Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96, San Antonio Spurs 86

San Antonio Spurs 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -18

Faried was quite bad, getting routinely abused on defense despite San Antonio having no one remotely athletic enough to match up with him. Couple that with a measly one offensive rebound and it sure looks like he was simply outhustled and outworked by a hobbled, inexperienced Spurs front line. He made a big defensive play and secured a key rebound late, but his 25 minutes were pretty generous considering the way he played most of the night.

Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10

Koufos had a confusing game. He’s never been much of a rim protector but he normally beats opposing bigs to the paint and takes away the easy angles. Koufos’ paint defense alternated between sublime and uninspired in this one, but he saved his best play for when the Nuggets needed it most. At this point I expect some consistency and something more than a total zero on offense, where Koufos seems to have lost some confidence.

Andre Miller, PG 34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -7

Miller was not a net positive in this game. He was a spectator for the first 10 minutes and most every meaningful stretch of play. Miller closed the game like a pro and his ability to make free throws and manufacture offense paid off late, but he was not on the floor for the crucial stretches where Denver looked dominant.

Wilson Chandler, SG 41 MIN | 11-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 29 PTS | +6

What a great performance, and it’s really easy to forget that Wilson has already scored 30+ two other times this season, both off the bench. Wilson caught fire in the second half and practiced much better shot selection than we’ve seen in the past. He stayed off the midrange stuff the entire night and created several running opportunities with his defense. He has not missed a beat since moving into the starting five.

Andre Iguodala, SG 43 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-4 FT | 13 REB | 10 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 12 PTS | +5

Yes, he had seven turnovers and still hasn’t looked decent on offense all year. He also nabbed the first triple-double by any Nugget since Marcus Camby in 2008 exactly one game after predicting he’d soon get one. There were a lot of things working against the Nuggets early and Iguodala’s unwavering effort anchored the defensive push that got Denver back in the game and kept them there.

Anthony Randolph, PF 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +6

I gave his grade a bump because he looked good as part of an uptempo bench that reinvigorated the Nuggets’ transition attack. Brewer went nuclear off the bench so it just wasn’t his night to see many minutes.

Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 12-25 FG | 2-5 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 28 PTS | +30

Is this not a match made in heaven? Teams generally don’t want bench players hoisting 25 shots a game but Brewer’s outburst was just what the Nuggets needed after starting the game with two Miller turnovers followed by two Miller isos and predictably, zero points. Karl went small with Brewer early which paid immediate dividends for Denver’s anemic offense. I worry about where else Brewer will play if the Nuggets can’t bring him back because this is just too fun to watch.

JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +18

Much like Brewer did for the offense, we saw a drastic change in the Denver defense pre-McGee and post-McGee. Denver was flat out soft in the paint until his resounding arrival in the second quarter with three huge blocks. JaVale capped off a nice night with an improved effort on the defensive glass and his second straight game with no turnovers

Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +20

He should have played much more. Fournier was assertive with the ball in his hands and was the Nuggets second-best creator behind Iguodala. He wasn’t great on defense and didn’t have his shot going but the guy showed remarkable poise under pressure and has a knack for finding Denver the right kind of shots. With Lawson out and the offense quite frankly struggling under an overused Andre Miller, he could use more minutes.

George Karl

Karl waited way too long to get Miller out of the game. Other than that, his adjustments worked and he got the most out of a small Brewer-Chandler lineup San Antonio had no answer for. He’s pushing his players hard and getting results, but Koufos, Miller, and Chandler all looked gassed after long second-half stints with no relief. Karl should be more trusting of his bench, who clearly got him the win and turned around one of the most dreadful starts in recent memory.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Expect San Antonio to pick and roll the Nuggets a lot more when healthy. The Nuggets were not bad defensively but a lot of San Antonio’s struggles on offense were self-inflicted. They stopped attacking the weak side after a wildly successful 14-0 opening run in favor of a perimeter based attack off just one or two passes. Great victory for Denver but this was an unusually flat Spurs offense and I still think this is the playoff matchup the Nuggets must avoid for as long as possible.

5-on-5: The repercussions of Gallinari’s injury

After news broke that Danilo Gallinari would be sidelined for the remained of the year (and well into the 2013-14 season) with a torn ACL, questions arose in the minds of Nuggets fans across the globe. There has been talk about who will step up in his place, whether the Nuggets are severely weakened and even speculation about how this will affect the team’s roster moves this off-season. In RMC’s latest 5-on-5 our writers aim to address these topics in hopes of shedding some light (and perhaps even a little optimism) on how the Nuggets will fare moving forward without their starting small forward. As always, please feel free to post your answers to the following five questions in the comments section below.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 132 vs Houston Rockets 114

After falling behind by double digits early, the Nuggets turned up the energy and outworked a tired Rockets team, outscoring them by 28 points over the last three quarters to win easily.

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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: 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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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.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 117 vs Knicks 94

The Nuggets spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver with a blowout win.  ‘Melo left the game with a sore knee and spent some time in the locker room, inspiring chants of “where is Melo” from the crowd.

New York Knicks 94 Final

Recap | Box Score

117 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +17

Gallinari looked really good when he went to the rim or got to the line, and really awful shooting jumpers. He played great defense on Carmelo Anthony for part of the first quarter, and later forced two turnovers by drawing offensive fouls away from the ball.

Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +28

Faried started out the game taking several jump shots. He eventually settled down and started taking shots closer to the rim, but missed several tip tries. He outhustled the Knicks for several offensive rebounds, particularly after Tyson Chandler left the game.

Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13

It seems like every game I grade, I end up writing something like “Koufos was quietly effective”. He continues to play fundamental basketball with good positioning, and make the most of his opportunities.

Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +11

Ty was aggressive getting into the paint all night, but had a bit of trouble finishing over Tyson Chandler. His shot was falling from the outside and his passing was crisp. He would likely have finished with a double double if Gallinari’s shot had been falling.

Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +32

Igoudala has emerged as a solid secondary playmaker for the Nuggets, setting up a ton of easy scores. Tonight he tried to do a little too much and forced several passes into traffic. He was hitting his own shots from everywhere except the free throw line. He had a few spectacular defensive sequences in the second half.

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

Inconclusive.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5

On one late sequence, Hamilton missed a jumper that led to a Knicks fast break off the long rebound, and then got downcourt in time to swat James White’s layup attempt into the stands. His shot wasn’t falling, but he was making good contributions in other parts of the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6

Brewer usually provides the Nuggets with great energy, but tonight the starters had all the energy they needed, and he seemed a step slow by comparison. He did a little bit of everything, but nothing particularly well.

Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Mozgov was involved in two highlights tonight: a nice two handed dunk, and a Prigioni pass between his legs that led to a Knicks layup.

JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5

In a game where the Nuggets were completely dominant in the paint, and the Knicks’ only center left with an injury, the athletic seven footer decided to take a 16 foot jumper that missed everything. He also had one nice block and a layup from freakishly far away from the basket. It was a very inconsistent game overall.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13

Andre Miller surprised me by playing fantastic defense for most of his first half minutes. He was also on target with his passing.

Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -2

Fournier looks completely lost on the defensive end of the court, and too often gets caught needing to foul. He stepped up offensively when tacos seemed to be in doubt, setting up Chandler for a three point play and scoring five of his own to push the Nuggets over the 110 point mark.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 9-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +10

Wilson Chandler spent most of the night taking advantage of the Knicks’ lack of shot blocking. On two occasions he grabbed a rebound, dribbled fullcourt, and got a lightly contested layup.

George Karl

The Nuggets came out ready to play, and they didn’t let up until the game was out of reach. His small lineups worked well against the Knicks’ small lineups.

Two Things We Saw

  1. That was anticlimactic: In Carmelo’s first game in Denver since the trade, the game was over before halftime, and he left for good less than three minutes into the second half.
  2. That was oddly familiar: Four former Nuggets played at least 20 minutes for the Knicks, and many of the Nuggets’ old habits were on display, both good and bad. There were times the Knicks seemed content to settle for long jumpers off of little ball movement, and times when J.R. Smith looked completely unguardable. This game definitely highlighted the change between the Carmelo era and the new Nuggets team era.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 104 – Atlanta Hawks 88

Atlanta Hawks 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +9
Gallo seems to be getting healthier, but he clearly isn’t completely healthy yet. He did attack the basket more tonight than against OKC on Friday which was nice, but on a few of the drives he seemed to be lost once he got to the basket, which led to some awkward, tough shots. But he rebounded the ball well and just moved better tonight which is a good sign for the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +3
The final line looks much better that what Faried actually produced during tonight’s game. Five fouls in 26 minutes is entirely too many, and that doesn’t even take into account how many rotations Faried blew and how many times he left Josh Smith wide open around the court. Yes, Smith missed but the looks that he was given were way to open for such a streaky shooter and it wasn’t like Faried was roaming and providing good help. He also missed a few layups which as a hustle player who can’t really create his own offense, is not something that should be happening. The rebounds were nice but the rest of the game wasn’t.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -3
In a game that featured so many blown rotations by Faried and McGee the impact of Koufos is really shown. He almost never misses the proper rotation and tonight saved his teammates who did plenty of times. Add in seven rebounds and seven points and Koufos continues to try and earn more playing time in important spots.
Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +2
Lawson continued to play at a high level while controlling things for the Nuggets tonight and even continued to knock down a couple of threes. What really was nice to see about this game was that at no point did it feel like Ty completely took over any stretches yet his line at the end of the day showed a great impact, one of the true signs of great point guards.
Andre Iguodala, SG 35 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +5
Yes the offensive numbers aren’t mind-blowing, but Iguodala continues to fill up the stat sheet night after night. Six rebounds, six assists, multiple deflections; Iggy has a great knack for doing all the little things that a team needs to win while letting other guys control the scoring load. The two threes are also nice to see from a guy who has struggled to shoot the ball this season.
Anthony Randolph, PF 2 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Jordan Hamilton, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 11-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +17
Brewer did typical Brewer things and in a game that was as sloppy as this one it helped him post a nice scoring night. Twenty shots from Brewer is an awful lot, but most were in transition, wide open or taken after the game was really decided. His lob to Iguodala on the break was one of my favorite plays of the game too.
Timofey Mozgov, C 2 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
Inconclusive outside of Mozgov proving for the second game in a row that if the Nuggets need a lob intercepted he is the man for the job.
JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +11
Yes, JaVale’s first half was magical. Great dunks, a couple great blocks it was the Pierre that all Nuggets fans see and love. But the second half. Oh, the second half. McGee was constantly out of position flailing away for blocks and in the process giving up open shots and rebounds. It was the perfect example of the two JaVales and why the Nuggets can’t quite always rely on him for heavy minutes every night.
Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +21
Miller was solid and unspectacular. He didn’t really force anything offensively and threw a few great passes to JaVale during his fantastic first half. In the ultimate display of how strange this game was though Miller tried to pull a move straight out of the And-1 Streetball tour on Jeff Teague and failed miserably. It was just a weird play in a weird game.
Evan Fournier, SG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Wilson Chandler, SG 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +19
Chandler played pretty good defense on Josh Smith, better than any other Nugget, and his offense was productive as well. Like with most other Nuggets it was a solid but unspectacular game.
George Karl
Karl had his team ready for this one and they took care of business against a team that was on the second night of a back-to-back and missing three rotation players. The Hawks seemed lifeless at times and Karl made sure that his team put the game away when they had the chance.

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.

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.

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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Nuggets interested in Redick?

According to Fox Sport’s Sam Amico, the Nuggets have expressed interest in Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick; however, chances of landing him are slim due to Redick being content with his current role with the Magic. Amico also suggests the Nuggets could make a minor move at the deadline by offering up Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer or Anthony Randolph.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108 – Toronto Raptors 109

Denver Nuggets 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Toronto Raptors
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -10 

Brewer did what he normally does as far as energy goes despite being moved into a starting role due to the injuries to Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, which helped the Nuggets as they tried to recover from an early double digit deficit. What didn’t help though was the abysmal shooting night though. On a night where the Nuggets were missing around 30 points due to injury someone needed to step up and Brewer was not the answer. His good defense helps his grade a bit but it is hard to overcome those shooting lines.

Kenneth Faried, SF 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | -11 

Faried did his normal Faried things for the Nuggets, score his points in ultra efficient ways and provide energy for the team throughout the night but a large part of the problems the Nuggets had on the defensive glass has to fall on the team’s best rebounder. When a team gives up 15 offensive rebounds it is hard enough to win, let alone when they give up two on one of the final possessions of a close game when they are down four key rotation players. What hurts the most is the rebound that eventually led to Rudy Gay’s game winner hit Faried in the hands, but he was unable to corral the ball.

Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3 

Koufos missed some easy shots and made some tough ones, rebounded the ball pretty well but still allowed to many offensive rebounds, and had a nice block when the Nuggets were making a run to get back in the game, but also blew some rotations. Basically he played about as average as one can in his limited minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +8 

Lawson was absolutely incredible for the Nuggets tonight, and was the reason the game ended up as close as it did. Lawson created more offense for his teammates than the nine assists indicate and got himself to the basket at will. He also had two great steals that led to easy Nuggets baskets in a game his team desperately needed easy points. While losses are never easy to take Nuggets fans should be excited about the rest of the season if Lawson can use tonight as a springboard for more dominant performances.

Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -10 

The offense looked good for Fournier for the most part, but a couple of bad decisions on not shooting the ball and some rough defense hurt his grade. With such a pure stroke Fournier needs to be willing to shoot the ball even if the window he gets is not a big one, and a couple times tonight he was not and instead drove into traffic and got into trouble. On the defensive side of things Fournier had a nice moment where he jumped a Raptors dribble hand-off but for the most part he struggled to stay in front of Demar DeRozan. The offensive flashes that should get people excited were there, but so were the defensive problems that should cause worry.

Anthony Randolph, PF 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +10 

There are going to be plenty of people who disagree with me on Randolph’s grade due to how his final boxscore reads and his pretty good play in the fourth quarter, but a couple of things stood out to me that don’t allow me to go higher than a B minus. Early in the game Randolph had a sequence that went like this: Dunk, steal, try to dribble to much after the steal and get the ball stolen from him, hit nothing but backboard from four feet away, charge. It was just ugly. Add in the fact that he missed a dunk/layup that was wide open, completely whiffed on a pretty good pass from Andre Miller when he was wide open in front of the rim with no one around him, and missed another layup on the break and he cost the Nuggets plenty of easy points in transition. Then the end of the game comes, and Randolph is on the floor while the Nuggets struggle rebounding and he fails to set a good screen on the final inbounds play then gets knocked backwards on the hand-off once the ball gets in. In the end it was a typical Anthony Randolph night; on one hand flashes of good and on the other plays that make you realize why he doesn’t get more minutes.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +2 

Hamilton was aggressive but as a player who is known as a shooter he needs to shoot better than 3-10 from the floor in his opportunities. On the bright side he made a great block in transition after turning the ball over and played hard the entire time he was on the court. Like Randolph and Fournier the flashes were there, but the overall game wasn’t good enough.

Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0 

Mozgov was a big body while he was in the game. Four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes isn’t bad, but he got put on another poster by DeRozan and was slow in his help a couple of other times.

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

Two fouls in five minutes isn’t good, but McGee left the game due to injury and didn’t have a chance to make up for it.

Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +7 

Like Randolph, Miller’s line looks much better than what he gave the Nuggets on the floor during the game, mostly on the defensive end. Multiple times Miller was part of a miscommunication that led to open shots for the Raptors, and other times he walked when he was supposed to be stepping in to help on drives. The most telling moment was on Hamilton’s stellar block. The Raptors had a 3 on 1 break against Miller and looked to have an easy bucket after Miller stepped towards the player who received the first pass and they swung the ball back to I believe Kyle Lowry running the break. Miller turned back around and just stood there as Lowry took another two steps and went airborne for his layup. Luckily for Miller Hamilton came flying out of no where to block the layup but it is the kind of effort that “veteran leaders” shouldn’t be demonstrating.

George Karl 

I just flat out didn’t get a lot of George Karl’s decision making tonight, and in the end a few of the decisions ended up costing the Nuggets the game. First of all, if a coach wants to preach accountability and unselfishness, how can he continue to clearly play favorites? JaVale McGee got in the game, scored a basket and committed a foul, and was taken out all in one minute in the first quarter. Meanwhile Andre Miller, who in pure selfishness cost the Nuggets the game on Sunday against the Celtics, plays 31 minutes. Then as the Nuggets are getting killed on the class late in the game Karl continued to play Anthony Randolph instead of going to either Koufos or Mozgov. If his problem was the Raptors playing small then why have Randolph on the floor anyway forcing him or Faried to have to play Alan Anderson? Isn’t that a perfect spot for Jordan Hamilton? Then on the final possession of the game Karl used Randolph, clearly the most frail member of his team, to try and set a screen for Cory Brewer and then take the inbound pass from Lawson and execute a hand-off to get Ty going towards the basket. Except Randolph was knocked back, fumbled the ball and Lawson was unable to get a good shoot. Isn’t that a perfect situation for a big body like Koufos or Mozgov? It was just a bad night for Karl even despite being short handed.

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