night. He had a few nice plays but turned the ball over four times and committed three fouls (which were pretty bad) in only 16 minutes.

Evan Fournier, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4

Fournier needs to show us something when he gets in the game. He needs to be something other than just a body with a pulse out there. He’s talented. He’s a first-round pick. So please, Evan, show us something. Thanks.

George Karl

The only thing that caught my eye was why Fournier and even Randolph got in before Hamilton. Let’s assess: If your backup small forward is out and you have another really good backup small forward, why would you pass up the opportunity to use him and instead go with a rookie shooting guard and power forward? Hamilton must have done something behind closed doors, as there’s no reasonable explanation for him to be behind both Randolph and Fournier on the depth chart. Aside from that, Karl managed to figure out a way for the Nuggets to pull this one out when they never should have. He deserves credit for that even though he once again closed out the game playing small, which I promise you, will bite him in the ass one of these days.

Staking A Claim: The Big Man Rotation

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 the Nuggets have caught fire recently on their way to winning 13 straight games things have finally come together in the frontcourt, as all five of the main minutes getters at the center and power forward spots have taken turns playing well.

This week I wanted to take a look at that front court rotation and talk about a couple things I like and don’t like in that rotation.

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