Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 122, Sacramento Kings 93

Denver Nuggets 122 FinalRecap | Box Score 93 Sacramento Kings
Nene, C 26 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +30Nene was aggressive on Wednesday. He was looking to score and often times achieved this goal when he received the ball in the post. His defense against the Kings’ big men was also admirable.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-12 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 23 PTS | +30The first half of basketball by Gallinari was not only the best half of ball I’ve ever seen him play while in Denver (yes, including the Knicks game) but it might very well have been the best half of basketball any Nuggets player has displayed this year. It was nearly flawless. He never once forced a bad shot and time after time made the correct “basketball play” that was needed by the team in order to score — even if that meant passing (evident by his five assists). Had this game been closer Gallinari would be looking at back-to-back 30-point outings for the first time in his career. If you can score 30 points back-to-back in an NBA game, you’ve arrived.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +11I’m a Koufos guy and his performance against the Kings proves why. Early in the third quarter he had already passed Mozgov’s full-game averages and continued to play sound basketball (for the most part) until the final whistle. His passion for the game was on clear display as he wrestled for rebounds with the feisty DeMarcus Cousins late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand. Though Koufos does take the occasional bad shot, this is to be expected from your third-string center; however, should Koufos see more time (which he deserves) he might very well develop into a nice, strong backup center option by next year.
Andre Miller, PG 32 MIN | 7-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 15 PTS | +27It’s probably safe to say Miller is over his “mini slump.” He was as solid as solid gets in terms of taking over the game once Ty left. His passes were pinpoint, his court vision, outstanding, but his leadership was what stood out most. Miller never stopped moving his jaw the entire night and his teammates seemed to benefit.
Ty Lawson, PG 15 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +7I give Ty a “B” because he was firmly on pace to score over 20 points tonight, even though it wouldn’t have been needed. Bottom line: His aggressiveness early on set the tone for the blowout that shortly followed.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 10 PTS | +16Though his field goal percentage dipped as the game rolled on, it’s important to note that going into the half Harrington was one of the leading catalysts that blew the lid off this game. He was shooting an extremely efficient clip yet again and at one time had more points than he did minutes. Downgrading him for a blowout he helped create seems wrong.
Chris Andersen, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +2Andersen played well. His sprightly enthusiasm for blocking shots didn’t necessarily pay off numerically, but he did send a message to the Kings that as long as he was patrolling the paint, no easy buckets would be had. I’ll take a performance like this from “Birdman” any day of the week.
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 7-19 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +16Kind of a mixed bag from Brewer. Taking 19 shots is “Melo-esque” and not in a good way. He couldn’t hit an open three if his life depended on it and made a few knucklehead plays that, fittingly, one could label “J.R.-esque.” His botched dunk on a breakaway in the first quarter was one of the worst I’ve seen in a while and his reckless dribbling got a bit out of hand. However, Brewer’s defense was again fantastic and often led to fast break opportunities which the Nuggets thrive off. If he can limit his mistakes next time around, all will be forgiven.
Julyan Stone, G 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +9For his first real outing, Stone played extremely well. His defense was pure genius, especially the block he had on Jimmer Fredette in the fourth quarter that looked like it shot out of a cannon. His hustle on 50-50 balls was like nothing the Nuggets have seen this season and his ability to come in and absorb the “pass-first” concept of the Nuggets offense was beyond refreshing. Stone will never be a scorer, but if he can play the type of defense he did against the Kings while distributing at a high level, there will certainly be a place for him in the NBA.
Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0The “Manimal” made his long-awaited third appearance of the regular season and did not disappoint. In the first three minutes he collected four rebounds (three of them being offensive boards) and was infectious with his energy level. Faried looked much, much better in terms of knowing his place on the floor than he did in his previous games and had the type of defensive fire the Nuggets are deprived of at times. If he can continue to improve, he should find his way in a few more games as the season progresses.
Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3I actually thought “J-Ham” played excellent in his NBA debut. Though it was only five minutes and though he did miss three of the four shots he put up, Hamilton still played solid defense, collected three boards and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. He looked like a totally different player than what I saw in his brief D-League stint and displayed an ability to score the rock that the Nuggets will undoubtedly need in the future. Hopefully we see more J-Ham soon.

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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Nuggets News: Martin Luther Kings Jr. Day, scouting report edition

Before we dig into the links and analysis, first let me say happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to all! Though the majority of the population sees this day as one spent away from school or work, it’s important to sit back and realize the real meaning behind King’s message that he unintentionally sacrificed his life for. Without his brave deeds and revolutionary thinking, who’s to say where the U.S. would be even today. Indeed this country has come a long way since King first began his civil rights campaign but sadly, there’s still so much more room for improvement. I’m proud to be a member of the diversified group of writers that covers the NBA, which is far ahead of the pack in terms of race and ethnic relations in professional sports, however I’d by lying if I said we are where we need to be regarding this issue. But on this day if everyone takes one conscious step in the right direction to accepting people for who they are on the inside and not what they look like on the outside, it would at least further fulfill the “dream” of equality for all that was once shared by King with the rest of the world.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Miami Heat 104

Miami Heat 104 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 39 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-9 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +9

Nene had one of his better games this year against the Heat. His 12 rebounds were a season high and his 17 points the most since the Nuggets faced the Jazz the second game of the year. From the get go it was clear Nene made it his mission to be aggressive and his stat line reflected this effort. That said, Nene still needs some refinement in his post game, specifically when it comes to finishing around the basket as there were a handful of occasions where he missed easy buckets that he simply has to make on a more consistent basis. Working with someone like Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing would likely do wonders for Nene’s offensive and defensive output.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +11

Gallinari was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets through about two and a half quarters, then his offense dropped off a cliff. Still, he hit numerous clutch shots when the Nuggets were in danger and played excellent defense on LeBron James for most of the night. But most importantly, Gallinari finally started to hit threes with confidence and boy does it look good!

Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +16

As I tweeted during the game, if you took Mozgov’s best play from each game so far this season and added them all up into some sort of montage, you’d get his performance against the Heat. Where this came from I have no idea. Not only was this Mozgov’s best performance of the year — and one of the top three of his career in the NBA — but it couldn’t have come at a more important time either. Mozgov showed off a silky smooth jump shot (which I had no idea even existed), good instincts and a desire to rebound the ball for really the first time in unison all season. If he has more outings like this, it’s fair to say his job as the starting center of the Denver Nuggets will be fairly secure.

Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3

Afflalo didn’t necessarily stand out but if you watched him closely it was obvious the type of defensive impact he was making on the game was commendable. You kind of have to do this with Afflalo to really appreciate his game. Yes, Wade and LeBron still had big games, but none of the shots they took went without being contested, and a lot of the times that was due to Afflalo. Additionally, AAA hit a few big-time 3-pointers when Miami was starting to mount some comebacks that really halted the Heat’s momentum and gave the Nuggets a shot to the heart.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 9-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 24 PTS | +16

My man: Ty Lawson. Anyone who follows this blog knows how big of a Lawson fan I am and tonight, he proved why that is. Looking at his All-Star caliber stat line is impressive enough, but it becomes nearly mind boggling when you consider the only shots he missed from the field in route to scoring 24 points came on 3-pointers he had to hoist up in order to beat the shot clock! This might very well have been the single best performance of any Nugget this year and is the type of confidence-building game that can really boost Ty Lawson to the next level. His crossover followed by a buzzer-beating jump shot on LeBron James near the end of the fourth quarter was teeming with shades of Tim Hardaway (who ironically enough, played for both the Nuggets and Heat and is a player Ty Lawson has some resemblance to.) Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what he follows this game up with.

Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +11

On a night when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to come off the bench and stifle a flurry of Heat runs, Al Harrington stepped up. He hit one countless big shot after another and did so, yet again, on an extremely efficient 6-for-9 from the field. It’s safe to say that without Al the Nuggets probably don’t win this one.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -7

Miller has certainly made me scratch my head recently with both his play on the floor and comments off it. In 27 minutes of action he managed only seven points and three assists all while failing, yet again, to push the pace the way the Nuggets are accustomed to playing. I’m not sure if what he said to Chris Tomasson this past week has gotten to his head or if he’s just fatigued, but either way this is now the second time in the last three games that he’s received either a “D” or an “F” after getting A’s and B’s through the first four games of the season.

Corey Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -1

What Brewer managed to do with his measly 12 minutes of playing time absolutely won’t show up in the box score, except in the final number of points scored by the Miami Heat. His defense against LeBron James and Co. was excellent and his energy, outstanding. The more Brewer plays the more he impresses.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +15

To me, this was by far Fernandez’s best game of the year. Granted, he took a few ill-advised shots, but that’s to be expected from a guy who’s main role is to score off the bench. What I liked most out of Rudy tonight was his activity on all ends of the court. He played solid defense on some of the league’s best offensive players and was constantly looking to nab a few steals in the process. Like Gallinari, his 3-point shooting finally appears to be clicking, which is creating a deep threat off the bench that the Nuggets haven’t had since, well, J.R. Smith. Over his last four games Fernandez is averaging 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting .474 percent from beyond the arc.

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

Koufos didn’t see enough time to allow for anyone to adequately assess his “performance” although he did show some aggressiveness in his whopping minute of action, which should not go unacknowledged, and won’t as long as I’m around.

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

When Julyan Stone enters the game, the opponent has one of two choices. Either way they are going to get schooled by an undrafted rookie but it’s their choice whether they’d like to get “Stoned” or “Julyaned” (as in chopped — like the salad… you get my point). The fact that he has a name which allows me to be my normal stupid self earns him a decent grade for the evening, but his nice dish to Koufos down low which led to a few free throw attempts doesn’t hurt either.

Rapid Reaction: San Antonio Spurs 121 Denver Nuggets 117

Denver Nuggets 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
121 San Antonio Spurs
Kosta Koufos, C 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -6
One night after playing the role of a major impact player off the bench, perhaps even altering the outcome of the contest altogether, Koufos was granted only seven minutes of playing time in the first quarter of Saturday’s game. With such a limited amount of time on the floor it’s tough to analyze the type of impact Koufos made, if any.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 40 MIN | 10-16 FG | 8-10 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 31 PTS | -3
This was arguably Galinari’s best game in a Nuggets uniform. Not only did he net the most points in a single game during his tenure in Denver thus far, but he did so on an extremely efficient shooting performance that included a variety of different attacking methods. His 3-point shooting has now drastically improved since he started driving to the hoop, as I suggested he do several games ago.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Mozgov had a typicaly Mozgov performance this evening; in other words, he wasn’t very good. Scoring four points and hauling in a horrendous two rebounds in 18 minutes of action is just not acceptable for a starting center in the NBA, and looks especially bad when contrasted with Koufos’ stat line from the previous night when he received the exact same amount of minutes. At this point, it’s truly a mystery as to why Mozgov is receiving as much playing time as he is.
Arron Afflalo, SG 41 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +5
Afflalo has steadily progressed throughout the season and is now fitting nicely into the Nuggets offense. He’s mostly relegated himself to shooting spot-up threes, but as long as he keeps making them, his lack of off-season development can slide until he further advances both his skill set and physical conditioning. Still, at some point in time Afflalo is going to need to back up the hefty contract he received in the offseason.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 20 PTS | +6
Similar to Gallinari, Lawson stepped up big time in a game in which the Nuggets desperately needed him to. His penetration into the heart of the Spurs defense was truly remarkable given how disciplined Popovich’s defenses usually are. His 10 assists tie a season high and when combined with his point total, form Lawson’s first double-double of the season. Overall this was an extremely effective performance from a player who’s on the verge of taking the “next step” in his career.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 7-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -9
Big Al was once again wildly impressive in a game where the Nuggets needed hit attributes to shine. This is now the fourth game in a row, and sixth all season, in which Al has shot better than .500 from the floor. His defense alone has been admirable, but considering most of it has come against much taller players due to Karl’s intrigue with “small ball,” it’s even that much more impressive. His 7.5 rebounds per game leads the team despite the fact he comes off the bench and is more of a three than a four, or five for that matter.
Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | -11
Numerically speaking Miller had another solid night, however he was extremely lethargic the entire first half and was a primary contributor to the slow start that ultimately cost the Nuggets the game. On multiple possessions Miller refused to ignite the fast-break offense and when paired with Ty Lawson, couldn’t keep up with the pace Denver is accustomed to running. His negative 11 on the plus-minus scale was the worst on the team. Its fair to say fatigue ran its course with the 35-year-old point guard on Saturday; let’s just hope this doesn’t become a trend.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -5
Andersen went for the first pump fake that came his way and didn’t see another minute of action thereafter. This is the type of coaching that you have to love from Karl. At some point Andersen needs to refine his fundamentals if he wants to continue receiving playing time especially now that Koufos has emerged as quite possibly the best backup big man outside of Al Harrington on the team. Hopefully this was a wakeup call for the Birdman.
Corey Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +12
Brewer single handedly brought the Nuggets back into the game during the last half of the second quarter thanks to his unrivaled energy and defensive domination. He continued to inject life into both the Nuggets’ offense and defense throughout the game and was undoubtedly the MVP of the contest. His impact on Saturday’s game cannot be overstated.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +1
Though Fernandez committed no glaring mistakes and put up very respectable numbers across the board, his defense was still suspect and all too often led to easy baskets for his counterpart. In addition, Fernandez’ shot selection was sprinkled with J.R. Smith-like unconscious attempts that in no way should have been allowed by George Karl. Though Fernandez remains an above average role player coming off the bench, he still has yet to find his place in the Nuggets offense and can be somewhat of a liability on defense.

2011-12 Game 2: Denver Nuggets 117, Utah 100

For the second straight game the Denver Nuggets handily defeated its opponent by at least 17 points. Spearheaded by stingy defense and a flurry of steals, the Nuggets continuously got out on the break and never let up. One wave after another eventually collapsed the opposing players and ultimately left the Jazz feeling “kind of blue.” (more…)

For what it’s worth, a preview of the Denver Nuggets’ upcoming season

With the 2011-12 season right around the corner, Charlie and I decided to delve into some of the topics that most interested us regarding this year’s Denver Nuggets team. However, when all was said and done, we ended up with more of a season preview than anything. So, whether you’re a seasoned Nuggets aficionado or simply just a casual fan, we hope you enjoy our take on the most pressing storylines heading into the upcoming Denver Nuggets campaign. (more…)

Nuggets News [UPDATED with Kenyon Martin Flying Tigers release ]

On Tuesday, the Denver Nuggets played its first preseason game (that wasn’t a “scrimmage”) of the 2011-12 NBA season against the Phoenix Suns. The Nuggets came out on top 127-110 behind Ty Lawson’s game-high 21 points and Andre Miller’s game-high 12 assists. Though the game inexplicably wasn’t aired on Altitude, there was still enough online reaction from those who made it Pepsi Center to form a solid consensus of what occurred. (more…)

Nuggets News

With the start of the 2011-12 NBA season less than a week away and Afflalo still not re-signed, Nuggets fans everywhere are beginning to wonder what exactly is going on behind closed doors. Is Nuggets’ management asking for too little? Is Afflalo fielding offers from other teams? What kind of contract stipulations, if any, are being discussed? These are questions only a select few in the upper echelon of the Nuggets organization know the answer to, and unfortunately for us, they’re not telling. Until the day comes when these mysterious answers are revealed, there’s not much going on in Nuggets Nation.

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The other side of the coin

Yesterday my wonderful colleague Jeremy detailed the Nuggets 2011-12 season outlook in a post titled, How Good Can the Denver Nuggets Be? In it he expressed his concern over how this year’s team would play without a “chip” on its shoulder, without enough good defensive players in addition to how the Nuggets would be affected by losing Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to the Chinese Basketball Association. In the end Jeremy stated, “For Nuggets fans who could not stomach the thought of rebuilding, you got your wish. They will be a playoff team for the foreseeable future, but I fear that is all they will be.” Though this may be true, I’m here to tell you why that may not be such a bad thing after all.  (more…)

Nene on brink of making decision? [UPDATED]

According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the Nuggets are awaiting word from Nene on whether he’ll accept New Jersey’s contract offer or re-sign with Denver. Additionally, Berger is reporting that Marreese Speights continues to be of interest to the Nuggets regardless of where Nene ends up. Philadelphia 76ers beat writer, Kate Fagan, insists that the Nuggets are “definitely in the mix” for Speights.

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Cap Holds and You

For fans looking at sites like Hoops Hype that show the Denver Nuggets with nearly $30 million in cap space and wondering why on earth Denver is not making plays for some of the big names on the free agent market I have two words for you.

Cap hold.

Personally I had not factored the various cap holds oppressing the Nuggets until I noticed that John Hollinger, in his piece analyzing the free agent signings on Saturday, noted that Denver signed Luc Richard Mbah a Moute using their mid-level exception.  The mid-level exception is for teams over the cap.  How can Denver use it when they are so far under the salary cap?  It is due to the immense power of the cap hold.

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Free Agency Digest: Day One

Free Agency hasn’t started yet, but that has caused no shortage of drama in what is sure to be the craziest NBA offseason ever. By now you’ve all heard news of the Chris Paul deal that wasn’t. The league office will open for business at 12pm MST today and it will be very interesting to see how fast the frenzy will unfold one day after the infamous Veto. This post will be updated with any Nuggets developments and our thoughts on them, so check back throughout the day.

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Fan Mail, featuring Tom Ley

Every now and then we receive mail from our loyal readers that’s a passionate account of a favorite player, game or experience involving the Denver Nuggets. In this case, it was all three. Tom Ley is a writer for several different websites and was planning on posting this article about his favorite player, J.R. Smith, in one of those publications before he reached out to us, figuring Roundball Mining Company might be a better medium for this type of story. We’re certainly glad did, as his perspective on the now China-dwelling Smith is nothing short of a thrilling and yet, poignant examination of J.R. Smith’s tenure as a Nugget.

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Nuggets News: Winning without a Superstar?

Free agency is right around the corner, and with it comes somewhat of a watershed moment for the Denver Nuggets franchise. Two of their best starters are among the most desired free agents and the Nuggets want to keep both while being extremely careful with their salary cap. Masai Ujiri can try all he wants to accomplish all three of these goals, but the most likely solution means compromising on one or two of them. Most importantly, each and every one of these choices must fall in line with a plan that makes progress towards the ultimate goal of a championship. Do we know what that plan is yet?

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