Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 94, Denver Nuggets 91

Memphis Grizzlies 94 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -14
Faried played with lots of energy, as usual, but got in foul trouble early which forced Karl to limit his minutes in the first half. However, why he didn’t see more time later in is a bit perplexing considering the Nuggets desperately needed the two things Faried is best at providing: energy and defense.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Gallinari isn’t exactly picking up where he left off. Whether he’s still injured or just extremely out of shape (or both) is up for debate, but either way Gallinari isn’t very effective on the floor at the moment. More playing time should heal his struggles, but it’s a little discouraging seeing how far he’s fallen since injuring his foot in February.
Nene, C 26 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +2
Even though he shot a low percentage from the field, Nene finished with a very respectable stat line overall. His aggressiveness against the much taller Marc Gasol was one of the few highlights of the game.
Arron Afflalo, SG 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | 0
Afflalo had another “invisible night.” While he played 32 minutes, it seemed as if he was only on the floor for 10. It’s crucial that he remains assertive on the offensive side of the ball in order for the Nuggets to reach its full potential.
Ty Lawson, PG 31 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +3
Similar to Afflalo, Ty Lawson was also nowhere to be seen for much of the night. He hit one big 3-pointer near the end of the game but otherwise spent most of the evening shying away from the spotlight. He had more turnovers than assists and deferred to his teammates far too often rather than attempting to make something happen himself. After winning the Western Conference Player of the Week award, Lawson has since been underwhelming.
Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +4
Harrington did what the Nuggets pay him to do: score of the bench. He was one of the few players that displayed constant emotion throughout the game and actually looked as if he wanted to win.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | -4
Looking at Miller’s stat line is the epitome of deception. Getting 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals from your backup point guard is every team’s dream; however, you’d also think a win would come included with such numbers. And that, right there, is really the problem with Andre Miller. His game and numbers right now don’t translate into winning basketball. He plays no defense, is selfish on offense and is consistently inconsistent. In the fourth quarter, with only seconds left on the clock and the Nuggets down by three, Miller committed one of the more baffling turnovers I’ve ever seen. He essentially just handed the ball over to Memphis without any defensive pressure whatsoever. At this juncture, Miller seems to be hurting the team more than he’s helping it.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -3
Birdman finished with yet another solid night. He rebounded particularly well and didn’t commit any glaring errors. With a more steady role, Birdman would likely flourish, which is why a trade might be best for both he and Denver moving forward.
Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -1
Brewer was fantastic in terms of energy, which also reflected in his stat line. He had numerous fastbreak dunks and showed passion on defense. Late in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets were desperately in need of some points, he followed up one of Nene’s missed free throws which resulted in him shooting a few of his own. This is the type of effort the Nuggets absolutely must get from Brewer on a nightly basis.
Jordan Hamilton, G 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Hamilton didn’t see much time, which is somewhat unfortunate as he played well in the five minutes he did see. In a game where the Nuggets needed something, Hamilton might have been able to provide it, as none of the normal rotational players were able to get it done.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, New Orleans Hornets 97

New Orleans Hornets 97 Final

Recap | Box Score

110 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +14
Nothing too out of the ordinary for Brewer on the night. It was good to see his number of shot attempts creep down this game as they’ve been a bit high lately. Brewer also had a few big hustle plays that kept the Nuggets momentum in full swing.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -6
Foul trouble haunted Faried for most of the game, yet even when his playing time fluctuated Faried managed to exude a steady diet of energy that resulted in a few monster dunks and rebounds. His heartfelt effort was once again on full display as even when he received a few atrocious foul calls, he still give it his all on almost every possession.
Nene, C 20 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | +12
Nene looked surprisingly sprightly considering how rusty he probably still is. He had several offensive possessions in the paint that led to crafty baskets and passed the ball extremely well when faced with stingy defense. As time passes Nene will undoubtedly improve, but against the Hornets he was solid.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 9-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 28 PTS | +8
Afflalo has now scored at least 28 points in two of the last three games and set a new career high in the process. On Friday he scored in a multitude of different ways which Nuggets fans haven’t seen combined into one packaged game. From mid-range step backs, to his patented 3-pointer, to cutting through the lane — Afflalo did it all. He is now averaging over 19 points per game in the month of March and over 13 points per game on the season, which would be a new career high if he remains on the pace he’s currently at.
Ty Lawson, PG 42 MIN | 3-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 11 PTS | +14
Friday was a fairly quite night for Lawson considering this past week was by far the best of his young career. He managed to log a double-double, which is always great to see, and turned the ball over far less than the previous game, which is also always good to see. On a night where the Nuggets had no problem scoring points you would like to have seen Lawson assert himself a bit more on offense, but that’s being fairly captious in the grand scheme of things.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +12
This was Harrington’s seventh double-double and third 20-and-10 game of the season. That’s pretty impressive for a guy coming off the bench. Had he not shot so poorly from beyond the arc Harrington likely would be looking at a 25-plus point performance on an extremely efficient night of shooting to pair with it. Overall, this was an excellent performance from one of the top sixth men in the entire league.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 7 PTS | +6
Andre Miller continues to be as wayward as the Colorado weather. One minute he’s lazily sauntering about with his hands at his sides not even attempting to challenge his opponents shot, and the next he’s dishing out pinpoint assists to his fellow teammates in the most important stretch of the game. Because he’s in a mode of such constant change it’s really difficult to grade his performance as a whole. If he’d just play with half the emotion Faried does, especially on defense, Miller would be getting As and Bs almost every night.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +12
As Charlie has mentioned before, sometimes grades aren’t entirely reflective of stat lines. Though Birdman finished with a pedestrian six points and two rebounds, his three blocked shots were monumental in terms of energy and momentum. His effort on the defensive side of the floor was terrific and you truly have to tip your hat to “The Bird” for being able to play with so much heart in light of decreased playing time and trade rumors.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 24 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Gallinari looked sweaty and pale on more than one occasion, and by pale I mean more pale than he already is, which is pretty pale. He was clearly out of shape and struggled with almost every aspect of his game, but showed a lot of determination by never asking out of the game and continuing to try and make a positive impact on the floor.
Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Hamilton saw a few garbage minutes and brought down the house with his ally oop that secured tacos for Nuggets fans across the state of Colorado. We sincerely thank him for that.

Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Denver Nuggets 99

Cleveland Cavaliers 100 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | -1
Brewer contributed to other areas of the game besides scoring, although it’s nearly impossible to overlook such a poor shooting performance. Since becoming a starter Brewer hasn’t quite played with the type of energy we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him when coming off the bench. Hopefully Gallinari soon takes his rightful spot as the team’s starting small forward soon so that Brewer can play the spark-plug role he’s much more comfortable with.
Kenneth Faried, F 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -7
Nine rebounds in 20 minutes is solid by any standard, however, at this juncture Nuggets fans expect much more from the “Manimal” than just rebounding alone. His defense against Antawn Jamison to start the game was atrocious and opened the flood gates for Cleveland to gain confidence, which they ultimately utilized to win the game. Although his interior defense is decent, Faried’s one-on-one perimeter defense must improve dramatically.
Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
The story of the game was Nene’s inability to play any sort of help defense whatsoever in the dying moments of the fourth quarter. On key possessions late in the final several minutes of the game Nene didn’t even contest Kyrie Irving’s shots as he dribbled right down the center of the lane for multiple layups. The worst part: Nene was clearly not only within striking defense of blocking Irving’s shots, but likely could have at least altered them if he had just tried. Yes, Nene also had a few important buckets on offense to keep the game close, but this production was virtually erased by his inability to prevent Cleveland from scoring on the other end.
Arron Afflalo, SG 40 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | -5
In 40 minutes, Afflalo simply must produce more. He’s been a revelation the last month but against the Cavaliers he was invisible for most of the night. In fact, I was shocked to see he even played 40 minutes as I only remember him making a true impact for about 15. His defense on Irving at the end of the game also played a big role letting him get the rack for the game-winning basket.
Ty Lawson, PG 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -6
Grading Lawson is extremely difficult. He finished with 18 points and had another solid night statistically; however, he also committed a ghastly seven turnovers and could not stop Irving if his life depended on it. In the Cavaliers last offensive possession of the game Ty easily could have stepped in for a charge, but instead moved entirely out of the way for Irving to made yet another easy layup. Then, with four seconds left, Ty took it upon himself to drive to the hole yet failed to convert a fairly routine layup of his own. Bottom line: Lawson has been spectacular of late and his willingness to step up in the clutch should be applauded, but key defensive mistakes and a carelessness with the ball really cost his team some big possessions on Wednesday.

Al Harrington, PF
33 MIN | 10-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Harrington was one of the lone bright spots on the evening. While he took quite a few shots he also made 50 percent of them which is always appreciated. Like everyone on the team, Harrington struggled defensively but his effort and ability to knock down clutch baskets made up for many of his mistakes.
Andre Miller, PG 24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | 0
It’s not often that Miller receives an A but on Wednesday he played superb, all things considered. His defense, as always, was questionable at best, yet his offense was not forced and came within the flow of a fairly rugged basketball game. Seeing him play team ball, after a few selfish outings, was extremely refreshing.
Chris Andersen, C 18 MIN | 0-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +7
Birdman deserves nothing but a solid A tonight as he was the only Nugget who brought focus, defense and enthusiasm to the floor for almost every minute he was on it. His three blocked shots were monumental in terms of swinging the momentum back in the Nuggets’ favor, while his seven rebounds in only 18 minutes were hard earned.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 22 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +10
Still rusty, Gallinari somehow managed to contribute in other areas of the game besides scoring. His defense was the best of anybody on the team and in a night were getting stops virtually meant winning the game, this was very admirable especially considering how fresh off injury he still was.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 119 Sacramento Kings 116 (OT)

Sacramento Kings 116 Final
Recap | Box Score
119 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2

With Gallo and Nene back in the mix, I was worried about Brewer being able to ease up on his shooting. The Nuggets have needed him to produce points with all of the injuries, but double figure scoring from Brew typically means 10 plus attempts and around 40% shooting. The good news is Corey shot a lot less but still took most of his attempts outside the paint and just didn’t produce a lot in the hustle categories, where his true value lies. Despite the struggles, Brew gets a birthday bump for his grade on the night he celebrated his 26th with an utterly fantastic team win.

Kenneth Faried, F 34 MIN | 7-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -4

When you get a career high 20 points and a double-double for the third time in four games, you get an ‘A’. What’s remarkable about Faried’s last few games is the fact he’s been struggling like all rookies do. Faried was noticeably outhustled and outworked on the boards on several occasions. Just take a look at his gaudy statline and realize this was far from a complete performance. What the ‘Manimal’ is showing us in his short time as a rotation player is quite special — it’s just rare to see a rookie become such an important part of his team’s success is such a short time on the floor.

Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -3

This is the third game in a row Mozgov has tweaked his ankle and he has yet to sit out for some rest. The young Russian played only 7 minutes and kept the offensively-challenged Nuggets afloat in the first quarter. Shortly thereafter he again came up gingerly on his left ankle and Karl wisely kept him out of the game as a precaution. While Mozgov was solid in his extremely limited stint, there’s not a whole lot here to draw from in terms of a grade.

Arron Afflalo, SG 45 MIN | 9-20 FG | 10-11 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 32 PTS | +3

Incredible. Afflalo set a new career high with 32 points and his clutch heroics need to be experienced to be believed. It was one of the more spectacular finishes I’ve seen in professional basketball, because these players and coaches have seen it all and they definitely weren’t prepared for Afflalo’s performance tonight. Those six points at the end of regulation came off some of the most cold blooded shooting I’ve ever seen at the close of a Nuggets game, even in the era of you-know-who. If you didn’t see it, stop what you’re doing now and go watch.

Ty Lawson, PG 43 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 13 AST | 16 PTS | -4

Another near triple-double, another game-winner, another up and down night where Lawson shined brightest with the game on the line and his team in utter despair. And this was the second night of a back to back. No big deal.

Al Harrington, PF 35 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 14 PTS | +12

Harrington’s production remains some of the steadiest on the team. He turned in another solid game, nearing another double-double but struggling with efficiency and missing most of his fourth quarter attempts. Harrington played the final 16 minutes of the first half and was fatigued in the fourth quarter. Harrington gives you a solid effort night in and night out, but the increased workload is taking it’s toll. Harrington played “waist-up” basketball down the stretch and had trouble getting his legs under his shot and moving his feet on defense.

Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 11 AST | 2 PTS | +8

Miller bounced back in a huge way, considering his second half in San Antonio was probably one of the worst shooting performances in a half by any player this season. Miller played much better tonight, notching 11 quality assists and making a fantastic play on what should have put the game away with 30 seconds remaining in overtime. Bad calls aside, Miller made solid decisions all night, perhaps the only downer being his 4 turnovers.

Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -4

He was great in the pick and roll, great in the open floor and superb in the energy categories, where Birdman tallied 2 blocks and 5 free throw opportunities limited minutes. Birdman is doing all he can to debunk the “Anthony Carter” theory stating that he needs a multiple days rest to be effective on the court.

Nene, C 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1

The good thing is Nene looked healthy and showed no problems making lateral cuts or elevating. The bad news is it appears Nene has gone the better part of a month without practicing much basketball. The game was moving a little too fast for him and Nene had trouble catching passes and getting his shot off. Nene should work himself up to speed with some more practices and conditioning sessions under his belt.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +6

It’s tough for me to tell if Gallo is all the way healthy yet, because he certainly wasn’t moving about the court at his normal speed. On the other hand, Gallo made some nice shots and never forced anything. Gallo still seems to be testing his ankle and feeling out his ability to go full speed, which is fine. Like Nene, the team just didn’t know how to adjust to him being back on the floor yet, especially having played a tough game last night in San Antonio.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Houston Rockets 105

Denver Nuggets 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Houston Rockets
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | +8
As usual, Brewer was instrumental in setting the tone of the game, especially in the second half. Brewer started off somewhat slow but steadily gained momentum after leading the charge with the fast break in the third quarter where the Nuggets outscored the Rockets 31-24. His defense was solid and his effort, yet again top notch.
Kenneth Faried, F 30 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +11
Kenneth Faried was born to play basketball. What is happening right before our very eyes is difficult to process. In only a short amount of time Faried has taken drastic steps in his game — as a rookie, keep in mind. Against the Rockets he was the Nuggets’ best player for an extended period of time before Ty Lawson took over. And by “best player” I don’t mean strictly with hustle alone. Faried really looks like he’s just on another level at times. His athleticism allows for him to make a handful of plays in one night that most guys wont make in a week. Faried’s impressive 22.8 PER currently leads the team and with more playing time, that will likely only increase. At this point it’s fair to say, the “Manimal” revolution has begun.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 1-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +2
Unfortunately Mozgov re-sprained his left ankle that sidelined him earlier this month, but before going out he was having an impressive performance. While we’ve seen Mozgov steadily improve over the course of the season, we’ve still been waiting for his confidence to catch up. Against the Rockets, he finally appeared to combine his skill set with a confidence level that has been absent all year. Mozgov didn’t hesitate to shoot, rebounded well and actually attempted a few post moves in an assertive manner for once. Because of this, Mozgov gets his first A in six games.
Arron Afflalo, SG 31 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | +6
Arron Afflalo was sent from above to do one thing and one thing only this game: ignite the Nuggets offense in the second half. Going into the third quarter, even though the Nuggets had played hard, they were still behind and in danger of losing the type of game they had all too often leading up to the All-Star break. Enter Afflalo, who scored 10 of the Nuggets first 13 points in the third quarter which ignited the Nuggets offense for a 15-5 run. Afflalo scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half and was without question one of the main factors that contributed to Denver winning this game.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 6-15 FG | 9-12 FT | 7 REB | 15 AST | 22 PTS | +18
Words really can’t do justice for Lawson’s performance against the Rockets. Was this the best game of his career? You could argue that. He set a new career high in assists with 15, and was three rebounds shy of a triple-double. So statistically speaking, this was one of his better games as a Nugget. However, from an evolutionary standpoint, where upon you only analyze his progress as a player and where it culminates, this was hands down Lawson’s best performance of his Nuggets career. In fact, this was basically what his entire career was leading up to. The monster Ty Lawson we all know is hiding inside that diminutive frame finally emerged. Funny it happened this game too, considering just last night I published the Nuggets midterm grade report where I strongly implored Lawson to be more aggressive with his dribble, especially in the half court set. In all seriousness, if Lawson can have more games like these, the Nuggets will be a totally different team.

Al Harrington, PF
27 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +8
Harrington did nothing of great significance. Although he made a few big shots and played solid overall, this was a somewhat mediocre performance from “Big Al.” Nevertheless, he tried hard and played a role in an important Nuggets victory which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | +7
Miller was basically in the same boat as Harrington. Offensively he had a few nice post-ups and key baskets on occasion, but overall, considering how well everyone else played, Miller was fairly pedestrian.
Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 5-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +3
In yet another quality outing Koufos provided the size, defense, intimidation and rebounding that is needed from him. He made all five of his shots and had two huge blocks that really gave the Nuggets a much-needed spark. With Mozgov likely out for at least a few more games, Koufos should do a fine job filling in his place.
Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Stone only saw one minute of action, which was really about eight seconds. He was asked to guard the scorching-hot Kevin Martin on the last shot of the first half, and proceeded to strip the ball from him preventing Martin from even getting a shot up. This was outstanding defense and for that alone, he receives a B.
Jordan Hamilton, G 10 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +1
I felt Hamilton got somewhat of a raw deal in terms of minutes. He clearly got pulled after Karl didn’t feel he played well, however he didn’t have enough time to atone for his mistakes either. Though he missed all but one of his shots, none of them were bad, which makes the inaccuracy much more tolerable.

Denver Nuggets midterm report card: starters

Throughout Roundball Mining Company’s Rapid Reaction history we’ve had numerous readers suggest we keep a tally of each player’s grades, then add them up at the end of the season to evaluate the individual performances of the Denver Nuggets. We thank you all for the interest and have since decided to incorporate this idea as part of our blog. Being that the All-Star break essentially splits this lockout-shortened season in half we’re presented with the perfect opportunity to assess where the team, and its players, currently stand. Because these evaluations can get a bit lengthy we’ve decided to split up the series into three different sections: starters, bench players and rookies. This is the first part of the Denver Nuggets midterm report card.

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Highway to the Danger Zone?

Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Timofey Mozgov, Arron Afflalo. They all have missed game this season with an ankle sprain.  Some have been serious (Gallo) some have been much less so (Afflalo).  However, I think I speak for Nuggets fans everywhere when I ask, “What is with all the ankle sprains?”

Let me propose two potential causes that are the two pillars of Denver’s offense, pace and paint points, two categories in which they lead the entire NBA.  Maybe the Pepsi Center should be known as the Danger Zone. (more…)

5-on-5: Second-half predictions

While the 3-on-3 articles have become a popular series here at Roundball Mining Company, every now and then we like to get you, the reader, more involved in the process. Thus, 5-on-5 is born. Though we encourage everyone to give their own opinions on the following questions in the comments section below, a select few who follow us on Twitter have been invited to become an integral part of the article itself. This time around, Nuggets fans Joe Beebe and Mitchell Carroll will join Jeremy, Charlie and I to weigh in on the second half of the 2011-12 Nuggets season. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to ensure the next time we go looking for fan participants, you’ll be there to answer the call.

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The 12 Game Road to Recovery

The new year started out kind to the Nuggets, especially after beginning January with a franchise best 12-3 record. Although they went on to lose their final two games in January, coach George Karl still called it “maybe the best month I’ve ever had” as the Nuggets were talked about as legitimate contenders for a top four seed in the Western Conference.

That was three weeks ago. Even the worst case scenarios back then might not have predicted the precipitous slide the Nuggets would go on after losing those final two games in the month of January. Unfortunately the nightmares have come true as the Denver Nuggets limp into the All-Star break reeling and out of the playoff picture altogether. To say they have fallen on hard times would be a massive understatement.

The injuries have gotten so bad moral victories have the Nuggets feeling pretty good about themselves despite going 1-5 in their last six games. It seems ridiculous, but the optimism is not misguided. To say the Nuggets have a favorable schedule coming up would be putting it lightly. 10 of the next 12 are at home and the Nuggets will be playing on at least one day of rest for ALL of them. Let’s take a look.

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3-on-3: Nuggets struggles

Over the last several weeks the Nuggets have endured one of its toughest stretches of the season, if not the last several years. After starting off the season on a record-setting pace, even winning six straight road games for the first time in franchise history, the Nuggets fell victim to a myriad of injuries and in the process saw its winning ways vanish in no time. After finally securing a much-needed win against Indiana the Nuggets will now look to get back on track but before Denver takes on the Suns at home on Tuesday, Roundball Mining Company decided to analyze the Nuggets recent struggles in our latest 3-on-3.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 113, Indiana Pacers 109

Denver Nuggets 113 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Indiana Pacers
Nene, C 22 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Nene went out early due to a calf injury, which HoopsWorld is reporting he’ll miss a few games because of, however till that point Nene was playing aggressive basketball and fairly good defense too.
Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +9
Brewer was without question the star of the game. He had more energy than anybody on the floor and may have single-handedly won the game with his relentless poise. He was hustling for every lose ball, playing lock-down defense and even displayed a versatile attacking repertoire that he had yet to fully capitalize on for an entire game this season. Brewer was clearly playing inspired ball due to the unfortunate passing of his father and put on one of the more memorable performances, from an emotional standpoint, that I can ever remember seeing from a Denver Nugget.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -1
A fairly overlooked aspect of Koufos’ game, to me, is his toughness. More than anyone on the team, Koufos comes to play on a nightly basis with attitude and pride which is often on full display when a scuffle breaks out or when an opponent attempts to show off. Koufos is always there first to stick up for his teammates and doesn’t back down from anybody. I thought this part of his game was evident against the Pacers even though he didn’t put up the most gaudy stat line.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 8-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 23 PTS | +4
Afflalo appears to have finally arrived. After not cracking the 20-point scoring mark all season, Afflalo has now done so in back-to-back contests. This is the Afflalo the Nuggets paid a hefty price to retain over the summer and one that needs to continue showing up if the Nuggets wish to make a strong push for the playoffs in the second half of the season.

Ty Lawson, PG
36 MIN | 10-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 27 PTS | +3
Lawson was excellent against the Pacers. Though his assists were down, his points were up and in game the Nuggets desperately needed to win, he delivered exactly what the team needed most: points. His 27 tied a season-high from opening night against Dallas while his .588 field goal percentage was the highest he’s shot since the 25th of January.
Al Harrington, PF 36 MIN | 4-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +4
Harrington’s .222 field goal percentage was the worst he’s shot all season, and was only compounded by the fact that it took 18 shots to get to that point. Still, Big Al was hustling and showing leadership during timeouts which cannot go unnoticed.

Andre Miller, PG
21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | -9
Miller’s stat line for 21 minutes was bad, but not near as bad as his on-court demeanor and effort on the defensive side of the ball. Through almost half the season Miller has been nothing short of a complete enigma. Some nights he’ll show up determined to make the best impact he can while other nights he’s the worst player on the court. Against the Pacers, he was the latter and it showed when he exited the game upon which the Nuggets immediately played inspired basketball.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +7
Fernandez was virtually nonexistent even though he saw a decent amount of minutes. This, typically isn’t good but since the Nuggets managed to scrape out a win, he can be somewhat forgiven, especially since he didn’t shoot the amount of ill-advised 3-pointers he has been lately.
Kenneth Faried, F 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | 0
Faried didn’t receive ample playing time but didn’t necessarily impress in those minutes either. Though in nearly every game Faried looks confused offensively and finds himself removed from the action entirely, against the Pacers it was even worse than normal. But what made things worse was his lack of impact on the defensive side of the ball. Faried absolutely must be more aggressive on the glass if he wants to find himself on Karl’s “good side.”

Nuggets Issues Exposed by Warriors

The closest thing to an easy win the Denver Nuggets have on the schedule in February are home games against the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.

So much for any easy wins.

The Nuggets were demolished by the Warriors in a game that cast light on Denver’s biggest issues.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 101 Golden State Warriors 109

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

One Thing We Saw

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

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 95 Dallas Mavericks 105

Dallas Mavericks 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 4-5 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | -10
Nene had a harmless double-double. I was surprised he produced this much because he continues to have trouble finishing at the rim. Nene had an incredibly difficult cover in Dirk Nowitzki but that is not an excuse to completely neglect defending the weak side. No blocks, no steals, and too many turnovers. The one thing Nene did well was keep his head in the game instead of expending all of his energy arguing calls.
Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -8
I don’t know why the Nuggets went away from Stone. Karl keeps putting him in a terrible situation where he’s not in a position to make plays or develop his point guard abilities. I like the way Stone defends, but it’s hard to ignore how he helped the Nuggets get off to a horrid start on both ends of the court. I’ll give Stone an incomplete. The starting lineup experiment couldn’t have gone much worse and Stone suffered the most for it. He was not given a chance to play after 8 uneventful minutes.
Chris Andersen, C 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -13
Birdman is like that cheap, no-name vodka occupying the bottom shelf of your favorite liquor store. Are the cheap thrills of a good night once in a while worth the ensuing week-long headache? No, and consistently going there is a sign you may have a serious problem. Starting him was Karl’s strangest decision yet. He hasn’t started since 2008 against the Hawks, where he also struggled mightily and the Nuggets lost. I like Birdman in small, infrequent doses when the team is exceptionally flat. Starting him flat out didn’t work.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -21
It’s tough to settle on a good grade for Afflalo, because he showed some fight coming off another horrendous start. There was a stretch in the third quarter where he looked to be asserting himself as a leader while imploring the Nuggets to work harder on the defensive end. Unfortunately, Afflalo was just way too up and down. He missed every big shot he took and just didn’t consistently play up to his talent. He finished with a game worst -21, a stat not indicative of his true play but a strong sign that he just doesn’t have it together. There are signs he is getting there.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 5-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | -4
Lawson wasn’t aggressive enough, but it’s totally unreasonable to expect him to just start taking over games while trying to grow into his long term role as a starter. A double-double from your starting PG should be more than enough for any good team in the league to get a win, especially one with as much depth and scoring talent as Denver. It’s imperative that Lawson get way more aggressive going to the rim, but at least he is improving. The main problem is the defense and Lawson can’t fix that. Ty has the right idea in trying to make this haphazard offense work by not forcing too many shots, but he simply needs to get meaner and be relentless attacking the paint.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | -5
Great stats, but just one of those hollow efforts as you never got the sense he had much of an impact on the game. To be fair, the game was pretty out of hand by the time he came in. Al Buckets is at least making shots and not afraid to take them when needed. With the Nuggets suffering a crisis of confidence at the moment, you have to appreciate what Al brings to the table. Unfortunately Harrington is a big part of the Nuggets giving back way more points than they are able to put up. I had to dock Harrington’s solid production because he ultimately didn’t make plays when the Nuggets needed it most. Al’s effort does not go unnoticed though, I love how hard he’s playing and this team’s problems are much bigger than him.
Andre Miller, PG 29 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | +4
His defense is so bad, you need a nightly double-double just to compensate. Miller can’t guard anyone and the team seems to know it. Karl seems okay with having him lay off his man while praying he can cut off drives to the rim. The problem is teams are finding the open shooter and Miller can’t be bothered to close out. Outside of the defense, Miller struggled again with turnovers but played about as well as he can offensively. This may be the best you can get out of Miller in a nightly bench role and I’m not sure giving a 36 year old this many minutes is the wisest idea.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | +4
Fernandez had the hot hand early and helped close out the second half on a mini Denver run. The Nuggets then curiously went away from him while the starters lost all momentum. His shot selection was much better and his gambling defense continues to be frustratingly hit or miss. Still, Rudy played with a lot of passion and showed resolve on a night the rest of the Nuggets looked scared.
Kosta Koufos, C 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Koufos is impressing me more with each game. He still makes a lot of mistakes getting caught on switches and trying to guard the perimeter, but the guy is only 22 years old and still learning the most difficult position in the NBA. He usually produces whenever he gets minutes, so I don’t understand why he was removed from the starting lineup. Koufos may have been the only positive in terms of the defense tonight and he barely played. I was wrong about the guy — he’s a surefire rotation player and the Nuggets need to live with some rookie mistakes while developing him.

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

According to NBA.com’s Aaron Lopez, the Nuggets will send out a starting lineup against the Dallas Mavericks that consists of Nene, Chris Andersen, Julyan Stone, Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson. This is Birdman’s first start since the 2008 season and Julyan Stone’s first start at small forward since joining the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Corey Brewer is still out due to the tragic death of his father. Our thoughts and prayers are with Corey and the rest of the Brewer family.

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