The Nuggets snapped a six-game slide with a 115-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Pepsi Center. Outside of a poor second half in which Denver almost squandered the comfortable lead they held all night, the Nuggets delivered their best overall effort in a while.
If the Denver ends up having a relatively successful 2013-14 season, it’s likely that on reflection these two big wins against Dallas will be seen as the turning point. The Nuggets never relinquished their halftime lead, thanks mostly to 13-point quarters (third and fourth, respectively) from both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, whose heroics kept the Mavs at bay every time they tried to claw their way back into the game. (more…)
The Nuggets withstand a furious second-half comeback from Dallas and grind out a two-point win to move back to .500 on the season. It wasn’t pretty but the Nuggets put six scorers in double figures and make just enough plays to escape with a win, their fifth in a row at the Pepsi Center.
A look at the rollercoaster year of Nuggets basketball
Hopes were high for the Nuggets at the end of the 2012 offseason, with some analysts predicting up to 59 wins and a top two playoff seed. Masai Ujiri had acquired Olympic gold medalist and star defender Andre Iguodala in a trade, and extended Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee with long-term contracts. He surrounded the team’s young core with veteran Andre Miller and cheap talent like Anthony Randolph and Evan Fournier.
But a difficult early schedule loomed. The Nuggets would play 22 of their first 32 games on the road, including 8 sets of back-to-back games. By the end of November, the team had a pair of four game winning streaks sandwiched in between three losing streaks of three games each, including worrying losses to the lowly Suns and Magic.
The Nuggets came up with a series of big plays late in regulation to tie the game, but couldn’t get it done in the extra period, falling to Dallas 108-105.
In a hard-fought battle to the wire the Nuggets proved they’re a team that thrives off heart and passion, rather than one that folds under emotional turmoil. Iguodala had a huge drive capped by a game-winning layup at the rim to put the Nuggets ahead by one point with only a few seconds remaining, while Corey Brewer dazzled with his energy and refusal to lose throughout the contest; however, the story of the game without question is Danilo Gallinari and his ostensibly torn ACL.
The Denver Nuggets will kick off their 2012 preseason campaign against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 8:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. Because the Colorado Rapids are playing at 7 p.m., the game will not be televised on Altitude. NBATV will be airing a replay of the Dallas Mavericks preseason game in Germany at this time, which seems odd considering a live game in Las Vegas would be much more preferable to viewers. If anybody has any information on where this game can be viewed please leave a comment below. The rest of the Nuggets remaining preseason schedule is as follows (per DenverPost.com):
Oct. 12, @ Spurs, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Warriors, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 @ Trail Blazers, 8 p.m.
Oct. 21 @ Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.
Oct. 25 vs. Clippers, 8 p.m.
Oct 26 @ Suns, 7 p.m.
With their decisive victory over the tanking Portland Trail Blazers the San Antonio Spurs have locked in the top seed in the Western Conference for the second straight year. With it they have may have solidified the Denver Nuggets’ hold on the sixth seed.
|Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Quite simply it was Faried’s worst defensive performance yet. Faried has been great defending the post but looked lost against a player of Dirk’s caliber. Karl chose not to double Dirk early on and it probably cost the Nuggets the game. As much as I hate to admit it, this shows Faried is still a developing rookie who hasn’t yet proved he’s as consistent as we all want to believe.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 23 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Gallo started the game very poorly, became frustrated with the officiating and shot jumpers the rest of the way until he broke his left thumb while attempting to block an Ian Mahinmi layup. It had nothing to do with new personnel coming on board or George Karl limiting his role. Gallo ran offense reasonably well but was terrible as a primary scoring option and a defender. If he wants to be great, he’ll need to play harder. Gallo likely won’t be able to use his left hand for a while and could be out a few more weeks at the least. This a really bad break for the Nuggets.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -14
Mozgov played a solid first half and an absolutely hideous second half. I believe the Nuggets were better defensively with him on the floor but when he stopped scoring and Dallas’s pick and roll defense picked up in the second half, Denver’ offense was horrible. Mozgov needs to be better, but the 9 minutes he had were filled with solid production and an earnest effort towards playing solid team basketball.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 7-10 FG | 8-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | -9
Offensively, he was the Nuggets’ most consistent option and overall they’re best player on the floor. Afflalo also showed pretty good chemistry with Chandler but in a game in which Denver was so thoroughly embarrassed it’s impossible to say he was as good as his gaudy stats indicate. Is Afflalo just going to be a really good role player or the emotional leader he’s talked about trying to become?
|Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -13
Lawson continues to struggle against the better pick and roll defenses in the league. When he was able to get penetration, Ty couldn’t finish anything. He’s going to have a tough time without a real post presence when teams take away his initial read and contain him at the rim in transition. As a team the Nuggets just didn’t do a good job moving the ball and finding good shots, which starts with Lawson but can be also be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the new personnel.
|Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -2
Harrington’s numbers always seem to paint a misleading picture of his actual on-court impact. He missed a lot of bunnies that would have bolstered his already solid stat line even more, but Harrington was a no-show on defense and displayed a frustrating tendency to shoot the Nuggets out of any sort of momentum. Still, give Harrington credit for being one of the more consistent producers of the game and leading the small-ball heavy Nuggets in rebounding.
|Andre Miller, PG 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Miller never really got going, as he unfortunately took a huge hit on the shoulder early on and sat out the rest of the way. In the 5 minutes he did play, Miller matched his points and assist totals in the more than 20 minutes he played in his previous game against the Boston Celtics. Denver has very little depth at the PG position and losing him leaves a void that’s difficult to fill.
|Corey Brewer, SF 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
I liked Brewer’s intensity a lot, but getting him heavy minutes alongside Chandler and Gallo meant a super small lineup that really ended up hurting the Nuggets against the larger Mavericks. Brewer logged no rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes. I like Corey, but I fear he may be stuck in a lot of blowouts if the Nuggets don’t find a little more balance and find ways to play bigger.
|Wilson Chandler, SF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -1
As I expected, Chandler looked like the freshest Nugget on the floor. He gave the Nuggets big time minutes despite clearly having no idea how to fit into George Karl’s idea of a half-court offense. Defensively is where Chandler really shined, giving the Nuggets a solid one-two punch on the perimeter alongside Afflalo. He struggled against the length and the size of the Mavericks in the post, but logged a good deal of minutes at power forward and center alongside Harrington or Faried. It’s tough to expect a lot of Chandler in that situation.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 9 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -8
Fernandez didn’t play until the second half and wouldn’t have entered the game if not for Andre Miller’s injury. The game was essentially over by the time he entered and Fernandez wasn’t able to show a lot in the emergency point guard role. It’s very tough to judge Rudy playing out of position in a couple of meaningless minutes in a blowout loss.
|Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
17 minutes is a lot for a guy who contributed absolutely nothing except 2 rebounds. There’s a lot of hilarious delusion out of Nuggets fans surrounding Koufos, who is an adequate fourth-year backup big man. Koufos produced very little for the generous amount of minutes he was given and made no impact defensively.
|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.
|Nene, C 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-5 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | -10
Nene had a harmless double-double. I was surprised he produced this much because he continues to have trouble finishing at the rim. Nene had an incredibly difficult cover in Dirk Nowitzki but that is not an excuse to completely neglect defending the weak side. No blocks, no steals, and too many turnovers. The one thing Nene did well was keep his head in the game instead of expending all of his energy arguing calls.
|Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -8
I don’t know why the Nuggets went away from Stone. Karl keeps putting him in a terrible situation where he’s not in a position to make plays or develop his point guard abilities. I like the way Stone defends, but it’s hard to ignore how he helped the Nuggets get off to a horrid start on both ends of the court. I’ll give Stone an incomplete. The starting lineup experiment couldn’t have gone much worse and Stone suffered the most for it. He was not given a chance to play after 8 uneventful minutes.
|Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13
Birdman is like that cheap, no-name vodka occupying the bottom shelf of your favorite liquor store. Are the cheap thrills of a good night once in a while worth the ensuing week-long headache? No, and consistently going there is a sign you may have a serious problem. Starting him was Karl’s strangest decision yet. He hasn’t started since 2008 against the Hawks, where he also struggled mightily and the Nuggets lost. I like Birdman in small, infrequent doses when the team is exceptionally flat. Starting him flat out didn’t work.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -21
It’s tough to settle on a good grade for Afflalo, because he showed some fight coming off another horrendous start. There was a stretch in the third quarter where he looked to be asserting himself as a leader while imploring the Nuggets to work harder on the defensive end. Unfortunately, Afflalo was just way too up and down. He missed every big shot he took and just didn’t consistently play up to his talent. He finished with a game worst -21, a stat not indicative of his true play but a strong sign that he just doesn’t have it together. There are signs he is getting there.
|Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Lawson wasn’t aggressive enough, but it’s totally unreasonable to expect him to just start taking over games while trying to grow into his long term role as a starter. A double-double from your starting PG should be more than enough for any good team in the league to get a win, especially one with as much depth and scoring talent as Denver. It’s imperative that Lawson get way more aggressive going to the rim, but at least he is improving. The main problem is the defense and Lawson can’t fix that. Ty has the right idea in trying to make this haphazard offense work by not forcing too many shots, but he simply needs to get meaner and be relentless attacking the paint.
|Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -5
Great stats, but just one of those hollow efforts as you never got the sense he had much of an impact on the game. To be fair, the game was pretty out of hand by the time he came in. Al Buckets is at least making shots and not afraid to take them when needed. With the Nuggets suffering a crisis of confidence at the moment, you have to appreciate what Al brings to the table. Unfortunately Harrington is a big part of the Nuggets giving back way more points than they are able to put up. I had to dock Harrington’s solid production because he ultimately didn’t make plays when the Nuggets needed it most. Al’s effort does not go unnoticed though, I love how hard he’s playing and this team’s problems are much bigger than him.
|Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +4
His defense is so bad, you need a nightly double-double just to compensate. Miller can’t guard anyone and the team seems to know it. Karl seems okay with having him lay off his man while praying he can cut off drives to the rim. The problem is teams are finding the open shooter and Miller can’t be bothered to close out. Outside of the defense, Miller struggled again with turnovers but played about as well as he can offensively. This may be the best you can get out of Miller in a nightly bench role and I’m not sure giving a 36 year old this many minutes is the wisest idea.
|Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +4
Fernandez had the hot hand early and helped close out the second half on a mini Denver run. The Nuggets then curiously went away from him while the starters lost all momentum. His shot selection was much better and his gambling defense continues to be frustratingly hit or miss. Still, Rudy played with a lot of passion and showed resolve on a night the rest of the Nuggets looked scared.
|Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Koufos is impressing me more with each game. He still makes a lot of mistakes getting caught on switches and trying to guard the perimeter, but the guy is only 22 years old and still learning the most difficult position in the NBA. He usually produces whenever he gets minutes, so I don’t understand why he was removed from the starting lineup. Koufos may have been the only positive in terms of the defense tonight and he barely played. I was wrong about the guy — he’s a surefire rotation player and the Nuggets need to live with some rookie mistakes while developing him.
According to NBA.com’s Aaron Lopez, the Nuggets will send out a starting lineup against the Dallas Mavericks that consists of Nene, Chris Andersen, Julyan Stone, Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson. This is Birdman’s first start since the 2008 season and Julyan Stone’s first start at small forward since joining the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Corey Brewer is still out due to the tragic death of his father. Our thoughts and prayers are with Corey and the rest of the Brewer family.
The Nuggets crushed the Mavs in Dallas for their third straight blowout victory in a season opener. Just like the last few years they showcased a high powered offense with plenty of depth and cruised to a big lead they never surrendered. Ty Lawson was the star in this one, scoring 27 points with incredible efficiency and generally picking apart the slow, flat-footed Mavericks defense.
How do you build a championship roster?
That is a question that General Managers and Presidents of Player Personnel must ask themselves every day. What complicates things is while every team starts every season at 0-0 not every team is created equal. What works in one market is not feasible in another. Add in the fact that no two teams are at the same point in their process of building a team and the possibilities for every team are endless. Every decision creates a ripple in the pool of NBA chaos.
The 2011-12 NBA schedules were released early Tuesday morning in the event that an NBA season does in fact transpire next year. The Nuggets, as usual, will open up on the road against a heated division rival (Portland) on national TV. Two weeks later, Carmelo Anthony will return to Denver in a non-Nuggets uniform on November 16. The crowd reaction that night will likely be the best gauge to date of how the Nuggets fan-base feels in regards to Anthony’s departure from Denver. Would you boo? Would you cheer? Would you — as I would — sit in silence, counterbalanced by an equal amount of appreciation and disappointment? Or would you simply, and nonchalantly, clap slowly just as you would any other player? (more…)