Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 90 Oklahoma City Thunder 103

Oklahoma City Thunder 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -7

There wasn’t much to write home about in a game like this, but Faried was clearly a bright spot. Great energy, great hustle, and nonstop aggression on both ends of the court. The fact he saw the fewest minutes of all starters is a travesty. With Nene out of the picture, George Karl has to come around to him eventually for the Nuggets to have a chance at success.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -5

32 minutes is a great sign. Physically, Gallo looked much better than he did in his first few games back from injury. It’s tough to complain about this performance, but I do think 7 three pointers and no free throw attempts is a bit too unbalanced. Gallo is ready to be more aggressive with his offense and the Nuggets need him to take on a larger role.

Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -11

Tough to watch. Seriously brutal. Way too many minutes. Needs to pick it up soon. Running out of short sentences here. At some point he has to learn how to not body check his man every time he’s defending the ball.

Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -1

A really poor shooting performance, but I saw him giving significantly better effort than most of his teammates on both ends. Afflalo is at his best when he’s moving with out the ball, cutting to the basket and shooting off screens. There was no off-ball movement for Denver tonight and just looking at the box score doesn’t tell you how hard he was playing.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -8

Lawson started slow and was never able to get himself going. He’s always been bothered by the Thunder’s interior defense which is part of the reason OKC is such a a terrible matchup for the Nuggets. Let’s hope JaVale McGee can run a pick and roll because Ty could use an occasional screen and some kind of effort by a big man to help him create.

Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -15

Harrington’s worst shooting game of the year, and another instance in which the Thunder just badly exposed the Nuggets for playing him so much. He was either stuck on Kevin Durant, Nick Collison or Serge Ibaka, none of whom he has any chance of guarding. Al also got hurt in the fourth quarter and I feel bad for him, but he played a brutally bad game.

Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 7-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -14

Probably Andre Miller’s second best game of the season, and it comes with 4 turnovers and a -14 in 24 minutes. This kind of outcome when Andre Miller has a good game isn’t all that unusual, and that kind of tells you the whole story when it comes 2012 season and Andre Miller.

Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +1

Birdman did his job. He provided energy off the bench and outside of Faried, was the best Nuggets big on the floor.He took several shots you did not want him taking, but Denver just had way bigger problems than Bird in this one.

Corey Brewer, SF 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -5

10 minutes, 3 fouls, and not a whole lot else. Brewer can be so wildly up and down each possession which makes it very difficult to evaluate him. With Rudy returning to the lineup, it seems like Brew is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -9

Took some really questionable shots, made some really questionable passes, played some really questionable defense. On the other hand, Rudy did provide a nice spark off the bench in the first half. Can his presence have a consistently positive impact over an entire game though? That’s questionable.

Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -1

It’s good to see Koufos healthy and back in the lineup. He made some nice hustle plays and also appeared to have a bit of rust on his game thanks to his extended absence from the rotation.

Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +5

Got some good news that he won’t be waived to make room for Chandler. It looks like Rony Turiaf will be bought out of his deal to free up a roster spot for Wilson Chandler.

Jordan Hamilton, G 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5

Garbage time hero.

Three Things We Saw

  1. It’s tough to feel good about where the Nuggets are at right now. They’re amazingly 6-3 since the break, but aren’t playing inspiring ball. I mentioned in the last recap how the defense is so broken it’s a miracle Denver wins as many games as they do. I really don’t see a consistent effort on both ends of the floor, especially on the Nuggets’ home court. A roster shakeup was probably the right thing to do as this team just hasn’t developed any cohesion or trust. They win games when they run out and score a lot of points in transition, which just isn’t going to happen every single game, especially against the better teams.
  2. Part of the reason I believe the trade was made is the Nuggets realizing they can’t realistically compete on the Thunder’s level with what they have. It will likely take several years of first finding an identity and then figuring out how to build a system for success around that. Retooling and reshaping the team that was formed after the Melo trade never made very much sense. There just wasn’t enough evidence to suggest a team like that could win anything.
  3. Half court offense remains a big obstacle in terms of Denver improving with McGee and (possibly) Wilson Chandler coming on board. Without a post up threat or anyone who can create their own shot, Miller and Lawson are stuck playing 1 on 1 a majority of the time. Gallo is a player who I feel doesn’t really create his own shot and needs other playmakers on the floor to succeed. There will be plenty of touches for Chandler and McGee whenever they do come on board, the big question is whether or not they will actually help Lawson and Miller create better looks, something they are not able to do with this group.

Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 91

Memphis Grizzlies 94 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -14
Faried played with lots of energy, as usual, but got in foul trouble early which forced Karl to limit his minutes in the first half. However, why he didn’t see more time later in is a bit perplexing considering the Nuggets desperately needed the two things Faried is best at providing: energy and defense.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Gallinari isn’t exactly picking up where he left off. Whether he’s still injured or just extremely out of shape (or both) is up for debate, but either way Gallinari isn’t very effective on the floor at the moment. More playing time should heal his struggles, but it’s a little discouraging seeing how far he’s fallen since injuring his foot in February.
Nene, C 26 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +2
Even though he shot a low percentage from the field, Nene finished with a very respectable stat line overall. His aggressiveness against the much taller Marc Gasol was one of the few highlights of the game.
Arron Afflalo, SG 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | 0
Afflalo had another “invisible night.” While he played 32 minutes, it seemed as if he was only on the floor for 10. It’s crucial that he remains assertive on the offensive side of the ball in order for the Nuggets to reach its full potential.
Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +3
Similar to Afflalo, Ty Lawson was also nowhere to be seen for much of the night. He hit one big 3-pointer near the end of the game but otherwise spent most of the evening shying away from the spotlight. He had more turnovers than assists and deferred to his teammates far too often rather than attempting to make something happen himself. After winning the Western Conference Player of the Week award, Lawson has since been underwhelming.
Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +4
Harrington did what the Nuggets pay him to do: score of the bench. He was one of the few players that displayed constant emotion throughout the game and actually looked as if he wanted to win.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | -4
Looking at Miller’s stat line is the epitome of deception. Getting 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals from your backup point guard is every team’s dream; however, you’d also think a win would come included with such numbers. And that, right there, is really the problem with Andre Miller. His game and numbers right now don’t translate into winning basketball. He plays no defense, is selfish on offense and is consistently inconsistent. In the fourth quarter, with only seconds left on the clock and the Nuggets down by three, Miller committed one of the more baffling turnovers I’ve ever seen. He essentially just handed the ball over to Memphis without any defensive pressure whatsoever. At this juncture, Miller seems to be hurting the team more than he’s helping it.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -3
Birdman finished with yet another solid night. He rebounded particularly well and didn’t commit any glaring errors. With a more steady role, Birdman would likely flourish, which is why a trade might be best for both he and Denver moving forward.
Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -1
Brewer was fantastic in terms of energy, which also reflected in his stat line. He had numerous fastbreak dunks and showed passion on defense. Late in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets were desperately in need of some points, he followed up one of Nene’s missed free throws which resulted in him shooting a few of his own. This is the type of effort the Nuggets absolutely must get from Brewer on a nightly basis.
Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Hamilton didn’t see much time, which is somewhat unfortunate as he played well in the five minutes he did see. In a game where the Nuggets needed something, Hamilton might have been able to provide it, as none of the normal rotational players were able to get it done.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, New Orleans Hornets 97

New Orleans Hornets 97 Final

Recap | Box Score

110 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +14
Nothing too out of the ordinary for Brewer on the night. It was good to see his number of shot attempts creep down this game as they’ve been a bit high lately. Brewer also had a few big hustle plays that kept the Nuggets momentum in full swing.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -6
Foul trouble haunted Faried for most of the game, yet even when his playing time fluctuated Faried managed to exude a steady diet of energy that resulted in a few monster dunks and rebounds. His heartfelt effort was once again on full display as even when he received a few atrocious foul calls, he still give it his all on almost every possession.
Nene, C 20 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | +12
Nene looked surprisingly sprightly considering how rusty he probably still is. He had several offensive possessions in the paint that led to crafty baskets and passed the ball extremely well when faced with stingy defense. As time passes Nene will undoubtedly improve, but against the Hornets he was solid.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 9-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 28 PTS | +8
Afflalo has now scored at least 28 points in two of the last three games and set a new career high in the process. On Friday he scored in a multitude of different ways which Nuggets fans haven’t seen combined into one packaged game. From mid-range step backs, to his patented 3-pointer, to cutting through the lane — Afflalo did it all. He is now averaging over 19 points per game in the month of March and over 13 points per game on the season, which would be a new career high if he remains on the pace he’s currently at.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 3-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | +14
Friday was a fairly quite night for Lawson considering this past week was by far the best of his young career. He managed to log a double-double, which is always great to see, and turned the ball over far less than the previous game, which is also always good to see. On a night where the Nuggets had no problem scoring points you would like to have seen Lawson assert himself a bit more on offense, but that’s being fairly captious in the grand scheme of things.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +12
This was Harrington’s seventh double-double and third 20-and-10 game of the season. That’s pretty impressive for a guy coming off the bench. Had he not shot so poorly from beyond the arc Harrington likely would be looking at a 25-plus point performance on an extremely efficient night of shooting to pair with it. Overall, this was an excellent performance from one of the top sixth men in the entire league.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 7 PTS | +6
Andre Miller continues to be as wayward as the Colorado weather. One minute he’s lazily sauntering about with his hands at his sides not even attempting to challenge his opponents shot, and the next he’s dishing out pinpoint assists to his fellow teammates in the most important stretch of the game. Because he’s in a mode of such constant change it’s really difficult to grade his performance as a whole. If he’d just play with half the emotion Faried does, especially on defense, Miller would be getting As and Bs almost every night.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +12
As Charlie has mentioned before, sometimes grades aren’t entirely reflective of stat lines. Though Birdman finished with a pedestrian six points and two rebounds, his three blocked shots were monumental in terms of energy and momentum. His effort on the defensive side of the floor was terrific and you truly have to tip your hat to “The Bird” for being able to play with so much heart in light of decreased playing time and trade rumors.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 24 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Gallinari looked sweaty and pale on more than one occasion, and by pale I mean more pale than he already is, which is pretty pale. He was clearly out of shape and struggled with almost every aspect of his game, but showed a lot of determination by never asking out of the game and continuing to try and make a positive impact on the floor.
Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Hamilton saw a few garbage minutes and brought down the house with his ally oop that secured tacos for Nuggets fans across the state of Colorado. We sincerely thank him for that.

Denver Nuggets midterm report card: rookies

In the last installment of Roundball Mining Company’s Denver Nuggets midterm report card series, we’ll be examining the rookies. Since this group of players hasn’t received the type of playing time most of their teammates have, we decided to evaluate them separately. Since the All-Star break, Kenneth Faried has managed to claw his way into the rotation, while Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton still remain isolated on the furthest regions of Karl’s bench. This extra boost in minutes has allowed us to get a better understanding of who Faried is, yet Hamilton and Stone are still relatively unknown commodities, therefore their grades should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Denver Nuggets 99

Cleveland Cavaliers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | -1
Brewer contributed to other areas of the game besides scoring, although it’s nearly impossible to overlook such a poor shooting performance. Since becoming a starter Brewer hasn’t quite played with the type of energy we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him when coming off the bench. Hopefully Gallinari soon takes his rightful spot as the team’s starting small forward soon so that Brewer can play the spark-plug role he’s much more comfortable with.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -7
Nine rebounds in 20 minutes is solid by any standard, however, at this juncture Nuggets fans expect much more from the “Manimal” than just rebounding alone. His defense against Antawn Jamison to start the game was atrocious and opened the flood gates for Cleveland to gain confidence, which they ultimately utilized to win the game. Although his interior defense is decent, Faried’s one-on-one perimeter defense must improve dramatically.
Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
The story of the game was Nene’s inability to play any sort of help defense whatsoever in the dying moments of the fourth quarter. On key possessions late in the final several minutes of the game Nene didn’t even contest Kyrie Irving’s shots as he dribbled right down the center of the lane for multiple layups. The worst part: Nene was clearly not only within striking defense of blocking Irving’s shots, but likely could have at least altered them if he had just tried. Yes, Nene also had a few important buckets on offense to keep the game close, but this production was virtually erased by his inability to prevent Cleveland from scoring on the other end.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | -5
In 40 minutes, Afflalo simply must produce more. He’s been a revelation the last month but against the Cavaliers he was invisible for most of the night. In fact, I was shocked to see he even played 40 minutes as I only remember him making a true impact for about 15. His defense on Irving at the end of the game also played a big role letting him get the rack for the game-winning basket.
Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -6
Grading Lawson is extremely difficult. He finished with 18 points and had another solid night statistically; however, he also committed a ghastly seven turnovers and could not stop Irving if his life depended on it. In the Cavaliers last offensive possession of the game Ty easily could have stepped in for a charge, but instead moved entirely out of the way for Irving to made yet another easy layup. Then, with four seconds left, Ty took it upon himself to drive to the hole yet failed to convert a fairly routine layup of his own. Bottom line: Lawson has been spectacular of late and his willingness to step up in the clutch should be applauded, but key defensive mistakes and a carelessness with the ball really cost his team some big possessions on Wednesday.

Al Harrington, PF
33 MIN | 10-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Harrington was one of the lone bright spots on the evening. While he took quite a few shots he also made 50 percent of them which is always appreciated. Like everyone on the team, Harrington struggled defensively but his effort and ability to knock down clutch baskets made up for many of his mistakes.
Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | 0
It’s not often that Miller receives an A but on Wednesday he played superb, all things considered. His defense, as always, was questionable at best, yet his offense was not forced and came within the flow of a fairly rugged basketball game. Seeing him play team ball, after a few selfish outings, was extremely refreshing.
Chris Andersen, C 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +7
Birdman deserves nothing but a solid A tonight as he was the only Nugget who brought focus, defense and enthusiasm to the floor for almost every minute he was on it. His three blocked shots were monumental in terms of swinging the momentum back in the Nuggets’ favor, while his seven rebounds in only 18 minutes were hard earned.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 22 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Still rusty, Gallinari somehow managed to contribute in other areas of the game besides scoring. His defense was the best of anybody on the team and in a night were getting stops virtually meant winning the game, this was very admirable especially considering how fresh off injury he still was.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 Sacramento Kings 116 (OT)

Sacramento Kings 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2

With Gallo and Nene back in the mix, I was worried about Brewer being able to ease up on his shooting. The Nuggets have needed him to produce points with all of the injuries, but double figure scoring from Brew typically means 10 plus attempts and around 40% shooting. The good news is Corey shot a lot less but still took most of his attempts outside the paint and just didn’t produce a lot in the hustle categories, where his true value lies. Despite the struggles, Brew gets a birthday bump for his grade on the night he celebrated his 26th with an utterly fantastic team win.

Kenneth Faried, F 34 MIN | 7-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -4

When you get a career high 20 points and a double-double for the third time in four games, you get an ‘A’. What’s remarkable about Faried’s last few games is the fact he’s been struggling like all rookies do. Faried was noticeably outhustled and outworked on the boards on several occasions. Just take a look at his gaudy statline and realize this was far from a complete performance. What the ‘Manimal’ is showing us in his short time as a rotation player is quite special — it’s just rare to see a rookie become such an important part of his team’s success is such a short time on the floor.

Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -3

This is the third game in a row Mozgov has tweaked his ankle and he has yet to sit out for some rest. The young Russian played only 7 minutes and kept the offensively-challenged Nuggets afloat in the first quarter. Shortly thereafter he again came up gingerly on his left ankle and Karl wisely kept him out of the game as a precaution. While Mozgov was solid in his extremely limited stint, there’s not a whole lot here to draw from in terms of a grade.

Arron Afflalo, SG 45 MIN | 9-20 FG | 10-11 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 32 PTS | +3

Incredible. Afflalo set a new career high with 32 points and his clutch heroics need to be experienced to be believed. It was one of the more spectacular finishes I’ve seen in professional basketball, because these players and coaches have seen it all and they definitely weren’t prepared for Afflalo’s performance tonight. Those six points at the end of regulation came off some of the most cold blooded shooting I’ve ever seen at the close of a Nuggets game, even in the era of you-know-who. If you didn’t see it, stop what you’re doing now and go watch.

Ty Lawson, PG 43 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 13 AST | 16 PTS | -4

Another near triple-double, another game-winner, another up and down night where Lawson shined brightest with the game on the line and his team in utter despair. And this was the second night of a back to back. No big deal.

Al Harrington, PF 35 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +12

Harrington’s production remains some of the steadiest on the team. He turned in another solid game, nearing another double-double but struggling with efficiency and missing most of his fourth quarter attempts. Harrington played the final 16 minutes of the first half and was fatigued in the fourth quarter. Harrington gives you a solid effort night in and night out, but the increased workload is taking it’s toll. Harrington played “waist-up” basketball down the stretch and had trouble getting his legs under his shot and moving his feet on defense.

Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 11 AST | 2 PTS | +8

Miller bounced back in a huge way, considering his second half in San Antonio was probably one of the worst shooting performances in a half by any player this season. Miller played much better tonight, notching 11 quality assists and making a fantastic play on what should have put the game away with 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Bad calls aside, Miller made solid decisions all night, perhaps the only downer being his 4 turnovers.

Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4

He was great in the pick and roll, great in the open floor and superb in the energy categories, where Birdman tallied 2 blocks and 5 free throw opportunities limited minutes. Birdman is doing all he can to debunk the “Anthony Carter” theory stating that he needs a multiple days rest to be effective on the court.

Nene, C 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1

The good thing is Nene looked healthy and showed no problems making lateral cuts or elevating. The bad news is it appears Nene has gone the better part of a month without practicing much basketball. The game was moving a little too fast for him and Nene had trouble catching passes and getting his shot off. Nene should work himself up to speed with some more practices and conditioning sessions under his belt.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +6

It’s tough for me to tell if Gallo is all the way healthy yet, because he certainly wasn’t moving about the court at his normal speed. On the other hand, Gallo made some nice shots and never forced anything. Gallo still seems to be testing his ankle and feeling out his ability to go full speed, which is fine. Like Nene, the team just didn’t know how to adjust to him being back on the floor yet, especially having played a tough game last night in San Antonio.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99 San Antonio Spurs 94

Denver Nuggets 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 94 San Antonio Spurs
Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +2
Take away the three 3-pointers he missed and Brewer shot a much more respectable, and efficient, 4-8 from the field. While there’s nothing wrong with him taking a few open threes, keep in mind Brewer has never been a strong outside shooter and is much more effective when cutting to the basket.
Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -2
Faried had a relatively quiet night from a statistical standpoint. In 29 minutes you’d expect him to be well above a double-double; however, what can’t be ignored is Faried’s effervescent attitude and unrivaled enthusiasm that overflow into the rest of his teammates. His willingness to do the type of dirty work many NBA primma donnas won’t even consider is the epitome of the phrase, “a breath of fresh air.” Is it a coincidence that at the same time George Karl is showing confidence in Faried by prescribing him a heavy dose of minutes, the team is suddenly playing with a renewed sense of passion, heart and energy? I think not.
Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +4
Prior to Mozgov exiting the game for the second time in as many nights, he was having yet another solid performance. While it’s frustrating watching him fumble more often than Brett Favre, it’s also encourage to watch him grow in other aspects of the game. His defensive effort is still there while his confidence continues to expand. Hopefully his injury was nothing serious as Mozgov needs as much playing time as he can get in order to keep evolving as a player.
Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | 0
Yes, his stat line isn’t gaudy but Afflalo gave the Nuggets nothing but positive output, and when you’re facing the Spurs, that’s EXACTLY what you need to do in order to win. Limiting mistakes must be No. 1 on your gameplan list when going up against San Antonion and no other player embodied this philosophy as much as Afflalo.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 9 REB | 11 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Ty Lawson. Just let it simmer. Again, words aren’t going to do justice for just how big of a role he played in a huge road win for the Nuggets. He was one rebound shy of his first triple-double yet hit the first game winner of his career. This is the second night in a row where Ty Lawson has virtually won an important road game for the Nuggets by being unconsciously aggressive and taking control of his team’s offense as a whole, all while flirting with a triple-double. If this Ty Lawson keeps showing up the rest of the season, the Nuggets will be a totally different team than is currently constructed.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +3
Harrington hit some huge shots when the Nuggets were on life support and for that alone, he gets high marks. Not only were these shots important, but many of them were difficult as well. Making difficult shots in tight games is not an easy task. You really can’t say enough bout “Big Al” in this regard. He also played pretty decent defense on Tim Duncan most of the evening.
Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 5-18 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 11 PTS | +4
Fans have struggled with Andre Miller all season long and while his “defense” has always been the topic of discussion, it’s now his selfishness that’s really driving people bananas. Against the Spurs, this culminated with a stretch — late in the game, mind you — where Miller missed 10 straight shot attempts, three of which didn’t even come close to going in. It was as if Miller totally disregarded the fact that (A) he even had teammates and (B) was in a close game that his team was in position to win. Almost every instance where he received the ball Miller immediately tuned out everyone else but himself and decided then and there that it was he who would attempt to score the basketball. Had Miller not been so self-centered the Nuggets probably would have won in a more comfortable fashion.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3
It’s tough grading “Birdman” in this scenario. He was more efficient and productive than Faried on a minute-per-minute basis, but also committed several frustrating mistakes that the Nuggets couldn’t really afford. For example, his two unnecessary fouls on Tim Duncan within 10 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter could have easily come back to bite the Nuggets in the ass. Thankfully however, Denver didn’t commit many more ill-advised fouls after that and kept the Spurs off the free-throw line to close out the game. Additionally, Birdman just looked tired out there. Perhaps all the trade rumors are wearing him down. Either way, he gave it his all and that’s enough for one night.
Julyan Stone, G 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Stone was again inserted to play defense on one possession and did his job. Now if he could just share a few of Andre Miller’s minutes and actually make an impact on the defensive side of the ball like he’s capable of doing, we’d actually be able to give him a real grade.
Jordan Hamilton, G 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
Hamilton hit one huge 3-pointer but was otherwise somewhat invisible. It’s hard to do much in 11 minutes and at this point, it’s unclear as to where Hamilton stands in George Karl’s pecking order. You’d like to see him log more time but as has been mentioned above, mistakes must be limited against the Spurs. In this sense, Karl deserves some credit for recognizing this was probably not the best game for Hamilton to experiment in.

Denver Nuggets midterm report card: bench

In the second article of our three-part series evaluating how the Denver Nuggets have performed through roughly half the season, we take a look at the bench. The same format from the previous installment applies here. Keep in mind however that rookies are not evaluated in this episode of the series as they did not play a role on the bench until recently. Rookies will be analyzed separately in the final section of our midterm report card series. So without further ado, here is the Denver Nuggets midterm report card for the bench.

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5-on-5: Second-half predictions

While the 3-on-3 articles have become a popular series here at Roundball Mining Company, every now and then we like to get you, the reader, more involved in the process. Thus, 5-on-5 is born. Though we encourage everyone to give their own opinions on the following questions in the comments section below, a select few who follow us on Twitter have been invited to become an integral part of the article itself. This time around, Nuggets fans Joe Beebe and Mitchell Carroll will join Jeremy, Charlie and I to weigh in on the second half of the 2011-12 Nuggets season. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to ensure the next time we go looking for fan participants, you’ll be there to answer the call.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 99 San Antonio Spurs 114

San Antonio Spurs 114 Final

Recap
| Box Score
99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 9-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | -18
It’s really tough to rely on Brewer’s offense, but his constant energy and enthusiasm sure is fun to watch. Brewer was having a pretty poor start to his night before exploding in the fourth quarter where he scored 12 of his 23 points. In an interesting development Brewer guarded Tony Parker with Andre Miller off the floor and was able to pressure him. Brewer’s being asked to fill too big of a role with all of the injury problems and his all effort deserves praise.
Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -18
He was benched for Al Harrington yet again, but Faried proved he is indeed still a rookie and struggled to keep the fundamentally sound Spurs off the boards. The “Manimal” has been expanding his game and showing flashes of offensive talent but needs to be more consistent on the rebounding front to solidify his place in the rotation. Games like these will happen for the inexperienced Faried and while he struggled to be effective you never once had to question his effort and his ongoing drive to improve.
Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -1
Mozgov was playing solid ball before getting injured against the Lakers and he’s really struggled to get back into form since returning. He once again started poorly, showing his penchant for fouling and turning the ball over too much. Mozgov did play better as the game wore on, but was generally dominated by the Spurs front line and it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s largely ineffective in his minutes right now.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 7-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 20 PTS | -17
Miller is more reliable as a starter than a reserve, so his impressive stat line doesn’t come as huge surprise. What the numbers don’t tell you is that Miller held the ball a lot and struggled to create decent opportunities as Denver fell behind by as much as 28 points with him directing the offense. Staying in front of Tony Parker also proved to be a nightmare for the slow-footed Miller, who tallied four fouls in 27 ineffective minutes.
Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -8
Afflalo is banged up, clearly feeling the effects of nagging injuries and being asked to assume a big-minute, high-responsibility role as the Nuggets battle through numerous injuries. Despite Arron tweaking another muscle and struggling with fatigue he battled through a 39-minute night the best he could and came within one point of another 20 point performance — which would have been his seventh in the past nine games.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Eight points on 10 shots and another tough performance to grade. While Big Al has continued putting up numbers in this injury-riddled stretch, the team is getting killed on defense as the ball movement on offense grinds to a halt. Harrington hasn’t missed a game yet and is clearly exhausted, but as a veteran leader he needs to focus on defending and getting the Nuggets offense back to their high-efficiency ways.
Chris Andersen, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
It wasn’t totally clear why Birdman entered the game, but he didn’t do anything of note outside of blocking two shots and badly missing a baseline jumper. Birdman could have come out with better energy, but he didn’t get much of a chance and was not in the game long enough to have an impact either way. It’s another example of why the Nuggets are struggling to keep Birdman involved considering they have no idea what to expect when he’s inserted into a game.
Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Koufos played very few minutes until the game was well out of hand, but he was part of a unit that sparked a second half run and showed life for the first time all night. He grabbed three offensive boards and was clearly more effective than most of the other Nuggets bigs, most notably Harrington and Mozgov. On nights like tonight you’d like to see him get rewarded and show what he can do in a big minute role.
Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | +2
When Stone becomes more of a threat to score the ball his game will really start opening up. Right now it’s clear he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his scoring ability and he gets out of control trying to attack and do too much. Defensively, Stone’s play was top-notch and sparked a run where the Nuggets actually put up some resistance to Tony Parker and threatened to get back in the game. Stone is a rookie who needs work, but he brings great energy and in terms of overall point guard play I believe he thoroughly outplayed Andre Miller despite not being able to score.
Jordan Hamilton, G 27 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Rough night for Hamilton, who took some bad shots early and showed where he still has a lot of room to grow in terms of figuring out how to best use his array of offensive moves. Jordan was hesitant tonight and often caught in between trying to drive or shoot. Although Hamilton was a dud in the scoring department, he grabbed nine boards and showed off his versatility as a big guard who can compete on the glass. Ultimately Hamilton’s role is to score and while he needs to be more aggressive and decisive with his offense, Jordan showed there’s more to his game than just shooting.

Film Room – Offense: Movement vs No Movement

The Roundball Mining Company Film Room is back!  Today we are going to compare the Nuggets offensive execution against Oklahoma City in the second quarter to their offensive execution at the end of the fourth quarter.  Maybe there is a reason why they struggle at the end of close games.

The film does not lie.  Free flowing offense getting shots in the lane versus standing around and awaiting the inevitable horrible shot.  I have no idea why they get away from what works in an attempt to do things the way everyone else does.  The devotion to iso heavy stagnant sets with one player who is not suited for the role tries to play hero is baffling.  Surely over his long and illustrious coaching career George Karl has picked up a few nice plays to run in that situation.

What is interesting is the group that was moving so well was comprised of players who most fans would expect to struggle to score.  It looks to me like they could teach the starters a thing or two.

Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City Thunder 124, Denver Nuggets 118 (OT)

Denver Nuggets 118 Final
Recap | Box Score
124 Oklahoma City Thunder
Corey Brewer, SF 30 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -10
Being so reliant on Brewer’s offense is not a good look for the Nuggets, I commend Brewer for doing his best, but he remains a limited player with negligible dribbling and passing skills. Brew didn’t have his shot going and while he played commendable defense, he was an offensive liability and couldn’t stay on the floor down the stretch. This is the wrong role for Brewer and he’ll be much more valuable when asked to do less. I do wish he’d pass up the occasional shot and focus more on working off the ball.
Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -11
It’s baffling. After a career game, Faried can’t get the slightest bit of leeway with Karl. Nevertheless he again failed to make an impression out of the gate. His issues with defensive positioning and executing on offense are fixable. I honestly believe Faried would be better off were he not battling the incumbent Al Harrington for minutes. The only way he can get into games is to come out relentless on an absolute tear. It’s important not to overlook the fact Faried did have a very poor game and was overshadowed by Koufos and Birdman.
Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -18
I don’t like how Karl managed his minutes, leaving him in almost the whole first quarter after it was clear he was too gassed to keep Ibaka under control. Mozgov makes a huge difference in the Nuggets being able to run an effective pick and roll offense. Unfortunately, he needs to be more consistent and at least prove himself capable of playing a more substantial amount of minutes. This is such an unenviable position for Karl to be in because there will be nights like tonight where Koufos is the much better option. How do you decide who to play?
Arron Afflalo, SG 43 MIN | 10-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 27 PTS | -16
At times, like everyone else on the team, Afflalo struggled with defense quite a bit. OKC is such a poor matchup because Durant is too tall for Denver to use their best defender on him consistently. What was most apparent about Arron’s effort was his tenacity and commitment to staying aggressive. The shorthanded Nuggets actually played like the more aggressive team despite losing and I believe the bulk of the credit can go to Afflalo’s leadership, a quality he hasn’t displayed nearly enough this season
Ty Lawson, PG 46 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 17 PTS | -4
These are great numbers for any starting point guard, but without a win it just feels very forgettable. Lawson has no feel for where his teammates need the ball and he’s often reduced to getting everything off dribble penetration. Ty had the ball two crucial possessions down the stretch and failed to get off a quality look on either of them. We know Ty can create a quality shot whenever he wants and what’s so disappointing is that a signature game winning moment is still missing from his Nuggets career.
Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Harrington had a double double, and managed to make two three pointers after he’s been unable to deliver offense for the better part of the month. That’s where the praise ends for me. I just don’t like where the Nuggets are going with Harrington in this huge role where he plays nearly the whole second half and defends the oppositions best player night in and night out. Harrington needs a much smaller role for the Nuggets to have any success going forward.
Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 9-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 21 PTS | +3
It was refreshing to see Andre come alive off the bench and play with purpose. This was one of the fineest performances I’ve seen all season as long as we don’t include the overtime. Miller had 3 turnovers in the extra period and his frustration boiled over in the loss. I can’t praise Miller enough for giving the Nuggets an edge that should have won them the game in the second half. Andre seemed to know how poorly he played in the overtime period and was seen leaving the court in total disgust. We haven’t seen that kind of emotion out of Miller all season and hopefully it becomes a turning point for him. While he was abysmal in OT, Denver never gets there without him.
Chris Andersen, C 29 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +17
Another energetic performance from Birdman. He made countless hustle plays and defended the rim with the type of tenacity that made him the best backup Center in the league 2 seasons ago. Consistency is underlying issue surrounding everything Birdman does.
Kosta Koufos, C 13 MIN | 6-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -3
Koufos was nothing short of a monster in his first half stint. He managed nearly a double double in less than a quarter. He was everywhere, from knocking balls loose and defending Durant at half court to throwing down jams in transition. It was a sight to behold considering Koufus might not have seen the floor had Al Harrington not racked up three quick fouls. Jeremy made a great point about how trusting the inexperienced Faried over Harrington may have cost Karl in Memphis and he seemed resolved not to reward Koufos tonight.
Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +9
Hamilton saw his first real minutes of the season and made a few nice plays as the Nuggets enjoyed a successful run. Then he was abruptly pulled from the game. There’s just not enough to judge here and I don’t know what to say other than Hamilton has decent size and solid offensive skills.

Nuggets News: Rumors and rants edition

[Note: The first two stories are the previous entrees about Chris Andersen and Wilson Chandler; the next few, however, are stories that have come to light since this post was originally created.]

ESPN.com is reporting (Insider only) that Nuggets center, Chris “Birdman” Andersen is on the trading block with Koufos having been recently re-signed and playing solid basketball. There have reportedly not been any immediate suitors for Andersen, although as the trade deadline approaches this could change quickly. Although Birdman is 33 and still has two years at just below $10 million left on his contract, he might be an enticing option for a title contender who needs defensive help in the front court.

In other news, ESPN.com is reporting Wilson Chandler could return to the U.S. sooner than expected. According to Marc Stein, Chandler’s Chinese Basketball Association team, the Zhejiang Lions, made a deal with the former Nugget that as long as he managed to get the Lions to the Playoffs he could then come back to his home country earlier than expected. However, even though Lions management is willing to part with him, Chandler still must receive his FIBA letter of clearance in order to play in the NBA and it is unknown whether Chinese officials would be willing to bend on their harsh stance in regards to this issue. There is some speculation that if Chandler attends Sunday’s CBA All Star game officials would be more open to lending him his clearance letters at an earlier date.

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Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 103, Denver Nuggets 102 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 102 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Memphis Grizzlies
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -12
Four points in 25 minutes? That’s not the Big Al we’ve come to know this season. There’s no doubt that at this point, Al is struggling mightily to be effective while on the floor.
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 10-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +2
Brewer was two points shy of a career high in points but did set a career high in three-point baskets made with five. It was his deadly behind-the-arc shooting that got the Nuggets back in the game and ultimately gave them a chance to win. Brewer has been and continues to be one of the more reliable players on the Nuggets roster, especially when it matters most.
Kosta Koufos, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -10
No stats and three missed shots in six minutes isn’t the definition of productivity. With Mozgov back and Bird productive with rest the center position is going to be filled by whoever is producing.  Koufos was outproduced by Mozgov and Birdman.
Arron Afflalo, SG 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -21
Afflao hit a big 3-pointer but was once again fairly quite in his time given. After scoring 20 points in three straight games, Afflalo has come back down to Earth.  Plus his defense continues to be sub par.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -8
A nice, well-rounded game by Lawson overall. These are the types of outings we need to see on a more consistent basis from the young point guard.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 13 PTS | +11
Miller finally scored in the double digits for the first time since Feb. 8 while his nine assists were the most he’s tallied since Jan. 29. Miller hit some big shots down the stretch, although it should be noted that they were 3-pointers which is certainly not his specialty.
Chris Andersen, C 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +5
Birdman put up a decent stat line all things considered. Getting more than five rebounds must be considered a somewhat successful night for the “Bird.”  Throw in some solid defense on Gasol and Birdman was Denver’s best bet at center on this night.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +17
Only six points in 21 minutes while missing all three of his three-point attempts doesn’t look good in the box score.  Rudy did play some solid defense in the fourth quarter though and certainly helped the cause.
Timofey Mozgov, C 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
Mozgov finally returned and while he failed to do much offensively, his four rebounds and one blocked shot helped the Nuggets on the other end of the floor where his services are needed most.  He looked like he tweaked his ankle.  Let’s hope it is nothing serious.
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +14
If not for the botched block out at the end of the game, Faried would have turned in a phenomenal performance all around. It’s amazing how much better he is offensively than I had originally thought, and while this is refreshing it’s tough to overlook the small things Faried still needs to improve on. Boxing out, setting firm screens and getting better position everywhere on the court are still areas where Faried looks lost. This game will likely be a wake up call in more ways than one for the “Manimal.”

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Mavericks 102, Denver Nuggets 84 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 84 FinalRecap | Box Score 102 Dallas Mavericks
Corey Brewer, SF 35 MIN | 3-15 FG | 3-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -4
Brewer certainly wasn’t as effective as he has been coming off the bench, and he continues to struggle with his shot, but seven boards, four assists and five steals are smart, hustle numbers no matter how you look at it.
Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +1
Faried once again played solid, although his three rebounds in 21 minutes are tough to swallow. It’s odd; the last few games Faried has actually played much better on the offensive side of the ball than on defense — his specialty in college. It’s nice seeing the “Manimal” show the ability to score, although at this juncture his rebounding and defense are needed more.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -14
Koufos continues to impress. In only 26 minutes he set a new career high in rebounds, at 14, and was one of the few Nuggets who actually came to play. His toughness, passion and defense are more than admirable, while his gradual improvement only corroborates his case for being a steady rotational player. At this point, you could argue Koufos is the best big outside of Nene on the Nuggets roster.
Arron Afflalo, SG 25 MIN | 0-6 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -33
After scoring 20 points in three straight games Afflalo reverted back to the player he has been most of the year and laid an egg; however, being that most of the entire team did so as well, this performance can be somewhat forgiven. It’s going to be interesting seeing how Afflalo bounces back from this outing. Does he kick into overdrive and score in the upper teens like he’s capable of doing, or does he turn in another stinker? Stay tuned.
Ty Lawson, PG 28 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -15
All in all, this was probably one of Ty’s more disappointing efforts of the year. Before you chastise him too much though, keep in mind he was coming off 17 and 27-point performances the two games prior (which were both wins), and was met by a furious Mavericks’ interior defense every time he attempted to drive. Dallas really did a fine job of taking away the Nuggets penetration offense, which is essentially — Ty Lawson.
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -23
Harrington’s struggles continue. After leading the league in two-point shooting percentage through the early part of the year, Harrington has now shot over .500 percent in just one game this month. His overall field goal percentage has dipped nearly 10 percent in that time. All that said, Big Al has embraced the leadership role of a young Nuggets squad and is one of the few members of the roster who actually plays with a sense of pride on a nightly basis.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -9
Twenty one minutes, zero points and two steals — what more can you say? About the only signs of life Miller showed against the Mavericks was when he angrily tossed the ball to a ref after not receiving a foul call while attempting to drive to the basket. Though his minutes did come in garbage time, it’s at least worth noting that Stone looked worlds better than Miller, especially on defense.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Birdman didn’t crack the rotation till later in the game but once he did, he gave his full effort on both ends of the floor. His turnovers were down and his boards were up, but most importantly, he followed up one great performance with another solid outing. Right now, consistency should be Andersen’s biggest goal.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -11
Fernandez looked as if he wanted to prove something to his former team near the start of the game, and succeeded in doing so. He hit multiple 3-pointers and even a few tough jump-shots, but the luster slowly faded and eventually Fernandez was rendered just as useless as most every other Nugget.
Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +10
Stone deserves a good grade because he truly made the most out of the time he was given and played the best defense of anybody on the Nuggets roster. George Karl should consider sitting down his entire team and forcing them to watch Stone’s lateral defensive movement as it’s quite remarkable and hands down better than anyone on the team. Furthermore, Stone’s penetration followed by his pinpoint passes is exactly the type of offense Karl urges his team to implement, which shows Stone is listening. Should Andre Miller find himself either traded or injured, Nuggets fans can rest assured knowing Stone would be able to fill in just fine… if not better.
Jordan Hamilton, G 9 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12
In some truly extended minutes Hamilton finally gave Nuggets fans their first glimpse into the type of player he can be, which is an offensive scoring machine (note: “machine” used lightly in this instance). In nine minutes “J-Ham” took eight shots and made four them. His drives to the basket were a bit ill-advised and his defense was inconsistent, but there was no denying the skill Hamilton possess on the offensive side of the ball. It would be extremely interesting seeing how he fares in the heat of a close game.

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