Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 98 Boston Celtics 91

Boston Celtics 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 5-5 FG | 8-8 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +9

By halftime, Faried had 11 rebounds while the entire dead-legged Celtics team had 12. He turned in a career night in only 24 minutes, which would have been about 17 had Miller and Harrington not engineered an epic fourth quarter collapse. He was the most dominant player on the floor and he’s doing it all without the support and trust of his head coach. This guy just doesn’t know to quit. Nothing stops him.

Danilo Gallinari, SF 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +10

Why he got only one shot in the fourth quarter is a mystery, but all things considered this was another solid effort by Gallo on both ends of the floor. He was looking to wear down the Celtics early and none of the men in green were able to stay in front of him. Gallo’s aggression set the tone early and his shot selection was simply outstanding. Gallo’s a much smarter player than people give him credit for.

Timofey Mozgov, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +4

Since returning from injury, Mozgov’s been playing his ugliest ball of the season. It was great to see him bounce back with a focused effort against a team like the Celtics, who are not the championship contenders they once were but still have one of the league’s top defenses. He appears to be getting some of his elevation back and looked much more confident on the offensive end.

Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +10

Afflalo was somehow very erratic and steady at the same time. He took 14 shots and missed some easy interior passes by not realizing when his 7-foot teammates were posting up guards. Yet he still led the team with a +10 in 30 minutes and ended up with the second most assists behind Lawson. He played well, but from a leadership standpoint I think he can still improve quite a bit.

Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 7 PTS | +7

It was a very rough game for Lawson, who often had to guard Allen and Rondo while Andre Miller took the night off. He took five shots in 32 minutes, which is just way too passive even though he realized the Nuggets needed to be going through their bigs, who were wearing the Celtics down. Lawson’s heads up play and staunch defense rescued Denver’s guard play from the terror of Andre Miller.

Al Harrington, PF 28 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -1

For every good play Al Harrington made there was a boneheaded mistake. That kind of inconsistency can’t be afforded with Al anymore. With Nene out of the picture, he seems to know he’s got tons of freedom and total immunity from the coaching staff. That’s all fine and well so long as Harrington plays unselfishly and makes smart decisions. Al’s blooper reel included an uncontested three-point airball that missed the rim by about five feet. I’m serious

Andre Miller, PG 23 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -2

He clearly doesn’t care anymore, and neither do I. Miller gets no more words out of me. Scroll down to the comments if you really wanna know how bad it was. Our informed readers can get this one for me. I’m done with Andre Miller.

Corey Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -4

Brew’s hands were all over the court. He hounded Rajon Rondo, whose eye popping production didn’t come without some serious pressure during Corey’s limited time on the floor. He is so adept at stealing the ball and really makes that over-aggressive style work for him.

Rudy Fernandez, SG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 3 PTS | -7

Rudy is making steady progress since his return to the bench rotation, but I’d place him in the Al Harrington category as a little too spastic in this particular game. I don’t want to judge Rudy too harshly because he was forced to play nearly all of his minutes alongside Andre Miller.

Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +9

Koufos had perhaps the perfect performance for a defensive backup Center. When you look at his numbers and the appropriate 15 minutes of playing time, you see a guy who knows exactly where he fits into the puzzle. On a night the bench just wasn’t getting it done, Kosta stepped up big.

Two Things We Saw

  1. George Karl is clearly damaged and still reeling from the effects of the Nene trade. He is denying Faried minutes out of spite more than anything else. Karl’s response to the the trade is to lean even more heavily on his veterans Andre Miller and Al Harrington. The trade was designed for the Nuggets to go younger and play bigger. The heavy small ball Karl leaned on immediately turned the tide in Boston’s favor and deserved to get him a loss.
  2. I had this game penciled in as an easy win and would have been worried if the Nuggets couldn’t muster one of their best efforts of this home stand. It has nothing to do with the Celtics, who clearly appear to have problems, but with a healthy roster this is as close to scheduled win as you can get. Boston was playing off a late night west coast back-to-back while the Nuggets were rested. In past years, there is something like an 85% loss rate for teams in the same situation. This was not a fair fight and the easiest game of the home stand outside of dates with the Cavs and Kings — and we all remember what happened in those.

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