Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101 Golden State Warriors 109

Golden State Warriors 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Denver Nuggets
Rudy Fernandez, SG 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -17
Rudy’s up and down season continues as he got his first start of the year and failed to make an impression. He is too small to match up with small forwards and his defense so wildly erratic it’s hard to trust him with a significant role. While Rudy plays hard, he does nothing consistently well and it’s hard to depend on him for anything. The biggest problems for me is he can’t make open threes and he puts his teammates in poor positions on defense by gambling for steals and failing to rotate.
Kenneth Faried, F 23 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
Faried had a fantastic start, posting up David Lee for a score and forcing him into a turnover on the other end. Unfortunately he really tired out about 5 minutes into the game and it became clear Karl didn’t plan on playing him much anyway. I like the small steps he’s taken towards becoming a better offensive player and I think it’s becoming clear that whenever this kid starts getting minutes he’ll put up double doubles. He lost his minutes to Harrington in the second half which was Karl’s plan all along.
Nene, C 31 MIN | 6-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Nene moved over to Center and while he was clearly the Nuggets best option offensively, he played passive and couldn’t be counted on for consistent scoring. Nene just sort of went through the motions expecting his teammates to pick it up and start winning the game. The team has no flow or rhythm on the court and without that Nene doesn’t know how to get himself going. He just didn’t affect the game one way or the other and kind of blended in. Although he scored 15 total, 3 points is all he contributed in the second half.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +3
Afflalo clearly had his best statistical performance of the season but he was a complete black hole on offense. No assists and another string of poor shot selection despite the fact he was hot most of the night. Afflalo getting his confidence and swagger back is good, but he continues to make bad mistakes in transition at the worst possible times. I would trade some of his scoring output for the defensive consistency we saw last season, but he just ended up fouling a lot and failing to get his teammates to work together. Now that Afflalo’s playing better, perhaps he can have a more positive impact as a leader.
Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | -13
He was just destroyed by Stephen Curry. The fact Lawson can have his worst game of the season and end up with a double double says a lot, but you can’t give him credit for doing anything well tonight. He came out tentative and attempted nothing at the rim. Defensively, Lawson was abused by anyone he guarded and he just sort of lost his will in the second half.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -7
Harrington has had a long career in the NBA. For more than a decade he’s been known as a guy who puts up numbers on bad teams and doesn’t play any defense. He’s falling back into that familiar role in Denver after a promising start to the year. One thing I just can’t help noticing in all these losses is how badly the defense falls off when Harrington and Miller come in off the bench. He needs to rededicate himself to defending and trying to raise the intensity level of the second unit.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | -11
Remember George Karl’s infamous speech about not holding the ball? There is no bigger offender than Andre Miller. He’s just kind of coasting through this season, a clear indication it’s just not the right long-term fit. When he comes into the game he just casts a dark shadow of indifference over the team’s collective spirit. The speed of the game comes to a total halt and the Nuggets can’t hang with anyone. I just don’t see how it makes sense to keep him here. He will certainly seek a better situation during free agency when his options open up. For now, he’s stuck and so are the Nuggets.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Koufos had another extremely productive stint in limited minutes. Although he’s proven himself worthy of a significant role, Koufos is stuck in the same boat as the rookies as guys who will play limited minutes no matter what so that Karl can get the veterans in. 2K was assertive on the offensive end and while you’d like to see him get closer to the basket, he’s showing improvement and that’s all you can ask of the promising young Center.
Julyan Stone, G 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +2
Stone was a victim of Karl’s rotations yet again. He saw some early action as one of the first guys off the bench, but was subsequently banished to the end of the bench until garbage time. It’s very difficult to assess where Julyan might fit in until he gets a fair shot at proving himself. During garbage time, Stone played point guard and got the Nuggets playing their most energetic ball of the night. The Nuggets seem to want him and Faried involved more despite Karl’s refusal to give either a real shot.
Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +10
This is more of an incomplete, but I couldn’t help but notice he was extremely active and a nice compliment to Afflalo in his garbage time stint. Hamilton is very aggressive with the ball in his hands and sometimes loses control, but he seemed like an unselfish player capable of making things happen off the dribble. Jordan has a quick release and good form on his jump shot so you wonder how he might do with some more confidence in a real game situation.

One Thing We Saw

  1. The Nuggets are starting to give up on themselves. It goes beyond struggling with injuries and a rough patch of schedule. Getting blown out at home for the fourth time this season under these circumstances is an eye opener. It’s a sign of a young, vulnerable team struggling with adversity. Beyond that, it’s reached a point where you just can’t keep selling the idea of holding on and keeping the faith. At this point you have to look at the organization from all sides and realize that the Denver Nuggets are a franchise moving in the wrong direction.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 95 Dallas Mavericks 105

Dallas Mavericks 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Denver Nuggets
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.

Nene, Afflalo to return against Mavericks + Wilson Chandler [Updated]

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.

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Gallinari out at least four weeks

As is being reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, Nuggets’ star forward Danilo Gallinari will be out for close to one month with a chip fracture in his foot. According to the doctors, the actual chip has likely been lodged in Gallinari’s foot sine before he started playing professional basketball. Coach George Karl is quoted as saying Corey Brewer should expect an expanded role while even Julyan Stone and Jordan Hamilton could be in for a few surprise minutes as well. Let’s hope this experimentation with the bench is something that comes to fruition as the Nuggets have one of the deeper ones in the entire league, which should certainly help out in injury-plagued times like these.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 90, Houston Rockets 99

Houston Rockets 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 90 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Time to temper the high expectations surrounding the Manimal. All things considered, he had a very solid debut in his first real NBA game. Despite some foul trouble, he showed a lot of promise defending Scola and Dalembert. Faried even skied high for a spectacular block and his high energy play energized the crowd in a painfully ugly game. It was not the most productive jaw-dropping debut, but Faried simply needs to take baby steps towards becoming a better player and he did so tonight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -5
I thought Gallo still showed signs of fatigue but battled hard in the 20 minutes he was able to play. He rolled his ankle badly in the third quarter and it was later revealed he suffered a possible chip fracture. It’s just a terrible injury at the worst possible time. Gallo hasn’t always played like the Nuggets best player but he’s clearly been one of the toughest. Assuming he’s out for a few weeks this is an incredibly costly loss.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +1
Koufos couldn’t keep up his solid production as a spot-starter. Despite having a size and quickness advantage over the Rockets front court, he clearly doesn’t know how to assert himself on the block. What’s worse is he fouled out in 23 minutes. Despite notching some impressive blocks, 2K showed he’s a work in progress on the defensive end. Although Koufos is in his fourth year it’s hard to forget just how raw he still is.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | -2
Lawson had a tough time matching Lowry, one of the most overlooked guards in the league. It was tough for him to create with Houston packing the paint and doing a solid job getting back in transition. There was no post up threat on the floor and no consistent pick and roll options to work with. Ty tried his hardest to get others involved without forcing shots, but he could have been a lot more assertive with his own offense. Considering how talented he is, it’s tough to see him go passive even for small stretches of game.
Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Stone has trouble hitting an open jump shot and I thought it was a curious decision to start him. Although I’m a big Stone fan, Andre Miller seems more motivated as a starter and has played poorly off the bench. Stone’s length and quickness contributed to a solid defensive performance, but he had trouble fitting in on the offensive end where Miller and Lawson assumed most of the point guard duties, relegating him to becoming a spot up shooter.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-6 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -8
Harrington was asked to step way outside of a reasonable role yet again. He played close to 40 minutes twice in the past week and tonight he pulled the majority of the duty at power forward. 15 rebounds is pretty fantastic, but it cost him on the offensive end where Al couldn’t hit a shot or make free throws down the stretch. I give All all the credit in the world for his effort, but he just didn’t look good in the defense and rebounding glue guy role. Buckets is at his best when he’s living up to his namesake as a reliable bench scorer.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -13
I get a lot of criticism for being hard on on Miller, but I expect a lot of out of him. He’s clearly capable of orchestrating the offense and yet consistently puts up duds every couple of games. He’s supposed to be the steady veteran hand guiding this young squad and showing them how to win. Miller opened the game with four first quarter turnovers, three of which were credited to him but all due to errant Andre passes. Miller just didn’t look like he was into it tonight and he just can’t set that kind of example for this team.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -7
Birdman clearly took exception to being benched and responded with one of his most productive outings of the season. As the game wore on Birdman’s defense faded a bit, but for a guy who hasn’t been playing his energy was a valuable shot in the arm to a lethargic defensive team. All in all Bird made the most of his minutes and you can’t say that for anyone else who received significant playing time
Rudy Fernandez, SG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -8
Fernandez used up a ton of crucial possessions this game and just didn’t deliver enough. It was a huge opportunity for him to assume a larger role and play big minutes with no Brewer and Gallo out with an injury. Rudy doesn’t offer spacing and hasn’t developed into a potent playmaking threat. The worst part of his game is the defense where he inexcusably jumps the passing lanes without regard for his teammates. Rudy was abused by every Rocket he attempted to guard tonight.

Nuggets depleted against Rockets

As is being reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, the Nuggets will be extremely depleted on Monday against the Houston Rockets. Three starters including Nene, Afflalo and Mozgov will all be out in addition to Corey Brewer due to the devastating loss of his father. While Mozgov and Brewer will almost certainly miss multiple games, there’s no definitive word out on how long Nene or Afflalo will be sidelined. Starting in place of Mozgov will be Kosta Koufos, who’s coming off a career game against the Blazers in which he netted career highs in minutes played and rebound in route to a 16-point, 12-board double-double. In place of Afflalo will be Julyan Stone and in place of Nene, none other than the “Manimal” himself, Kenneth Faried.

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Rapid Reaction: Portland Trailblazers 117, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Portland Trail Blazers
Nene, C 27 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -18
It’s no secret Nene tends to struggle against taller, more talented big men. We saw it against the Lakers and again Saturday night against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Blazers. Early on Nene attempted to go after Aldridge down low in the post but got turned back on nearly every occasion. From that point on he disappeared and never really attempted to get back in the game.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -20
Gallinari drove aggressively to the hole and for that I commend him. This was a solid bounce-back performance after a few disappointing outings in which he took far too many outside jump shots. Gallo gave it his all for most of the game and looked completely pale on the sidelines at the end of the fourth quarter.
Kosta Koufos, C 34 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -5
This was by far Koufos’ best game as a Nuggets and quite possibly the best game of his career. He logged at least 30 minutes for the first time in a Nuggets uniform and put up season highs in both points and rebounds as a result. More than anything, against the Blazers Koufos proved that if he receives enough playing time, he’ll produce. His 12 boards were a career high and the most of any Nuggets since Nene had 13 against the New York Knicks. His 34 minutes were also a career high.
Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
Something has to be up with Afflalo. Nuggets’ radio announcer Jason Kosmicki tweeted after the game that he might have a groin injury, which leads one to question why he’d be playing in the first place. Even if he was truly injured it still doesn’t change the fact that Afflalo has struggled mightily up to this point in the season and is without question the biggest disappointment of the year so far. This was his second game in the last six where he received at least 20 minutes of playing time and has gone scoreless in the process. Maybe Afflalo should just take a few games off, get refocused and come back when he’s ready.
Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 16 PTS | -19
Lawson was a standout in terms of effort. He was flying around the court all night, looking as if he was the only one who hadn’t succumbed to chronic fatigue like most of his teammates. He penetrated with precision and either ignited or got out on the break every time he was presented with the opportunity. This was clearly one of Lawson’s most effective games in the last week.
Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -15
Harrington didn’t take a lot of shots but found a way to contribute in other areas, especially on defense where he played solidly against the much taller LaMarcus Aldridge. Once again Harrington’s passion for the game overflowed on to the court as he could be seen giving 110 percent even in the waning minutes of the game when the Nuggets didn’t have a shot at winning.
Andre Miller, PG 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -8
Miller looked absolutely lost. Granted, his 14 minutes didn’t allow him to make the type of impact he’s capable of, but there was probably good reasoning behind his lack of playing time in the first place. Batum’s career night began when Miller “attempted” to guard him, and in his first handful of buckets that went in from beyond the arc Miller didn’t even put a hand up to contest the shot. We’ve known Miller struggles on defense at times, but not even attempting to contest a shot is absolutely inexcusable. Because of this, Miller gets the first “F” I’ve handed out all season.
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -7
Although a good chunk of his minutes came in garbage time, it’s hard to ignore just how energetic Brewer was in his time on the floor. Fourteen points in 20 minutes to go along with five boards, two assists, two steals and a block is nothing more than pure hustle numbers. His defense continue to impress, although he needs to work on not turning the ball over quite as often as he does.

Rudy Fernandez, SG
23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -19
Fernandez seemed somewhat hidden. Even in 23 minutes of action it was hard to tell what exactly he was doing on the floor. I did notice him playing stingy defense on a few occasions yet I also couldn’t help but look at the box score and “smh” at his five three-point attempts. Rudy simply isn’t hitting 3-pointers at a high clip, so why he continues to take so many is baffling. It would be nice to see him drive to the basket more than just once in a blue moon.
Julyan Stone, G 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +5
Stone, like all the rookies, didn’t play very much even though he should have. Still, his defense was great and his willingness to find nearly all of his teammates on offense continues to be a good sign from a young point guard. It’s hard to see Stone play with so much enthusiasm on the defensive side of the ball and not want to see more of him.
Kenneth Faried, F 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Faried definitely still has a ways to go before he’s a sound NBA player and more than likely this is going to take a while. He’ll go through some growing pains in the process, although I cannot stress enough how his energy, defense and rebounding will cover up most of these flaws. Right now he should be focusing on making the right basketball play rather than the most electric ally oop; nevertheless, just like Stone it’s almost frustrating watching Faried play because you’re always going to want more.
Jordan Hamilton, G 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
You can tell, Hamilton has some offensive fire power up his sleeve. He hit yet another 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game to show off his range and displayed a fairly decent handle to go along with it. After seeing him get a little more comfortable each time out, you’re left to wonder just how effective he might be alongside the second, or first, unit in the heat of a real game.

Nuggets News: Preparing for Wilson Chandler

On Saturday the Denver Nuggets chose to waive DeMarre Carroll, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. With next Tuesday’s deadline that demands all NBA contracts become guaranteed and Wilson Chandler still not re-signed, waiving Carroll was the simplest way to ensure a roster spot remains open for Chandler upon his return to the NBA sometime in the near future.

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Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Clippers 109, Denver Nuggets 105

Los Angeles Clippers 109 FinalRecap | Box Score 105 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 38 MIN | 9-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -8
You really can’t give Nene anything less than an “A” when he posts the numbers he did and comes up with such big baskets down the stretch. He also showed a willingness to attack the post which is always beneficial to the Nuggets as a whole.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 5-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -11
Gallinari came on hot during the second half but faded down the stretch when the Nuggets needed him most. For some reason George Karl had him playing point guard to close out the game, and although he played excellent defense on Chris Paul (for the most part), he still couldn’t stop what ended up being the game-winning shot. If it weren’t for Blake Griffin’s shifty defense to close out the game, Gallinari likely would be looking at another 20-plus point performance to go along with yet another impressive win. One thing we must not overlook was his brilliant rebound followed up by a full-court run that eventually led to a monster dunk in the early part of the third quarter. Gallo essentially started up, conducted and finished the fast break offense all by himself.
Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Mozgov has steadily progressed and is finally developing into somewhat of a threat at times. He is now looking to score in post and is following up shots with purpose. His three blocks were huge and his defense on the inside was certainly helpful before he begged out of the game because he was gassed.
Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | 0
Miller certainly missed his fair share of shots, had trouble guarding the Clippers guards and once again refused to let anybody take the last shot of the quarter, but his penetration and overall court awareness was a key element that helped keep the Nuggets in the game. His heads-up foul on DeAndre Jordan in the closing moments of the game gave the Nuggets a chance to win. This is now his fourth double-double in a row after filling in for Ty Lawson.
Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -8
So how long exactly is it going to be before the Arron Afflalo who has improved every year since he’s been in the NBA shows up this season? He still has yet to hit the 20 point mark and after following up a scoreless performance against the Raptors (in 20 minutes of action nonetheless) he managed a measly five points against the Clippers (in the same amount of time). Maybe his injury is still nagging him, but if that’s the case he shouldn’t even be playing.

Al Harrington, PF
25 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +8
Big Al struggled to find his shot throughout the game but made up for it with his hustle. Still, there were countless shots he missed downy he stretch, and though we can’t expect him to hit them all, we also can’t expect him to miss them all either.
Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +4
Brewer’s defense, energy and hustle allowed the Nuggets to come back and ultimately string together countless leads in the process. Though he tends to get a little out of control, his effort simply cannot be underestimated.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 31 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +2
Fernandez had a solid performance all around. His tip-in to end the third quarter was the epitome of “never giving up” and was truly one of the better plays I’ve seen in the NBA this year. Rudy appears to finally be finding his stroke after struggling early on and has really helped the Nuggets second unit put points on the board of late.
Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
I thought Stone was phenomenal in his brief 12-minute stint, evident in the first 60 seconds alone where he stepped on the floor and immediately blocked a shot. His overall defense was hands-down (even though he had them up!) the best on the team and suffocated whichever opponent he was guarding. When playing alongside Corey Brewer, the Nuggets offer up a backcourt tandem capable of defending anybody in the league. Though Stone likely won’t see many minutes going forward, it would be wise of Karl to insert him in the lineup when defense is lacking as Stone possess the type of defensive drive that can change the outcome of a game.

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: 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.

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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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 123, New Jersey Nets 115

New Jersey Nets 115 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 30 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -2
Nene had a hard time in the second half. Early on he was collecting boards and making aggressive moves towards the basket but after sitting for an extended period of time he started committing turnovers like they were going out of style. Still, nine rebounds, four assists, four blocks and two steals are invaluable numbers coming from your starting center.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 7-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 22 PTS | +5
Gallinari was on pace to having a career night, scoring 17 points in the first half, though his production nearly came to a halt in the final two quarters of the game. Nevertheless, it was refreshing seeing him drive the lane while making solid basketball plays all over the court. Gallinari has now played extremely well since he ceased firing off countless 3-pointers early on in the season. His game is truly becoming diversified before our eyes.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -3
Mozgov didn’t play much of a role against the Nets but he didn’t make any glaring mistakes either, which is undoubtedly the most important aspect of analyzing his game these days. If he can continue limiting his “rookie mistakes” he might eventually be able to make a positive impact on the game rather than just running around the court with his hands flailing in the air.
Andre Miller, PG 38 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 12 PTS | +8
Miller did just about everything you could want and more from your backup point guard (even though he really isn’t one) when given the opportunity to start. He did take another ill-advised 3-pointer but his 12 points and 12 assists made everyone forget. Miller also did a great job of soothing the pace of the game when the Nets threatened to forge a comeback.
Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -4
Finally, after playing playing one-sixth of the entire 66-game season, Afflalo performed the way his new salary suggests he should. The value of his deadly 3-point shooting simply cannot be overstated, especially in tight games. As always, an aggressive Afflalo is an effective Afflalo. Though some of his drives to the hole were lackluster, there’s no doubt that specific offensive mentality contributed to his season high-tying 19 points. Let’s hope the real Arron Afflalo has finally stood up.
Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +9
Harrington has no doubt cooled since his sizzling hot start, but his production has not drastically wavered to this point. Although you’d like to see more rebounds and a few more points, shooting above .500 percent for the fifth time in the last six games is always welcomed.
Chris Andersen, C 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +10
Chris “Birdman” Andersen might have officially earned himself the “Box of Chocolates Inconsistent Player of the Year” award through only 11 games. Against the Nets he was the old “Birdman” who Nuggets fans have come to know as a spark plug who thrives off superb help-defense and high-energy plays. It’s anyone’s guess as to which Birdman will show up on any given night, but Wednesday it was clear: Birdman still has wings.
Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 7-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +1
Brewer did not fail in impressing yet again. He scored more points than he logged minutes and missed only one shot. His three 3-pointers greatly assisted the Nuggets in avoiding a furious Nets run and his defense was just as effective as it has been all year. Karl recently stated that Brewer should be seeing more minutes and tonight he proved why.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 15 PTS | +10
Fernandez had by far his best game as a Denver Nugget Wednesday against the Nets. His shot was falling, he was extremely energetic, but most importantly he played the best defense he’s played all year — evident by his four steals on the night. If Fernandez can play like this every game, the Nuggets will be a totally different team.
Julyan Stone, G 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Stone made his season debut and though he only received six minutes of playing time, it was still six minutes of precisely-executed basketball with no turnovers and three assists. Stone looked as if he’d been an active part of the rotation all year long and played tight one-on-one defense against one of the NBA’s best point guards. Should Ty Lawson or Andre Miller suffer injuries in the future, Nuggets fans should feel at ease knowing Stone is ready to contribute immediately.

Nuggets assign Hamilton, Stone to D-League

NBA.com is reporting the Denver Nuggets have assigned rookies Jordan Hamilton and Julyan Stone to the NBA Development League’s Idaho Stampede. Although this comes as a bit of a surprise to Nuggets’ fans, it should be noted this move has come in unison with other NBA teams — including the Rockets with Marcus Morris — doing the exact same thing just in time for the annual D-League Showcase on Jan. 9.

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