Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
The Nuggets travelled east for a difficult stretch of four games in five nights, winning two and losing two. Timofey Mozgov was a dominating force in the paint against Brooklyn on Tuesday, with 17 points and 20 rebounds in a blowout win. Ty Lawson struggled with his shot the next night in Cleveland and the Cavs’ Tristan Thompson pulled down a Mozgov-like 21 rebounds to hand the Nuggets a defeat. Boston got off to a quick start on Friday, and an injury to Ty Lawson ended the Nuggets’ shot at a comeback. The team rebounded from two tough losses by going in to Philadelphia and pulling out a win thanks to Jordan Hamilton hitting back-to-back-to-back threes late in the fourth period to blow the game open. With injuries and fatigue taking their toll, the Nuggets will be glad to end their road trip on Monday in Washington and spend three days getting healthy before their next game.
Current record and standings: 12-8 (6-2 home, 6-6 road), 7th in the Western Conference
Upcoming games: Monday at Washington, Friday vs Utah
Denver went down big early and couldn’t quite ever get back into the game and fell to the Celtics 106-98. Most importantly Ty Lawson left the game with a left hamstring injury. Stay tuned at RMC for more information as it comes out.
I have seen the calls for my apologies. The demands that I come out and eat crow for predicting the Nuggets were clearly lottery team. The wonder at where I have been during the recent streak of great play. (For the record I was away for ten days for the holiday).
But I have been thinking about things, about how I was potentially so wrong, and it all led me to one conclusion.
I was wrong, but it was only because I was misinformed.
Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
The Nuggets picked up four more wins this week and have won 9 of the last 11, leaving the team’s 1 and 4 start to the season as a distant memory. Nate Robinson has settled into his role as a scorer off the bench, averaging 18 points while shooting over 50% on threes in the last four games. Robinson has combined with Ty Lawson, Jordan Hamilton, and the surprisingly hot-shooting Andre Miller to give the Nuggets 8 or more made threes in 8 straight games, which is a franchise record. The Nuggets’ bigs continue to be inconsistent individually but effective as a group, with JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov each having at least one great game and one bad game this week. Darrell Arthur’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki helped in the win at Dallas. Randy Foye played well against Kevin Martin in the win at Minnesota and came up with a key late-game stop of Carmelo Anthony to seal the win against New York. The Nuggets’ bench, led by Robinson and Mozgov, put up 72 points in a comeback road win against Toronto to kick off a six-game road trip.
Current record and standings: 10-6 (6-2 home, 4-4 road), sixth place in the Western conference
Upcoming games: Tuesday at Brooklyn, Wednesday at Cleveland, Friday at Boston, Saturday at Philadelphia
Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
The Nuggets climbed back to .500 this week with wins against Dallas and Chicago following a tough loss in Oklahoma City.
JJ Hickson helped the Nuggets to a double digit lead in Oklahoma City with 18 points, 19 rebounds, and all around solid defense. The team struggled on both ends in the fourth quarter, scoring only ten points through eleven minutes and giving up seven offensive rebounds that led to nine second chance points for the Thunder. Denver rebounded from the two point loss by breaking Chicago’s five game win streak. Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points including a pair of three pointers that put the Nuggets ahead by 21 early in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets followed up by breaking Dallas’ four game win streak. Andre Miller’s assist on a lob to Wilson Chandler in the second quarter moved him past Rod Strickland for ninth place all-time in career assists. Kenneth Faried had a double double, Randy Foye hit the go-ahead three with 1:11 left, and Foye’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki in the closing seconds helped the Nuggets hold on for the win.
Current record and standings: 6-6 (5-2 home, 1-4 road), tied for 10th in the Western Conference
Upcoming games: Monday at Dallas, Wednesday at Minnesota, Friday vs New York
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.
In the waning moments of an impressive first quarter in Minnesota, Ty Lawson casually brought the ball up the court as a ready Ricky Rubio, one of the best point guard defenders in the league, stood the lone obstacle between Lawson and the rim. After a one dribble crossover that left Rubio’s legs crisscrossed above the free throw line, Lawson had breached the paint before any Wolves defender had time to register the immanent threat to the basket.
The second a rotating Kevin Love had his foot planted in the restricted area, Lawson was in the air, his hand underneath the ball just long enough for Love’s momentum to carry him out of the passing lane, before a casual, mid-air flip to a cutting Mozgov put the ball in the 7-foot Russian’s hands before Lawson’s feet even had time to hit the hardwood.
The play was over as quick as it began, a bang-bang sequence that would’ve been shocking in its blinding display of skill and brevity if not for the fact that some varying form of that Lawson drive had not already victimized the Wolves just two possessions prior. The fact is that drive, the ease in which it was executed, and the results it produced, has become a staple of Lawson’s game, a weapon teams don’t seem to have an answer for.
The Nuggets trailed by double digits most of the night, including falling behind by 20, and ultimately fell to the Rockets 122-111.
The defense was invisible most of the night as the Rockets paraded to the rim, ultimately shooting 50.6 percent from the field. But don’t worry, I found all the D hiding in the grades.
Thanks to a dominating performance from Timofey Mozgov the Nuggets played well late and defeated the Lakers 111-99.
Going into the season, we were all mentally prepared for how bad the defense was going to be, especially when factoring in the absence of Denver’s two best wing defenders. But what has occurred over the span of these four games has been an organization-wide breakdown on a fundamental level when it comes to defense, from system to effort to the makeup of the roster. We’ve already covered the big man dilemma as well as the inability to defend the three, now it’s time to dig into the high pick and roll defense.
The basics of Denver’s pick and roll defensive principles is essentially for the traditional centers, McGee and Mozgov, to drop back to around the free throw line when defending a screener and for everyone else (essentially anyone guarding the screener) to hedge high. The theory behind hedging is basically for the defending big is to impede the ball handlers path around the screen enough so to give the ball handlers’ defender enough time to navigate the screen. Considering the kinds of athletes Denver employes at the forward positions, and the diminutive nature of the backcourt, this kind of help and recover system should, in theory, work out well. In theory.
Although Ty Lawson turned in one of his best performances as a young Denver Nugget, his team couldn’t find any form of consistency on the defensive side of the ball and once again allowed the opponent’s front line to have career days all around. The Nuggets are now 1-4 on the season and looking more and more like a lottery team.
Thanks to a late important three from Ty Lawson and a key defensive stop at the buzzer by Andre Miller the Nuggets defeated the Hawks 109-107 to give Brian Shaw his first career victory.
With the deadline to exercise team options on three rookie contracts looming tomorrow the Nuggets have made their decisions.
Denver picked up the options on Evan Fournier ($1.4 million for 2014-2015) and Kenneth Faried ($2.2 million dollars in 2014-2015) and declined the option on Jordan Hamilton.
Well after much deliberation during preseason, Brian Shaw has finally announced the starting five that will take the court Wednesday in Sacromento. And boy, it’s a doozie.
If Lawson plays, Shaw says he will start, along with Randy Foye, JJ Hickson, Anthony Randolph and JaVale McGee. #Nuggets
— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) October 29, 2013
Wilson Chandler’s absence was somewhat expected, due to his reported hamstring injury, but his replacement came as a minor surprise. While Randolph got a lot of run in the preseason it hardly seemed feasible he would contribute any more than he did last year, mostly as a garbage time player who might play some meaningful minutes in emergency stopgap situations.
With rosters needing to be finalized and down to 15 players by 5:00 ET on Monday evening the Nuggets announced that they have waived Damion James.