Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105 Los Angeles Clippers 117

The Nuggets fell behind early and never led in their penultimate game of the 2013-2014 season, a 12-point loss to the Clippers in LA.

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Film Room: Randy Foye video scouting report

In our previous Roundball Mining Company Film Room installment, we took a look at one of the four Nuggets offseason roster acquisitions, power forward Darrell Arthur. Today we move on to shooting guard Randy Foye, traded to Denver from Utah in the three-way deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Warriors.

“This team needs shooters,” was a frequently uttered mantra among Nuggets fans last season, and Foye, a .377 career 3-point shooter (.410 last season) certainly should help bolster Denver’s woeful shooting from the arc. The real question, however, is whether he can do much else.

Not to put too fine a point on it, a cursory look at his stats (from Basketball-Reference.com) suggests he’s an awful rebounder; a below-average distributor whose assist rate has steadily worsened over the last four seasons; a fairly terrible mid-range shooter (his 3-point percentage was actually higher than his 2-point percentage last season); a player whose very good free throw shooting is largely negated by his inability to get to the line (he has averaged fewer than two free throw attempts in over 26 minutes of play over the last two seasons); and a subpar defender. His low turnover rate seemingly does little to redeem his other apparent shortcomings.

But is he truly so one-dimensional? Is 3-point shooting really the only thing he brings to the table? (more…)

Delayed Reaction: 2012-2013 season in review

A look at the rollercoaster year of Nuggets basketball

Hopes were high for the Nuggets at the end of the 2012 offseason, with some analysts predicting up to 59 wins and a top two playoff seed.  Masai Ujiri had acquired Olympic gold medalist and star defender Andre Iguodala in a trade, and extended Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee with long-term contracts.  He surrounded the team’s young core with veteran Andre Miller and cheap talent like Anthony Randolph and Evan Fournier.

But a difficult early schedule loomed.  The Nuggets would play 22 of their first 32 games on the road, including 8 sets of back-to-back games.  By the end of November, the team had a pair of four game winning streaks sandwiched in between three losing streaks of three games each, including worrying losses to the lowly Suns and Magic.

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Should Denver Nuggets Continue Pushing For Doc Rivers?

If you’ve been following the rumor mill lately, you’re probably aware of the frenzy that a potential blockbuster trade between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers has caused, momentarily even overshadowing the NBA Finals. But before Boston and LA engaged in negotiations, Josh Kroenke made a call the Celtics, offering a first-round pick for the release of Doc Rivers.

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Los Angeles Clippers Eyeing George Karl?

In the midst of the agonizing Masai Ujiri drama Nuggets fans are forced to endure, reports have surfaced that the Los Angeles Clippers have taken notice of none other than Denver head coach George Karl. After getting rid of Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers are looking for a new head coach, and while Karl is not at the top of the team’s wish list, they are allegedly considering asking the Nuggets for permission to talk with Karl.

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Win over Spurs boosts Nuggets’ chances of clinching 3rd seed

In the race for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets greatly strengthened their position with their big Wednesday night victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

This cleared the most difficult remaining game on their schedule, and reduced their magic number (combination of own wins and opponent losses) with respect to both the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers to three. With four games remaining, Denver can lose one game and still clinch third even if Memphis and L.A. win out (though since they play each other, at least one of them can’t).

Here is a side-by-side look at the remaining schedules of the three teams competing for that third seed which carries the benefits of both home court advantage in the first round and a matchup with the No. 6 seed: (more…)

Nuggets well positioned to seize first round home court advantage

The Denver Nuggets recently clinched a berth in the 2013 NBA playoffs, meaning that they will soon be making their tenth consecutive postseason appearance. And while this is a very impressive streak, what they’ve managed to do less often is finish the regular season with a good enough record to secure home court advantage in the first round. (more…)

Pickaxe Pulse for March 16, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

Current record: 45-22

Last week: 3-0 (2-0 home, 1-0 road)

Current playoff seed: #5, 0.5 games behind #4 Memphis and #3 LA Clippers.  The Clippers hold the tie breaker over both Memphis and Denver (due to winning their division), while Denver holds the tie breaker over Memphis (due to a 3-1 head to head record).

The Nuggets finished another undefeated week by taking down the Memphis Grizzlies in a slow-paced, grind-it-out game, picking up an important tiebreaker in the process.  They also embarrassed the Knicks in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver, and picked up a road win in a blowout in Phoenix.  Denver has the longest active winning streak in the Western Conference at 11 games.  Kosta Koufos had the best week of his career, averaging 15.3 points and 12 rebounds over three games.  Coach George Karl had the team ready to play all week and made good substitutions in the face of individual players’ game-to-game inconsistency.

This week’s games: Monday at Chicago, Tuesday at Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Philadelphia, Saturday vs Sacramento

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.

JaVale McGee video scouting report: 3 assists, 3 wasted possessions

On New Year’s Day versus the Los Angeles Clippers, JaVale McGee did something which for him was quite remarkable.

And no, this is not about his stunning buzzer beating 3-pointer, though that is certainly what will cement his performance permanently in the collective memory of NBA fandom.

But just as notably, he matched his career high of three assists. He had accomplished this only once before, on Mar. 20, 2011. Thus far this season, McGee has had 20 games with zero dimes, 12 games with just one, and now, a single game with three.

About a month into the 2012-13 season, I did a video scouting report calling for JaVale to make a more concerted effort to pass the ball out of the post rather than forcing so many hasty, contested shots. In this recent game we had a chance to see just how effective McGee can be when looking to share the ball, so it offers a great opportunity to follow up on the topic. (more…)

Nuggets vs. Clippers observations

On Oct. 6 the Nuggets faced the Clippers in the first preseason game of the year. Though not much was at stake, the players seemed to approach the game as if it were late April, not early October. The contest culminated with two incredible last-second layups: one by Eric Bledsoe and the other by Ty Lawson to win the game as the shot clock expired. Here are some observations.

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Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Clippers 104, Denver Nuggets 98

Los Angeles Clippers 104 Final

Recap | Box Score

98 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-7 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -10
We all love to praise Faried. For a rookie taken 22nd in the 2011 NBA Draft, he’s been impressive. But it’s games like these where Faried’s inexperience really shows. He was passive, perhaps intimidated, and failed to inject himself into the heart of the action. Like many Nuggets, Faried must figure out a way to be more aggressive on a consistent basis, especially on the glass. Six rebounds in 25 minutes just won’t cut it — not with his motor. He needs to establish better positioning under the rim and not hesitate to get physical with his counterparts.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 28 MIN | 0-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | -4
What is going on with Gallinari? It’s as if he’s still injured. He’s not attacking — rather taking nothing but jump shots — and doesn’t appear to show any signs of wanting to be “The Man” he was in the beginning of the season. It’s as if he’s reverted back to the jump-shooting perimeter player prior he was prior to coming to Denver. If he’s still injured, then he needs to sit out; otherwise, he needs to start asserting himself in order to help the team win games. Had he been in attack mode on Wednesday, the Nuggets likely would have won.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -11
Koufos was fantastic. In only 23 minutes he came up one rebound shy of a double-double. He also got it done on defense, blocking two of his opponent’s shots. He was always in the right spot at the right time to make the right play. Faried should take note.
Arron Afflalo, SG 38 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -17
This was the first time Afflalo scored less than 15 points since March 23 — almost a month ago. He hit some big shots, but for whatever reason wasn’t as affective as he has been of late. Look for him to bounce back with a vintage performance on Saturday against the Suns.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 9-14 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 24 PTS | 0
Lawson was furious in his attempt to “out-speed” Chris Paul and he did a good job of it for the most part. I mentioned to one of my friends at the game how I don’t mind the Chris Paul-Ty Lawson match-up should the Nuggets face the Clippers in the first round and Wednesday was corroboration to that theory. Lawson likely won’t out-perform Paul every night, but if he can contain him and counter with his own flurry of points and assists, the Nuggets should be just fine.
Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +8
Harrington didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but he finished with a nice stat line overall. It’s clear that heading into the playoffs Harrington’s going to have to play a key role for the Nuggets off the bench, just as he has all year long. The fact that he’s doing it on a torn meniscus is all the more reason Nuggets fans should avoid blaming him for any sort of the team’s downfalls. The fact is: dude’s been in a Nuggets jersey for two years yet he already bleeds blue and yellow.
Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +4
For whatever reason I don’t remember much of Miller’s performance. I know he attacked the basket — like usual — and threw a few lob passes but other than that he seemed somewhat quiet. Nevertheless, putting up 12 points and eight assists on 50 percent shooting from the field as a backup is always beneficial to the team.
Corey Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -5
Just like he’s done all season, Brewer followed up a great performance with a complete dud. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone as wildly inconsistent as Brewer. He goes from savior to village goat on a nightly basis. Why he can’t find more stability in his performance is beyond me.
JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +5
McGee deserves more time. Period. There’s just no reason he should be seeing 15 minutes in a game where the Nuggets desperately need a win. He can’t do anything in that amount of time — nobody can. Should he have had more production on the glass? Absolutely. But even so, it’s too difficult to judge somebody when they only receive a sparing minutes here and there in a highly competitive atmosphere.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112 Los Angeles Clippers 91

Denver Nuggets 112 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Los Angeles Clippers
Nene, C 22 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +19
Nene fought through early foul trouble and thankfully he got a comfortable amount of rest with another back-to-back coming up. Although you’d like to see a better shooting percentage and fewer turnovers, Nene getting the ball opens up the rest of the offense and he got plenty of touches tonight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 21 PTS | +24
Gallo was on fire. I had no problem with his benching in Memphis and was confident he’d respond with a solid game just as he did after his first bad performance in Philadelphia. Without Gallo providing a spark the game was headed towards becoming a blowout in the wrong direction.
Timofey Mozgov, C 22 MIN | 5-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +12
He’s improving. Made Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan work much harder than they wanted to on defense. The key stat is only one turnover. His weak side defense could be much better but he continues to do a solid job contesting perimeter shots and putting pressure on the opposing guards.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-6 FG | 8-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +12
How bad did Afflalo need a game like this? I missed some of the first quarter where he apparently got off to a rough start, but Arron found a way to fight through it. 8 free throws are outstanding and most impressive was the ball-pressure he applied on Chris Paul, often picking him up at full court and crowding his space all night.
Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | +23
Much better game. Not spectacular, but a normal Lawson performance Nuggets fans love to see night in and night out. Turnovers have been a problem and although many of them haven’t been Lawson’s fault, he had much better control tonight. Made some spectacular hustle plays to stretch the lead at critical moments.
Al Harrington, PF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +8
Al started slow but eventually found his stroke in time to put the game away. His minutes finally returned to a reasonable amount and he wasn’t stuck trying to do to much. Harrington could be better guarding the rim but he was somewhat effective against Blake Griffin managing to pull the chair out a number of times.
Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 8 PTS | +17
Five shot attempts is a much healthier game out of Andre Miller. Didn’t take a three or force shots and bad passes. Not being switched onto Rudy Gay definitely helped him stay fresh and effective throughout the night.
DeMarre Carroll, F 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -2
Carroll is still on the team. He’s also back and finally healthy after a hamstring kept him out much of the season. Don’t read too much into the grade, C means incomplete in this case
Rudy Fernandez, SG 19 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +5
Rudy can be a very effective weapon off the bench. The Nuggets need to play him and get him shots more consistently. I’ve been hoping for him to look for his shot more aggressively and resist trying to make the spectacular play. Fernandez did both tonight.
Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -3
Koufos could do a little more with his minutes, but I’m glad he came in ahead of Birdman. I liked his energy on defense in Memphis and he was okay tonight. Perhaps with more of a role Koufos’ game will come around and we can get a better idea of what he brings to the table.
Kenneth Faried, F 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5
Raw is the only way to describe him. The team needs to teach him the fundamentals of playing on offense rather than just throwing up long range lobs when he enters the game. Needs to set better screens and post up some, but I’m probably expecting too much of the Manimal. He was still a beast in the paint and finished everything around the rim. I also think Faried has potential to draw a lot of fouls should he end up seeing more minutes.
Jordan Hamilton, G 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -5
Hamilton showed off his quick release and smooth jumper. He also showed flashes of passing ability off drives to the rim. I am excited to see what this guy can do in the future.

Clippers game a bittersweet homecoming for Chauncey Billups

It’s early in the Denver Nuggets 2011-2012 season, but the story so far has no doubt been the inspiring double overtime win against the departed Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers doesn’t feature the same hype and excitement surrounding the Knicks contest, but it’s no less symbolic for Nuggets fans witnessing Chauncey Billups’ first return to the Pepsi Center since the infamous trade marking the end of the Melo era.

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Win Courtside Tickets from RMC for the Nuggets/Clippers Game

The good people at StubHub have provided two tickets in Section 124 Row AA, (that is courtside people!) for the Denver Nuggets game against the Los Angeles Clippers this Friday, November 5.  This is your chance to see Blake Griffin on his first trip to the Pepsi Center from the expensive seats!  Chris Kaman’s facial hair will be there as well.  To enter you must follow RMC on Twitter and tweet me, @RoundballMiner, the answer to the following question:

What Denver Nugget scored nine points in nine seconds on three consecutive three point shots in the final minute of a game?

You must have your responses to me by 6:00 PM Mountain time on Thursday, November 4. I will then put all the correct responses into a hat and my daughter will draw the winning Twitter account out of said hat.

Roundball Mining Company and StubHub are not responsible for lost or misdirected tweets or other technical issues that are beyond the control of RMC.  Every Twitter account can only qualify for the drawing once.  Repeated tweets from the same account will result in disqualification.  The winner will be notified via Twitter Thursday night and must claim the tickets from a StubHub representative at least 15 minutes prior to the game.

I would like to thank StubHub for generously donating the tickets for this contest.  You can purchase tickets for any Denver Nuggets game from StubHub.

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