Staking A Claim: George Karl

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

In the Nuggets fan community there are a few questions that have groups of fans divided on the answer.

Who deserves more minutes, JaVale Mcgee or Kosta Koufos? Is Andre Miller worth it? And who has the highest ceiling Gallo or Ty seem to be some of the most common.

But no debate brings out more opinions, or more intense debate, than if George Karl is the right coach for the Nuggets.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 117 vs Knicks 94

The Nuggets spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver with a blowout win.  ‘Melo left the game with a sore knee and spent some time in the locker room, inspiring chants of “where is Melo” from the crowd.

New York Knicks 94 Final

Recap | Box Score

117 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +17

Gallinari looked really good when he went to the rim or got to the line, and really awful shooting jumpers. He played great defense on Carmelo Anthony for part of the first quarter, and later forced two turnovers by drawing offensive fouls away from the ball.

Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +28

Faried started out the game taking several jump shots. He eventually settled down and started taking shots closer to the rim, but missed several tip tries. He outhustled the Knicks for several offensive rebounds, particularly after Tyson Chandler left the game.

Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13

It seems like every game I grade, I end up writing something like “Koufos was quietly effective”. He continues to play fundamental basketball with good positioning, and make the most of his opportunities.

Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +11

Ty was aggressive getting into the paint all night, but had a bit of trouble finishing over Tyson Chandler. His shot was falling from the outside and his passing was crisp. He would likely have finished with a double double if Gallinari’s shot had been falling.

Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +32

Igoudala has emerged as a solid secondary playmaker for the Nuggets, setting up a ton of easy scores. Tonight he tried to do a little too much and forced several passes into traffic. He was hitting his own shots from everywhere except the free throw line. He had a few spectacular defensive sequences in the second half.

Anthony Randolph, PF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1

Inconclusive.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5

On one late sequence, Hamilton missed a jumper that led to a Knicks fast break off the long rebound, and then got downcourt in time to swat James White’s layup attempt into the stands. His shot wasn’t falling, but he was making good contributions in other parts of the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6

Brewer usually provides the Nuggets with great energy, but tonight the starters had all the energy they needed, and he seemed a step slow by comparison. He did a little bit of everything, but nothing particularly well.

Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Mozgov was involved in two highlights tonight: a nice two handed dunk, and a Prigioni pass between his legs that led to a Knicks layup.

JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5

In a game where the Nuggets were completely dominant in the paint, and the Knicks’ only center left with an injury, the athletic seven footer decided to take a 16 foot jumper that missed everything. He also had one nice block and a layup from freakishly far away from the basket. It was a very inconsistent game overall.

Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13

Andre Miller surprised me by playing fantastic defense for most of his first half minutes. He was also on target with his passing.

Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -2

Fournier looks completely lost on the defensive end of the court, and too often gets caught needing to foul. He stepped up offensively when tacos seemed to be in doubt, setting up Chandler for a three point play and scoring five of his own to push the Nuggets over the 110 point mark.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 9-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +10

Wilson Chandler spent most of the night taking advantage of the Knicks’ lack of shot blocking. On two occasions he grabbed a rebound, dribbled fullcourt, and got a lightly contested layup.

George Karl

The Nuggets came out ready to play, and they didn’t let up until the game was out of reach. His small lineups worked well against the Knicks’ small lineups.

Two Things We Saw

  1. That was anticlimactic: In Carmelo’s first game in Denver since the trade, the game was over before halftime, and he left for good less than three minutes into the second half.
  2. That was oddly familiar: Four former Nuggets played at least 20 minutes for the Knicks, and many of the Nuggets’ old habits were on display, both good and bad. There were times the Knicks seemed content to settle for long jumpers off of little ball movement, and times when J.R. Smith looked completely unguardable. This game definitely highlighted the change between the Carmelo era and the new Nuggets team era.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108, Phoenix Suns 93

Denver Nuggets 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

93 Phoenix Suns
Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +10

As Joel tweeted during the game, Gallo’s scoring average has decreased from 19 points per game in January, to 16 in February and now 13.6 in March. He’s been injured, but you have to wonder just how much that is affecting his play. If he’s in more pain than he’s leading us to believe, it’s probably best he sits a few more games so that he’s ready to play when the playoffs arrive.

Kenneth Faried, SF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +3

Faried was frenetic in every sense of the word. He had a nice, solid game but was almost too wild for his own good at times, letting routine rebounds slip through his hands more than once. Nevertheless, he made up for it with his hustle which is always admirable.

Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 10-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +10

Koufos’ best game as a Nugget? You tell me. I’ve said forever that as long as he puts himself in the proper position on the floor to make a play, things will fall into place. That’s exactly what he did tonight. He was constantly moving into open space and cutting towards the basket at the right time for a tip-back or alley-oop. He also did a great job on the boards and made excellent, calculated decisions all night. This was a new career high in points scored for Koufos, beating his old career high by one.

Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +17

This is how far Lawson has come: He didn’t score a point in the first half yet finished one shy of 20 on the night. He’s getting to the point where he knows when and where to really turn it on — and for his competition, that’s a scary thing. It’s worth noting that his last three points came from a desperation heave just inside half court as time was expiring in the waning seconds of the game.

Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11

Nights like these tend to subdue Iguodala’s main strengths. He didn’t have a premier counterpart to try and shut down and wasn’t hitting his shots, therefore he tended to blend in. Still, he finished with a respectable stat line considering just how easy the Nuggets coasted to the win in the second half.

Corey Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 7-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +7

Twenty points in 26 minutes from a bench player is nothing to scoff at. Brewer can be wildly inconsistent but continues to score well into double digits on a regular basis. Against the Suns he spent most of his time out on the break and cutting to the basket, which are by far his biggest strengths, offensively speaking.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +1

His stats do not tell the story; not in any way. McGee was unbelievably bad tonight. For those who claim I’m a McGee hater, please, spare me. I love this kid. Just like J.R. Smith, I think it’s ridiculous Karl plays games with his head. You should either have faith in a guy and let him do his thing or not play him at all if he’s really that bad. McGee deserves more minutes and freedom but on nights like these I can at least understand where Karl is coming from. McGee was doing almost nothing to help his team. He was constantly out of position, late on his rotations (sometimes not even rotating at all), falling for every pump fake that came his way and even fouling away from the ball on multiple occasions. He had a monster dunk — WHEN DOES HE NOT?!? The fact is: McGee needs to take his destiny into his own hands and start playing smarter, more fundamental basketball. Karl deserves blame for not helping him with this, but McGee is still a grown ass man. It’s time to put Shaqtin’ a Fool in his rear view mirror.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +12

Miller was pretty inconsistent. He had a few nice dimes and drives to the rack but also had a couple of boneheaded turnovers. He also played spotty defense for most of the night. On one possession he didn’t even try to close out. He just stood there. Staring at his man. With his hands by his side.

Wilson Chandler, SG 27 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +4

Chandler didn’t have a potent night offensively but was still efficient, which is what matters most. The best part of his performance was that instead of hoisting up bad shots he made himself useful by hitting the glass and playing solid defense. That’s really all you can ask from anybody who’s not feeling it on a given night in the NBA.

George Karl

The Nuggets played sloppy, unorganized, unprepared basketball in the first half but clearly refocused at halftime and came out with a vengeance. Karl deserves credit for this. In the end, his team won by 15 on the road against a team who’s had some quality wins as of late. That’s about as good as it gets.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 107 Los Angeles Clippers 92

Los Angeles Clippers 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
107 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +13

More important than the numbers was the fact Gallo looked completely rehabilitated from his nagging injuries. Six assists is a good sign Gallo is figuring out how to make the most of his dynamic perimeter game. He scored from all over and once again looked spry doing it, busting out some of his most athletic plays of the season.

Kenneth Faried, SF 33 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +20

The story hasn’t changed with Faried. He can get better defensively but it doesn’t really matter when he pumps out a nonchalant double-double with four blocks to boot. The Clippers were physical with Kenneth and it didn’t faze him. Faried’s energy was on another level and he looked like he could have kept going all night.

Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +11

Not a great game out of Koufos. His first-half defense left a lot to be desired but he managed to finish strong with a great second half. Koufos continues to be a dependable guy but his production was lacking relative to his minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +23

What else is there to say? That was a masterful performance and a prime example of what makes Lawson’s signature game so good. Ty showed he can be an efficient distributor and manage his scoring with the flow of the game. He’s been a lot better at recognizing when he needs to stretch his game out and hit a tough shot. He directed with Chris Paul-like precision and it’s safe to say outplayed his All-Star counterpart.

Andre Iguodala, SG 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +15

He did a great job moving the ball and not forcing shots. Iguodala is guaranteed to provide outstanding defense and playmaking every minute he’s on the floor, but his scoring has probably been the most inconsistent it’s ever been. His flaws as a scorer are evident as his natural tendency is to shoot too many jumpers, but he’s managed it so well in Denver and focused on playmaking instead. It’s just one example of the way he consistently leads the Nuggets on both ends of the floor.

Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -2

A pretty standard Brewer game with a lot of leakouts, gambling for steals and an airball or two thrown in for good measure. Brew scored and ran hard off the bench as usual but he didn’t have a particularly good night.

JaVale McGee, C 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +4

There were the highlight blocks and then there were the four fouls and alarming number of missed block-outs for a 14 minute performance. I love Pierre but he got pretty well owned on the boards and two rebounds is just hard to comprehend.

Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1

He had his shot going early but really couldn’t get a hold of the pace all night. Miller scored and did what he could off the bench but I have to wonder how much of a role he might have in a playoff matchup against the Clippers, who will use a zone and and challenge Denver to put size and shooting on the floor. Miller was solid but didn’t have much of a role in this one.

Wilson Chandler, SG 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -8

He started rough and played some really poor interior defense throughout the first half. As the game wore on the physical play seem to fire up Wil and he exploded with one of his better all-around games of the season. He was key in helping the Nuggets close the first half strong when the game was still well within reach for the Clippers.

George Karl

The Nuggets didn’t seem to have the best energy tonight and credit Karl for motivating them to turn it up in the second half. This was not one of the Nuggets’ finer performances but a solid, efficient game and a business-like win they needed to have. Lawson shined directing the flow on his own so you also have to credit Karl for recognizing it and pulling back on using the Lawson-Miller tandem in the second half.

Staking A Claim: The Nuggets Recent Success

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

As I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 120, Sacramento Kings 113

Denver Nuggets 120 Final

Recap | Box Score

113 Sacramento Kings
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +6

It appeared Gallo returned to his normal mode of production prior to be sidelined with an injury. He did most of his damage behind the arc with a sprinkling of mid-range, pull-up jumpers mixed in as well. Aside from scoring Gallo also had some really nice assists.

Kenneth Faried, SF 21 MIN | 9-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +20

This was one of my favorite games from Faried all year. His energy was great, as were his numbers, but I loved the way he did other things, like dribble the floor and attempt shots that were outside of his comfort zone. He pulled up for several jumpers, even one that was a turn-around, and seemed to be shooting them with confidence. He also dribbled the fastbreak with a tight handle and executed the pick-and-roll perhaps better than I’ve ever seen. Faried’s energy can only get him so far so it’s very pleasing to see him tackle other aspects of his game in an attempt to grow as an all-around ball player.

Kosta Koufos, C 24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +8

Koufos can do so much by just being in the right position. I felt he was exposed on a few pick-and-rolls and failed to defend the Sacramento bigs as well as he could have, but he made up for it by getting a multitude of easy put backs and rebounds. Bottom line: He was extremely productive in the time given.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 8-16 FG | 6-12 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | +14

I haven’t been this thrilled to watch a certain Nuggets player since Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony were on the team. Lawson is not just playing basketball at this point; he’s growing as a person. His confidence is through the roof. He’s maturing. He’s understanding the nuances of the game and it’s all paying off in the form of some incredible basketball. He started the game off somewhat slow but overcame his struggles to lead the Nuggets in scoring, yet again. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the rest of the season.

Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +10

Iguodala is just not a scorer. Although he will occasionally put up points, who doesn’t in the NBA? It’s his understanding of the game and commitment to defense that make him such a vital part of this team. Against the Kings his hands were everywhere, evident by his five steals. He also moved to open spaces with the ball, drew in defenders, then found an open man on more than one occasion. His eclecticism is what was on display tonight.

Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1

It wasn’t like Brewer wasn’t there. He made a few nice plays on defense and was pretty active on that end of the floor all night. But he did blend in when the Nuggets went sloppy and never really recovered.

JaVale McGee, C 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -7

McGee continues to oscillate wildly (two points to whoever gets that musical reference) and this game was by no means a departure from that standard. He had four high-flying blocks and a few monster jams, but he also failed to rebound the ball in any way and made a number of unnecessary mistakes. I’ll always side with his talent over Karl’s double-standard grudge he seemingly holds against him, but on nights like this I can at least understand where Karl is coming from… kind of.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -3

Why can’t Miller be like this all the time? Just shut up and play. Don’t talk to the media about how you’re on the brink of achieving some monumental status in your career and how you don’t plan on taking a back seat to anybody. You have nothing to worry about, man. George Karl is OBSESSED with you! Against the Kings, Miller went about his business quietly and effectively. He wasn’t playing hero ball, he was playing smart, calculated basketball and yet he still finished with a great stat line. This was exactly how he was playing prior to his statements in the paper and it’s exactly what the Nuggets need from him. Andre Miller is most effective when he’s trying to do the least amount of things on the court, plain and simple.

Wilson Chandler, SG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -12

I couldn’t place Chandler all night. You want to talk about inconsistency? There is no player on the roster more inconsistent than Chandler. He was clearly dedicated to playing defense, which you have to admire, but 1-7 from the field won’t cut it. I really can’t put my finger on what it is that makes Chandler’s production fluctuate so much but I’m not sure playing him at power forward helps.

George Karl

Karls’ rotations were somewhat wacky — as usual. He went with small ball way too long when it was clearly not working and should have played Faried way more considering how hot he was. Also, the Kings made a conscious effort to clog the paint, therefore making this an excellent opportunity to get Jordan Hamilton some run and space the floor. But… Karl stuck with his normal rotation and decided to grind it out, which the Nuggets eventually did. Aside from that, I felt he did a good job of corralling his guys at halftime when things were clearly out of control and getting them through this game handily at the end. It wasn’t always pretty, but a road win at this time of year, with this team, is hardly something you can complain about.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 104 – Atlanta Hawks 88

Atlanta Hawks 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +9
Gallo seems to be getting healthier, but he clearly isn’t completely healthy yet. He did attack the basket more tonight than against OKC on Friday which was nice, but on a few of the drives he seemed to be lost once he got to the basket, which led to some awkward, tough shots. But he rebounded the ball well and just moved better tonight which is a good sign for the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +3
The final line looks much better that what Faried actually produced during tonight’s game. Five fouls in 26 minutes is entirely too many, and that doesn’t even take into account how many rotations Faried blew and how many times he left Josh Smith wide open around the court. Yes, Smith missed but the looks that he was given were way to open for such a streaky shooter and it wasn’t like Faried was roaming and providing good help. He also missed a few layups which as a hustle player who can’t really create his own offense, is not something that should be happening. The rebounds were nice but the rest of the game wasn’t.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -3
In a game that featured so many blown rotations by Faried and McGee the impact of Koufos is really shown. He almost never misses the proper rotation and tonight saved his teammates who did plenty of times. Add in seven rebounds and seven points and Koufos continues to try and earn more playing time in important spots.
Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +2
Lawson continued to play at a high level while controlling things for the Nuggets tonight and even continued to knock down a couple of threes. What really was nice to see about this game was that at no point did it feel like Ty completely took over any stretches yet his line at the end of the day showed a great impact, one of the true signs of great point guards.
Andre Iguodala, SG 35 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +5
Yes the offensive numbers aren’t mind-blowing, but Iguodala continues to fill up the stat sheet night after night. Six rebounds, six assists, multiple deflections; Iggy has a great knack for doing all the little things that a team needs to win while letting other guys control the scoring load. The two threes are also nice to see from a guy who has struggled to shoot the ball this season.
Anthony Randolph, PF 2 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Jordan Hamilton, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 11-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +17
Brewer did typical Brewer things and in a game that was as sloppy as this one it helped him post a nice scoring night. Twenty shots from Brewer is an awful lot, but most were in transition, wide open or taken after the game was really decided. His lob to Iguodala on the break was one of my favorite plays of the game too.
Timofey Mozgov, C 2 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
Inconclusive outside of Mozgov proving for the second game in a row that if the Nuggets need a lob intercepted he is the man for the job.
JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +11
Yes, JaVale’s first half was magical. Great dunks, a couple great blocks it was the Pierre that all Nuggets fans see and love. But the second half. Oh, the second half. McGee was constantly out of position flailing away for blocks and in the process giving up open shots and rebounds. It was the perfect example of the two JaVales and why the Nuggets can’t quite always rely on him for heavy minutes every night.
Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +21
Miller was solid and unspectacular. He didn’t really force anything offensively and threw a few great passes to JaVale during his fantastic first half. In the ultimate display of how strange this game was though Miller tried to pull a move straight out of the And-1 Streetball tour on Jeff Teague and failed miserably. It was just a weird play in a weird game.
Evan Fournier, SG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Inconclusive.
Wilson Chandler, SG 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +19
Chandler played pretty good defense on Josh Smith, better than any other Nugget, and his offense was productive as well. Like with most other Nuggets it was a solid but unspectacular game.
George Karl
Karl had his team ready for this one and they took care of business against a team that was on the second night of a back-to-back and missing three rotation players. The Hawks seemed lifeless at times and Karl made sure that his team put the game away when they had the chance.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105- Oklahoma City Thunder 103

Oklahoma City Thunder 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 22 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -4
Gallo was, well…there. I am going to chalk this one up to coming back from the injury and not being 100 percent but if he was there were worrisome signs for Nuggets fans. Gallo created no offense and only made his two shots after teammates found him wide open. When he did try to create he took seven or eight dribbles in the same spot before launching a pull back jumper that missed. Then he got blown past by Kevin Durant to tie the game late. Again I am assuming it was all because of the injury, and the Nuggets should hope that was the case.
Kenneth Faried, SF 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -11
As is the case with Faried the first couple minutes of the game set the tone for the rest of it. And in the first two minutes of the game Faried was benched for the rest of the first quarter and his night never really recovered. He had a nice moment or two but also got away with a goaltend and missed an alley-oop after a pretty good pass. Add in bad night with rotations and it just wasn’t one of the Manimal’s finest performances.
Kosta Koufos, C 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -8
I said on Twitter during the game that out of all the Nuggets bigs Koufos may be the most important against OKC. His defensive rotations are normally good and his rebounding tonight was great. But he missed a couple bunnies like normal and struggled late in the game as the Thunder started their comeback.
Ty Lawson, PG 36 MIN | 5-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -1
It wasn’t a great night for Lawson but he made the big play that he needed to and it greatly improved his grade. In a final offensive possession that the Thunder defended really well Lawson stepped up and made a tough shot. It was an important thing for someone who had struggled early this year with decision making and shot selection in late game situations.
Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -5
Yet again the offensive numbers were bad, seven missed shots, four missed three pointers and no free throws are not what the Nuggets expected from Iggy. Except tonight at times his defense wasn’t normal Iggy defense either. But late in the fourth he made a couple plays on the defensive end including stripping Kevin Durant and he also came up with a big rebound for the Nuggets. An ugly game in the boxscore but an effective one when everything is considered.
Corey Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +6
Brewer was fantastic. Only two three point attempts is the biggest thing as Brewer attacked the basket relentlessly and when the Thunder adjusted to take it away he pulled up and knocked down midrange shots. Add in 5 steals, and better than normal on ball defense and Brewer is one of the main reasons Denver walked away with a W.
JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +2
There was the bad JaVale, two sweeping hooks and an airballed dunk, but good JaVale showed up much more tonight. On defense he was active, including swatting Kevin Durant into the front row, and on the offensive end he helped keep a few possessions alive with tip outs on offensive rebounds. All in all a very effective 16 minutes for McGee, in fact I thought he should have been closing the game.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +13
The offensive numbers look good and Miller had a big layup late in the fourth quarter but again the game is played on two ends of the court and Miller almost cost the Nuggets the game. He got repeatedly torched on the defensive end by just about everyone. At one point he failed to even raise a hand on a Westbrook jumper, on another he let Reggie Jackson walk by him just grabbed him and sent him to the line, and on another late in the game he was switched onto Serge Ibaka and didn’t even pretend to rebound a ball that Ibaka got. Add in some forced drive late in the game and the shine of the numbers aren’t as impressive.
Wilson Chandler, SG 36 MIN | 13-19 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 35 PTS | +18
The Nuggets lose this game without Chandler. He stretched the floor, attacked the basket and played great defense for possessions on Durant. While Chandler won’t play this way every night if he can give half of this production and shooting to the Nuggets off the bench on a nightly basis they become a much more dangerous team.

George Karl

I was fully prepared to give Karl and A+ for this game until the final 5 minutes. He pulled starters when they weren’t effective in the first and third quarters and went to his bench to stay ahead in an important game. But then Karl closed with curious lineups and all of them included Andre Miller who was clearly ineffective. First Karl went to Koufos who almost never plays in the fourth, before going so small he had no real power forward even on the floor. It was curious, especially since Brewer was so much better than Miller on the night. Also why have Gallo on Durant when he is clearly getting the ball? Isn’t that what the Nuggets got Andre Iguodala for? Just curious decisions all around.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111, Portland Trailblazers 109

Denver Nuggets 111 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Portland Trail Blazers
Kenneth Faried, SF 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -8

Faried had a great energy throughout the game but couldn’t really concentrate it properly. He was a bit wild and inconsistent and had trouble defending Aldridge. He did have a few nice assists, which is something you love to see from him (and would like to see more often).

Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +1

Koufos could have been better. He was solid, but there were many where he missed easy putbacks and other opportunities that would have helped his team out in the long run.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 12-22 FG | 6-9 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | +4

Lawson will finish out the month of February averaging 23 points and nine assists per game. It has been the best month of his career thus far. It’s also fitting he finishes February in this fashion — essentially leading the Nuggets to a road victory in one of the toughest arenas in the NBA. His confidence right now is through the roof. He was even talking trash to Wesley Mathews at the end of the game, which is something you rarely see from him.

Wilson Chandler, SG 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -3

Not sure I understand Chandler at this point, or any point throughout his tenure with the Nuggets. He’s right up there with Corey Brewer in terms of inconsistency. One night he pours in 23 against the Lakers, the next he manages only seven. His offense can be difficult to grasp as a fan. He has only a select few moves he utilizes and they often come at arbitrary points throughout the game. It would be nice to see him move better without the ball too.

Andre Iguodala, SG 43 MIN | 11-20 FG | 5-10 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | 0

Yep, this was Iguodala’s best game as a Nugget — hands down. His stats were insane. Like Lawson, he was playing with a supreme level of confidence this game. He was just on a totally different level. All that said, his free throw shooting is something else. He was bricking them harder than Dwight Howard. Not sure what’s going on there but it’s kinda ridiculous, to be honest.

Anthony Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4

I can’t knock Randolph too hard. The guy was really trying out there. You can tell, he’s super talented. He had several shots than I don’t think any Nugget forward could make other than him. But he also thought he was Magic Johnson kickstarting the fastbreak offense more than once, which he should never do… ever. Overall, he was a little out of control but nothing too bad. A solid outing for a guy who’s been riding pine most of the year.

Corey Brewer, SF 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +6

Brewer started off the game with a bang, then disappeared almost entirely. I don’t even remember him in the second half, yet he finished with 28 minutes. That’s never a good sign. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he also didn’t do too much right.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +9

McGee was pretty impressive in the first half… then he got in foul trouble. He didn’t see any time in the fourth, which was a bit suspect. Had he kept playing, he might very well have ended up with five-plus blocks… and five-plus fouls.

Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 5 PTS | -3

As always, it’s tough to hand out a grade here. Miller had 10 assists in only 22 minutes, but he also turned the ball over four times and played half-assed defense most of the night. At one point Damian Lillard pretty much just waltzed from the top of the arc all the way to the rim, with Miller doing absolutely nothing to try and stop him. Don’t get me wrong, he had some incredible alley oops and a clutch late-game basket, but he also spent a lot of his time turning the ball over and choosing to play only when he decided he wanted to.

George Karl

I liked what I saw out of Karl. He was yelling. That’s good. He needs to yell more. He’s too passive most of the time. I think I even saw a few curse words murmured as the camera zoomed in on his face. That passion rubbed off on his team. It was clear. This was a totally different Nuggets team on the road. They were playing like they do at home. Yes, they could have easily lost… but they didn’t. That’s all that matters. He did play too much small ball, overused Chandler at the power forward position and let Miller play defense on the last possession of the game which is insulting to nearly all living things. Other than that, the Nuggets were ready to play and got a much-needed road win. That’s all that matters.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 Los Angeles Lakers 108

Los Angeles Lakers 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, SF 32 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Faried obliterated the Laker bigs on the boards. Earl Clark and Metta World Peace played a combined 54 minutes while grabbing only one defensive rebound. His defensive awareness on the perimeter and in pick and rolls needs a lot of work, but rebounding is what Kenneth does best and when he plays with this kind of energy he can’t be stopped.

Kosta Koufos, C 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +3

He was bothered by foul trouble and couldn’t really handle Howard’s sheer girth, but Koufos bottled him up about as well as you can in the first half. Koufos is not bruiser and is a great example of how big men can be effective on defense without having to be the most physical guy around. Koufos was constantly moving his feet and fouled when he needed to — he’s been a near-perfect role player which is exactly what the Nuggets have asked him to do.

Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 8-19 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | +11

Seven straight games of 20+ point performances speaks for itself. Lawson is playing at a very high level right now which will make this critique difficult for some fans to take. Lawson was tentative and didn’t get to the paint outside of transition. He was also very hesitant to take open shots and didn’t create at the same outstanding level we’ve grown accustomed to. Solid game, but Lawson is capable of much more and should play better against the likes of Nash and Blake.

Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 10-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | +6

Chandler was extremely solid in his first start of the season, shining in a brand new role Nuggets fans haven’t seen him in much since Chandler joined the team. He was asked to space the floor and create on the perimeter a little bit, both of which he did admirably despite having played almost the whole season from a big spot off the bench. Chandler can regularly produce these kinds of numbers in a starting role, which is a fantastic luxury to have behind Gallo.

Andre Iguodala, SG 37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-5 FT | 4 REB | 12 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +6

Iguodala dominated the game, but not like you would expect. He took only 9 shots, going a perfect 5/5 in the paint and 1/4 on jumpers. He also tallied an outstanding 12 assists to just two turnovers filling in for Gallo as a secondary creator. But Iguodala’s stifling defense seemed to thwart every substantial Lakers push and made even modest leads appear insurmountable for the visiting Lakers. He is a special defensive talent.

Anthony Randolph, PF 6 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +10

Really solid minutes. Randolph ran the court hard and pretty much stayed out of the way on offense. The less he touches the ball and the more he runs the better. Randolph is very active and amazingly quick up the floor for a 7-footer. His energy played a big part, along with Brewer, in terms of getting the pace going.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Another very solid performance all things considered. He took one questionable heave from three but otherwise looked good in the Nuggets up-and-down offense. Four minutes isn’t enough to tell too much but it’s safe to say Hamilton is more than capable of contributing when the Nuggets need him to fill in.

Corey Brewer, SF 26 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +17

Brew doesn’t do anything halfway. When he misses, he shoots BRICKS. Two of them were extremely ugly airballs from three, yet Brewer ended up being perhaps the Nuggets’ most valuable offensive contributor on the night. I would love to give Brew a better grade, but 15 shots is kind of a lot for Brewer to take unless he makes more of them.

Timofey Mozgov, C 4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -6

Incomplete.

JaVale McGee, C 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +8

The numbers don’t pop out at you but his defense was game-changing. He continues to produce with monster efficiency on the offensive end while steadily improving his poise and consistency on defense. McGee has earned more minutes and it’s only a matter of time till he starts seeing them. Despite not playing a lot of minutes his production has been eerily consistent this season. Can he continue to do it in bigger role? That’s the million dollar question.

Andre Miller, PG 28 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +3

Andre’s attitude and demeanor on the floor are markedly improved since the All-Star break. He is a problem match up for LA and exploited it from the opening tip. The Lakers had to adjust, putting Kobe on him for a while and later Metta World Peace in the second half. The Nuggets don’t win this game without Andre and don’t take LA to seven games last year without him either. It’s in these kind of matchups Andre really proves his worth. I would just love to see some consistency.

George Karl

The Nuggets did exactly what they needed to do: dictate the pace and control the boards. Even without Gallo, the Nuggets came out prepared to play to their strengths and execute an offense that would lull the Lakers into a track meet. They did a particularly good job containing penetration and fouling on every layup opportunity. The Lakers just had to work too hard for everything they got and didn’t have the defensive chops to keep up. The Nuggets also played with a swagger and an expectation to win, something that I just haven’t seen much of in big games this season.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113, Charlotte Bobcats 99

Denver Nuggets 113 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Charlotte Bobcats
Danilo Gallinari, SF 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +2

Gallo saw limited action tonight between foul trouble early in the game and a reaggravated injury early in the second half. When he was on the court he was fairly effective both offensively and defensively. Overall grade incomplete.

Kenneth Faried, SF 27 MIN | 7-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +14

Faried got off to a slow start tonight and wasn’t ever able to take control of the glass. He also got lost a couple of times defensively. On the plus side, he got to the rim several times and showed a nice touch on a couple of makes from the right block. His energy level increased as the game went on, and two nice defensive plays late in the third helped keep the Nuggets firmly in the lead.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +10

Kosta was quietly effective tonight. He was active on putback attempts, though they mostly weren’t falling. His defense started out shaky but improved as the game went on.

Ty Lawson, PG 40 MIN | 6-15 FG | 7-9 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +13

Like most of the other Nuggets starters, Ty was unspectacular early this game. He opened with two turnovers and some lazy defense, and deferred far too much on offense. When Gallinari left the game and Iguodala sat with foul trouble, the light seemed to go on and Ty became a whole different player, getting to the rim and to the line. Even though he got his shot blocked several times, he stayed aggressive and kept the pressure on the defense.

Andre Iguodala, SG 30 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +15

Iggy was on his way to a great game when he was derailed by foul trouble in the third quarter. He was passing the ball as well as I’ve seen from any Nugget this year, setting up several McGee dunks and a Lawson triple. His defensive activity led to several easy buckets, including his own breakaway dunk off of a steal. Were it not for a dumb fourth foul, he would have shared the highest grade of the game.

Anthony Randolph, PF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -2

Of the players who came in at the end of the game, Randolph had by far the most opportunity, but made very little of it, turning the ball over on a silly foul and missing one of his two free throws.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Incomplete.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +8

Brewer is often the hardest player to grade, because he does so many good things and so many bad things over the course of a game. Tonight, the bad came out a little ahead. He created two Nuggets layups with his defense, but I counted seven major defensive blunders as well. He twice pulled down tough rebounds in traffic, but also blew a layup and messed up a 2 on 1 fast break. He started off making his three pointers, but then took a couple of heat check type shots with defenders in his face.

JaVale McGee, C 17 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +6

JaVale held his own personal dunk contest tonight, using the Bobcats front line as props. On one occasion when he didn’t have a dunk available, he made a nice pass to set up a Brewer layup. He also blocked or altered several Bobcats shots (and goaltended one.) He seemed to singlehandedly deflate the Bobcats crowd on more than one occasion.

Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | +3

Andre made a couple of very nice passes, and a handful of ill-advised passes, such as trying to find Kosta Koufos in the middle of four defenders. His defensive effort was considerably better tonight than in some recent games. I was pleased by his efforts to get to the rim, though he wasn’t always able to finish.

Evan Fournier, SG 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Incomplete.

Wilson Chandler, SG 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5

I continue to be impressed by Wilson Chandler’s defensive versatility. One play he’ll be fighting a big in the post, the next he’ll cause a turnover on the perimeter, and the next he’ll pull down a tough rebound in traffic. His impact on that end of the floor was good this game. His offense was also solid, aside from one terrible shot from the baseline. He gets a downgrade for being a little foul-happy (though one was a good foul in an end of quarter, foul to give situation.)

George Karl

There was a stretch early in the third quarter, after Gallinari got hurt and Iguodala picked up his fourth foul, that the Nuggets offense stagnated with poor spacing. This was the only part of the game where I thought Karl needed to make a substitution that he didn’t. For most of the game, he played the players who were being effective. He even stood up for his players, yelling at the officials quite a bit after a series of questionable calls in the second period and taking a tech late in the fourth after another bad series.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 – Boston Celtics 90

Boston Celtics 90 Final

Recap | Box Score

97 Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 7-17 FG | 8-11 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 26 PTS | +20

Gallo did what Gallo does, and it helped the Nuggets get the win tonight. He knocked down some open threes and was able to make his free throws, and many of his points came at spots the Nuggets really needed them. The only problem I have with Gallo is how much his offense is tied into what his teammates are doing. Almost everything he does comes after he gets a pass from Lawson or Iguodala with no one around him. Gallo does a great job of finding spaces to spot up and a good job of reading closing out defenders and deciding if he should drive or shoot, but I worry if he can create offense if the Nuggets ever need him to for long stretches.

Kenneth Faried, SF 35 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +6

The Nuggets probably do not win this game without the Manimal’s energy. Not only did it get them multiple offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter but it drained Kevin Garnett to the point that he was very unproductive late in the game. Faried’s recovery to Garnett late in the fourth was probably the dagger as it caused KG to rush things and miss badly. But like a couple other times this year Faried has to at least split late free throws when the Nuggets are locked in a tight game. Again it lowered his grade a half of a grade when he missed both.

Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -1

I’m not sure that there is a player Nuggets fans underrate the importance of more than Koufos. Tonight he made life incredibly difficult for KG by never leaving his feet and forcing Garnett to play over the top of him in the post. He also continues to help keep the paint spread for Lawson and Iguodala and made 5 of his 6 shots on the night. The rebounding has to improve, but with the way Faried rebounded tonight it makes sense the number was low for Koufos in 22 minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 8-13 FG | 8-10 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 26 PTS | +4

As has been the case recently, Lawson was incredible tonight. He started the game 6-6 from the field and created for his teammates more than his assist numbers show. Add in the huge late offensive rebound and the fact that he had no turnovers and I am not sure what more the Nuggets could have asked for. If Lawson can continue to play this way the Nuggets ceiling definitely rises a bit.

Andre Iguodala, SG 29 MIN | 0-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -2

The offense was dreadful tonight for Iguodala, an air-balled foul shot and an air-balled three were the low-lights, but offense wasn’t the reason the Nuggets brought in Iggy. They brought him in for the other end of the court and tonight he delivered, helping forcing Paul Pierce into a dreadful 2-14 night. Iggy also contested a Bradley layup late and forced the Celtic’s youngster into a miss that probably will get overlooked. The seven assists were a nice addition too.

Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +3

Like Iguodala Brewer’s offensive numbers don’t look great but Brewer had a couple of important buckets late and his energy helped the Nuggets stay in the game in the first half, when for the most part they weren’t good.

JaVale McGee, C 18 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +4

There was the good for JaVale tonight, the two dunks, one of which was a three point play, and the bad for JaVale tonight, getting sealed by Jason Collins and the two goaltends. The two rebounds also aren’t good for JaVale as he mostly plays with lineups not featuring Faried so the Koufos reasons don’t apply to him. Against a bad rebounding team he needs more than two rebounds.

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +2

Much like Iguodala and Brewer’s grades reflect the defensive end so does Miller’s. I am not sure I have seen a player who refuses to fight through screens as consistently as Miller. And in a game like tonight when Boston killed the Nuggets by creating switches and forcing help, Miller’s slow feet were a large part of that. The 11 points were nice, but on the other end of the floor Miller helped give them all back plus some.

Wilson Chandler, SG 18 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

0-7 from the field is never good for someone who is expected to come off the bench and bring with them some shooting and scoring punch. Chandler did well on the glass with 7 rebounds but he also was one of the guys who spent time on Jeff Green and allowed him to pour in 20 points, way to much for such an average player.

George Karl

I know the Nuggets won, but if you follow me on Twitter you know that I was not a fan at all of Karl’s decision making tonight. Boston really had no player on their roster that should have been able to beat the Nuggets off the dribble to the basket or any option in the post. But the Nuggets continued their switch on everything ways and got caught trying to run out to wide open shooters all night. If any game was built for staying home and on your matchups this was it, the personnel matched perfectly. Instead the Nuggets ended up in a battle that they shouldn’t have.

5-on-5: Trade deadline

Well everyone, it’s that time of year. Late February. And you know exactly what that means. It means the NBA trade deadline is approaching; therefore, all our wildest dream scenarios about acquiring LeBron James for pennies on the dollar are on the brink of coming to fruition. OK, so maybe that’s not exactly correct. Maybe it’s the furthest thing from the truth. But here at RMC we’ll be damned to be robbed of our totally unrealistic trade fantasies. So despite Adrian Wojnarowski’s recent tweet about the Nuggets being “unlikely to make a deal,” we’ve decided to ride on into the blue and yellow sunset with visionary trade talk firmly on our minds, which we’re happy to share with you in our latest 5-on-5.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108 – Toronto Raptors 109

Denver Nuggets 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Toronto Raptors
Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -10 

Brewer did what he normally does as far as energy goes despite being moved into a starting role due to the injuries to Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, which helped the Nuggets as they tried to recover from an early double digit deficit. What didn’t help though was the abysmal shooting night though. On a night where the Nuggets were missing around 30 points due to injury someone needed to step up and Brewer was not the answer. His good defense helps his grade a bit but it is hard to overcome those shooting lines.

Kenneth Faried, SF 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | -11 

Faried did his normal Faried things for the Nuggets, score his points in ultra efficient ways and provide energy for the team throughout the night but a large part of the problems the Nuggets had on the defensive glass has to fall on the team’s best rebounder. When a team gives up 15 offensive rebounds it is hard enough to win, let alone when they give up two on one of the final possessions of a close game when they are down four key rotation players. What hurts the most is the rebound that eventually led to Rudy Gay’s game winner hit Faried in the hands, but he was unable to corral the ball.

Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -3 

Koufos missed some easy shots and made some tough ones, rebounded the ball pretty well but still allowed to many offensive rebounds, and had a nice block when the Nuggets were making a run to get back in the game, but also blew some rotations. Basically he played about as average as one can in his limited minutes.

Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | +8 

Lawson was absolutely incredible for the Nuggets tonight, and was the reason the game ended up as close as it did. Lawson created more offense for his teammates than the nine assists indicate and got himself to the basket at will. He also had two great steals that led to easy Nuggets baskets in a game his team desperately needed easy points. While losses are never easy to take Nuggets fans should be excited about the rest of the season if Lawson can use tonight as a springboard for more dominant performances.

Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -10 

The offense looked good for Fournier for the most part, but a couple of bad decisions on not shooting the ball and some rough defense hurt his grade. With such a pure stroke Fournier needs to be willing to shoot the ball even if the window he gets is not a big one, and a couple times tonight he was not and instead drove into traffic and got into trouble. On the defensive side of things Fournier had a nice moment where he jumped a Raptors dribble hand-off but for the most part he struggled to stay in front of Demar DeRozan. The offensive flashes that should get people excited were there, but so were the defensive problems that should cause worry.

Anthony Randolph, PF 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +10 

There are going to be plenty of people who disagree with me on Randolph’s grade due to how his final boxscore reads and his pretty good play in the fourth quarter, but a couple of things stood out to me that don’t allow me to go higher than a B minus. Early in the game Randolph had a sequence that went like this: Dunk, steal, try to dribble to much after the steal and get the ball stolen from him, hit nothing but backboard from four feet away, charge. It was just ugly. Add in the fact that he missed a dunk/layup that was wide open, completely whiffed on a pretty good pass from Andre Miller when he was wide open in front of the rim with no one around him, and missed another layup on the break and he cost the Nuggets plenty of easy points in transition. Then the end of the game comes, and Randolph is on the floor while the Nuggets struggle rebounding and he fails to set a good screen on the final inbounds play then gets knocked backwards on the hand-off once the ball gets in. In the end it was a typical Anthony Randolph night; on one hand flashes of good and on the other plays that make you realize why he doesn’t get more minutes.

Jordan Hamilton, SF 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +2 

Hamilton was aggressive but as a player who is known as a shooter he needs to shoot better than 3-10 from the floor in his opportunities. On the bright side he made a great block in transition after turning the ball over and played hard the entire time he was on the court. Like Randolph and Fournier the flashes were there, but the overall game wasn’t good enough.

Timofey Mozgov, C 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0 

Mozgov was a big body while he was in the game. Four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes isn’t bad, but he got put on another poster by DeRozan and was slow in his help a couple of other times.

JaVale McGee, C 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2 

Two fouls in five minutes isn’t good, but McGee left the game due to injury and didn’t have a chance to make up for it.

Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +7 

Like Randolph, Miller’s line looks much better than what he gave the Nuggets on the floor during the game, mostly on the defensive end. Multiple times Miller was part of a miscommunication that led to open shots for the Raptors, and other times he walked when he was supposed to be stepping in to help on drives. The most telling moment was on Hamilton’s stellar block. The Raptors had a 3 on 1 break against Miller and looked to have an easy bucket after Miller stepped towards the player who received the first pass and they swung the ball back to I believe Kyle Lowry running the break. Miller turned back around and just stood there as Lowry took another two steps and went airborne for his layup. Luckily for Miller Hamilton came flying out of no where to block the layup but it is the kind of effort that “veteran leaders” shouldn’t be demonstrating.

George Karl 

I just flat out didn’t get a lot of George Karl’s decision making tonight, and in the end a few of the decisions ended up costing the Nuggets the game. First of all, if a coach wants to preach accountability and unselfishness, how can he continue to clearly play favorites? JaVale McGee got in the game, scored a basket and committed a foul, and was taken out all in one minute in the first quarter. Meanwhile Andre Miller, who in pure selfishness cost the Nuggets the game on Sunday against the Celtics, plays 31 minutes. Then as the Nuggets are getting killed on the class late in the game Karl continued to play Anthony Randolph instead of going to either Koufos or Mozgov. If his problem was the Raptors playing small then why have Randolph on the floor anyway forcing him or Faried to have to play Alan Anderson? Isn’t that a perfect spot for Jordan Hamilton? Then on the final possession of the game Karl used Randolph, clearly the most frail member of his team, to try and set a screen for Cory Brewer and then take the inbound pass from Lawson and execute a hand-off to get Ty going towards the basket. Except Randolph was knocked back, fumbled the ball and Lawson was unable to get a good shoot. Isn’t that a perfect situation for a big body like Koufos or Mozgov? It was just a bad night for Karl even despite being short handed.

Rapid Reaction: Boston Celtics 118, Denver Nuggets 114, 3 OT

Denver Nuggets 114 FinalRecap | Box Score 118 Boston Celtics
Danilo Gallinari, SF 49 MIN | 7-20 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -12

Gallo’s shot was off for the majority of the game, and poor shot selection didn’t help matters. He had a couple of spectacular defensive stops on Pierce early in the game, and continued to make life difficult for whoever he was guarding. His rebounding was solid as well. Had his last three point attempt fallen, we might be talking about him as the player of the game.

Kenneth Faried, SF 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -11

If you only read the box score, you might mistakenly believe the Manimal had a really good game. He was his usual energetic self rebounding and running the floor. But he was consistently lost on defense, rotating to the wrong guy or simply failing to contest shots. He also missed two critical free throws, committed several dumb fouls, and got called for a technical foul at a terrible time.

Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Kosta was fairly solid in the first half of this game. He kept his guy out of the paint and made his shots when he was able to cleanly catch the ball. Despite his relative effectiveness, he didn’t play after halftime.

Ty Lawson, PG 55 MIN | 13-22 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | -6

Ty started out playing tentatively, but as the game wore on his confidence grew. He hit several big shots throughout the game, including a clutch jumper to give the Nuggets a three point lead late in the second overtime. He also did a good job setting up teammates for most of the night. Unfortunately, he became a non-factor as fatigue set in late.

Andre Iguodala, SG 20 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -8

Iggy left the game around halftime with an apparent neck injury (right cervical strain). In retrospect, it seems likely he was playing in considerable pain in the first half. His usually strong defense was instead nonexistent. He seemed to be trying to avoid contact, preferring to pass to Koufos in traffic rather than taking the ball up strong in the paint. The team performed much better with Brewer in the game.

Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 5-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +7

During the first half of the game, Brewer seemed to have Boston’s defense figured out, and he was able to get to the rim a few times in the halfcourt as well as on the break. His chaos-causing defense played a big part in keeping the game close, and just before halftime he saved the ball right to Koufos to cut the Celtics lead to four. Unfortunately, he missed a few shots at the rim and then fell in love with his jumper a bit in the second half.

JaVale McGee, C 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +9

JaVale seemed to be the antidote for what was ailing the Nuggets for a lot of this game. He erased a bunch of points at the rim, and the rest of the defense seemed to tighten up as a result. He struggled in overtime, taking a couple of bad shots, rotating slowly on Jeff Green’s tying three pointer, and simply failing to contest Kevin Garnett’s midrange jump shots.

Andre Miller, PG 40 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 15 PTS | +6

Andre Miller had one really good play, getting in position to rebound a missed free throw, which gave the Nuggets the possession they needed to tie the game. He also made several bad passes and didn’t contest some of the most important Celtics shots of the game. Finally, he twice tried to make go-ahead three pointers that were nowhere close to going in, rather than finding a better shot.

Wilson Chandler, SG 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +4

Ill Wil played some phenomenal defense during two of the Nuggets’ biggest runs this game. He negated this somewhat by taking some ugly shots, including a point blank miss that he managed to catch on the other side of the hoop.

George Karl

Coach Karl made two good decisions tonight: he called a timeout early in the game after the team came out unprepared, and he played JaVale McGee a lot of minutes down the stretch. He also gave the two point guard lineup far too many minutes, left a much smaller player trying to guard Kevin Garnett for much of the second quarter, didn’t make appropriate defensive substitutions (such as putting a player on Paul Pierce who’s tall enough to contest his shot), and didn’t choose to intentionally foul during two circumstances when the Celtics needed a three pointer to tie the game. It’s the coach’s responsibility to prepare his team to play and to put them in the best position to succeed, but neither of those things happened tonight.

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