Too Much Depth?

Let’s be clear about one thing — at 14-7 even after two straight losses the Nuggets’ greatest strength is their depth.

When the Nuggets assembled a roster featuring two starting lineups and a couple of NBA-ready rookies behind them, they instantly gained a big advantage over every other team in a lockout-shortened NBA season. They’ve dealt with injuries better than just about anyone and built the second-highest scoring bench in the league.

Denver is going to be a great regular season team behind their depth. They can afford to limit their starters to 20 minutes per night if need be. In many cases there is little to no difference between the second and third string guys at every position.

I still think there is an intelligent debate to be had about whether too much of a good thing can actually turn out bad. George Karl has said the first 20 games of the season are essentially training camp, and at about one-third of the way into the season we’ve reached that point. The rotation should be shaping up nicely and guys should be settling into their roles as the Nuggets prepare to really start hitting their stride.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 Memphis Grizzlies 100 (OT)

Denver Nuggets 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Memphis Grizzlies
Nene, C 33 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -16
It’s tough to put a lot of blame on Nene for what transpired tonight, especially because he’s carried the Nuggets throughout the last two games. While Nene’s production trailed off it’s hard to ignore just how badly he was outplayed by Marc Gasol. Although Nene had a decent individual performance, he took a grand total of three second half shots and disappeared late when the Nuggets sorely needed him to step up
Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 1-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +2
Did not show up to play. It’s a simple as that. Hardly worth mentioning anything he did because it was just a bunch of terrible jumpers. Gallo found himself benched for most of the fourth quarter and entire overtime (for the second time this season).
Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -8
Five fouls in 10 minutes is too much. He started off on Speights instead of Gasol so it’s actually hard to even credit his defense on the Memphis bigs. While he was more physical in terms of defending the rim and blocking shots, he just looked lost and couldn’t stay on the court long enough to help. The turnovers need to stop at some point too.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -9
He’s regressed big time. Afflalo was one of the best role players in the game last season and he’s currently lost with no idea what his role should be. The shots he is taking are indefensible. Fadeaways with 20 on the clock and contested turnaround jumpers over Rudy Gay? Welcome to this year’s Arron Afflalo. He’s hardly looking for his three point shot anymore which makes spacing a big issue too. More importantly, he just isn’t having the sort of positive impact on defense we’ve all been accustomed to.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -11
There was a stretch in the third quarter Lawson came alive and looked poised to take over the game. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long as Lawson spent most of his time struggling to find a rhythm after missing nearly three games with an ankle injury. The turnovers keep piling up and although his threes started falling, Lawson looked tentative going to the rim. He lacked his usual bursts of speed off the dribble and let’s hope he continues to work himself back into form for the upcoming stretch of three games in a row.
Al Harrington, PF 38 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | +3
The Nuggets can’t waste a game like this from Al Harrington. He was outmuscled and outmatched on defense and still managed a double-double with 24 points off the bench. Harrington’s primary role is to score and he delivered. Buckets nearly made what could have been the play of the game by almost taking a charge on Memphis final possession of regulation that ended up tying it. Harrington badly wanted to win this game and it has to be disappointing seeing his teammates lacking the same resolve.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
It’s a tough grade to give Miller, because he really played pretty well. Except of course for the most crucial moments where he made a ton of uncharacteristic mistakes as the Nuggets melted. Missed free throws, untimely turnovers and just flat out bad decision making. It might be a little unfair to say this, but if he just makes one less bad play the Nuggets win – and he certainly had every single opportunity down the stretch.
Chris Andersen, C 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +6
Birdman gets an incomplete. At some point this has to stop — either give him a role or take him out of the rotation. Although I was disappointed in Birdman’s defense, it’s not fair to expect him to play well under these conditions. George Karl needs to show some faith in him or just put him behind Koufos in the rotation. This can’t continue.
Corey Brewer, SF 13 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
A little too high? I really don’t think so — Brewer was a part of the big runs that gave the Nuggets every opportunity to close out this game. He outplayed both Afflalo and Fernandez. Although he was in for defensive purposes late, it was disappointing to see him have such a good game and be off the court for the most important stretches of play. Brewer’s body of work is starting to suggest he should be seeing close to 20 minutes every night.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Rudy was the only Nugget to go scoreless and clearly didn’t have it tonight. Although he’s coming off two solid scoring performances his defense has been incredibly erratic and unreliable. Combine this with turnovers and he just had a pretty disastrous overall game.
Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +6
Koufos played only a few minutes in the second half due to Mozgov getting in foul trouble. Although he played nine minutes, one rebound is the only evidence he isn’t actually the invisible man. Although the stats are lacking, Koufos played respectable defense and I was impressed with his hustle in the limited minutes he received. I wouldn’t mind seeing Koufos get regular minutes as the first big off the bench as he’s had his moments and a little confidence might go a long way into making Koufos a more reliable option.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96 Toronto Raptors 81

Toronto Raptors 81 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 10-14 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +25
The Raptors were extremely physical with Nene despite lacking anyone remotely capable of guarding him. Nene didn’t shoot particularly well and was fouled whenever he found himself in good position down low. He still had a solid 20 and 10 in 33 minutes behind improved free throw shooting. More importantly, he was a dominant presence on the floor and the Raptors simply had no answer.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-7 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 21 PTS | +14
Gallo’s scoring opportunities didn’t come as easy without Ty Lawson starting alongside him. He reverted to shooting too many threes and generally looking awful when trying to create for himself. Defensively, Gallo struggled defending the post but continues to show potential as a reliable team defender. Gallo’s grade gets a bump thanks to his ability to close out the game after Toronto made a late push against the Nuggets reserves to get back in it.
Timofey Mozgov, C 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +16
Mozgov made a welcome return to the starting lineup and continues to develop into a more physical presence down low. He had his two finest blocks of the season and rebounded well for the minutes he received. He did struggle to work himself back into an offensive rhythm and mishandled a few too many passes. Nevertheless, Mozgov was a big part of the solid defensive effort that held Toronto to 12 first quarter points.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 12 AST | 13 PTS | +18
Miller had too many turnovers, but several of them were due to Mozgov and Birdman being slow, out of position or just not ready to receive a pass. His erratic wandering on defense can be frustrating and the Nuggets did struggle to maintain pace with him running point. This is the first time Miller has been in the starting lineup at the point guard position and he produced outstanding numbers as expected. The luxury with Miller is that he’s more than capable and perhaps better as a fill-in starter.
Arron Afflalo, SG 21 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +11
I’m not gonna dock Afflalo too much for struggling to ease himself back into the rotation after nearly a week off. He’s still taking questionable shots and not making very many of them. The bottom line with Afflalo is that he has such a positive effect on the Nuggets defense you can live with whatever he does offensively as long as he’s not a total black hole.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Harrington had a bad day. He came into the game with little energy and by the fourth quarter he was exhausted to the point of parking himself at the three point line with his hands on his knees and spectating. He played entirely too many minutes and made only one of five shots in the second half while struggling to make any sort of impact on defense. Buckets also got into a childish spat with Linas Kleiza and needlessly extended the game’s conclusion.
Chris Andersen, C 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +2
Birdman’s playing harder, I’ll give him that. His energy and his effort were sincere. Andersen continues to be a disaster guarding the pick and roll as he struggled staying in front of the smaller Raptors in the first half. Birdman wasn’t putting up numbers, but I did not think his performance warranted benching him in the second half. He was engaged and active, but Birdman is just not a reliable guy for George Karl right now and he seems to be losing the coach’s trust quickly.
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5
Brewer had another confusing game. After launching 18 shot attempts against Sacramento he barely attempted anything, which I think is a good thing. He flew around the court with his usual energy creating chaos and extra possessions. Offensively, Brewer is scary and unpredictable and he’ll need to be a bit more consistent to gain more regular playing time off the bench.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 33 MIN | 9-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | +9
Thank God for Rudy. He looked great upon his return from an Achilles strain and his hot shooting singlehandedly held off the Raptors’ furious second half surge. Rudy also did a great job chasing the feisty Raptors guards all over the court. Bayless was able to shake him loose a couple of times but his offensive game was so brilliant it hardly mattered. Not only did Rudy handle the ball some as a backup point, he was fantastic off the ball – juking out Barbosa for one of the most poetic wide open threes of the season. Magnificent game from Rudy and all the more impressive considering he hasn’t played in quite some time.
Kosta Koufos, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
The decision to pair Koufos with Harrington in the middle was a head-scratcher to say the least. Kosta didn’t receive any minutes in the first half and calling on him to stem the tide during Denver’s worst stretch of play might have been asking too much of the seldom used 22-year old. He had a rough go from the moment he stepped on the floor, immediately being hit with a questionable blocking foul and worsening Denver’s stagnant offensive attack. Defensively, the Nuggets completely fell apart with him on the floor and while you can’t put the blame solely on Koufos, Toronto seized total control of the game and it’s hard to defend the decision to bring him in.

Can Young Men Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?

The Denver Nuggets management team of Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke has figured out a new way to use cap space.  Some teams throw all their money at a big name free agent and ultimately end up overpaying.  Denver fans know that approach first hand thanks to Kenyon Martin.  Some teams will preserve it and play let let’s make a deal collecting players and draft picks by facilitating trades for less fiscally responsible teams.  This approach is made popular by Oklahoma City.  Some will hemorrhage out all their money towards a few mediocre players for no apparent reason (see the New Jersey Nets from the summer of 2010).  Other teams just sit on their cap space because their owners are too cheap to spend money and/or no players are desperate enough to take their money.  The pre Blake Griffin Clippers and the current Sacramento Kings are examples of this style of cap management.

The Nuggets have shown us a new way.  (more…)

More Than Just a Victory?

Thank God Carmelo Anthony finally made a few shots.

Regardless of how you felt about Carmelo’s forced departure from the Mile High City the first contest between the Denver Nuggets and their former franchise player it would not have been as enjoyable had Melo ended the game without having made it a challenge.

I am on record as saying I wish Carmelo well in New York.  There was no benefit for Denver to have him stay any longer.  We can argue all day if the Denver Nuggets need another player like him to reach their ultimate goal.  What there is no doubt about is this team is easy to cheer for and they play in a way that is endearing.

Many times fans get the feeling that the players they cheer for do not care about what happens on the court as much as they do.  Last night there was little doubt that the Nuggets players and coaches cared as much as the fans, and probably even more.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 New York Knicks 114 (2OT)

Denver Nuggets 119 Final
Recap | Box Score
114 New York Knicks
Nene, C 45 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-6 FT | 13 REB | 5 AST | 12 PTS | +3
Made the two biggest free throws of the year after going 0-4 from the line to start the game. Nene routinely found himself on smaller players and was not as aggressive as he was against Philadelphia. You can’t deny his improved rebounding and despite some trouble guarding the rim, he played very respectable late in the game when it mattered most.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 52 MIN | 9-19 FG | 18-20 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 37 PTS | +5
Incredible. 37 points on 19 shots. Did not even play his best game and clearly didn’t have his legs under him as he settled for too many long two pointers. Outplayed everyone else on the floor and is making me rethink my assessment of Gallo having true star potential. His game was so good I don’t have any room left to gush about his phenomenal defensive performance against Melo.
Timofey Mozgov, C 30 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +5
Deserves minutes, and thankfully he’s finally getting them. Tyson Chandler turned in dominant rebounding performances his past two games and was a non-factor against the shorthanded Nuggets. Mozgov scored 16 points, but his true impact came on the defensive end where he stayed on his feet and routinely rescued his teammates from getting beat and giving up layups.
Andre Miller, PG 49 MIN | 6-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 14 PTS | +6
I know, everyone deserves a great grade for this one, right? I really didn’t like much about Andre’s play through more than half of the contest. Then, he goes all Philadelphia 76ers and throws in the most amazing basket of the season to seal the win. He inbounded the ball perfectly three separate times on crucial possessions late. Miller honestly didn’t play great but had an easy double double. Miller’s poise is what makes him shine.
Ty Lawson, PG 49 MIN | 3-12 FG | 4-7 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 10 PTS | +8
He was a spectator in the win. I hate being so hard on a Nuggets player in such a great win, but I have never been more disappointed in Ty. He made only three shots, all of them assisted by others who fed him wide open looks. Ty needs to be better. He did not hit free throws down the stretch, failed to stay in front of the Knicks guards and allowed rookie Iman Shumpert to get the best of him. Ty’s numbers were fine but the boxscore belies the fact he had no impact on the win. I don’t grade the boxscores.
Al Harrington, PF 41 MIN | 10-24 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | +2
Al Buckets did it again. After a dreadful start he might have been benched by a lot of other coaches in this league. Harrington delivered in the clutch yet again hitting most every big basket down the stretch. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and exuded nothing but confidence when it looked like Denver was going to lose.
Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -4
You can’t ask for much more from Brewer in the limited minutes he received. He came in for defensive purposes late and forced Melo into a difficult shot he had no business attempting. Melo made it and Brewer learned the valuable lesson that sometimes it does not matter how well you play defense. Brewer ultimately didn’t have more of an impact because he was extremely clumsy on the offensive end, where he still needs to prove his worth.

Nuggets News: The Association and Stiffs Night Out

Courtesy of Benjamin Hochman, details are emerging on the latest season of NBATV’s “The Association” which will follow the Denver Nuggets through the 2011-2012 season. The first episode airs next Wednesday on NBATV and you can find the full schedule in Hochman’s Nuggets Ink post. For those not familiar with the show it is a fascinating look into the grind of an NBA season from the perspective of the players, coaches, front office executives and trainers. The Nuggets were last featured on NBATV’s “Real Training Camp” two seasons ago and that was a must-watch for Nuggets fans as I’m sure “The Association” will be as well.

We’d also like to post a friendly reminder to attend Stiffs Night Out for the upcoming New York Knicks game. It will no doubt be a fun time and a great opportunity to hang out with fellow Nuggets fans. Our friends at Denver Stiffs are also giving away prime seats to an upcoming home game and if you’re in the Denver area, I strongly suggest you go! Follow the link on Denver Stiffs for all the details.

On to the latest news and links.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108 Philadelphia 76ers 104 (OT)

Denver Nuggets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Philadelphia 76ers
Nene, C 38 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 14 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +9
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but Nene stuck with it and finished. Yes, he still shoots way too many underhand line drives at the rim, but Nene was the lone reliable big in this game. He secured the rebound that led to the game-winner and played the best defense he has all year.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 33 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +14
It’s hard to give Gallo anything other an ‘F’. He was benched for the final play of regulation and the entire overtime. He did nothing but tentatively stand around and hoist threes on offense. Gallo couldn’t even hold his own defensively against the wiry Thad Young and he was absolutely torched on every switch. He folded and turned in a truly spineless performance. Let’s hope it was a one time thing.
Kosta Koufos, C 7 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -6
The slow-footed Koufos had a rough start against the rookie Vucevic who simply overpowered him. He shoots too many soft hooks and floaters and simply wasn’t physical enough for his presence to be useful in this game. He didn’t see any action after the first quarter as the small lineups delivered the win. I’ll give Koufos a break as he hasn’t played in a long time, but he needs to be tougher.
Arron Afflalo, SG 44 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -1
Another frustrating performance by Arron, who was on track for his best game yet with a solid first half. He disappeared in the second half and reverted to forcing shots and generally being un-clutch and clumsy with the ball in his hands. Afflalo did make a big pull-up jumper late and hit two free throws to seal the win. Like Nene, he kept his cool and finished strong despite some poor stretches of play. That kind of guts and character goes a long way to winning games like these.
Ty Lawson, PG 45 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Lawson was frustratingly inconsistent all night long and was thoroughly outplayed by Andre Miller. He is unable to get in a any sort of rhythm and is struggling mightily to finish layups. His turnovers are up and his scoring is down, but Lawson continued to play with confidence and kept attacking when the team looked ready to pack in it.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -9
Harrington continues to do his job – stretch the floor and defend the post as best he can. Unfortunately he had to team with Birdman in the second half and with the Nuggets switching every screen after the first quarter he had trouble staying in front of the Sixers. I can’t fault Harrington’s performance and ultimately he stepped in for Gallo in overtime and played a huge part in gutting out the win.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 10 AST | 28 PTS | +18
He was clearly motivated against his old team and flat out dominated. Make no mistake, the Nuggets were dead in the water after a second half defensive meltdown fueled by turnovers – and Andre decided to go out and win the game. This was the best performance of any Nugget this season and I’m still fairly shocked at what I saw the 35-year old Miller just do to his old team on a back-to-back.
Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -5
Andersen turned in another sub-par effort and the Nuggets won in spite of him. He played an acceptable first half and followed it up with his worst effort yet, which is saying a lot considering how up and down he has been. He mercifully fouled out early but otherwise played cowardly defense and contributed very little offensively after a first half in which he at least got to the line and scored some.
Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -13
Brewer knows how to play only one way and it’s all out chaos when he’s in the game. Things are either going great or god-awful terrible when he’s in and there’s no in between. Overall I liked Brewer’s energy a lot although the team defense was wildly inconsistent with him on the floor

Nuggets at 76ers Game Preview Q & A

With the Denver Nuggets heading into a huge matchup with the suddenly dominant Philadelphia 76ers Carey Smith from the TrueHoop Network 76ers blog Philadunkia hit me with a few questions.  Follow this link to check out what I have to say regarding Denver’s historical road woes, Gallo and of course the Manimal!

 

3-on-3: Danilo Gallinari Edition

It’s been nearly one year since Danilo Gallinari arrived in Denver and he has the Nuggets already talking extension. The energetic Italian is widely to believed to be primed for a breakout season as one of the most intriguing talents on a young Nuggets team. With the prospect of Gallo becoming a long-term Nugget soon, we go 3-on-3 with the full Roundball crew to discuss all things Gallinari. In case you missed our previous installments the format is simple – three questions, three TrueHoop bloggers and one spirited debate.

Rapid Reaction: Utah Jazz 106 Denver Nuggets 96

Utah Jazz 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-7 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | -4
I don’t grade the boxscores. Yes, Nene scored 18 points with decent efficiency, but he missed 5 free throws and had 5 turnovers on the night. Nene was the key to this game for the Nuggets and came up short when it mattered most. Poor rebounding, poor defense, and poor shot selection. He looked like Koufos out there with the array of underhand flip shots, soft floaters and hooks underneath the rim.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 12-12 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | -9
Gallo must be more aggressive for the Nuggets to have a chance. He came into the fourth quarter with a grand total of 3 field goal attempts. Gallo gets credit for making all of his 12 free throw attempts and doing some creative work with the ball in his hands. I liked him running pick and rolls with the Jazz aggressively trapping Lawson. He tallied 4 assists and had no turnovers. Just way too passive and once again he was eaten alive at the power forward spot – which is purely a coaching mistake.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -3
Mozgov’s rebounding instincts are really bad, but beyond that he was the best big man the Nuggets had in this game. He was active during his minutes but nothing about his performance really stood out. He needs to be tougher and the coaches need to trust him more.
Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-10 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -4
He certainly played hard, perhaps harder than anyone else on the floor, but his mistakes were costly and momentum killing. Two flat out terrible travels, a couple of out of control drives to the hoop and once again incredibly un-clutch shooting and huge missed free throws. I give him an A+ for effort, but results are all that matters.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 13 PTS | -6
What a tough game for Lawson. I think he would have easily scored close to 20 had he not missed some bunnies at the rim. Lawson’s energy was there, but his teammates looked slow and out of sync. Lawson should be able to have unspectacular, solid nights like this and still be in a position to win. Much like Afflalo, Ty couldn’t catch a break tonight but he made far fewer mistakes than anyone else on the floor.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -3
Harrington deserves credit for being the only bench player showing fire and competitive spirit. He had 4 steals, scored fairly efficiently and really, you can’t complain about his numbers. His defense was atrocious and he was another one making crucial mistakes in a close game when it mattered the most. I’ll take less production out of Harrington for fewer fouls and smarter basketball plays. Harrington was worse than his numbers and that trend is not exclusive to this game.
Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -11
Looked like he didn’t care. Just a shocking performance all around. Failed to contribute anything and completely killed the team’s spirit and energy every moment he was on the floor. Miller looks lost and does not seem like he ever wants to be found.
Chris Andersen, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Andersen had 4 blocks, but one was erroneously credited to him when it should have been Corey Brewer’s. Birdman put up somewhat of a fight, but he did not block anyone out and was bullied down low by the much more physical Utah Jazz. One rebound is not acceptable. Birdman’s game and his athleticism are broken down to a point he should not be in the rotation. It isn’t his fault because I do believe he is trying. On this team, he is the wrong guy and the wrong fit – Karl should have kept him on the bench and should continue to.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Brewer’s energetic style finally produced his first sub-par performance of the season. He is too aggressive bodying up his man at the three-point line, giving up wide open lanes to the basket for no reason. He took some questionable shots and did not play a controlled game. Brewer needs to show he can be more than a crazed maniac running around the court creating chaos.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 9 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -6
Rudy got hurt, but he started the game poorly with little energy. This grade is an incomplete and losing him turned out to be costly. The Nuggets had to rely heavily on Andre Miller and we all know that ended
Kosta Koufos, C 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Koufos should have played more, but he only came in for a split second after Birdman tweaked a muscle. I can’t remember seeing him do anything, so let’s go with an incomplete.

Andre Miller is not long for the Denver Nuggets

After 13 years of NBA service, it’s fair to say Andre Miller has been one of the more overlooked and undervalued point guards of his generation. His ability to produce well into his thirties places him in the rarified company of Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, and Jason Kidd yet his lack of playoff success and individual accolades exclude him from being held in the same regard.

Playing with that chip on his shoulder has made Miller the successful, highly motivated player he is today. Unfortunately, it’s also put Andre at the center of another point guard controversy in Denver after candidly telling Chris Tomasson he’s unhappy with a backup role and prefers to go elsewhere in free agency next season.

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Is There Reason to be Concerned About the Denver Nuggets?

The Denver Nuggets are 6-4, they have a projected Pythagorean record, expected wins based on point differential, of 46-20 which is equivalent to a 57 win season.  They have been atop the league in defensive efficiency and feature possibly the deepest roster in the NBA.

That all sounds great, but if you have spent any time on this site you probably expect I am about to rain on the parade.  The truth is, buckle your seatbelts, I believe there are reasons to be concerned.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 81, Hornets 94

New Orleans Hornets 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
81 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -16
The one knock on Nene has always been his soft demeanor and his uncanny ability to disappear in big moments. That’s been the one caveat to his well-rounded game and tonight we saw all that all his athletic ability and efficiency comes at a price. Nene was a defensive sieve and after looking decent against Kaman and Okafor last Friday, he was dominated inside and couldn’t be bothered to put up much a fight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 38 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -18
Gallinari didn’t play the fourth quarter till the game was well out of hand. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only factor that made his stat-sheet contributions an empty effort. Defensively Gallinari was awful against his fellow countryman Marco Bellinelli and any other Hornet lucky enough to find themselves guarded by him.
Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Not enough minutes to be a factor either way, but the Nuggets had some success guarding the rim and played better defense with him in the game. Nene and Mozgov continue to look like an odd pairing in the starting lineup. Karl’s quest to go small no matter how poor the matchup ultimately erased whatever small chance Mozgov had at making a difference against the Hornets dominant front line.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 2-8 FG | 8-10 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | 0
Not a good game. He was one of only two Nuggets putting up some kind of resistance on defense and it salvages his passing grade. Afflalo continues to set a poor example with questionable shot selection. Don’t be fooled by the 10 free throw attempts – Afflalo is a poor ballhandler and not a great finisher. The Nuggets need him playing his game and instead he forced offense all night – with poor results.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Lawson was awful on Jarrett Jack. He made poor decisions with the ball and just couldn’t sustain what little momentum the Nuggets were able to get. There’s a caveat to Lawson’s grade – he injured his ankle towards the end of the first half and looked hobbled the rest of the way. I would’ve liked to see him rest and he probably should have, but Lawson was a warrior and battled through.
Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -11
Is Al Harrington as good as his torrid start to the season suggests? Absolutely not, and it would have been totally unreasonable to believe so. Harrington won’t be able to defend consistently and that limits the impact of his offensive talents. When he can’t hit shots, it’s just pure disaster as we saw tonight. Really awful defense and if Al Harrington’s 13-year career is any indication, there’s more to come.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | -13
To get an ‘F’ it goes beyond having a bad game. That happens to everyone. You have to be actively hurting the team every minute to be this bad. Miller did just that, making selfish decisions with the ball and doing the same thing he’s been doing all year – shooting too much. Miller’s contributions to this team have been overstated and I don’t like the way he’s played all year. He is an odd fit on this team to be honest.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
Incomplete. For whatever reason, he received a few charity minutes from George Karl and didn’t do enough to affect anything. Considering how poorly he’s played as of late, I’m not sure why Koufos didn’t get the call earlier.
Corey Brewer, SF 8 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Incomplete. Despite earning minutes, Brewer was another charity case given a few scraps for no apparent reason. Unlike Birdman he probably deserved his shot but just didn’t do enough to make any fair judgement concerning his play.
DeMarre Carroll, F 1 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
He saw a minute in garbage time, perhaps confirming suspicions that Faried won’t see a single meaningful minute of court time no matter what. Incomplete.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 27 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -9
Fernandez made shots, but they were awful ones. I really would have liked to see Brewer eat into his minutes. Rudy plays with energy and reckless abandon, but he is not an explosive scorer and I fear that this coaching staff somehow believes he is. Energy and effort were there, but he just took terrible shots and he doesn’t take enough pride on the defensive end. Another empty statline.
Kosta Koufos, C 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +4
Incomplete. He was called in during the second half, but unfortunately the Nuggets were already getting blown out and had no shot. Like Mozgov, the coaching staff has zero trust in him and refused to give him a chance in a game dominated by size.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 96 Hornets 88

Denver Nuggets 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 New Orleans Hornets
Nene, C 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Nene played a few possessions where he looked dominant, but once again was passive during any key stretch where it looked like Denver could seize momentum. He played Birdman-like defense meaning one out of 3 or so possessions was fantastic and the rest was cringe-worthy.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 9-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 23 PTS | +12
Gallo did more off-ball work than we’ve seen all season. Despite still missing a ton of shots from distance, he was aggressive and confident throughout the game. Gallo also recorded six assists on a night where the guards had a tough time creating shots for the team. Gallo played a very well rounded game tonight.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
Look, Mozgov just wasn’t in the game much. I was baffled as to why he or Koufos weren’t allowed to play in the first half despite New Orleans’ size causing so many problems. Timo missed a dunk and he misses a ton of tip-ins which is likely keeping him off the court. Although he wasn’t the worst defender on the floor, he was part of a dysfunctional unit that didn’t communicate on defense and couldn’t get out in transition.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +8
He still isn’t taking the greatest shots and for whatever reason, missing open threes causes him to keep shooting contested ones. There’s nothing to do but wait out Afflalo’s long range slump, and at least on defense its business as usual. His third quarter defense was fantastic and played a major part in the Nuggets’ second half surge.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | -7
For once, Lawson had to rely on his teammates to push the pace in Denver’s favor. He should have gotten a few more calls at the rim, but Lawson didn’t show a lot of patience running the offense instead opting to wildly drive the ball into traffic where the size and length of New Orleans bothered him.
Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +9
Al Harrington has somehow made himself a solid defensive player. He played perhaps the most efficient minutes out of any Nugget and once again stepped up big when no one else was willing. He is the only one shooting with any confidence and he’s been a major factor in gutting out every tough win of the season.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Miller gets his first ‘A’ of the season as he seemed to really settle the Nuggets down at the moment they were able to seize the game. I still don’t like his shot selection and some of the passes he’ll attempt in a half-court set, but Miller’s steady floor presence was great on a night Lawson struggled a lot.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Birdman’s act is tired. I’m shocked the numbers make him look like a competent player. He looks great one game and then is consistently the worst guy on the court in the next. He’s completely awful on the road and the Nuggets won this game because Koufos finally cut into his playing time in the second half. Birdman’s energy just isn’t something to rely on – it’s a gimmick more than anything else.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Fernandez did exactly what he needed to do when called on. With Afflalo having one of his better games of the year, the minutes weren’t there but he gave maximum effort on both ends during his time. Fernandez isn’t taking unnecessary threes anymore and his play is steadily improving after an up and down start in Denver.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19
Koufos wasn’t really allowed in the game till the second half when the Nuggets looked morbidly bad on both ends. He proceeded to play like the best big on the floor and almost singlehandedly sparked Denver to the pivotal run that sealed it. His pick and roll defense was awesome and the Nuggets rotated much better with him anchoring the middle. I’m not sure why the coaches are so hesitant to trust him but he clearly deserves more time on the floor. Give Koufos credit for MVP in this difficult road win.

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