Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Denver Nuggets 88

Denver Nuggets 88 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Los Angeles Lakers
Kenneth Faried, F 28 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -7
In the first playoff game of his career Faried played decent. The problem is, decent won’t necessarily cut it this time of year. Faried can play better than this and the Nuggets desperately need him to play better. His energy has been one of the team’s most prized assets all year long and against the Lakers it could end up countering some of Bynum’s electric blocks.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | -17
Gallinari was about the only Nugget who came prepared to play for the playoffs, not the regular season. This was especially interesting considering how long it’s taken him to regain his form since returning from injury. He attacked the basket early and often, utilizing a variety of spin moves in the post that we haven’t seen in quite some time. He also knocked down shots when he was open and played good defense for most of the game. In the postgame press conference he admitted his team was hesitant on offense and that they need to figure out ways to score (i.e. getting out on the break) before Bynum gets set on defense. Clearly Gallinari understands what it takes to win against teams like the Lakers in the postseason. Now if he can just get his teammates to grasp this concept…
Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -8
Koufos hardly made an impact. He started, as usual, but didn’t see many minutes after his initial stint. Karl said during a timeout how he needed his team to play up to it’s potential so he could understand whether his gameplan was working or not, but drastically cutting Koufos’ minutes seems to be hypocritical and counterproductive in that sense. Koufos has been a fairly large part of the Nuggets DNA over the last several months and is one of the few players on the roster who has the size and defensive aggression to possibly stifle Gasol or even Bynum. Seeing him play only 12 minutes doesn’t seem like enough time for a detailed evaluation of where he stands.
Arron Afflalo, SG 33 MIN | 3-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -7
Afflalo played great defense on Kobe… for about half the game. But once Kobe got going he never slowed down. Guarding the NBA’s second best shooting guard of all time is not an easy task. Afflalo did well for the most part but he still has to shoot better than 27 percent from the field. Anybody who takes pride in their defense knows it’s extremely difficult to lock down your opponent on one end and attack with aggression on the other, and sadly that’s what the Nuggets are asking from Afflalo. Still, if anybody can do it, it’s him.
Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 3-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | -21
There was quite a bit of fuss on Twitter regarding Lawson’s performance. Clearly he was intimidated by the Lakers front-court duo of Bynum and Gasol and avoided penetrating the lane virtually all together for much of the game. But before we overreact and jump to conclusions (after only one playoff game nonetheless) let’s keep a few things in mind: First, Lawson was the Nuggets best player in the playoffs last year against Serge Ibaka and the Thunder. Second, Lawson has fared extremely well in terms of bouncing back after bad scoring outings this season, having scored in single digits on back-to-back occasions only once all year. Finally, the Lakers are just a flat-out bad matchup for the diminutive point guard. Ty Lawson is 5-11 on a good day; the Lakers front-court duo is 7 feet every day. Lawson relies heavily on dribble penetration and most importantly, finishing around the rim. When he has two 7-footers watching his every move, it’s extremely tough for him to play this way. I’m not trying to be an apologist, but I’m level headed enough to understand that just because he struggles against the best power forward-center combo since Duncan and Robinson doesn’t mean he’s not the Nuggets point guard of the future.
Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -4
Harrington was bad. He didn’t play his game and attempted to force shots up when they weren’t falling in true Mamba-esque fashion. This is not the type of performance the Nuggets need from Big Al. At some point he needed to sever ties with shot attempts, as none of them were falling, yet he just never did. Look for Harrington to bounce back next game.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | -5
Miller’s stat line is impressive, however it’s difficult to recall any one thing he did extremely well that helped the Nuggets in their attempt to win this game. He filled in for Lawson during stretches he normally wouldn’t — due to Ty’s struggles — and did a solid job all things considered. Hopefully Lawson finds ways to score next game so that Miller can revert back to the distributor he’s been lately that benefits the Nuggets most.
Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Brewer was certainly a bright spot on a dull, dispirited afternoon. He played great defense on every person he was assigned to guard and was one of the few Nuggets who tried to embrace the fastbreak. His defense could end up playing a key role this series, especially if Karl decides to place him on Bryant.
Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -3
For the second game in a row Mozgov played better than he has for most of the season. Perhaps the key is only playing him 10-12 minutes per night as he seems to top out at “Maximum Productivity” after that point. I still think Koufos deserved about half of Mozgov’s minutes, if not more, for the simple fact that he isn’t a liability on offense and has been a major contributor for the Nuggets down the stretch.
JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 0-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -10
Sunday was a struggle for McGee. Like many Nuggets, this was his first playoff game and it showed in the form of nervousness. He was fumbling the ball as if it were going out of style and couldn’t finish anything within two feet of the rim. But also like many of his teammates, he should bounce back on Tuesday with a more dominating performance.
Julyan Stone, G 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +2
N/A
Jordan Hamilton, G 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2
N/A

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 131, Minnesota Timberwolves 102

Denver Nuggets 131 Final

Recap | Box Score

102 Minnesota Timberwolves
Kenneth Faried, F 32 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | +11
Faried is improving every game. Against the Wolves he refrained from making “rookie” mistakes he often does. This isn’t to say he doesn’t still have a ways to go, but it’s certainly is nice seeing him begin to realize and understand different aspects of the NBA game, and just in time for the playoffs nonetheless.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 5-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +17
Gallinari needed a game like this. He’s been in a slump since coming back from injury and hasn’t seen his shot fall the way it was in the beginning of the year. If the Nuggets are to do damage in the playoffs Gallinari will have to be the type of threat he was against the Wolves, and then some.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +23
Koufos is one hell of a serviceable big man. He will fumble a pass and miss a routine shot here and there but does his job and does it well. He seems to be getting more comfortable in his role as the starting center and hopefully will bring some toughness to the Nuggets in the postseason.
Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 7-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +13
Afflalo is the new Rip Hamilton in terms of his midrange game. It’s almost unbelievable how efficient he is in knocking down a wide variety of jump shots, including 3-pointers. Against the Wolves he hit numerous shots that kept the Nuggets lead steadily growing. If he keeps up this type of high-level play going in the postseason, it should be a delight to watch.
Ty Lawson, PG 25 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +28
Lawson had a great game all around. He shot efficiently from the field, had a few nice steals and penetrated with verve. Seeing the aggressive Ty Lawson was certainly nice this time of year.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Where has this Andre Miller been the whole year? When he’s distributing first, he’s an excellent asset for the Nuggets to have. There will be times when he’ll need to score but if he can be a distributor for the most part, the Nuggets as a whole will benefit greatly.
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +19
In 28 minutes, 12 points doesn’t look like much, but Brewer was fantastic in terms of his energy. He got out on the fastbreak and had some nice plays across the board. This is the type of performance Brewer needs to turn in every night.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 7-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | 0
The same night I refer to Mozgov “maladroit” on Twitter, he has one of his best performances of the year. He missed only one shot and was all over the floor. He finished well around the rim and put back a few monster dunks. If he gets called upon in the playoffs hopefully he can play this good again.
JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 9-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 19 PTS | +17
This was probably McGee’s second best game as a Nugget. Once again he finished very strong around the rim and made virtually no mistakes. He’s already a totally different player than he was in Washington and is starting to show signs of becoming the player people thought he could be on draft night. This is excellent news for the Nuggets.
Julyan Stone, G 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Stone was impressive. He’s not the type of threat most point guards are on offense, but his intangibles and defensive prowess is promising.
Jordan Hamilton, G 12 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +5
Had Hamilton been able to log around 20-25 minutes per game, there’s a good chance he would have made an All Rookie team of some sort. He’s got lots of talent, especially as a scorer, and it was on full display against the Wolves.

There’s not much left to say about this game. It was a complete blowout by the second quarter. The Nuggets did exactly what they needed to do in order to secure the sixth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. They will face the Lakers in the first round, which is a decent matchup all things considered.

What is evident at this point is that the Nuggets are beginning to gel. They’ve hit another high point in the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Heading into the playoffs Nuggets fans have to feel good. It seems as if the team is thoroughly enjoying playing basketball right now and as a result, the fans are enjoying watching as well.

We’ll have much more coverage of the Nuggets over the weekend including video breakdowns and analysis so be sure to stay tuned!

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 106 Oklahoma City Thunder 101

Denver Nuggets 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Oklahoma City Thunder
Kenneth Faried, F 28 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-7 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | 0

Outside of some really poor free throw shooting, Faried was the player of the game. He made game-saving play after game-saving play down the stretch, whether it was a crucial block on Russell Westbrook or a monstrous putback jam off an Arron Afflalo miss. Faried really showed why he’s a special player by managing to outplay bigger, stronger, and taller competition through sheer will and an unwavering desire to win.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +1

Gallo had a disastrous shooting night and couldn’t find his rhythm against an Oklahoma City team that defended him well. Since his return from injury, the Nuggets have looked for him regularly and created plenty of opportunities Gallo just hasn’t been able to convert. He’s doing other things reasonably well, but sooner or later Gallo has to assert himself and step up to his role. I thought Gallo grew passive as the game wore on and was little more than a spectator in the Nuggets’ offense at the end of the game

Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -4

Koufos made Denver’s first two shots of the game and was quiet the rest of the way. He played very solid defense on Kendrick Perkins, who picked up four fouls in the third quarter and was a non-factor for the Thunder throughout the night.

Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +6

Like all of the Nuggets’ perimeter players, Afflalo struggled at times against the length and athleticism of OKC. He played very under control as he once again shouldered a huge part of the load on both ends of the floor. Afflalo’s solid perimeter defense helped spark the crucial fourth quarter run and his all-around contributions on offense produced the second-most points and assists on the team.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-15 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 25 PTS | +3

Lawson has now scored at least 20 points in seven of the last nine games. He’s been on an absolute tear and continues to keep the Nuggets afloat through thick and thin. Every time the Thunder found a surge of momentum, Lawson seemed to answer with a mini-run of his own. He’s playing at an unbelievable level right now and proven he can go toe-to-toe with the best scorers in the league.

Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -1

Harrington’s lack of mobility only further hampered his ability to match up against OKC. While Harrington did his best and sank his threes early, he was a defensive liability with the Nuggets switching all pick and rolls in the second half. Harrington was visibly struggling to keep up and was eventually pulled mid-fourth quarter out of necessity.

Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 5 PTS | +1

Miller took too many shots (including two three-pointers), but generally played solid off the bench and had success igniting the sputtering Nuggets’ offense, finishing with a team-high six assists. I’ve come to expect the worst when it comes to Miller’s defense, but he was surprisingly decent against the Thunder, which was no doubt helped by the fact OKC relied heavily on Derek Fisher in the absence of James Harden.

Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12

Brewer is another player coming on strong at the right part part of the season. His energetic hustle was a key ingredient in Denver closing the game on a 7-2 run. Brewer played excellent defense on Russell Westbrook late and made the biggest shot of the game with a banked free-throw line jumper to put Denver up five with less than a minute remaining.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +7

McGee flat-out changes the matchup with the Thunder, who rely heavily on Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison off the bench. Neither of them could match the athleticism of McGee and both ended up contributing next to nothing. McGee on the other hand scored all ten of his points at the rim, where the Thunder had been able to keep the Nuggets’ relatively quiet. If he can keep up these types of performances in an extended role, McGee could be a series-changing talent for the Nuggets.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101, Orlando Magic 74

Orlando Magic 74 Final

Recap | Box Score

101 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 30 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +19
Faried wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive but like always, his energy made a difference. His defense is slowly coming along as well. Now if he could just set more solid screens…
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | +26
It seemed the Nuggets made a point of getting Gallinari involved early and often. He had numerous isolation plays in the first quarter and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on his shot. This was the type of game he needed to get back on track. Now that he’s got one under his belt it’s time for him to step up more in the last two games of the season in order to prepare himself properly for the playoffs.
Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +14
Koufos continues to improve. His hands will always be partially made of stone and his movement around the rim never be the quickest, but he’s showing strides in his game that Mozgov simply wasn’t. He showed off a few hook shots on Sunday that were really pretty and was efficient in only 15 minutes of time. If he can keep providing this type of production in limited minutes the Nuggets will be in good shape with their center depth.
Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | +19
Once again Afflalo logged the most minutes of any Nugget and quietly dropped 15 points in the process. His game is so professional and sound. He rarely takes a bad shot and lets everything come to him. Nothing is forced. He only missed one 2-point shot the entire night.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 13 PTS | +23
It was nice to see Lawson get aggressive, if only for a few plays. There are times (usually when coming off a big performance in the previous game) that Lawson has a tendency to take a back seat in a major way. He was heading that direction before kicking it into gear in the second quarter. He took advantage of open lanes and gave the Nuggets a dimension to their offense they desperately needed: speed.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 11 AST | 6 PTS | -1
This was one of Miller’s best games in while. It doesn’t matter that he only scored six points on 3-10 shooting from the field; what matters is that he was engaged with his teammates, talking and dishing out some excellent assists, mostly to JaVale McGee who he’s developing some great chemistry with. The Nuggets are at their best when Miller is distributing first and scoring second, which is what he did on Sunday.
Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +14
Brewer won’t wow you with his stat line but his energy was certainly palpable. He still took too many outside shots, and in the playoffs that might cost the Nuggets, but against the Howard-less Magic, it can be overlooked. As long as he keeps getting out on the break and playing good defense a few bad shots can be tolerated.
Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Mozgov is tough to grade. He didn’t do much offensively — in fact, he was pretty awful — but he did play solid defense when called upon. For that he deserves credit.
JaVale McGee, C 24 MIN | 8-11 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +7
Story of the game. One of the best performances I’ve seen from a Nugget big man in a really, really long time. Nene was able to put up impressive numbers from time to time but there was always one key aspect missing from his game: He never actually played like a big. On Sunday, McGee played like a big man is supposed to play. He took his fair share of isolation shots, showed a variety of different moves and most importantly, finished around the rim with authority and power. That’s what a true big man does, and when it’s done properly, it’s a thing of beauty. This was without question McGee’s best performance in a Nuggets uniform and one of the more encouraging performances we’ve seen from any Nugget this season. As I tweeted during the game, it was pure, unfiltered, sexy athleticism. Chocolate Thunder would be proud.
Julyan Stone, G 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +8
Stone showed a desire to set up plays instead of run recklessly, and for that I salute him.
Jordan Hamilton, G 2 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +8
Hamilton was pretty productive in two minutes time. Should Harrington not be able to go in the next several games, he might be called upon again.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 118 Phoenix Suns 107

Denver Nuggets 118 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Phoenix Suns
Kenneth Faried, F 27 MIN | 9-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +22

There’s not much to explain here. Faried dominated the game and yet he only played 26 minutes! Offensively, he continues to get better and better as a legitimate post scorer as well as a guy who can chip in double-digit hustle points any given night. Faried had a great first half in which he still struggled to rebound and stay in front of the Phoenix bigs on pick and rolls, two problems he clearly addressed in the second half to finish with one of his finest performances all season.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 37 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +21

Gallo was better than he has been, but let’s not keep kidding ourselves – Gallinari just isn’t the game-changing force he was earlier in the season. What I found particularly interesting was the fact Gallo missed a ton of easy shots and managed to throw in some lucky ones. It needs to be noted that Gallo was still great defensively, where he completely neutralized Jared Dudley and finished with two steals, two blocks and only one personal foul. With that kind of balance, the lack of scoring output isn’t so bad.

Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | +16

It wasn’t a big stats game for Koufos, but his play was brilliant in a crucial third quarter surge that essentially put the game away before Phoenix could get anything going. Koufos was a big part of a starting five that so thoroughly out played Phoenix, he finished the game a +16 in only 15 minutes of action. That’s giving your team high-quality minutes.

Arron Afflalo, SG 38 MIN | 6-10 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 19 PTS | +13

Afflalo started extremely slow, taking only two shots in a first half he only managed to score three points. Once he picked things up in the second half, Phoenix did not stand a chance as Afflalo made a play that summed up the game by attacking Nash in transition and smacking him in the face for the and-one layup that essentially became the dagger.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 10-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 29 PTS | +7

One of the finest games of Ty Lawson’s career, who could have easily had his first 30-point scoring game had he not decided to throw in in ten assists to only one turnover for good measure. Phoenix simply could not match up with him and Lawson torched the Suns’ defense from start to finish. When Lawson is aggressive and shoots the ball like he’s capable of, he’s nearly impossible to stop.

Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -13

Harrington did his best to carry a bench rotation that just could not build on the momentum created by the starters. It wasn’t the bench’s finest performance despite Harrington’s respectable shooting and his admirable hustle on both sides of the ball, where Harrington gave much better effort than some of his bench counterparts. Big Al wasn’t bad, but expect him and the bench to bounce back in the final three games of the season and start looking a bit more like themselves.

Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -6

The Nuggets were fighting Andre Miller just as much as they were the Phoenix Suns. The story of the game was the starters’ complete domination followed by Andre Miller’s lackadaisical efforts to give everything back. As esteemed reader TJ McBride pointed out to me earlier, Miller accounted for five of the Nuggets’ nine turnovers and needed his teammates to carry him through a game he could not manage an honest effort towards winning.

Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +4

Any game in which Brewer scores double-digits while taking fewer than ten shots is a successful one. I loved Brewer’s defensive energy and his ability to pressure the ball, which only makes his extremely limited minutes more frustrating when the ineffective Andre Miller produces less in almost double the playing time. When Brewer has it going like he did against Phoenix, he’s a very disruptive force and someone the Nuggets should not be afraid to ride for longer stretches.

JaVale McGee, C 19 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -9

McGee had a very solid finish after a poor first half. One of the things he really struggled with was Phoenix’s pick and roll game with Nash, which is no doubt one of the reasons George Karl is reluctant to trust him with significant minutes. McGee’s post defense was solid and he made much better decisions in the second half, where his awareness in the pick and roll led to a much improved defensive performance in the deciding third quarter.

5-on-5: Pre-Playoff edition

It the latest edition of Roundball Mining Company’s 5-on-5 series we explore which potential playoff scenarios could benefit or hinder the Nuggets success in the postseason. Fellow readers T.J. McBride and Mitchell Carroll have been selected to participate this time around. If you’d like to contribute next time, be sure and follow Charlie, Jeremey and Kalen on Twitter. As always, please feel free to leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below.

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Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Clippers 104, Denver Nuggets 98

Los Angeles Clippers 104 Final

Recap | Box Score

98 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-7 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -10
We all love to praise Faried. For a rookie taken 22nd in the 2011 NBA Draft, he’s been impressive. But it’s games like these where Faried’s inexperience really shows. He was passive, perhaps intimidated, and failed to inject himself into the heart of the action. Like many Nuggets, Faried must figure out a way to be more aggressive on a consistent basis, especially on the glass. Six rebounds in 25 minutes just won’t cut it — not with his motor. He needs to establish better positioning under the rim and not hesitate to get physical with his counterparts.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 28 MIN | 0-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | -4
What is going on with Gallinari? It’s as if he’s still injured. He’s not attacking — rather taking nothing but jump shots — and doesn’t appear to show any signs of wanting to be “The Man” he was in the beginning of the season. It’s as if he’s reverted back to the jump-shooting perimeter player prior he was prior to coming to Denver. If he’s still injured, then he needs to sit out; otherwise, he needs to start asserting himself in order to help the team win games. Had he been in attack mode on Wednesday, the Nuggets likely would have won.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -11
Koufos was fantastic. In only 23 minutes he came up one rebound shy of a double-double. He also got it done on defense, blocking two of his opponent’s shots. He was always in the right spot at the right time to make the right play. Faried should take note.
Arron Afflalo, SG 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -17
This was the first time Afflalo scored less than 15 points since March 23 — almost a month ago. He hit some big shots, but for whatever reason wasn’t as affective as he has been of late. Look for him to bounce back with a vintage performance on Saturday against the Suns.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 9-14 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 24 PTS | 0
Lawson was furious in his attempt to “out-speed” Chris Paul and he did a good job of it for the most part. I mentioned to one of my friends at the game how I don’t mind the Chris Paul-Ty Lawson match-up should the Nuggets face the Clippers in the first round and Wednesday was corroboration to that theory. Lawson likely won’t out-perform Paul every night, but if he can contain him and counter with his own flurry of points and assists, the Nuggets should be just fine.
Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +8
Harrington didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but he finished with a nice stat line overall. It’s clear that heading into the playoffs Harrington’s going to have to play a key role for the Nuggets off the bench, just as he has all year long. The fact that he’s doing it on a torn meniscus is all the more reason Nuggets fans should avoid blaming him for any sort of the team’s downfalls. The fact is: dude’s been in a Nuggets jersey for two years yet he already bleeds blue and yellow.
Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +4
For whatever reason I don’t remember much of Miller’s performance. I know he attacked the basket — like usual — and threw a few lob passes but other than that he seemed somewhat quiet. Nevertheless, putting up 12 points and eight assists on 50 percent shooting from the field as a backup is always beneficial to the team.
Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -5
Just like he’s done all season, Brewer followed up a great performance with a complete dud. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone as wildly inconsistent as Brewer. He goes from savior to village goat on a nightly basis. Why he can’t find more stability in his performance is beyond me.
JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +5
McGee deserves more time. Period. There’s just no reason he should be seeing 15 minutes in a game where the Nuggets desperately need a win. He can’t do anything in that amount of time — nobody can. Should he have had more production on the glass? Absolutely. But even so, it’s too difficult to judge somebody when they only receive a sparing minutes here and there in a highly competitive atmosphere.

Recent Realizations About the Denver Nuggets

Since a disappointing loss in New Orleans that left many fans fearing the Denver Nuggets would be sitting at home when the playoffs began the Nuggets have won five of seven games and solidified their position as a playoff team.  The biggest of those five victories came in Houston at the expense of a desperate Rockets team who were playing for their season.

I have been very realistic, some would say pessimistic, about the Nuggets ability to be competitive come playoff time.  With the Nuggets finally fielding a healthy team they are doing their best to prove me wrong.  Here are several observations I have  made recently that are making think Denver could possibly be more than a speed bump in the postseason.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105 Houston Rockets 102

Denver Nuggets 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Houston Rockets
Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | 0

Even in a pretty forgettable overall performance, Faried still produced four or five of the most memorable highlight plays of the night. While you can make a case Faried’s outstanding hustle and energy swung the game’s momentum in several critical moments, much of his 22-minute stint consisted of uninspiring filler. Faried can no longer afford to fade into the background as the role-playing energy guy chipping in 4 points and 4 boards in limited minutes. He needs to stay on the court and produce what’s expected of him, especially on the defensive end where Faried needs to develop some consistency.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +12

The numbers paint a very misleading picture of how valuable Gallo was, especially in the second and third quarters where the Nuggets found themselves dangerously close to letting the Rockets seize total control. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but Gallo’s passing, decision making, and excellent shot selection have had the Nuggets offense looking more and more like one of the most dangerous in the NBA.

Kosta Koufos, C 14 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -3

Koufos has more or less been invisible since his move from the bench to the starting lineup. While Koufos has been far from bad, you can’t say he’s made the most of his new opportunity as his minutes have remained the same while his production has dipped across the board. I’ve noticed him struggling against the more physical bruisers down low and Sam Dalembert proved to be no exception.

Arron Afflalo, SG 42 MIN | 10-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 26 PTS | +11

Another solid all-around effort out of Afflalo, who flat out carried the Nuggets through a trying first half. Afflalo was the one player who I thought embraced the challenge of winning this game and was completely unfazed by the pressure. It was business as usual for Arron, who has turned a rough start to the season into the best campaign of his young career.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 9-15 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 25 PTS | -12

Lawson really controlled the game down the stretch. It was far from pretty, but Ty got it done when it mattered most. We saw a much more balanced scoring attack out of Lawson along with a more aggressive attitude and an Afflalo-like approach in terms of effort. Lawson hit a huge three pointer down the stretch and also helped carry the offense with his penetration and ability to get to the line.

Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +7

After a quiet start to his night, Harrington came alive during a crucial third quarter stretch that culminated in the Nuggets taking their first honest lead of the game and eventually closing it out with a win. Torn menisucs and all, Harrington is proving he can still be a dangerous offensive threat off the bench. In many ways, Harrington’s shooting and scoring is what opens things up the Nuggets offense, which is heavily reliant on the bench.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 13 AST | 4 PTS | +2

Lethargic is the only word to describe Andre Miller’s first-half performance. It was almost surreal seeing him carelessly throw away possessions and casually jog back up the floor in a game with so much at stake for both teams. Eventually, Miller got this act together and provided a steady hand of leadership down the stretch, but it has to be noted that Miller only showed up for the second half and was nowhere to be seen in the first.

Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +8

It’s been tough for Brewer to find an appropriate role, as he was starting a good portion of the season for the injured Gallinari and never worked himself into a comfortable groove with the rest of his teammates. Brewer basically found the perfect role backing up Gallo, and turned in the finest 18 minutes of his Nuggets career,. Offensively, Brewer took a good balance of inside and outside shots and showed much better focus in terms of defending the perimeter.

Timofey Mozgov, C 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -7

The Nuggets were struggling to find answers for Sam Dalembert and Mozgov got a brief 4-minute opportunity in the second half. There wasn’t a lot to judge his performance by in four minutes, but it’s safe to say Mozgov didn’t particularly stand out.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -3

McGee once again stayed solid for the duration of his limited time on the floor. Without Marcus Camby available for much of the past two contests, Denver was able to get away playing heavy amounts of small ball and McGee hasn’t been relied on for much. JaVale continues to be a hard worker who shows flashes of tremendous athletic ability. It should be interesting to see how he is brought along as the playoffs draw near and the Nuggets face tougher competition inside.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101, Houston Rockets 86

Houston Rockets 86 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 2-4 FG | 6-7 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Where there’s energy, there’s Kenneth Faried. Though he started out slow, like always, Faried heated up with the action. It’s almost as if you can’t play him less than 25 minutes per game because it takes him so long to build up momentum — but once he does, Faried can change the outcome of the game with his energy, just as he did Sunday against the Rockets.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +9
Gallinari didn’t stand out in any specific area but he played much better than in the previous game against the Lakers. It was nice to see him avoid forcing up shots when he couldn’t dice through the lane like he’s used to doing. Patience is something Gallo is learning on the fly and judging by his growth between only two games, he’s approaching this this idea with an open mind.
Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +11
Early on Koufos was one of the few Nuggets who kept his team in the game. He played solid defense and rebounded the ball like he’s capable of doing. As time passed Koufos’ role diminished but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he did his job as well as anyone on the floor.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +15
It’s truly amazing to watch the evolution of Arron Afflalo. Remember in the beginning of the season when people were throwing out trade scenarios because of his slow start? Look where we are now. Afflalo has been the most consistent player on the team the entire year, is averaging career highs across the board (including points, at 15 per game) and is capable of scoring almost whenever he wants. In the month of April, Afflalo is averaging 20 points, four rebounds and four assists per game on .485 shooting from the field. Simply remarkable.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 7-15 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 20 PTS | +11
Lawson rebounded from a pretty horrendous outing in L.A. to put up a nice performance back at home. He was aggressive from the get-go, buzzing around the floor with tremendous speed, and looked to score frequently. In a critical, must-win game, it was nice to see this Ty Lawson show up.
Al Harrington, PF 21 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +8
These stats are a bit misleading as Harrington didn’t seem to have that bad of a game. Perhaps his shooting was off, but he was everywhere from my point of view. He played good defense on Scola at times and hit a couple big shots. Interesting nonetheless.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 11 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Once again Miller was looking to inflict damage from the opening whistle. He was a bit careless with the ball and took some ill-advised shots, but his attitude, mentality and versatility really helped propel the Nuggets to the win.
Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | +5
And Corey Brewer continues to be the model of inconsistency! One game after going scoreless in 19 minutes of action Brewer drops 14 off the bench on 7-12 from the field while acting a primary spark plug for the Nuggets energetic second half of play. This type of Corey Brewer performance is one that can save a team’s ass in the Playoffs; his performance against the Lakers however, is the type that can lose you a game. Karl just needs to be aware of when Brewer is hot and when he isn’t. The biggest maxim we’ve learned: Don’t play him too many minutes either way.
Wilson Chandler, SF 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Karl didn’t give Chandler a lot of playing time after returning from his injury and it worked out well. He played excellent defense for a short stretch then rested the rest of the game. The Nuggets will need him come playoff time; hopefully he’s ready to contribute heavily by then.
JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +6
It wasn’t an in-your-face type of performance but McGee played very well on Sunday. The most important thing: He committed no mistakes. He had no turnovers and played sound the entire time he was in the game. He had a monster block that led to one of the best sequences of the Nuggets season and grabbed some pretty huge boards too. Like we always say, if McGee can limit his mistakes he’s a huge asset to have. But if he can eliminate them all together like he did tonight, he’s a total game changer.
Jordan Hamilton, G 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
N/A

Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 103, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Los Angeles Lakers
Kenneth Faried, F 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -12
Faried struggled defending Gasol early on but was still effective in nearly all other aspects of the game. He saw only a few minutes in the second half, which is a bit perplexing given how strong the “Manimal” has been playing lately.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -14
Gallinari was terrible. There’s no other way around it. I was shocked to look at the box score and see that he logged 27 minutes, as he was only visible for about three of those. He refused to drive, took nothing but pull-up jump shots and didn’t find any ways to contribute otherwise. It’s hard to pinpoint his problem was, but something was up. I can’t remember Gallinari having a game this bad in a really long time.
Kosta Koufos, C 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Koufos may have gotten injured as he didn’t see any time after he was yanked in the first quarter. During his eight minutes he was getting thoroughly abused by Bynum but Koufos is better than he showed and might have been able to improve as the game progressed.
Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 7-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +1
This was a mixed bag for Afflalo. He missed a key technical free throw, the last two shots of the game and saw Matt Barnes go off for a season high 24 points. However he still had some great offensive possessions and finished the night with an impressive stat line.
Ty Lawson, PG 29 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -8
I hate to give Ty such a low grade, but I have no choice. This is the exact type of game where Lawson must step up — and he didn’t. He’s one of the Nuggets best two players (maybe the best) and was nowhere to be seen. So what if you’re having a bad shooting night or are intimidated by the Lakers big men, you still have to find a way to put you imprint on the game and pose as a threat, otherwise you’re useless. This might be the most disappointing performance Lawson has had all year given what was at stake.
Al Harrington, PF 27 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +2
Harrington deserves nothing short of an A. Even with a torn meniscus he was out there battling as hard as anybody, playing with passion and enthusiasm that’s been sorely lacking for the Nuggets all year. He made a number of big shots down the stretch and had his offensive repertoire on full display throughout the evening. Truly a gusty performance by the veteran.
Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
This is Miller’s first A+ since the beginning of the season. He was a wrecking ball on offense, not backing down from anybody. While most of the Nuggets were AWOL, Miller was on the front line bravely attacking anyone and everyone who was in his way. If he played with this type of verve every night the Nuggets would probably be sitting about three spots higher in the standings. Nonetheless, this was a spectacular showing from Miller in a very important game.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Another tough grade. Brewer played great defense most of the night — his hands were constantly disrupting the Lakers offense, his hustle was admirable — but he still finished with zero points in 19 minutes of action and missed countless opportunities that would have given the Nuggets the momentum needed to finally take the lead. Brewer’s inability to score the rock has become a big problem lately. Even if he plays solid defense it’s just not worth having him in the game if he can’t even score a few points.
Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
People were praising Mozgov for his defense on Bynum in the late second and early third quarter. While his defense was superb, it’s important to note that the Lakers lead grew by over 10 with him in the game (with all the other starters playing alongside him, mind you), and this was after the Nuggets had pulled within three to close the first half. So while it was nice to see Mozgov get some run, it’s important we analyze both sides of the coin with his performance.
JaVale McGee, C 28 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | +8
McGee played really well, all things considered. It would have been nice if to see him play better one-on-one defense against Bynum, but it’s not as if he got bulldozed by him either. On offense McGee displayed a great short game inside the paint and collected a team-high 10 boards in the process. His frustrating moments will undoubtedly continue, but it seems as if he’s limiting them as much as possible, which is a credit to the excellent coaching job of Melvin Hunt.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 123 Golden State Warriors 84

Golden State Warriors 84 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 12-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | +33

Complete and utter domination. Faried set new career highs in points, rebounds, field goals made, and field goals attempted in just 24 minutes. He was outstanding in transition and a beast in the paint on both ends. Defensively, it was by far his finest performance to date. I get the sense Faried is seen as purely an energy guy by the coaching staff, but games like this are a reminder he’s a much more complete player than he’s given credit for.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS | +25

Gallo’s welcome return was well-received by the Nuggets new starting five. For the first time in weeks, the Nuggets started a lineup with chemistry and cohesion on both ends of the court. A lot of the credit must go to Gallo, who clearly isn’t in game shape yet managed to get the Nuggets playing the best team basketball we’ve seen in weeks.

Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +28

Koufos is capable of putting up better numbers, but still played a fantastically solid game that helped the Nuggets open up with perhaps their best start all season. Nothing was wrong with Koufos’ game, but he was somewhat overshadowed by the stellar play of McGee and Faried.

Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 15 PTS | +33

I supposed this is now what a poor game out of Afflalo looks like. It’s a shame this season feels so short because if this is what we can expect when Afflalo doesn’t have it, he’s well on his way to becoming a special player. His leadership and team-oriented play were a welcome sight on a night he could not carry the offense like he has in the past couple of games.

Ty Lawson, PG 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +31

I hate to be harsh, but once again I did not like the timid, passive style of play we saw out of Lawson against the Warriors. Lawson did not do anything wrong, but he should play better against a sad Warriors back court full of no-names. Ty has it in him to take over these games if he wants to and it’s personally disappointing that he doesn’t show more of a killer instinct or a drive to assert himself against lesser competition.

Al Harrington, PF 12 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +5

Harrington didn’t play much, but he did his job admirably when he did. Al was once again flame throwing triples from long range and wasn’t needed for more than a few minutes after the bench essentially put the game away in the second quarter. Bad news just came out that Al has a torn meniscus and has been trying to play through it the past few games.

Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 12 AST | 6 PTS | +16

Once again, I just really like the maturity and professionalism Andre is now showing on a nightly basis. Why this was missing for first 80% of the season I have no idea, but in the past month or so Andre has been one of the steadiest guys on the team outside of Afflalo.

Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +5

Brewer still has a place in the Nuggets’ rotation and he found that niche tonight. Corey was solid in transition and at the very least, less of a black hole on offense. I think his leash with George Karl had gotten a little too long and Brewer became too content to step outside of what he’s supposed to do best. He did a lot of good things in garbage time, but questions remain about his decision making on offense.

Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +4

Mozgov got an extended garbage time stint after playing himself out of the rotation entirely on the Nuggets’ recent east coast trip. He was part of a twin towers lineup with McGee and hopefully, the dose of playing time will light a fire under him to make himself a more useful option should the Nuggets need him down the line.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-8 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +2

Patience is the key with McGee. Admittedly I was not a fan and frankly, never believed the Nene trade had anything to do with the merits of acquiring him. Honestly, after getting an extended glimpse at JaVale and everything that comes with him, I’m impressed. Sure, he can be frustrating on a team that can’t afford any more inconsistency. Even so, the physical tools and multi-faceted skills he shows warrant a more patient attitude. This is a work in progress that likely won’t be complete by the end of this season, and there’s still plenty of good to be found in that.

Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | +7

He’s an exciting player, but all of his minutes came against the Warriors reserves with the Nuggets up by 30. Still, Julyan played with a lot of intensity and displayed a keen sense for utilizing his length and athleticism on defense.

Jordan Hamilton, G 8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | +6

Jordan was another guy who saw garbage minutes and ran up the score on a team that had already given up. It was nice seeing him sky high for a dunk and have success after a a sub-par game as a starter in his previous outing.

Chris Andersen, C DNP COACH’S DECISION

Gone, but not forgotten. Obviously this grade is N/A because he didn’t sniff the court yet again. I don’t think this is it for Birdman in a Nuggets uniform, but it’s probably a sign he will not play for the rest of the year. It has to be frustrating for Bird to be cast aside and given the Renaldo Balkman treatment, but it’s also a strong indication this team is moving in a new direction and making tough sacrifices for the sake of developing talent.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 Golden State Warriors 112

Denver Nuggets 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
112 Golden State Warriors
Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 PTS | -11

I’m still trying to figure out why Faried didn’t see any meaningful time past the start of the game. He’s suffered through slow starts before and usually still finds a way to make things happen. Faried’s rebounding performance was very poor, but I’m confident he would have made a difference if given the chance. This likely wouldn’t have ended up as one of Faried’s better games, but after all he’s been through this season I am shocked George Karl continues to have so little confidence in one of his better players.

Jordan Hamilton, G 18 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -8

Hamilton followed up his brilliant start last night with a dud. Considering he’s only seen meaningful minutes in about five games so far, his struggles are understandable. I liked the fact Hamilton played with confidence but he looked like a guy doing his best not to screw up instead of a high energy difference maker. He needs more time, and unfortunately the Nuggets don’t have that as they’re fighting for their playoff lives on a nightly basis.

Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 4-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7

Koufos also struggled on the boards quite a bit, where the Nuggets were thoroughly dominated by Golden State. His production was solid, but much of it came in garbage time. Like Faried, he was another guy who never got going because he didn’t play a significant role. Even so, Koufos could have a more immediate impact in the starting lineup and he’s just been blending in.

Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | -13

Afflalo did all of his damage in the first quarter and subsequently disappeared for the rest of the game. I find it hard to put much blame on him after watching him carry the starters with a tremendous effort last night. Afflalo doesn’t excel at creating offense, but he’s been forced into taking a higher volume of increasingly difficult shots. At some point, the Nuggets must make an effort to get him some help and run an actual offense that does not depend on Afflalo going one-on-one so much.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | -21

You might not be able to tell from the box score, but this was a half-hearted effort from Ty Lawson. Going against the Warriors’ point-guard duo of Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson, Lawson did all he could to take a backseat and coast through the game. He was clearly Denver’s most favorable matchup and just didn’t step up. You have to wonder if he’s started to lose confidence and defer after a couple of bad games and the resurgence of Andre Miller.

Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -9

The highlight of Al Harrington’s night was getting into it with Warriors fans after starting the game on fire from deep. The raucous home crowd was giving him the full-on Joe Lacob treatment by the end of the night. I appreciate the show of emotion and competitive fire, but showboating against opposing fans during a blowout loss is just quintessential Al Harrington.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | -7

After an apathetic, indifferent, and just flat-out bad start to the season, Andre Miller seems to have finally turned things around. He’s been consistent for the first time all season and his change in attitude has been admirable. Defensively, Andre’s play leaves a lot to be desired even against B-list NBA talent. The team needs to play at a high level defensively to get the most out of Andre Miller, and it’s safe to say that hasn’t been happening.

Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -7

Brewer was once again a mess. While he finally upped his production, it came at the cost of high volume shooting and low efficiency. He just runs around the court without rhyme or reason and against the Warriors, he did not make a positive impact on defense. If he’s not going to hang his hat on perimeter defense anymore, Brewer just needs to play smarter. Ten shots and five three point attempts is not acceptable for a player with such limited offensive talents.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +5

McGee’s been pretty bad since his move back to the bench. The issue appears to be mental more than anything, as his confidence is currently so low he’s focused purely on avoiding mistakes more than anything. McGee showed some good things tonight, like the fact he can be an imposing defensive presence at the rim. Unfortunately, he also showed the lack of discipline and maturity that’s earned him his reputation. McGee can still be a fantastic player for the Nuggets if he can put it all together, but with only a handful of games left and JaVale struggling, there may not be enough time.

Julyan Stone, G 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +3

Stone played a few garbage minutes, shot a midrange airball and recorded a foul. His performance was short and basically meaningless, but more importantly a sign of a how non-competitive the Nuggets were against the lottery-bound Warriors.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105, Phoenix Suns 99

Phoenix Suns 99 Final

Recap | Box Score

105 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +4Faried didn’t wow anybody with his stat line, but as always, his energy was infectious. Even on the sidelines Faried was jumping up and down, cheering on his teammates when everyone else remained seated. His intense play towards the end of the game really made a difference in which team came out with the “W.”
Jordan Hamilton, G 17 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +6You really can’t give Hamilton anything other than an A. In only 17 minutes he managed to put his stamp on the game, scoring at will and rarely, if ever, making a bad decision. His feel for the game is something that resonates with me. Hamilton knows his place and appears to understand how to make an impact without sacrificing other aspects of his repertoire.
Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +16Koufos didn’t score much but his rebounds were huge. At one point the Pepsi Center crowd went crazy when he fought Gortat for a 50-50 board. In a tight game rebounds matter and if not for Koufos the Nuggets might not have had the extra possessions needed to seal the victory.
Arron Afflalo, SG 42 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 30 PTS | +11What more can you say about Afflalo? He has truly been outstanding since starting the season off slow. His 30 points accounted for nearly one-third of the total Nuggets points accumulated, meanwhile he chipped in even further by snagging some rebounds and dishing out assists. The best thing about Afflalo on Friday: He shot efficiently from distance, going 5-9 from beyond the arc.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 2 PTS | 0Ty certainly came down to Earth after averaging 18 points and seven assists over the last 10 games. He wasn’t as aggressive as we’ve seen recently, but his eight assists helped spread the concept of team basketball that was everywhere against the Suns.
Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 8-19 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | +7This was one of Al Harrington’s best games in a while. He scored in a multitude of different ways, going both inside and out, and hit countless big shots when the Nuggets were in need of a spark. Without Harrington’s offense, the Nuggets do not win this game.
Andre Miller, PG 33 MIN | 4-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | -6Somebody please tell me what has happened to Andre Miller. Over the last three games he’s made a conscious effort to actually play defense and it’s payed off enormously. His pressure on the ball throws a knot in the opponents offense, which makes his teammates’ lives much easier. Though he still goes one-on-one way too frequently, the fact is: Miller actually seems to care and it’s incredibly refreshing. This was without a doubt one of his best performances of the season.
Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +7Brewer was once again nowhere to be found. Instead of infecting the team with energy on defense and getting out on the fastbreak, he blended in, often times being more sluggish than energetic. Perhaps he’s in a slump. Either way, judging by his performance, starting Hamilton over Brewer was a great decision by Karl.
JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -15I don’t know what the deal is with McGee. The first several games with the Nugget he was great; the last few he’s been one of the worst players on the floor. He’s slow getting up the court, makes bad decision on offense and doesn’t appear to be giving 100 percent all the time. Maybe his asthma prevents him from moving faster? Who knows at this point.

One Thing We Saw

  1. Just Do It: For me, only one thing was apparent on Friday, and that was how the Nuggets figured out a way to get a much-needed win. There were no excuses, there was no complaining — the team just got it done. Phoenix certainly stunned the Nuggets with their zone defensive scheme, but instead of collapsing the team fought through adversity for the first time in a while. Across the board, players stepped up. The Nuggets had excellent performances from many different people instead of just one. This was truly a team effort, full of movement, defense and passion that payed off in the form of a win. Now if we could just get the Nuggets to play like this every night…

Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Hornets 94, Denver Nuggets 92

Denver Nuggets 92 Final

Recap | Box Score

94 New Orleans Hornets
Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -18
As those who frequent this site know, we’re not prone to handing out Fs on the regular. You have to be bad to receive one and on Wednesday, that was certainly the case with Corey Brewer. In 25 minutes of action Brewer only recorded one rebound — that was it! No points, assists, blocks, steals — nothing. Brewer has proven to be a serviceable role player off the bench for short stretches, but after this performance, his starter days should probably be over. To cap off his rough night Brewer threw away the inbound pass to Jason Smith (who’s from Colorado by the way) that could have resulted with a game winning shot for the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried, F 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -7
You have to credit Manimal for getting the Nuggets back in this game. Without him, the team likely would have lost by double digits. That’s sad. But it goes to show how valuable Faried is. The one area where he still needs to improve (besides perimeter defense) is rebounding. Yes, it sounds weird, but rebounding is Faried’s best strength and all too often he’s getting boxed out by more physical players. His positioning under the basket has to become better and it starts with getting more aggressive.
JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -12
His stat line is deceiving. McGee was close to awful on Wednesday. He was trying to dribble the ball up the floor like a point guard and finish in traffic like LeBron James. It’s fair to say that after seeing McGee’s Dr. Jekyll, we’re now seeing his Mr. Hyde, and it ain’t pretty.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-14 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | -5
Afflalo didn’t shoot well but he had a nice outing nonetheless. He tied his career high in assists, with seven, and made a few tough baskets when the Nuggets were in trouble. Unfortunately the thing that will stand out most with fans was the way he fell for a pretty mediocre pump-fake by Eric Gordon that ended up sealing the game for the Hornets.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 7-15 FG | 6-7 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | -4
Lawson was a standout. On a night when many Nuggets couldn’t get their shot to fall, Lawson figured out a way to score and affect the game in other areas as well. He had a solid night all around — there’s just not much else to say. He’s clearly the Nuggets best player at the moment and as great as that is, it’s still a harsh reminder of how far this team has to go before it can contend for a title.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +10
Many fans are roasting Big Al on Twitter. It seems nobody likes him these days. In my opinion he’s become a scapegoat for misplaced frustration. It’s not his fault he’s assigned to play out of position on a nightly basis. Sure, he takes a few bad shots — who doesn’t? He plays mediocre defense on a team that plays mediocre defense. What I like is his passion. This season has been a wash thus far, but Harrington is still out there bleeding blue and yellow, giving it his all. It was nice to see him stand up for his teammate by criticizing the referees when nobody else would. He also hit a clutch 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a chance to steal a game they had no business winning in the first place.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 6 PTS | +6
This was not a typical Miller game. He was sprightly, especially on defense, and looked very focused from the get-go. He received a bogus Flagrant Two foul on Carl Landry who proceeded to pout with his head in his lap for about 20 minutes after contact ensued (which was likely the reason it stayed a Flagrant Two instead of a One). Aside from that blemish, Miller was enthusiastic and impressive, even though he still played one-on-one basketball for the most part.
Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +5
Why Koufos didn’t see more minutes is something that will never be answered and will die as one of the greatest Nuggets mysteries on the day of April 4, 2012. He was far and above the Nuggets best player for a large stretch of the first half, playing tough, inspired basketball when nobody else seemed to care. His post presence was much-needed, but more than anything his defense was a breath of fresh air that really shot some life into the Nuggets. He would have likely been a huge asset to have down the stretch, but… Karl benched him.
Jordan Hamilton, G 16 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | +15
Hamilton was one of the other “bright” storylines of the evening. He really made use of his time and finally broke out of his shell. Hamilton has to be more aggressive and less tentative. It’s nice to see he’s conscious about not making mistakes, but he needs to play free in order to truly maximize his talent. I know it might sound crazy, but there’s a good chance Hamilton is already one of the better players on this roster. Karl doesn’t like rookies and it’s too bad because if Hamilton had seen more time this year he might finally be comfortable enough to take over the game offensively when the Nuggets are struggling to put points on the board. With the way Brewer played, perhaps Hamilton is finally in line for the minutes he deserves.

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