In an ugly, frustrating, poorly officiated game, the first of the season without Kenneth Faried’s energy to help keep them afloat, the Nuggets survived their final regular season road outing to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and put themselves one home win away from locking up the third seed. (more…)
|Nene, C 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 8-10 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +17
Nene had a solid performance all around, but his defense on Bogut and the Milwaukee bigs was his highlight of the night.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 27 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +6
Gallinari posted his typical numbers but at this point, after seeing how well he’s able to play, the Nuggets should expect more from him. He must continue to drive the land and become a more integral part of the offense with each passing game.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Mozgov continues to improve and played good defense against the Bucks, but it’s still difficult to overlook some of his glaring inefficiencies. He’s still hit and miss when it comes to making himself useful on the court and still commits plenty of “rookie” mistakes. His progress throughout the year should determine how high his ceiling really is, although at the moment it’s looking more like a one-story apartment than anything.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | -1
Afflalo hit a few huge 3-pointers when the Nuggets needed a basket and for that, he’s deserving of an average grade. His defense was also solid, but 11 points is simply not enough from the $43 million dollar man. Though he’s getting more comfortable with his role as the year drags on, at some point we’re going to need to see more from him in order to justify his hefty contract extension.
|Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 3-10 FG | 5-7 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 11 PTS | +11
Ty was excellent with his distribution on Tuesday but was off in other categories. His field goal percentage has been down recently as it appears the rest of the NBA is starting to take note of his lighting-quick speed. Hopefully Lawson can begin to figure out other ways to score besides simply burning his counterpart to the rim.
|Al Harrington, PF 20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +16
Harrington returned to his early-season form of hitting more shots than he misses and scoring nearly as many points as minutes logged. His 3-point shooting was superb against the Bucks and often times came when the Nuggets were in need of a basket. He also showed tenacity in the rebounding department which is always greatly appreciated with a team lacking a great presence on the glass.
|Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 1-5 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 11 AST | 8 PTS | +9
As Charlie would say, “I don’t grade the box score,” at least not in this case. Although Miller put up better numbers than he has recently, there was still no denying his terrible shot selection and aloofness away from the ball. Miller is the kind of guy who can light it up and create all sorts of different looks for his teammates, so when he’s not doing that, it’s hard to award him with a great grade.
|Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -7
In 22 minutes, Birdman must be able to put up more than five rebounds and no blocks. He was active against the Bucks, but that’s about it.
|Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 8-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 22 PTS | -3
Brewer was without question the best player on the floor for the Nuggets tonight. This was by far his best performance of the year and one of the best performances by anyone donning a Nuggets jersey this season. His energy was off the charts and his defensive prowess, remarkable. It’s safe to say that Brewer has won over George Karl at this point as he’s embodying the type of offense, and defense, Karl preaches more than any other Nugget so far. With Andre Miller and Birdman disappearing recently, Brewer has stepped up as a reliable bench option nearly every night. Now if only Karl would give Faried a chance…
For those that followed our last installment yesterday, this is more of the same. News and commentary updated here as it comes out. Feel free to follow Jeremy, Kalen and Charlie on twitter to find out when we post an update. Not to get anyone’s hopes up but rumors are out that more decisions are expected today, particularly in the case of Nene to the New Jersey Nets.
The 2011-12 NBA schedules were released early Tuesday morning in the event that an NBA season does in fact transpire next year. The Nuggets, as usual, will open up on the road against a heated division rival (Portland) on national TV. Two weeks later, Carmelo Anthony will return to Denver in a non-Nuggets uniform on November 16. The crowd reaction that night will likely be the best gauge to date of how the Nuggets fan-base feels in regards to Anthony’s departure from Denver. Would you boo? Would you cheer? Would you — as I would — sit in silence, counterbalanced by an equal amount of appreciation and disappointment? Or would you simply, and nonchalantly, clap slowly just as you would any other player? (more…)
Sigh of relief. That’s about all I can say as the Nuggets notch a nice win as a much needed break from the season starts now. I discussed earlier the implications and vastly different scenarios that could come into play over the critical stretch next week when no games will be played. For now, I’m grateful for this team and the fact they were able win an ugly game in a gritty and unconventional fashion. Throughout the maddening highs and lows of the game, the Nuggets reminded me once more how the sweet taste of victory is ultimately worth all the frustrations.
When the Denver Nuggets take the floor against Milwaukee tonight, there will be more at stake than a regular season win. For one, depending on the outcome the Nuggets could end up anywhere from sixth to ninth place in the Western Conference standings. But more than that, it’s a time to reflect as all the drama and absurdity of a truly bizarre season reaches a tipping point. The games stop, and only the future of the franchise beckons. The Melo trade saga has been going on so long I almost stopped believing a deadline for a resolution could still be real. Yet here it is nearer than ever. Serenity now!
It is not a good week to have Carmelo Anthony on your fantasy basketball team. After playing under three minutes in the previous game against the Phoenix Suns, Carmelo’s court time was limited to 27 minutes. This time it was not the flu or other physical ailment that sent Melo to the showers, it was his disrespectful attitude that was an affront to the game of basketball (please note the heavy sarcasm). Melo was slapped with two technical fouls for “arguing” calls and was sent to the showers midway through the third quarter.
Fortunately for Denver, they had already recaptured their energy and had just earned their first lead of the game since they were up 2-0. From that point on the inspired play of J.R. Smith helped carry the day for Denver as they cruised to a 105-94 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Milwaukee Bucks and the Denver Nuggets have a lot in common. Both franchises had tremendous teams in the 1980’s, but neither team reached the finals. In fact, the Bucks made it to the conference semifinals or finals every year except for one from 1981 to 1989. In the early 80’s they were knocked out by the great 76ers teams, in the mid 80’s it was the Celtics and in the late 80’s they were victims of the Detroit Pistons. They were then one of the worst teams of the 1990’s missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons.
Things turned around when a coach named George Karl came to town and the franchise made it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001. Milwaukee was a very good team in the 80’s, miserable in the 90’s and enjoyed a resurgence under George Karl. Sound familiar? (The Bucks did win the NBA championship with some young whippersnapper named Lew Alcindor in 1971, but that was long enough ago very few current fans were around to witness it.)
Milwaukee has been down again lately. Interestingly enough the Bucks have not finished over .500 since Karl left town. After witnessing their 102-97 victory in Denver it looks like things in Milwaukee might be back on the upswing.
The Bucks came into Denver a night after winning a double overtime game in Sacramento on the dreaded late game in the Pacific time zone one night, trip to Denver to play the next. The level of difficulty was increased even more as their best player, Andrew Bogut their most important player on both ends of the floor, only played 15 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Bucks did not seem to care one iota. It did not matter who was in the game, the rotations were perfect, the offense was seamless and the effort was relentless. I kept waiting for the Bucks to tire and slow down, but they never did. They absolutely deserved to win that game, and I was amazed by the quality of their play.
Honestly, I was a little jealous.
Milwaukee did all the little things that the Nuggets do not. They pressure the ball and help each other when necessary. It was not a rare occurrence to see all five defenders in the paint. They all take responsibility for their assignments. They do not switch screens, but get a strong hedge from the help defender while the player getting screened fights through the pick. There were also instances where they would double the player with the ball on the perimeter just to be pesky knowing they could recover to their man on a pass.
Offensively, they do everything 100%. They run their cuts at full speed. The screeners run to their spots at full speed and then set solid picks. You do not get the sense anyone feels they are owed shots.
It is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
The perception of Scott Skiles is that he is too intense and demanding and as a result he loses his players. That may be true, but right now he has his team playing as well as anyone and you can see how they have taken on his unselfish and scrappy persona.
Hopefully the Nuggets will watch film of this game closely because there is a lot they could learn from the way Milwaukee plays.
I have no doubt that fatigue played a role in the Denver Nuggets’ 108-102 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks. I wish I could say that fatigue was the only problem.
Defensively Denver is not playing with any cohesion. On many possessions one player makes a mistake or gets beat and the help is not there. I was once again a part of the Daily Dime chat and I mentioned how when the Nuggets drive to the lane they are swamped with defenders, but when the Bucks would drive the lane they frequently only had to deal with one player trying to help and doing a poor job of it.
Honestly, the Nuggets are floundering in nearly every facet of defense. They are not consistently working together on pick and rolls, they are missing rotations, and generally playing lazy. Last night against the Bulls we mentioned how Nene failed to step out on a pick and roll and gave Kirk Hinrich a wide open short jumper. Well, he did it again in the fourth quarter allowing Luke Ridnour to easily drain a short jumper.
There was an instance where Ty Lawson left Brandon Jennings (who was absolutely amazing and is the early favorite for rookie of the year) to double the wing and when the pass came back to Jennings Lawson made no effort to get back to him and Chauncey did not budge from the other wing to rotate over and help. The result? A wide open shot for Jennings. Chauncey apparently blamed Lawson and since he is the veteran, then we all blame Lawson, but it is asking a lot to have Lawson recover from a double and be able to handle a player as quick as Jennings. In that situation Billups has to rotate over and help. We do not know if Lawson was supposed to stay home. Regardless it was an breakdown and no one helped cover for the mistake.
Early in the game Ersan Ilyasova, who was one of the players I mentioned as a cheap potential replacement for Linas Kleiza, was open behind the arc and Kenyon just stood there a few feet away and allowed him to shoot. Either the advance scout did not inform the team that Ilyasova was a better shooter than his percentage indicated or Kenyon did not feel the need to move. Ilyasova hit the three and went on to make two more where there was no Nugget anywhere near him and his offense was a big boost for the Bucks.
Just like on defense the Nuggets are not playing together on offense. I realize Carmelo is comfortable being isolated on the wing, but he can get easier shots by giving the ball up and relying on the talents of his teammates, movement and passing to get him the ball in a position where the defense is dislodged instead of well positioned and ready to pounce on him.
The poor decision making extends beyond the court as George Karl continues to force feed Anthony Carter minutes at the expense of the Nugget who puts forth the most effort on the team, Arron Afflalo. Carter only played six minutes, but Afflalo was only on the floor for 15. I honestly believe the game might have had a different outcome if Carter’s minutes had been given to Afflalo.
The best example of how hard Afflalo plays was when Nene turned the ball over in the lane and all five Nugget players were underneath the free throw line. Nene never made a move to retrieve the ball, nor did any other Nugget despite the fact the ball was in the lane. As the Bucks took off on a fast break Afflalo was the only player in blue who even tried to make a play and he sprinted all out up the floor in an attempt to stop the Bucks from getting a hoop. There was a similar play where again Afflalo was the only Nugget to try to stop the break and he surprised Jennings with his presence and almost forced a turnover.
I keep hoping the other Nuggets will be inspired by Afflalo’s intense play, but he continues to stick out like a sore thumb as a player who is clearly working harder than his teammates.
Denver was fortunate to escape this six game road trip with a split. They were stomped in Miami and Atlanta, outplayed in Milwaukee and were a tenth of a second away from losing in Chicago. Next up is the Pau Gasol-less Lakers back at home.
Other Game 9 Nuggets
Gery Woelfel from The Journal Times of Racine, WI is reporting what we thought we already knew up until yesterday. Sonny Weems and Walter Sharpe will be sent to the Milwaukee Bucks for Malik Allen. Apparently Denver was unable to acquire Bruce Bowen’s non guaranteed contract as part of the deal.
Update: The Nuggets have officially confirmed the trade. Until Bowen is waived by the Bucks I guess anything can happen, but the fact the trade has been officially announced leads me to believe Denver will not be able to work anything out that would allow them to acquire Bowen and his non guaranteed deal (although again their interest in doing so was only speculation on my part).