Denver Nuggets midterm report card: bench

In the second article of our three-part series evaluating how the Denver Nuggets have performed through roughly half the season, we take a look at the bench. The same format from the previous installment applies here. Keep in mind however that rookies are not evaluated in this episode of the series as they did not play a role on the bench until recently. Rookies will be analyzed separately in the final section of our midterm report card series. So without further ado, here is the Denver Nuggets midterm report card for the bench.

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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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Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Clippers 103, Denver Nuggets 95

Denver Nuggets 95 Final

Recap | Box Score

103 Los Angeles Clippers
Corey Brewer, SF 35 MIN | 3-10 FG | 6-7 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +1
Brewer is usually an energetic spark of mayhem, but spent most of the evening hoisting up ill-advised 3-pointers and taking bad shots in general. Even his defense was mediocre, which is never a good sign.
Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | 0
Look at the numbers. In 22 minutes Faried put up way better stats than Mozgov or Koufos yet he was relegated to the bench throughout the heart of the game. His defense on Blake Griffin virtually eliminated one of the Clippers’ best offensive weapons while his tenacity for 50-50 balls was top notch. Had Faried received more time, which he deserved, the outcome of this game may have been different.
Timofey Mozgov, C 23 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -4
Just when I was lightening up on Mozgov he goes off and has a game like this. It’s funny how Karl always preaches about rookies and their mistakes, yet Mozgov is by far the worst offender in this category, and for whatever reason seems to have some of the best job security on the team. What gives?
Andre Miller, PG 35 MIN | 3-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 8 PTS | -9
Miller was actually seen playing defense on a few occasions but was a ball stopper on far too many offensive possessions. Worst of all, he wasn’t making any of his shots. It’s nice to see eight assists, but really, none of them were all that spectacular. In 35 minutes, he needs to produce better.
Arron Afflalo, SG 38 MIN | 7-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -14
Afflalo has very quietly had a fantastic little stretch over the last several weeks. This is now the sixth time in the last eight games that he has scored at least 20 points. The best part about this one, however, was the fact that it was done efficiently. Afflalo’s offense is, without question, improving right before our eyes.
Al Harrington, PF 29 MIN | 3-13 FG | 5-10 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 11 PTS | -11
Up until the fourth quarter Al Harrington was either going to receive an “A” because the Nuggets won due to him kicking it into overdrive, or a “D” because he took way too many shots he shouldn’t have and totally killed the flow of the offense. Obviously the latter ensued and as a result Harrington turned in one of the more perplexing performances he’s had all season. Big Al was far too selfish and shouldn’t even have been in the game the last half of the closing quarter because of it.
Kosta Koufos, C 22 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +1
You’d like to see Koufos hit the boards a bit harder but his effort, as always, was there and so were a few nice baskets too. Unlike Mozgov, Koufos hardly committed a glaring error and did the job he was assigned to.
Julyan Stone, G 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +1
Stone was either nervous, off or possibly both. He had a few nice assists and was a floor general on offense but simply could not make the type of defensive impact we’ve come to see from him in the last few games. He also had some bad fouls that could have been avoided. Still, Stone’s effort on defense shouldn’t be overlooked as it was the best of any Nugget on the floor.
Jordan Hamilton, G 24 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | -5
Wow. What a performance by Hamilton. As I tweeted, if not for him, I’d have been left without any hair; instead, I still have a few strands. We’ll touch on Hamilton more in the “Things We Saw” section but for starters, keep in mind just how smart he played. He took no bad shots, passed when he was heavily guarded, played solid defense and even skied for a few boards. His shooting was clearly (and I mean CLEARLY) worlds better than Rudy Fernandez, but keep in mind, this is a small sample size. It should also be noted that Hamilton was the only Nugget to stay after the final whistle and congratulate the Clippers on the win, while the rest of the team hurried off to the locker room with heads hung low.

Rapid Reaction: Memphis Grizzlies 103, Denver Nuggets 102 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 102 FinalRecap | Box Score 103 Memphis Grizzlies
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 0-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -12
Four points in 25 minutes? That’s not the Big Al we’ve come to know this season. There’s no doubt that at this point, Al is struggling mightily to be effective while on the floor.
Corey Brewer, SF 32 MIN | 10-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 26 PTS | +2
Brewer was two points shy of a career high in points but did set a career high in three-point baskets made with five. It was his deadly behind-the-arc shooting that got the Nuggets back in the game and ultimately gave them a chance to win. Brewer has been and continues to be one of the more reliable players on the Nuggets roster, especially when it matters most.
Kosta Koufos, C 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -10
No stats and three missed shots in six minutes isn’t the definition of productivity. With Mozgov back and Bird productive with rest the center position is going to be filled by whoever is producing.  Koufos was outproduced by Mozgov and Birdman.
Arron Afflalo, SG 24 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -21
Afflao hit a big 3-pointer but was once again fairly quite in his time given. After scoring 20 points in three straight games, Afflalo has come back down to Earth.  Plus his defense continues to be sub par.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | -8
A nice, well-rounded game by Lawson overall. These are the types of outings we need to see on a more consistent basis from the young point guard.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 13 PTS | +11
Miller finally scored in the double digits for the first time since Feb. 8 while his nine assists were the most he’s tallied since Jan. 29. Miller hit some big shots down the stretch, although it should be noted that they were 3-pointers which is certainly not his specialty.
Chris Andersen, C 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +5
Birdman put up a decent stat line all things considered. Getting more than five rebounds must be considered a somewhat successful night for the “Bird.”  Throw in some solid defense on Gasol and Birdman was Denver’s best bet at center on this night.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +17
Only six points in 21 minutes while missing all three of his three-point attempts doesn’t look good in the box score.  Rudy did play some solid defense in the fourth quarter though and certainly helped the cause.
Timofey Mozgov, C 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
Mozgov finally returned and while he failed to do much offensively, his four rebounds and one blocked shot helped the Nuggets on the other end of the floor where his services are needed most.  He looked like he tweaked his ankle.  Let’s hope it is nothing serious.
Kenneth Faried, F 25 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 18 PTS | +14
If not for the botched block out at the end of the game, Faried would have turned in a phenomenal performance all around. It’s amazing how much better he is offensively than I had originally thought, and while this is refreshing it’s tough to overlook the small things Faried still needs to improve on. Boxing out, setting firm screens and getting better position everywhere on the court are still areas where Faried looks lost. This game will likely be a wake up call in more ways than one for the “Manimal.”

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Mavericks 102, Denver Nuggets 84 [Updated]

Denver Nuggets 84 FinalRecap | Box Score 102 Dallas Mavericks
Corey Brewer, SF 35 MIN | 3-15 FG | 3-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | -4
Brewer certainly wasn’t as effective as he has been coming off the bench, and he continues to struggle with his shot, but seven boards, four assists and five steals are smart, hustle numbers no matter how you look at it.
Kenneth Faried, F 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +1
Faried once again played solid, although his three rebounds in 21 minutes are tough to swallow. It’s odd; the last few games Faried has actually played much better on the offensive side of the ball than on defense — his specialty in college. It’s nice seeing the “Manimal” show the ability to score, although at this juncture his rebounding and defense are needed more.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -14
Koufos continues to impress. In only 26 minutes he set a new career high in rebounds, at 14, and was one of the few Nuggets who actually came to play. His toughness, passion and defense are more than admirable, while his gradual improvement only corroborates his case for being a steady rotational player. At this point, you could argue Koufos is the best big outside of Nene on the Nuggets roster.
Arron Afflalo, SG 25 MIN | 0-6 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -33
After scoring 20 points in three straight games Afflalo reverted back to the player he has been most of the year and laid an egg; however, being that most of the entire team did so as well, this performance can be somewhat forgiven. It’s going to be interesting seeing how Afflalo bounces back from this outing. Does he kick into overdrive and score in the upper teens like he’s capable of doing, or does he turn in another stinker? Stay tuned.
Ty Lawson, PG 28 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -15
All in all, this was probably one of Ty’s more disappointing efforts of the year. Before you chastise him too much though, keep in mind he was coming off 17 and 27-point performances the two games prior (which were both wins), and was met by a furious Mavericks’ interior defense every time he attempted to drive. Dallas really did a fine job of taking away the Nuggets penetration offense, which is essentially — Ty Lawson.
Al Harrington, PF 25 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -23
Harrington’s struggles continue. After leading the league in two-point shooting percentage through the early part of the year, Harrington has now shot over .500 percent in just one game this month. His overall field goal percentage has dipped nearly 10 percent in that time. All that said, Big Al has embraced the leadership role of a young Nuggets squad and is one of the few members of the roster who actually plays with a sense of pride on a nightly basis.
Andre Miller, PG 21 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -9
Twenty one minutes, zero points and two steals — what more can you say? About the only signs of life Miller showed against the Mavericks was when he angrily tossed the ball to a ref after not receiving a foul call while attempting to drive to the basket. Though his minutes did come in garbage time, it’s at least worth noting that Stone looked worlds better than Miller, especially on defense.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
Birdman didn’t crack the rotation till later in the game but once he did, he gave his full effort on both ends of the floor. His turnovers were down and his boards were up, but most importantly, he followed up one great performance with another solid outing. Right now, consistency should be Andersen’s biggest goal.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 20 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -11
Fernandez looked as if he wanted to prove something to his former team near the start of the game, and succeeded in doing so. He hit multiple 3-pointers and even a few tough jump-shots, but the luster slowly faded and eventually Fernandez was rendered just as useless as most every other Nugget.
Julyan Stone, G 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +10
Stone deserves a good grade because he truly made the most out of the time he was given and played the best defense of anybody on the Nuggets roster. George Karl should consider sitting down his entire team and forcing them to watch Stone’s lateral defensive movement as it’s quite remarkable and hands down better than anyone on the team. Furthermore, Stone’s penetration followed by his pinpoint passes is exactly the type of offense Karl urges his team to implement, which shows Stone is listening. Should Andre Miller find himself either traded or injured, Nuggets fans can rest assured knowing Stone would be able to fill in just fine… if not better.
Jordan Hamilton, G 9 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +12
In some truly extended minutes Hamilton finally gave Nuggets fans their first glimpse into the type of player he can be, which is an offensive scoring machine (note: “machine” used lightly in this instance). In nine minutes “J-Ham” took eight shots and made four them. His drives to the basket were a bit ill-advised and his defense was inconsistent, but there was no denying the skill Hamilton possess on the offensive side of the ball. It would be extremely interesting seeing how he fares in the heat of a close game.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109, Phoenix Suns 92

Phoenix Suns 92 FinalRecap | Box Score 109 Denver Nuggets
Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +3
As usual, Brewer was energetic early on and set the tone from the get-go. Though not his finest statistical performance, he was still decent, all things considered.
Kenneth Faried, F 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -7
This was the first time Nuggets fans got an in-depth look at the “Manimal” and it was quite telling. Faried put up a solid stat line in 24 minutes and scored better than most probably imagined, however it wasn’t error free. Faried still needs to work on his positioning down low and must set better screens if he wants to ensure more playing time comes his way in the future.
Kosta Koufos, C 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | 0
Koufos is quietly playing some outstanding defense at the moment. The near double-double is to be expected, but swatting three shots and snagging a career-high five steals is some damn good icing on the cake. The Koufos vs. Mozgov debate will rage on, however after performances like these Koufos certainly adds fuel to the fire.
Arron Afflalo, SG 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-7 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +16
This is now the third straight game that Afflalo has scored 20 or more points after not doing so the entire season. Before this mini-hot streak Afflalo looked lethargic, confused and out of place, yet suddenly he’s hit a switch that turned him into the player we all though he’d be coming into the season. Afflalo has looked great the last three games; let’s hope he keeps it up.
Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 6-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | +11
I though this was one of Lawson’s better performances of the year in a few ways. First, he shot extremely well from the field, only missing one attempt all night. Second, he really pushed the pace like George Karl often implores his team to do. This is a tougher task than it may appear on the surface, as it requires a lot of energy and hustle which only a few players really possess. Moving forward, Ty needs to make it his job to get the rest of the team playing at a frantic pace.
Al Harrington, PF 24 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +24
Big Al has cooled drastically since starting off the season sizzling hot. His field goal percentage has dropped every month since the start of the season and in February he’s shooting a very poor .384 percent from the field as well as .257 from beyond the arc. Harrington should get back on track soon but it’s fair to question how much of a role fatigue may be playing at the moment.
Andre Miller, PG 22 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 2 PTS | +17
Miller had a few nice passes but turned the ball over a team-high six times which virtually nullified any positive impact he made on the game. Though his assists remain relatively steady, most all other aspects of his game are extremely inconsistent — including his effort on defense.
Chris Andersen, C 22 MIN | 6-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | +17
This was Birdman’s best game of the year and probably one of the better of his career. He single-handedly sparked the turnaround that altered the game into a run-away rather than a barn-burner which is where it was heading. His six blocks were two shy of a career high as was his 16 points. This was a breakout performance in which he passed Antonio McDyess on the Nuggets all time blocks list and in the process might have secured more playing time down the road.

Rudy Fernandez, SG
20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +12
Fernandez had a solid outing by all accounts. He finally got his feet squared on his jump shot, which payed off in the form of some much-needed 3-pointers. He also had a few steals and played the way he should when coming off the bench (i.e., effectively and with lots of energy).

Julyan Stone, G
6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3
In six minutes all Stone had was one block and two turnovers. Nice to see him playing defense, but really, six minutes isn’t enough time to analyze much.
Jordan Hamilton, G 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -5
Hamilton falls in the same boat as Stone: not enough time. He turned the ball over more than he should have and missed both shots he took, but again, what can you expect in six minutes?

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.”

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.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 90, Houston Rockets 99

Houston Rockets 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 90 Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried, F 18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1
Time to temper the high expectations surrounding the Manimal. All things considered, he had a very solid debut in his first real NBA game. Despite some foul trouble, he showed a lot of promise defending Scola and Dalembert. Faried even skied high for a spectacular block and his high energy play energized the crowd in a painfully ugly game. It was not the most productive jaw-dropping debut, but Faried simply needs to take baby steps towards becoming a better player and he did so tonight.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 20 MIN | 4-9 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -5
I thought Gallo still showed signs of fatigue but battled hard in the 20 minutes he was able to play. He rolled his ankle badly in the third quarter and it was later revealed he suffered a possible chip fracture. It’s just a terrible injury at the worst possible time. Gallo hasn’t always played like the Nuggets best player but he’s clearly been one of the toughest. Assuming he’s out for a few weeks this is an incredibly costly loss.
Kosta Koufos, C 23 MIN | 3-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +1
Koufos couldn’t keep up his solid production as a spot-starter. Despite having a size and quickness advantage over the Rockets front court, he clearly doesn’t know how to assert himself on the block. What’s worse is he fouled out in 23 minutes. Despite notching some impressive blocks, 2K showed he’s a work in progress on the defensive end. Although Koufos is in his fourth year it’s hard to forget just how raw he still is.
Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 13 PTS | -2
Lawson had a tough time matching Lowry, one of the most overlooked guards in the league. It was tough for him to create with Houston packing the paint and doing a solid job getting back in transition. There was no post up threat on the floor and no consistent pick and roll options to work with. Ty tried his hardest to get others involved without forcing shots, but he could have been a lot more assertive with his own offense. Considering how talented he is, it’s tough to see him go passive even for small stretches of game.
Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Stone has trouble hitting an open jump shot and I thought it was a curious decision to start him. Although I’m a big Stone fan, Andre Miller seems more motivated as a starter and has played poorly off the bench. Stone’s length and quickness contributed to a solid defensive performance, but he had trouble fitting in on the offensive end where Miller and Lawson assumed most of the point guard duties, relegating him to becoming a spot up shooter.
Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-6 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -8
Harrington was asked to step way outside of a reasonable role yet again. He played close to 40 minutes twice in the past week and tonight he pulled the majority of the duty at power forward. 15 rebounds is pretty fantastic, but it cost him on the offensive end where Al couldn’t hit a shot or make free throws down the stretch. I give All all the credit in the world for his effort, but he just didn’t look good in the defense and rebounding glue guy role. Buckets is at his best when he’s living up to his namesake as a reliable bench scorer.
Andre Miller, PG 31 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -13
I get a lot of criticism for being hard on on Miller, but I expect a lot of out of him. He’s clearly capable of orchestrating the offense and yet consistently puts up duds every couple of games. He’s supposed to be the steady veteran hand guiding this young squad and showing them how to win. Miller opened the game with four first quarter turnovers, three of which were credited to him but all due to errant Andre passes. Miller just didn’t look like he was into it tonight and he just can’t set that kind of example for this team.
Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -7
Birdman clearly took exception to being benched and responded with one of his most productive outings of the season. As the game wore on Birdman’s defense faded a bit, but for a guy who hasn’t been playing his energy was a valuable shot in the arm to a lethargic defensive team. All in all Bird made the most of his minutes and you can’t say that for anyone else who received significant playing time
Rudy Fernandez, SG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -8
Fernandez used up a ton of crucial possessions this game and just didn’t deliver enough. It was a huge opportunity for him to assume a larger role and play big minutes with no Brewer and Gallo out with an injury. Rudy doesn’t offer spacing and hasn’t developed into a potent playmaking threat. The worst part of his game is the defense where he inexcusably jumps the passing lanes without regard for his teammates. Rudy was abused by every Rocket he attempted to guard tonight.

Rapid Reaction: Portland Trailblazers 117, Denver Nuggets 97

Denver Nuggets 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Portland Trail Blazers
Nene, C 27 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -18
It’s no secret Nene tends to struggle against taller, more talented big men. We saw it against the Lakers and again Saturday night against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Blazers. Early on Nene attempted to go after Aldridge down low in the post but got turned back on nearly every occasion. From that point on he disappeared and never really attempted to get back in the game.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 36 MIN | 7-14 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | -20
Gallinari drove aggressively to the hole and for that I commend him. This was a solid bounce-back performance after a few disappointing outings in which he took far too many outside jump shots. Gallo gave it his all for most of the game and looked completely pale on the sidelines at the end of the fourth quarter.
Kosta Koufos, C 34 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | -5
This was by far Koufos’ best game as a Nuggets and quite possibly the best game of his career. He logged at least 30 minutes for the first time in a Nuggets uniform and put up season highs in both points and rebounds as a result. More than anything, against the Blazers Koufos proved that if he receives enough playing time, he’ll produce. His 12 boards were a career high and the most of any Nuggets since Nene had 13 against the New York Knicks. His 34 minutes were also a career high.
Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1
Something has to be up with Afflalo. Nuggets’ radio announcer Jason Kosmicki tweeted after the game that he might have a groin injury, which leads one to question why he’d be playing in the first place. Even if he was truly injured it still doesn’t change the fact that Afflalo has struggled mightily up to this point in the season and is without question the biggest disappointment of the year so far. This was his second game in the last six where he received at least 20 minutes of playing time and has gone scoreless in the process. Maybe Afflalo should just take a few games off, get refocused and come back when he’s ready.
Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 16 PTS | -19
Lawson was a standout in terms of effort. He was flying around the court all night, looking as if he was the only one who hadn’t succumbed to chronic fatigue like most of his teammates. He penetrated with precision and either ignited or got out on the break every time he was presented with the opportunity. This was clearly one of Lawson’s most effective games in the last week.
Al Harrington, PF 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -15
Harrington didn’t take a lot of shots but found a way to contribute in other areas, especially on defense where he played solidly against the much taller LaMarcus Aldridge. Once again Harrington’s passion for the game overflowed on to the court as he could be seen giving 110 percent even in the waning minutes of the game when the Nuggets didn’t have a shot at winning.
Andre Miller, PG 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -8
Miller looked absolutely lost. Granted, his 14 minutes didn’t allow him to make the type of impact he’s capable of, but there was probably good reasoning behind his lack of playing time in the first place. Batum’s career night began when Miller “attempted” to guard him, and in his first handful of buckets that went in from beyond the arc Miller didn’t even put a hand up to contest the shot. We’ve known Miller struggles on defense at times, but not even attempting to contest a shot is absolutely inexcusable. Because of this, Miller gets the first “F” I’ve handed out all season.
Corey Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -7
Although a good chunk of his minutes came in garbage time, it’s hard to ignore just how energetic Brewer was in his time on the floor. Fourteen points in 20 minutes to go along with five boards, two assists, two steals and a block is nothing more than pure hustle numbers. His defense continue to impress, although he needs to work on not turning the ball over quite as often as he does.

Rudy Fernandez, SG
23 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -19
Fernandez seemed somewhat hidden. Even in 23 minutes of action it was hard to tell what exactly he was doing on the floor. I did notice him playing stingy defense on a few occasions yet I also couldn’t help but look at the box score and “smh” at his five three-point attempts. Rudy simply isn’t hitting 3-pointers at a high clip, so why he continues to take so many is baffling. It would be nice to see him drive to the basket more than just once in a blue moon.
Julyan Stone, G 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +5
Stone, like all the rookies, didn’t play very much even though he should have. Still, his defense was great and his willingness to find nearly all of his teammates on offense continues to be a good sign from a young point guard. It’s hard to see Stone play with so much enthusiasm on the defensive side of the ball and not want to see more of him.
Kenneth Faried, F 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +2
Faried definitely still has a ways to go before he’s a sound NBA player and more than likely this is going to take a while. He’ll go through some growing pains in the process, although I cannot stress enough how his energy, defense and rebounding will cover up most of these flaws. Right now he should be focusing on making the right basketball play rather than the most electric ally oop; nevertheless, just like Stone it’s almost frustrating watching Faried play because you’re always going to want more.
Jordan Hamilton, G 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
You can tell, Hamilton has some offensive fire power up his sleeve. He hit yet another 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game to show off his range and displayed a fairly decent handle to go along with it. After seeing him get a little more comfortable each time out, you’re left to wonder just how effective he might be alongside the second, or first, unit in the heat of a real game.

Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Lakers 93, Denver Nuggets 89

Los Angeles Lakers 93 FinalRecap | Box Score 89 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 31 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -6
Nene had trouble defending and scoring on the Lakers’ bigs down low. Los Angeles has always been a bad match-up for the Brazilian big man, and Friday proved no different.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 1-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -1
Gallinari started off the game scoring a few buckets but went ice cold from there on out. This is another among a handful of bad performances Gallinari has had recently and the second game in the last three where he’s been relegated to the bench late in the fourth quarter of a tight game. Even considering his struggles, it’s hard to understand why he wasn’t at least on the floor for the final play of the game.
Timofey Mozgov, C 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Mozgov was playing great yet again until he went down with an ankle injury. He was defending well and made several nice shots in the post. As weird as it sounds, the Nuggets missed him greatly once he exited the game.
Arron Afflalo, SG 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -7
Afflalo played good defense for most of the game and came up with a few steals in the process. His struggles continue and naturally so does his erratic insertion into the lineup.

Ty Lawson, PG
36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 14 PTS | -4
Ty Lawson was one of the strong points to a Nuggets team that had difficulty doing anything well against the Lakers. While Gasol and Bynum offer up an intimidating combo for the diminutive guard to score against, he still found ways to affect the game in other areas.
Al Harrington, PF 37 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | -8
Big Al came up “big” in the fourth quarter where he scored 10 straight points to keep the Nuggets alive. His passion and desire to win are proving to be some of the most valuable intangibles this Nuggets team has to offer. Unfortunately, the rest of his teammates couldn’t quite bring it the way Al did against the Lakers.
Andre Miller, PG 30 MIN | 5-6 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 16 PTS | +1
Miller had a solid night numerically but once again had trouble guarding his opponents. Even though he may be one of the better players on the Nuggets roster its perplexing as to why he always closes out games even when he’s pitted against much larger shooting guards where Afflalo might have more success.
Corey Brewer, SF 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
Brewer didn’t see much time but in the minutes he did receive he brought the standard infectious energy level that Nuggets fans have become accustomed to seeing.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +4
This was by far one of Rudy’s worst games of the season. His three-point shot was not falling, yet he continued to hoist up countless jumpers which almost never made it through the rim. Again, it’s imperative that Rudy makes an impact in other areas of the game besides just shooting 3-pointers.
Kosta Koufos, C 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2
Koufos wasn’t exactly having his way against the Lakers bigs and finished the night off on the bench for most of the second half as a result. Similar to Nene, this was a tough match-up for the young center even though he gave his best effort in the minutes he was given.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 112 Los Angeles Clippers 91

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

Too Much Depth?

Let’s be clear about one thing — at 14-7 even after two straight losses the Nuggets’ greatest strength is their depth.

When the Nuggets assembled a roster featuring two starting lineups and a couple of NBA-ready rookies behind them, they instantly gained a big advantage over every other team in a lockout-shortened NBA season. They’ve dealt with injuries better than just about anyone and built the second-highest scoring bench in the league.

Denver is going to be a great regular season team behind their depth. They can afford to limit their starters to 20 minutes per night if need be. In many cases there is little to no difference between the second and third string guys at every position.

I still think there is an intelligent debate to be had about whether too much of a good thing can actually turn out bad. George Karl has said the first 20 games of the season are essentially training camp, and at about one-third of the way into the season we’ve reached that point. The rotation should be shaping up nicely and guys should be settling into their roles as the Nuggets prepare to really start hitting their stride.

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