Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108 Philadelphia 76ers 104 (OT)

Denver Nuggets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Philadelphia 76ers
Nene, C 38 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 14 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +9
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but Nene stuck with it and finished. Yes, he still shoots way too many underhand line drives at the rim, but Nene was the lone reliable big in this game. He secured the rebound that led to the game-winner and played the best defense he has all year.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 33 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | +14
It’s hard to give Gallo anything other an ‘F’. He was benched for the final play of regulation and the entire overtime. He did nothing but tentatively stand around and hoist threes on offense. Gallo couldn’t even hold his own defensively against the wiry Thad Young and he was absolutely torched on every switch. He folded and turned in a truly spineless performance. Let’s hope it was a one time thing.
Kosta Koufos, C 7 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -6
The slow-footed Koufos had a rough start against the rookie Vucevic who simply overpowered him. He shoots too many soft hooks and floaters and simply wasn’t physical enough for his presence to be useful in this game. He didn’t see any action after the first quarter as the small lineups delivered the win. I’ll give Koufos a break as he hasn’t played in a long time, but he needs to be tougher.
Arron Afflalo, SG 44 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -1
Another frustrating performance by Arron, who was on track for his best game yet with a solid first half. He disappeared in the second half and reverted to forcing shots and generally being un-clutch and clumsy with the ball in his hands. Afflalo did make a big pull-up jumper late and hit two free throws to seal the win. Like Nene, he kept his cool and finished strong despite some poor stretches of play. That kind of guts and character goes a long way to winning games like these.
Ty Lawson, PG 45 MIN | 6-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Lawson was frustratingly inconsistent all night long and was thoroughly outplayed by Andre Miller. He is unable to get in a any sort of rhythm and is struggling mightily to finish layups. His turnovers are up and his scoring is down, but Lawson continued to play with confidence and kept attacking when the team looked ready to pack in it.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -9
Harrington continues to do his job – stretch the floor and defend the post as best he can. Unfortunately he had to team with Birdman in the second half and with the Nuggets switching every screen after the first quarter he had trouble staying in front of the Sixers. I can’t fault Harrington’s performance and ultimately he stepped in for Gallo in overtime and played a huge part in gutting out the win.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 12-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 10 AST | 28 PTS | +18
He was clearly motivated against his old team and flat out dominated. Make no mistake, the Nuggets were dead in the water after a second half defensive meltdown fueled by turnovers – and Andre decided to go out and win the game. This was the best performance of any Nugget this season and I’m still fairly shocked at what I saw the 35-year old Miller just do to his old team on a back-to-back.
Chris Andersen, C 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -5
Andersen turned in another sub-par effort and the Nuggets won in spite of him. He played an acceptable first half and followed it up with his worst effort yet, which is saying a lot considering how up and down he has been. He mercifully fouled out early but otherwise played cowardly defense and contributed very little offensively after a first half in which he at least got to the line and scored some.
Corey Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -13
Brewer knows how to play only one way and it’s all out chaos when he’s in the game. Things are either going great or god-awful terrible when he’s in and there’s no in between. Overall I liked Brewer’s energy a lot although the team defense was wildly inconsistent with him on the floor

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 105, Milwaukee Bucks 95

Denver Nuggets 105 FinalRecap | Box Score 95 Milwaukee Bucks
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…

Rapid Reaction: Utah Jazz 106 Denver Nuggets 96

Utah Jazz 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 35 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-7 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | -4
I don’t grade the boxscores. Yes, Nene scored 18 points with decent efficiency, but he missed 5 free throws and had 5 turnovers on the night. Nene was the key to this game for the Nuggets and came up short when it mattered most. Poor rebounding, poor defense, and poor shot selection. He looked like Koufos out there with the array of underhand flip shots, soft floaters and hooks underneath the rim.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 2-6 FG | 12-12 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | -9
Gallo must be more aggressive for the Nuggets to have a chance. He came into the fourth quarter with a grand total of 3 field goal attempts. Gallo gets credit for making all of his 12 free throw attempts and doing some creative work with the ball in his hands. I liked him running pick and rolls with the Jazz aggressively trapping Lawson. He tallied 4 assists and had no turnovers. Just way too passive and once again he was eaten alive at the power forward spot – which is purely a coaching mistake.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -3
Mozgov’s rebounding instincts are really bad, but beyond that he was the best big man the Nuggets had in this game. He was active during his minutes but nothing about his performance really stood out. He needs to be tougher and the coaches need to trust him more.
Arron Afflalo, SG 35 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-10 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -4
He certainly played hard, perhaps harder than anyone else on the floor, but his mistakes were costly and momentum killing. Two flat out terrible travels, a couple of out of control drives to the hoop and once again incredibly un-clutch shooting and huge missed free throws. I give him an A+ for effort, but results are all that matters.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 13 PTS | -6
What a tough game for Lawson. I think he would have easily scored close to 20 had he not missed some bunnies at the rim. Lawson’s energy was there, but his teammates looked slow and out of sync. Lawson should be able to have unspectacular, solid nights like this and still be in a position to win. Much like Afflalo, Ty couldn’t catch a break tonight but he made far fewer mistakes than anyone else on the floor.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -3
Harrington deserves credit for being the only bench player showing fire and competitive spirit. He had 4 steals, scored fairly efficiently and really, you can’t complain about his numbers. His defense was atrocious and he was another one making crucial mistakes in a close game when it mattered the most. I’ll take less production out of Harrington for fewer fouls and smarter basketball plays. Harrington was worse than his numbers and that trend is not exclusive to this game.
Andre Miller, PG 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -11
Looked like he didn’t care. Just a shocking performance all around. Failed to contribute anything and completely killed the team’s spirit and energy every moment he was on the floor. Miller looks lost and does not seem like he ever wants to be found.
Chris Andersen, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2
Andersen had 4 blocks, but one was erroneously credited to him when it should have been Corey Brewer’s. Birdman put up somewhat of a fight, but he did not block anyone out and was bullied down low by the much more physical Utah Jazz. One rebound is not acceptable. Birdman’s game and his athleticism are broken down to a point he should not be in the rotation. It isn’t his fault because I do believe he is trying. On this team, he is the wrong guy and the wrong fit – Karl should have kept him on the bench and should continue to.
Corey Brewer, SF 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Brewer’s energetic style finally produced his first sub-par performance of the season. He is too aggressive bodying up his man at the three-point line, giving up wide open lanes to the basket for no reason. He took some questionable shots and did not play a controlled game. Brewer needs to show he can be more than a crazed maniac running around the court creating chaos.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 9 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -6
Rudy got hurt, but he started the game poorly with little energy. This grade is an incomplete and losing him turned out to be costly. The Nuggets had to rely heavily on Andre Miller and we all know that ended
Kosta Koufos, C 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Koufos should have played more, but he only came in for a split second after Birdman tweaked a muscle. I can’t remember seeing him do anything, so let’s go with an incomplete.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 117, Miami Heat 104

Miami Heat 104 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 39 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-9 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +9

Nene had one of his better games this year against the Heat. His 12 rebounds were a season high and his 17 points the most since the Nuggets faced the Jazz the second game of the year. From the get go it was clear Nene made it his mission to be aggressive and his stat line reflected this effort. That said, Nene still needs some refinement in his post game, specifically when it comes to finishing around the basket as there were a handful of occasions where he missed easy buckets that he simply has to make on a more consistent basis. Working with someone like Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing would likely do wonders for Nene’s offensive and defensive output.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +11

Gallinari was the best player on the floor for the Nuggets through about two and a half quarters, then his offense dropped off a cliff. Still, he hit numerous clutch shots when the Nuggets were in danger and played excellent defense on LeBron James for most of the night. But most importantly, Gallinari finally started to hit threes with confidence and boy does it look good!

Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +16

As I tweeted during the game, if you took Mozgov’s best play from each game so far this season and added them all up into some sort of montage, you’d get his performance against the Heat. Where this came from I have no idea. Not only was this Mozgov’s best performance of the year — and one of the top three of his career in the NBA — but it couldn’t have come at a more important time either. Mozgov showed off a silky smooth jump shot (which I had no idea even existed), good instincts and a desire to rebound the ball for really the first time in unison all season. If he has more outings like this, it’s fair to say his job as the starting center of the Denver Nuggets will be fairly secure.

Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3

Afflalo didn’t necessarily stand out but if you watched him closely it was obvious the type of defensive impact he was making on the game was commendable. You kind of have to do this with Afflalo to really appreciate his game. Yes, Wade and LeBron still had big games, but none of the shots they took went without being contested, and a lot of the times that was due to Afflalo. Additionally, AAA hit a few big-time 3-pointers when Miami was starting to mount some comebacks that really halted the Heat’s momentum and gave the Nuggets a shot to the heart.

Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 9-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 24 PTS | +16

My man: Ty Lawson. Anyone who follows this blog knows how big of a Lawson fan I am and tonight, he proved why that is. Looking at his All-Star caliber stat line is impressive enough, but it becomes nearly mind boggling when you consider the only shots he missed from the field in route to scoring 24 points came on 3-pointers he had to hoist up in order to beat the shot clock! This might very well have been the single best performance of any Nugget this year and is the type of confidence-building game that can really boost Ty Lawson to the next level. His crossover followed by a buzzer-beating jump shot on LeBron James near the end of the fourth quarter was teeming with shades of Tim Hardaway (who ironically enough, played for both the Nuggets and Heat and is a player Ty Lawson has some resemblance to.) Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what he follows this game up with.

Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +11

On a night when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to come off the bench and stifle a flurry of Heat runs, Al Harrington stepped up. He hit one countless big shot after another and did so, yet again, on an extremely efficient 6-for-9 from the field. It’s safe to say that without Al the Nuggets probably don’t win this one.

Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -7

Miller has certainly made me scratch my head recently with both his play on the floor and comments off it. In 27 minutes of action he managed only seven points and three assists all while failing, yet again, to push the pace the way the Nuggets are accustomed to playing. I’m not sure if what he said to Chris Tomasson this past week has gotten to his head or if he’s just fatigued, but either way this is now the second time in the last three games that he’s received either a “D” or an “F” after getting A’s and B’s through the first four games of the season.

Corey Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -1

What Brewer managed to do with his measly 12 minutes of playing time absolutely won’t show up in the box score, except in the final number of points scored by the Miami Heat. His defense against LeBron James and Co. was excellent and his energy, outstanding. The more Brewer plays the more he impresses.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +15

To me, this was by far Fernandez’s best game of the year. Granted, he took a few ill-advised shots, but that’s to be expected from a guy who’s main role is to score off the bench. What I liked most out of Rudy tonight was his activity on all ends of the court. He played solid defense on some of the league’s best offensive players and was constantly looking to nab a few steals in the process. Like Gallinari, his 3-point shooting finally appears to be clicking, which is creating a deep threat off the bench that the Nuggets haven’t had since, well, J.R. Smith. Over his last four games Fernandez is averaging 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting .474 percent from beyond the arc.

Kosta Koufos, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4

Koufos didn’t see enough time to allow for anyone to adequately assess his “performance” although he did show some aggressiveness in his whopping minute of action, which should not go unacknowledged, and won’t as long as I’m around.

Julyan Stone, G 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

When Julyan Stone enters the game, the opponent has one of two choices. Either way they are going to get schooled by an undrafted rookie but it’s their choice whether they’d like to get “Stoned” or “Julyaned” (as in chopped — like the salad… you get my point). The fact that he has a name which allows me to be my normal stupid self earns him a decent grade for the evening, but his nice dish to Koufos down low which led to a few free throw attempts doesn’t hurt either.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 123, New Jersey Nets 115

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

Is There Reason to be Concerned About the Denver Nuggets?

The Denver Nuggets are 6-4, they have a projected Pythagorean record, expected wins based on point differential, of 46-20 which is equivalent to a 57 win season.  They have been atop the league in defensive efficiency and feature possibly the deepest roster in the NBA.

That all sounds great, but if you have spent any time on this site you probably expect I am about to rain on the parade.  The truth is, buckle your seatbelts, I believe there are reasons to be concerned.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 81, Hornets 94

New Orleans Hornets 94 Final
Recap | Box Score
81 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -16
The one knock on Nene has always been his soft demeanor and his uncanny ability to disappear in big moments. That’s been the one caveat to his well-rounded game and tonight we saw all that all his athletic ability and efficiency comes at a price. Nene was a defensive sieve and after looking decent against Kaman and Okafor last Friday, he was dominated inside and couldn’t be bothered to put up much a fight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 38 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -18
Gallinari didn’t play the fourth quarter till the game was well out of hand. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only factor that made his stat-sheet contributions an empty effort. Defensively Gallinari was awful against his fellow countryman Marco Bellinelli and any other Hornet lucky enough to find themselves guarded by him.
Timofey Mozgov, C 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Not enough minutes to be a factor either way, but the Nuggets had some success guarding the rim and played better defense with him in the game. Nene and Mozgov continue to look like an odd pairing in the starting lineup. Karl’s quest to go small no matter how poor the matchup ultimately erased whatever small chance Mozgov had at making a difference against the Hornets dominant front line.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 2-8 FG | 8-10 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | 0
Not a good game. He was one of only two Nuggets putting up some kind of resistance on defense and it salvages his passing grade. Afflalo continues to set a poor example with questionable shot selection. Don’t be fooled by the 10 free throw attempts – Afflalo is a poor ballhandler and not a great finisher. The Nuggets need him playing his game and instead he forced offense all night – with poor results.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | -9
Lawson was awful on Jarrett Jack. He made poor decisions with the ball and just couldn’t sustain what little momentum the Nuggets were able to get. There’s a caveat to Lawson’s grade – he injured his ankle towards the end of the first half and looked hobbled the rest of the way. I would’ve liked to see him rest and he probably should have, but Lawson was a warrior and battled through.
Al Harrington, PF 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -11
Is Al Harrington as good as his torrid start to the season suggests? Absolutely not, and it would have been totally unreasonable to believe so. Harrington won’t be able to defend consistently and that limits the impact of his offensive talents. When he can’t hit shots, it’s just pure disaster as we saw tonight. Really awful defense and if Al Harrington’s 13-year career is any indication, there’s more to come.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | -13
To get an ‘F’ it goes beyond having a bad game. That happens to everyone. You have to be actively hurting the team every minute to be this bad. Miller did just that, making selfish decisions with the ball and doing the same thing he’s been doing all year – shooting too much. Miller’s contributions to this team have been overstated and I don’t like the way he’s played all year. He is an odd fit on this team to be honest.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
Incomplete. For whatever reason, he received a few charity minutes from George Karl and didn’t do enough to affect anything. Considering how poorly he’s played as of late, I’m not sure why Koufos didn’t get the call earlier.
Corey Brewer, SF 8 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Incomplete. Despite earning minutes, Brewer was another charity case given a few scraps for no apparent reason. Unlike Birdman he probably deserved his shot but just didn’t do enough to make any fair judgement concerning his play.
DeMarre Carroll, F 1 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +6
He saw a minute in garbage time, perhaps confirming suspicions that Faried won’t see a single meaningful minute of court time no matter what. Incomplete.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 27 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -9
Fernandez made shots, but they were awful ones. I really would have liked to see Brewer eat into his minutes. Rudy plays with energy and reckless abandon, but he is not an explosive scorer and I fear that this coaching staff somehow believes he is. Energy and effort were there, but he just took terrible shots and he doesn’t take enough pride on the defensive end. Another empty statline.
Kosta Koufos, C 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +4
Incomplete. He was called in during the second half, but unfortunately the Nuggets were already getting blown out and had no shot. Like Mozgov, the coaching staff has zero trust in him and refused to give him a chance in a game dominated by size.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets 96 Hornets 88

Denver Nuggets 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 New Orleans Hornets
Nene, C 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Nene played a few possessions where he looked dominant, but once again was passive during any key stretch where it looked like Denver could seize momentum. He played Birdman-like defense meaning one out of 3 or so possessions was fantastic and the rest was cringe-worthy.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 39 MIN | 9-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 23 PTS | +12
Gallo did more off-ball work than we’ve seen all season. Despite still missing a ton of shots from distance, he was aggressive and confident throughout the game. Gallo also recorded six assists on a night where the guards had a tough time creating shots for the team. Gallo played a very well rounded game tonight.
Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
Look, Mozgov just wasn’t in the game much. I was baffled as to why he or Koufos weren’t allowed to play in the first half despite New Orleans’ size causing so many problems. Timo missed a dunk and he misses a ton of tip-ins which is likely keeping him off the court. Although he wasn’t the worst defender on the floor, he was part of a dysfunctional unit that didn’t communicate on defense and couldn’t get out in transition.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +8
He still isn’t taking the greatest shots and for whatever reason, missing open threes causes him to keep shooting contested ones. There’s nothing to do but wait out Afflalo’s long range slump, and at least on defense its business as usual. His third quarter defense was fantastic and played a major part in the Nuggets’ second half surge.
Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 3-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | -7
For once, Lawson had to rely on his teammates to push the pace in Denver’s favor. He should have gotten a few more calls at the rim, but Lawson didn’t show a lot of patience running the offense instead opting to wildly drive the ball into traffic where the size and length of New Orleans bothered him.
Al Harrington, PF 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +9
Al Harrington has somehow made himself a solid defensive player. He played perhaps the most efficient minutes out of any Nugget and once again stepped up big when no one else was willing. He is the only one shooting with any confidence and he’s been a major factor in gutting out every tough win of the season.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +13
Miller gets his first ‘A’ of the season as he seemed to really settle the Nuggets down at the moment they were able to seize the game. I still don’t like his shot selection and some of the passes he’ll attempt in a half-court set, but Miller’s steady floor presence was great on a night Lawson struggled a lot.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -7
Birdman’s act is tired. I’m shocked the numbers make him look like a competent player. He looks great one game and then is consistently the worst guy on the court in the next. He’s completely awful on the road and the Nuggets won this game because Koufos finally cut into his playing time in the second half. Birdman’s energy just isn’t something to rely on – it’s a gimmick more than anything else.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | 0
Fernandez did exactly what he needed to do when called on. With Afflalo having one of his better games of the year, the minutes weren’t there but he gave maximum effort on both ends during his time. Fernandez isn’t taking unnecessary threes anymore and his play is steadily improving after an up and down start in Denver.
Kosta Koufos, C 17 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19
Koufos wasn’t really allowed in the game till the second half when the Nuggets looked morbidly bad on both ends. He proceeded to play like the best big on the floor and almost singlehandedly sparked Denver to the pivotal run that sealed it. His pick and roll defense was awesome and the Nuggets rotated much better with him anchoring the middle. I’m not sure why the coaches are so hesitant to trust him but he clearly deserves more time on the floor. Give Koufos credit for MVP in this difficult road win.

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Nuggets News: Mini Road Trip Preview

After three straight solid home wins, the Nuggets are carrying nice momentum into their second road trip of the season. It’s a quick back-to-back in New Orleans and San Antonio against two teams which provide unique challenges for this new Nuggets team. While the Hornets and Spurs appear to be reeling from injuries, let’s not forget these are still road games against well-rested opponents.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 110, Sacramento Kings 83 [UPDATED]

Sacramento Kings 83 FinalRecap | Box Score 110 Denver Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, C 4-6 FG | 2-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +3 Koufos netted the first double-double of his career and did so in only 24 minutes. Though he’s still turnover and foul prone, Koufos has showed a lot of progression in only two starts thus far. In Wednesday’s game he also completed the first isolation basket of any big man on the Nuggets outside of Nene when he demanded the ball in the post, performed a drop step and followed it up with a left-handed hook shot.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +11 Be honest, is there a possibility Gallinari reads this blog? No? Fair enough. But it does seem weird how the following day after I grill him for this poor 3-point shooting and implore him to drive to the basket more he does just that, not taking a single 3-point shot all game long. Wednesday’s Gallinari is the one we need to see more often: less shooting, more driving and distributing. Though his European upbringing and appearance may suggest a soft, shooter-driven style, in reality Gallinari is more Andre Iguodala than he is Peja Stojacovic.
Timofey Mozgov, C 4-6 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +6 This was one of Mozgov’s better games of the season. He finally ran the court with purpose and finished a few strong dunks as a result. Additionally, Mozgov’s soft hands were on clear display as he dished out three beautiful assists and converted a nice finger-roll basket which led to his first “and-one” of the season. That said, Mozgov is still out of control half the time. On more than one occasion he clumsily toppled over his opponent, picking up quick, unnecessary fouls that forced George Karl to resort to his bench sooner than he may have liked.
Arron Afflalo, SG 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -5 After six games Afflalo still hasn’t found his groove, however shooting 5-8 from the field and scoring 11 points in only 20 minutes of action is perfectly acceptable until he manages to figure things out.
Ty Lawson, PG 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +13 Lawson didn’t score the way he has been lately, but then again, he didn’t need to. His five rebounds, six assists and three steals were accumulated while playing solid defense and controlling the pace of the game with precision. Lawson currently ranks first among NBA point guards in steals, second in field goal percentage and third in points per game and field goals made despite ranking only 15th in minutes per game!!!
Al Harrington, PF 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +31 What’s left to say about Big Al that hasn’t already been said before? Dude continues to be an absolute revelation while committing hardly any ill-advised plays. This is now Al’s third straight “A” of the season — by far the best GPA of any Nugget this year.
Andre Miller, PG 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +22 Miller is as rock solid as they come. He has yet to lay an egg and plays within himself every minute of every game. He’s the perfect counterpart to Lawson and someone the Nuggets will continue to rely on down the stretch. He also ranks second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio behind only, the always efficient, Jose Calderon.
Chris Andersen, C 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +19 This was Birdman’s best game of the year, bar none! From the get-go he was challenging every shot within his range and altering countless attempts in the process. He also played the passing lane extremely well and had active hands to go along with it, evident by his three steals. Put simply: This is the Birdman we signed to a hefty contact just a few years back and the one we need to see on a more consistent basis.
Corey Brewer, SF 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +12 Brewer again played great, all things considered. He’s not the best shooter, but his three steals and one block in only 18 minutes are what really shines. Could the Nuggets have finally found a potential Durant “stopper”? Only time will tell.
DeMarre Carroll, F 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -2 Carroll didn’t see that many minutes but was efficient with the time he was given. Although he did commit a few bad turnovers, this is to be expected from a guy who hardly ever sees the floor.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 4-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +22 Tonight was Fernandez’s coming out party. He played the best ball he’s played all year and finally eased up on the 3-pointers. His mid-range jump shot was silky smooth and something he should absolutely should consider expanding on using in the future. Clearly the key for Rudy is to not designate himself as a one-dimensional, 3-point shooter. Much like Gallinari, if he can focus on driving, taking advantage of his above average handle and utilizing his court vision, he’ll improve vastly and once again be placed among the upper echelon of bench players in the NBA.
Kenneth Faried, F 2-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +3 If you haven’t heard by now, Kenneth Faried was not only trending worldwide on Twitter after his performance Wednesday, but he also landed the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays… for the third time since being drafted by the Nuggets, no less. Faried entered the fourth quarter at the 10 minute mark and logged what was by far the most exciting, promising, energetic 10 minutes any Nugget has produced in a really long time — maybe ever. His now infamous ally-oop dunk sent shock waves across the Pepsi Center and his three blocks were the epitome of athleticism. More importantly, Faried finally tore down rebounds the way he did in college. After this performance it’s hard to see Faried riding pine like he has been.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Sacramento Queens: Let’s just put is this way, in no way did the Kings look regal on Wednesday. Poor shooting, bad decision-making, no ball  movment — it was all there. Give the Nuggets credit for playing solid defense if you want, but it was really the Kings poor play that secured the victory for Denver.
  2. The Arc Enemy: Finally the Nuggets drove the ball inside and the results showed. Denver shot its highest field goal percentage of the year against the Kings, and conversely, its lowest number of 3-pointers. Let’s just hope this becomes a staple of the Nuggets’ offense rather than an ephemeral fad.
  3. Koufos vs. Mozgov: Yes, this was a “Things We Saw” from the last recap, but it’s likely not often these two will start next to one another and receive roughly the same amount of playing time too. Koufos again thoroughly outplayed Mozgov and didn’t commit as many glaring fouls either. In addition, Koufos landed a double-double in only his second start — something Mozgov has yet to accumulate all season even though he’s started every game — and showed flashes of a relatively polished post game, which Mozgov is not even close to achieving. At this point, it’s clear: Mozgov is simply the more flashy, popular “stiff,” while Koufos is the one of substance, flying under the radar, doing all the dirty work.
  4. ¡Que bueno!: It was great seeing Rudy finally attacking the basket instead of sitting behind the arc jacking up contested threes. His passing skills, evident by his eight assists on the night, are way above average for a shooting guard and something that could greatly benefit the team. He also displayed a very fundamentally sound jump shot for the first time all year, which did not fail him all three times he chose to use it. Maybe we should add Rudy to the “Players that Need More Time to Develop” list.
  5. #Manimal: As already touched on above, Faried was killer tonight. His athleticism was on full display and made every other player on the court seem like a pure civilian. Keep in mind, this is the NBA were talking about here. The most athletic human beings on planet Earth play in this league and yet somehow Faried made them look like just that — humans. I know his fundamentals are a little rusty and he can be caught out of position from time to time, but the way he was blocking shots and destroying the rim was pure, raw, in-your-face nastiness that simply cannot be ignored or brushed to the side any longer simply because he’s a “rookie.” After the game Faried stated, “Hopefully tonight proves I can play if coach puts more faith in me,” which is exactly what it will come down to. Seeing how Karl handles this situation going forward is going to be interesting, but one thing’s for sure: After Wednesday’s performance, his time on the bench just seems even more unnecessary.

Rapid Reaction: Nuggets vs. Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C
4-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -1
It was a little funny seeing him stare down his teammates and almost scream out for help whenever Bynum or Pau made a move on him. Nene was solid but not much of a factor in the win to be honest. The Lakers bigs easily pushed him around down low while he continues to put up poor rebounding performances. As I said before, the move to power forward is not paying off for Nene and I am confused why he had to throw such a fit about playing center – where he is better.
Danilo Gallinari, F
7-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +11
The Rooster still can’t find his touch from distance, but he did shoot 6-9 on non 3-point attempts. Gallo also recorded five steals and was a key factor in the fourth quarter run that sealed the victory. It wasn’t a perfect game from Gallinari, but he played his best when it mattered.
Timofey Mozgov, C
0-0 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -14
Mozgov racked up five fouls in 13 minutes and clearly let the officiating get into his head. He spent most of the night trying to get a call and once again struggled denying Bynum position. Timo showed a few flashes defensively but he needs to learn to fight for position and contribute on the glass like a starting center should.
Arron Afflalo, SG
2-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -10
He’s contributing defensively like you’d expect, but it’s been a rough road getting Afflalo involved on the offensive end. He looks tentative, dribbles too much and jumps away from contact rather than finishing through it. The Nuggets need to get him some shots and work him into the offense more.
Ty Lawson, PG
5-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 17 PTS | +18
Everything was there for Lawson tonight. The Nuggets came alive with him on the floor and were consistently able to speed up the game and run on the tired Lakers. He scored, he got 10 assists despite poor shooting from teammates and his defense was the key to the fourth quarter run that sealed the win. His presence makes Andre Miller extraneous late in games and the Nuggets need the ball in their best player’s hands every big possession.
Al Harrington, PF
3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +15
Once again, Harrington was all the Nuggets had going the first half of this game. As I tweeted earlier things could be looking grim if Al were to cool off before the offense got itself sorted. Luckily, Ty Lawson stepped up in the second half and Al Buckets wasn’t asked to carry the Nuggets again. Harrington continues to contribute in all areas of the game and grabbed a team-high 11 boards. I would have liked to see more Afflalo in the fourth quarter but you can’t deny Harrington is playing well right now.
Chris Andersen, C
5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +17
After playing a combined 12 minutes in the past two contests, Birdman bounced back with his best game of the season. His conditioning and leaping ability still aren’t there, but he continues to give a better effort on the floor and finally saw some results. His defense remains wildly inconsistent, but Bird was solid tonight. He scored with efficiency, rebounded well and recorded his first blocked shot of the season.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Rebounding matters. For the first time in two games the Nuggets hold up their end on the boards and match their opponent’s total. They continue to struggle on the offensive glass, grabbing only five despite missing 38 shots.
  2. Pace is the key to victory. The Nuggets were only able to pull away thanks to Ty Lawson pushing the tempo. The half-court offense remains a mess and unless they want to play Lawson 40-plus minutes a night, the Nuggets must get better in the half-court game.
  3. Getting to the line equals wins. It’s as simple as that. The shooting struggles continue yet Denver stayed alive by attacking the Lakers big men and forcing the issue at the rim. Thirty seven free throw attempts is a season high and the Nuggets made a respectable 31 of them.
  4. The bench is missing something. As much as I hate the constant dwelling on the departure of JR Smith, the Nuggets are missing his explosiveness and energy off the bench. The offense is bogged down and slow with Andre Miller. Rudy Fernandez is little more than a passer and spot up shooter. The Nuggets couldn’t take advantage of Kobe resting and part of what kept them in the game is the fact the Lakers lack bench scoring as well.
  5. The defense is promising. Kobe had an off night shooting the ball, but the Lakers as a team shot less than 40 percent. This was a rare feat for past Nuggets teams and they have shown an ability to compete in low scoring affairs. The Nuggets continue to communicate and improve their team defense despite foul trouble. Strangely, their offense is letting them down in their 2 losses.

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2011-12 Game 4: Lakers 92, Denver 89

Obviously there’s a lot to be said about this game, but first and foremost: Gallo. Come on man!!! As I recently texted someone, if you’re a 6-10 athletic deer in the open court and the only thing stopping you from making a game-tying layup with a few seconds left in the fourth quarter is a 6-foot Steve Blake, how do you not drop a thunderous dunk over the guy?!? I know it’s easy to sit back from our couches and criticize professional athletes who do things on a daily basis we could only dream about, but a layup!?! I’m pretty sure most people could manage that. Bottom line is in the NBA you simply have to make your dunks, layups and whatever other “gimmes” are offered up by the opposing team. If you can’t, then you should probably kiss your title-contending hopes goodbye.

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Rapid Reaction: Nuggets at Lakers

Denver Nuggets 89 Final

Box Score | Recap

92 Los Angles Lakers
Ty Lawson 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 9 PTS | -13
After a torrid start to the season, Lawson cooled off and struggled to find his rhythm offensively. He made a concerted effort to get others involved finishing with a season high 8 assists. Unfortunately Lawson had four turnovers, missed 2 big free-throws and failed to get anything going in the half-court. It behooves him to be a little more selfish and stay aggressive as that often creates better openings for his teammates than simply passing to them.
Arron Afflalo 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-5 3PT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -9
Afflalo has not been a key factor in any of Denver’s games and continues to struggle finding a role. Despite that, this is the best he has played all season and we finally saw his familiar defensive presence show up in a meaningful way. The Nuggets defended much better than they have in their first 3 games and Afflalo’s solid effort on Kobe helped set the tone. Offensively, Arron still looks hesitant and isn’t shooting the ball with confidence.
Danilo Gallinari 3-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS | -5
Is this guy having a bad week or what? Considered by many to be Denver’s best offensive talent primed for a breakout season, Gallinari has flopped. He continues to shoot horrible jumpers and refuses to get to the free throw line. The Nuggets need Gallinari to play better to have any hope of contending, and there is no choice but to let him keep shooting. The shooting slump is not what bothers me though – it’s his timid attitude and awful decision making down the stretch. Gallo only avoids a grade of ‘F’ for some solid pick and roll defense on Kobe Bryant. There simply was no excuse to miss that layup.
Nene Hilario 5-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 8 REB | 0 BLK | 13 PTS | -11
Is playing at Power Forward finally unleashing the full power of Nene’s game? In a word – no. From what I’ve seen in four games, the Nuggets are worse with Nene at Power Forward. Mainly because he hasn’t had success scoring outside of a small lineup where he plays Center. Nene finished with his career averages, about 13 and 8. He also missed a dunk that would have extended the Nuggets lead late and wasn’t a factor down the stretch.
Timofey Mozgov 26 MIN | 4-7 FG | 10 REB | 4 BLK | 8 PTS | +3
Mozgov is agile for a big man, moves his feet well has decent enough hands to handle precision passes under the rim. Him and Al Harrington were the most reliable Nuggets bigs in terms of hedging on pick and rolls and keeping L.A. out of the middle. Mozgov also grabbed a team high 10 boards and was the only starter to finish with a positive plus/minus. Although he couldn’t keep Bynum from getting good position down low, Timo is developing just fine in the starting lineup.
Al Harrington 8-17 FG | 3-8 3PT | 3 REB | 21 PTS | +5
Can we just admit it now – Al Harrington is the second best player on the Nuggets roster through 4 games. He made big shots when Denver needed it and is consistently giving all-out effort on defense. Harrington has a lot of shortcomings as a defender and rebounder, and grabbing only 3 boards while playing at Power Forward all game is a little disappointing. That’s not really what Harrington does though, and there’s no denying his offense carried the Nuggets in a game they were in a fantastic position to win

Five Things We Saw

  1. This is by far the most complete defensive performance of the young season. The Nuggets have had trouble rotating to shooters off double teams and fortunately no team except the Blazers made them pay. The Nuggets locked down on perimeter defense today and in the second half, played better Pick and Roll defense than we’ve seen in years. The bigs did a great job hedging, making Kobe pick up his dribble and denying him the middle of the floor. The Lakers were forced to go through Bynum and Pau for offense and unfortunately for Denver, both of them were on and they delivered.
  2. Andrew Bynum is a force down low. His return changes the whole complexion of the L.A. Lakers from a purely perimeter team to an inside-out contender. Bynum did a solid job running the floor and getting deep post position where the Lakers guards consistently got him the ball.
  3. On offense, the Nuggets didn’t attack Bynum on the pick and roll outside of a single possession where Lawson fed Nene for a thunderous dunk ending with an and-one (Nene predictably missed the free throw, then fouled Bynum on the other end). I am not sure why they didn’t do this more or attack the Laker’s point guards one-on-one in order to draw Bynum out of the paint. Bynum was free to roam the middle on defense and he finished with only 2 fouls and 2 emphatic blocks.
  4. To expand on the last bullet, the Nuggets’ half court execution is deplorable. They simply don’t create good looks a half court offense, and I’m not sure it would have mattered because nobody wanted to shoot. Watching a top flight playoff outfit like the Lakers run set plays, there’s no comparison to the Nuggets fumbling and bumbling their way into long jumpers. They aren’t built to win games in a slow, deliberate style and as I pointed out earlier it is a huge red flag. Making their shots would help, but it doesn’t change the fact Denver has extremely limited options for constructing shot opportunities late in games.
  5. Birdman played 5 minutes and committed three personal fouls. Personally, I thought Bird looked a little better than he has in the past and seemed to making an effort to stay on his feet and hold his ground down low. I said in the Blazers recap I did not think Bird was paying attention and fully engaged on defense. He seemed to be giving better effort but it didn’t result in the coaches showing anymore confidence in his game. Birdman can’t really jump anymore and isn’t a reliable source of blocks and weak side help. I do believe the coaching staff is evaluating bringing him in as the first big off the bench and my guess is rotation changes are definitely in play.

2011-12 Game 3: Denver Nuggets 102 Portland Trailblazers 111

Box Score | Highlights

The Nuggets played the first of what will undoubtedly be many ugly games in Portland tonight. It was a messy affair from the start, dominated by fouls, turnovers and questionable shot selection. Ultimately the game came down to a 2-minute stretch in which the tougher, more composed Blazers held it together and came out on top.

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2011-12 Game 2: Denver Nuggets 117, Utah 100

For the second straight game the Denver Nuggets handily defeated its opponent by at least 17 points. Spearheaded by stingy defense and a flurry of steals, the Nuggets continuously got out on the break and never let up. One wave after another eventually collapsed the opposing players and ultimately left the Jazz feeling “kind of blue.” (more…)

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