Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 97 Memphis Grizzlies 100 (OT)

Denver Nuggets 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Memphis Grizzlies
Nene, C 33 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -16
It’s tough to put a lot of blame on Nene for what transpired tonight, especially because he’s carried the Nuggets throughout the last two games. While Nene’s production trailed off it’s hard to ignore just how badly he was outplayed by Marc Gasol. Although Nene had a decent individual performance, he took a grand total of three second half shots and disappeared late when the Nuggets sorely needed him to step up
Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 1-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +2
Did not show up to play. It’s a simple as that. Hardly worth mentioning anything he did because it was just a bunch of terrible jumpers. Gallo found himself benched for most of the fourth quarter and entire overtime (for the second time this season).
Timofey Mozgov, C 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -8
Five fouls in 10 minutes is too much. He started off on Speights instead of Gasol so it’s actually hard to even credit his defense on the Memphis bigs. While he was more physical in terms of defending the rim and blocking shots, he just looked lost and couldn’t stay on the court long enough to help. The turnovers need to stop at some point too.
Arron Afflalo, SG 36 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -9
He’s regressed big time. Afflalo was one of the best role players in the game last season and he’s currently lost with no idea what his role should be. The shots he is taking are indefensible. Fadeaways with 20 on the clock and contested turnaround jumpers over Rudy Gay? Welcome to this year’s Arron Afflalo. He’s hardly looking for his three point shot anymore which makes spacing a big issue too. More importantly, he just isn’t having the sort of positive impact on defense we’ve all been accustomed to.
Ty Lawson, PG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS | -11
There was a stretch in the third quarter Lawson came alive and looked poised to take over the game. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long as Lawson spent most of his time struggling to find a rhythm after missing nearly three games with an ankle injury. The turnovers keep piling up and although his threes started falling, Lawson looked tentative going to the rim. He lacked his usual bursts of speed off the dribble and let’s hope he continues to work himself back into form for the upcoming stretch of three games in a row.
Al Harrington, PF 38 MIN | 8-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | +3
The Nuggets can’t waste a game like this from Al Harrington. He was outmuscled and outmatched on defense and still managed a double-double with 24 points off the bench. Harrington’s primary role is to score and he delivered. Buckets nearly made what could have been the play of the game by almost taking a charge on Memphis final possession of regulation that ended up tying it. Harrington badly wanted to win this game and it has to be disappointing seeing his teammates lacking the same resolve.
Andre Miller, PG 39 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | +5
It’s a tough grade to give Miller, because he really played pretty well. Except of course for the most crucial moments where he made a ton of uncharacteristic mistakes as the Nuggets melted. Missed free throws, untimely turnovers and just flat out bad decision making. It might be a little unfair to say this, but if he just makes one less bad play the Nuggets win – and he certainly had every single opportunity down the stretch.
Chris Andersen, C 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +6
Birdman gets an incomplete. At some point this has to stop — either give him a role or take him out of the rotation. Although I was disappointed in Birdman’s defense, it’s not fair to expect him to play well under these conditions. George Karl needs to show some faith in him or just put him behind Koufos in the rotation. This can’t continue.
Corey Brewer, SF 13 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +1
A little too high? I really don’t think so — Brewer was a part of the big runs that gave the Nuggets every opportunity to close out this game. He outplayed both Afflalo and Fernandez. Although he was in for defensive purposes late, it was disappointing to see him have such a good game and be off the court for the most important stretches of play. Brewer’s body of work is starting to suggest he should be seeing close to 20 minutes every night.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +6
Rudy was the only Nugget to go scoreless and clearly didn’t have it tonight. Although he’s coming off two solid scoring performances his defense has been incredibly erratic and unreliable. Combine this with turnovers and he just had a pretty disastrous overall game.
Kosta Koufos, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +6
Koufos played only a few minutes in the second half due to Mozgov getting in foul trouble. Although he played nine minutes, one rebound is the only evidence he isn’t actually the invisible man. Although the stats are lacking, Koufos played respectable defense and I was impressed with his hustle in the limited minutes he received. I wouldn’t mind seeing Koufos get regular minutes as the first big off the bench as he’s had his moments and a little confidence might go a long way into making Koufos a more reliable option.

Rapid Reaction: Los Angeles Clippers 109, Denver Nuggets 105

Los Angeles Clippers 109 FinalRecap | Box Score 105 Denver Nuggets
Nene, C 38 MIN | 9-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | -8
You really can’t give Nene anything less than an “A” when he posts the numbers he did and comes up with such big baskets down the stretch. He also showed a willingness to attack the post which is always beneficial to the Nuggets as a whole.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 34 MIN | 5-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -11
Gallinari came on hot during the second half but faded down the stretch when the Nuggets needed him most. For some reason George Karl had him playing point guard to close out the game, and although he played excellent defense on Chris Paul (for the most part), he still couldn’t stop what ended up being the game-winning shot. If it weren’t for Blake Griffin’s shifty defense to close out the game, Gallinari likely would be looking at another 20-plus point performance to go along with yet another impressive win. One thing we must not overlook was his brilliant rebound followed up by a full-court run that eventually led to a monster dunk in the early part of the third quarter. Gallo essentially started up, conducted and finished the fast break offense all by himself.
Timofey Mozgov, C 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -3
Mozgov has steadily progressed and is finally developing into somewhat of a threat at times. He is now looking to score in post and is following up shots with purpose. His three blocks were huge and his defense on the inside was certainly helpful before he begged out of the game because he was gassed.
Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 16 PTS | 0
Miller certainly missed his fair share of shots, had trouble guarding the Clippers guards and once again refused to let anybody take the last shot of the quarter, but his penetration and overall court awareness was a key element that helped keep the Nuggets in the game. His heads-up foul on DeAndre Jordan in the closing moments of the game gave the Nuggets a chance to win. This is now his fourth double-double in a row after filling in for Ty Lawson.
Arron Afflalo, SG 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -8
So how long exactly is it going to be before the Arron Afflalo who has improved every year since he’s been in the NBA shows up this season? He still has yet to hit the 20 point mark and after following up a scoreless performance against the Raptors (in 20 minutes of action nonetheless) he managed a measly five points against the Clippers (in the same amount of time). Maybe his injury is still nagging him, but if that’s the case he shouldn’t even be playing.

Al Harrington, PF
25 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +8
Big Al struggled to find his shot throughout the game but made up for it with his hustle. Still, there were countless shots he missed downy he stretch, and though we can’t expect him to hit them all, we also can’t expect him to miss them all either.
Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +4
Brewer’s defense, energy and hustle allowed the Nuggets to come back and ultimately string together countless leads in the process. Though he tends to get a little out of control, his effort simply cannot be underestimated.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 31 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +2
Fernandez had a solid performance all around. His tip-in to end the third quarter was the epitome of “never giving up” and was truly one of the better plays I’ve seen in the NBA this year. Rudy appears to finally be finding his stroke after struggling early on and has really helped the Nuggets second unit put points on the board of late.
Julyan Stone, G 12 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -4
I thought Stone was phenomenal in his brief 12-minute stint, evident in the first 60 seconds alone where he stepped on the floor and immediately blocked a shot. His overall defense was hands-down (even though he had them up!) the best on the team and suffocated whichever opponent he was guarding. When playing alongside Corey Brewer, the Nuggets offer up a backcourt tandem capable of defending anybody in the league. Though Stone likely won’t see many minutes going forward, it would be wise of Karl to insert him in the lineup when defense is lacking as Stone possess the type of defensive drive that can change the outcome of a game.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 108, Washington Wizards 104

Denver Nuggets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Washington Wizards
Kosta Koufos, C 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +3
Koufos didn’t see much time against the Wizards, but his six rebounds were third most on the team despite playing only 15 minutes. It’s still a mystery as to why he’s not seeing the floor more often, especially given his rebounding prowess which the Nuggets still desperately need at times.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 35 MIN | 7-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS | +3
Gallinari had a strong first half and mellowed out as the game progressed. But going 7-11 from the field while collecting four rebounds, five boards, an assist and a steal is a great all-around stat line for the Rooster.
Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Mozgov certainly played much better against the Wizards than he has in other games where he’s logged heavy minutes. Though you’d still like to see more rebounds and just a better overall feel for the game and his positioning, it’s obvious that he’s trying to improve which is good to see.
Arron Afflalo, SG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +11
Afflalo didn’t have his best game of the year but he didn’t have his worst game either. His defense against Nick Young was decent, but he wasn’t the “stopper” he can be at times. He had a few nice mid-range jump shots that he knocked down coming off screens and a few good cuts to the basket, but in general Afflalo must do these things more often in order to make the kind of impact we all know he can.
Ty Lawson, PG 38 MIN | 7-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 21 PTS | +14
Lawson had one of the his better games this year against the Wizards, putting up All-Star numbers across the board. His nine rebounds and six assists were both team highs and his 3-for-6 shooting from downtown helped the Nuggets out tremendously in such a tight game. Though Lawson is shooting a pretty low percentage from the field over the last week, his aggressiveness is still appreciated and largely the reason why.
Al Harrington, PF 30 MIN | 10-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 29 PTS | +4
Seriously, what more can you say about this guy? His 29 points were a season high and his seven boards, the second most on the team. His .362 3-point shooting percentage is above his career average and his 2-point field goal percentage is supposedly the highest in he league according to Chris Marlowe. Additionally according to 82games.com, Harrington leads the team in cumulative plus-minus at plus-109 and Nuggets’ points per possession when he’s on the floor at 1.13. Al is also second in the team in PER behind only Corey Brewer who hasn’t really played all that much this season. Currently Al is either sitting atop or near the top of the Sixth Man of the Year award race.
Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 PTS | -7
Miller was frustrated all evening with the lack of calls he and the Nuggets were receiving from the refs. He spent more time complaining than he did playing — although, after the incredible performance he had against the Sixers, this can be excused for one night. Still, Miller needs to find some sort of consistency in his game moving forward. He’s just too talented to be struggling this much.
Chris Andersen, C 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-7 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -6
Though numerically speaking, Andersen had a pretty good game, I still didn’t see how he was contributing to helping the Nuggets win. His negative-six on the plus-minus scale was second worst on the team — probably due to the fact that he was constantly fumbling the ball (like always) and letting McGee run wild, which led to numerous easy buckets. At this point, it’s really hard to believe that Faried would be anywhere near as bad as Birdman is.
Corey Brewer, SF 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 PTS | -3
Hard to give a grade to Brewer when he was only in for such a short amount of time, although his defense and energy were there yet again. It’s anyone’s guess as to why he didn’t play much in a tight game where defense was nowhere to be found. After the way he’s played lately, you would think he would have earned himself a spot in the rotation, but apparently not.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 12 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -2
Fernandez played excellent ball for only seeing 12 minutes of time. It appears as though he re-injured his achilles which forced him to exit the game.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Worst First: The Nuggets allowed the Wizards to score a season-high tying (for opponents) 37 points in the first quarter on Friday. To put things into perspective, the Wizards are 27th in the league in points per game at roughly 88 and have scored 30 in the first quarter only once all season — and that was against the Knicks. In the last nine games, the Nuggets have held its opponent to under 25 points in the first quarter only twice. This frightful trend does nothing but compound the Nuggets defensive woes even more and is solid proof that the Nuggets are coming into games mentally unprepared. While the Nuggets need to address its defensive shortcomings immediately, fixing the opening-game defensive strategy should be paramount.
  2. “Arc” Nemesis: Right after the Nuggets work on their defense to open up the game they should then concentrate on their perimeter defense as it’s some of the worst in the league and will end up costing them one of these days if not repaired. Right now Denver ranks 16th in opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage, 27th in opponent’s 3-pointers made and 29th in opponent’s 3-pointers attempted. It’s no secret that the Nuggets have had all kinds of problems this year with switching screens and closing out on defenders, what needs to be avoided at all costs however is letting this become a staple of the team rather than just an early season struggle.
  3. Fundamentally Flawed: Sticking with the theme of defense (since that is in fact the primary “thing I saw” on Friday), it’s also important to note just how terrible the Nuggets are when it comes to executing the most basic elements of basketball. Everything from boxing out, to running precise plays, to crashing the boards — it’s all rusty at best. But this is perhaps most evident on the defensive side of the ball. Honestly, watching the Nuggets play defense is painful these days. Other than Afflalo, nobody seems to take pride in their one-on-one defense which leads to penetration, which leads to abuse of help-defense, which leads to kick-outs, which leads to open 3-pointers, which leads to the Nuggets getting in holes they shouldn’t be in. I know Denver is currently sitting at 11-5 but that doesn’t change the fact that it also ranks 26th in opponents points per game, 29th in opponent’s field goals per game, 26th in opponent’s field goal percentage, 24th in opponent’s adjusted field goal percentage, 23rd in rebounds per game, dead last in offensive rebounds per game and 23rd in opponent’s assists per game. So sure, winning in the regular season by outscoring the opponent is fun and all, but this type of basketball simply won’t cut it come playoff time. At some point the Nuggets are going to have to clamp down on defense and start playing fundamentally sounds basketball if they want to continue their success in the postseason.
  4. The Four Amigos: Al Harrington, Nene, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are becoming quite the force. Not only are these the top four leaders in points per game on the roster, but according to 82games.com when they’re on the floor together along with Andre Miller they’re also Denver’s best defensive squad, allowing only .63 points per possession to the opponent. This specific five-man squad leads any other combination of Nuggets players in plus-minus and has outscored it’s opponent 5-to-1 every time it steps on to the floor. Between Al’s Sixth Man of the Year push, Lawson’s fringe All-Star status, Gallinari’s “do it all” type of game and Nene’s improving aggressiveness, the Nuggets have what it takes to succeed in the playoffs, but again, defense must become a top priority in order for post-season success to come to fruition.
  5. Road Warriors: After going 3-0 so far on the current road trip, the Nuggets now are tied for the seventh best record in the NBA and sit in second place in the Western Conference behind only the Oklahoma City Thunder. The road has always given the Nuggets trouble, but perhaps this year will be different given the shortened schedule and roster depth. Denver will always take care of its business at home, but if the Nuggets can manage to finish the year above .500 away from the Pepsi Center, they will almost certainly put themselves in position to finish as a top four seed in the West, securing a much-needed home court advantage in the process.

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Game 16 Advanced Stats (and thoughts by Charlie)

Pace Factor:  100.8 – A fast game against a struggling defensive team
Offensive Efficiency: 107.1 – A fine performance on the road
Defensive Efficiency: 103.1 – Not good at all. This could become a big problem if not addressed

  • I’ve been waiting for Ty Lawson to start looking for his jump shot more. Teams are clamping down hard on him in the paint and Lawson’s efforts to draw contact on drives have not been rewarded all season. Lawson can hit pull up jumpers with or without a screen, he can create space and step back with his range or simply spot up and take set shots from three. Ty is unstoppable when he gets more aggressive and more confident with his shot. Right now he’s taking a few too many floaters and off balance jumpers at the end of the shot clock and his efficiency is taking a serious hit. Tonight was a step in the right direction. Ty, for whatever reason, continues to get little respect from officials compared to other small point guards in the league.
  • Kalen mentioned it, and the Nuggets’ perimeter defense was indeed atrocious in this game. Rotations were slow and anytime the Wizards swung the ball from one side of the floor to the other someone was guaranteed to be open for three.  Part of the problem is the fact Andre Miller sags way off his man, allows him to see the entire floor and doesn’t close out on anyone. Chris Andersen is indifferent in terms of hustling out to disrupt a shooter. Shelvin Mack and Chris Singleton were on their way to career nights and the Nuggets were lucky Washington was fairly passing-averse and took enough bad shots to bring their field goal percentage down considerably.
  • I was very surprised Rudy played. He wore a thick sleeve over his achilles and didn’t last long before having to leave. He has a nagging injury that needs rest; the Nuggets play tomorrow, Corey Brewer is playing great so there wasn’t exactly a pressing need to get him in. Let’s hope Rudy’s setback was not serious.
  • Al Harrington won the game. He not only hit threes but without Nene, him and Afflalo were asked to post up more. Harrington was the only one having any sort of success. Al Buckets showed leadership and poise at the end of the game and he continues to be one of the most consistent and important pieces on the team.
  • Koufos isn’t giving the Nuggets much. It’s not a coincidence he’s only produced at the Center spot and I believe he should only be getting Center minutes. The guy deserves court time, but it seems Karl is rewarding him charity minutes and starts without any intention of giving him an actual role. Birdman did have one of his better games of the season production-wise, but Washington had absolutely no threatening post presence and it really pained me not to see the Manimal get a shot. There was never any reason to start two slow, offensively challenged seven footers when the plan all along was to go small. Denver fell behind 37-27 in the first quarter.
  • That being said, I credit Karl and the team in this one. It’s clear they were a little flat with Nene out and this was not a win to like, but one to accept. The Nuggets did claw back and fend off the Wizards nicely despite their offense struggling bad in the second half. Andre Miller wasn’t useless, but he went scoreless while playing 20-plus minutes for the second time this season. For a guy as immensely talented as Andre, I don’t understand how that happens and it’s incredibly disappointing. Nevertheless, what a great road win as long as the Nuggets learn from it.
  • The only thing I will say about the coaching is that the Nuggets should take a strong look at getting Al some help at the Power Forward spot, especially against more physical teams. And I don’t mean Koufos.

Nuggets without Nene against Wizards

The Denver Post is reporting the Nuggets will be without Nene tonight against the Wizards. After coming off an injury of his own, Timofey Mozgov will likely start alongside Kosta Koufos in the front court. Additionally, Rudy Fernandez will attempt to play after missing the last several games due to an achilles problem. It should be noted that over the last four games Nene is averaging 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while playing some of the most aggressive basketball of his career with the Denver Nuggets. Nene will no doubt be sorely missed against one of the taller front lines in the NBA. Let’s just hope this is a legitimate injury and not simply a “rest day,” as even though the Wizards don’t have greatest of records, they’re still an NBA team that has a lot of talent, and one that just beat the team most consider to be the best in the league: the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nuggets News: The Association and Stiffs Night Out

Courtesy of Benjamin Hochman, details are emerging on the latest season of NBATV’s “The Association” which will follow the Denver Nuggets through the 2011-2012 season. The first episode airs next Wednesday on NBATV and you can find the full schedule in Hochman’s Nuggets Ink post. For those not familiar with the show it is a fascinating look into the grind of an NBA season from the perspective of the players, coaches, front office executives and trainers. The Nuggets were last featured on NBATV’s “Real Training Camp” two seasons ago and that was a must-watch for Nuggets fans as I’m sure “The Association” will be as well.

We’d also like to post a friendly reminder to attend Stiffs Night Out for the upcoming New York Knicks game. It will no doubt be a fun time and a great opportunity to hang out with fellow Nuggets fans. Our friends at Denver Stiffs are also giving away prime seats to an upcoming home game and if you’re in the Denver area, I strongly suggest you go! Follow the link on Denver Stiffs for all the details.

On to the latest news and links.

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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.

Andre Miller is not long for the Denver Nuggets

After 13 years of NBA service, it’s fair to say Andre Miller has been one of the more overlooked and undervalued point guards of his generation. His ability to produce well into his thirties places him in the rarified company of Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups, and Jason Kidd yet his lack of playoff success and individual accolades exclude him from being held in the same regard.

Playing with that chip on his shoulder has made Miller the successful, highly motivated player he is today. Unfortunately, it’s also put Andre at the center of another point guard controversy in Denver after candidly telling Chris Tomasson he’s unhappy with a backup role and prefers to go elsewhere in free agency next season.

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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: San Antonio Spurs 121 Denver Nuggets 117

Denver Nuggets 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
121 San Antonio Spurs
Kosta Koufos, C 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -6
One night after playing the role of a major impact player off the bench, perhaps even altering the outcome of the contest altogether, Koufos was granted only seven minutes of playing time in the first quarter of Saturday’s game. With such a limited amount of time on the floor it’s tough to analyze the type of impact Koufos made, if any.
Danilo Gallinari, SF 40 MIN | 10-16 FG | 8-10 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 31 PTS | -3
This was arguably Galinari’s best game in a Nuggets uniform. Not only did he net the most points in a single game during his tenure in Denver thus far, but he did so on an extremely efficient shooting performance that included a variety of different attacking methods. His 3-point shooting has now drastically improved since he started driving to the hoop, as I suggested he do several games ago.
Timofey Mozgov, C 18 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Mozgov had a typicaly Mozgov performance this evening; in other words, he wasn’t very good. Scoring four points and hauling in a horrendous two rebounds in 18 minutes of action is just not acceptable for a starting center in the NBA, and looks especially bad when contrasted with Koufos’ stat line from the previous night when he received the exact same amount of minutes. At this point, it’s truly a mystery as to why Mozgov is receiving as much playing time as he is.
Arron Afflalo, SG 41 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | +5
Afflalo has steadily progressed throughout the season and is now fitting nicely into the Nuggets offense. He’s mostly relegated himself to shooting spot-up threes, but as long as he keeps making them, his lack of off-season development can slide until he further advances both his skill set and physical conditioning. Still, at some point in time Afflalo is going to need to back up the hefty contract he received in the offseason.
Ty Lawson, PG 37 MIN | 9-18 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 20 PTS | +6
Similar to Gallinari, Lawson stepped up big time in a game in which the Nuggets desperately needed him to. His penetration into the heart of the Spurs defense was truly remarkable given how disciplined Popovich’s defenses usually are. His 10 assists tie a season high and when combined with his point total, form Lawson’s first double-double of the season. Overall this was an extremely effective performance from a player who’s on the verge of taking the “next step” in his career.
Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 7-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -9
Big Al was once again wildly impressive in a game where the Nuggets needed hit attributes to shine. This is now the fourth game in a row, and sixth all season, in which Al has shot better than .500 from the floor. His defense alone has been admirable, but considering most of it has come against much taller players due to Karl’s intrigue with “small ball,” it’s even that much more impressive. His 7.5 rebounds per game leads the team despite the fact he comes off the bench and is more of a three than a four, or five for that matter.
Andre Miller, PG 26 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | -11
Numerically speaking Miller had another solid night, however he was extremely lethargic the entire first half and was a primary contributor to the slow start that ultimately cost the Nuggets the game. On multiple possessions Miller refused to ignite the fast-break offense and when paired with Ty Lawson, couldn’t keep up with the pace Denver is accustomed to running. His negative 11 on the plus-minus scale was the worst on the team. Its fair to say fatigue ran its course with the 35-year-old point guard on Saturday; let’s just hope this doesn’t become a trend.
Chris Andersen, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -5
Andersen went for the first pump fake that came his way and didn’t see another minute of action thereafter. This is the type of coaching that you have to love from Karl. At some point Andersen needs to refine his fundamentals if he wants to continue receiving playing time especially now that Koufos has emerged as quite possibly the best backup big man outside of Al Harrington on the team. Hopefully this was a wakeup call for the Birdman.
Corey Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +12
Brewer single handedly brought the Nuggets back into the game during the last half of the second quarter thanks to his unrivaled energy and defensive domination. He continued to inject life into both the Nuggets’ offense and defense throughout the game and was undoubtedly the MVP of the contest. His impact on Saturday’s game cannot be overstated.
Rudy Fernandez, SG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +1
Though Fernandez committed no glaring mistakes and put up very respectable numbers across the board, his defense was still suspect and all too often led to easy baskets for his counterpart. In addition, Fernandez’ shot selection was sprinkled with J.R. Smith-like unconscious attempts that in no way should have been allowed by George Karl. Though Fernandez remains an above average role player coming off the bench, he still has yet to find his place in the Nuggets offense and can be somewhat of a liability on defense.

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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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: Denver Nuggets 91, Milwaukee Bucks 86

Milwaukee Bucks 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Denver Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, C
3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +4
In his first start of the season Koufos did not disappoint. He was named Altitude’s “Subway Sub of the Game” even though he started, which goes to show just how effective he was. After this performance it’s hard to see how Mozgov continues to log more minutes.
Danilo Gallinari, F
5-12 FG | 10-12 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 21 PTS | +12
This was the second straight game that Gallo came through when the Nuggets desperately needed someone to step up. Though he’s still taking entirely way too many 3-pointers, he’s also driving to the basket more often and getting to the line where he converts a high percentage of his shots. Finally, after a slow start Gallo is beginning to show flashes of the player we all know he can be.
Timofey Mozgov, C
2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +1
Mozgov once again looked slow, out of place and clumsy. After six games of regular season action he’s done nothing to prove he should be starting and by Koufos thoroughly outplaying him tonight, Karl should have a tough (or not so tough depending on how you look at it) decision on his hands regarding who to start on Wednesday against the Kings.
Arron Afflalo, SG
2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | 0
Afflalo has faced a tricky series of substitution patterns early on thanks to some very inconstant playing time, so his grade should be taken with a grain of salt. Why he didn’t log virtually any minutes in the second half until the final two minutes of the game was perplexing. Hopefully Karl finds a way to steady his on-court appearances so he can help the Nuggets win as he’s done throughout his career in Denver.
Ty Lawson, PG
7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 16 PTS | +9
Lawson was again solid tonight. Though he was on pace to score over 30 points in the early part of the first quarter he soon settled down, yet still had another efficient night shooting and turned the ball over only once. You can’t really ask for any more than that from your starting point guard.
Al Harrington, PF
7-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +1
Al flat out carried the Nuggets down the stretch. His energy was palpable and his defense on Andrew Bogut, supreme. Considering he’s coming off the bench, it’s hard to award him anything less than a solid “A.”
Andre Miller, PG
3-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 6 PTS | +9
Miller too had another savvy outing. Though his shot wasn’t falling, he came through when the Nuggets needed it most. One area where Miller still needs to work on is pushing the pace.
Chris Andersen, C
0-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -14
Andersen was fairly unspectacular this evening. Granted, he only saw 15 minutes of playing time, but he didn’t make the most out it like he’s capable of doing. Koufos was clearly the better big man tonight.
Corey Brewer, SG
3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Brewer made a few bad decisions but that’s to be expected in his first game while receiving a heavy dosage of minutes. Otherwise, he was an instant spark plug off the bench and played some excellent defense on a variety of different Bucks players which led to a game-changing block near the end of the fourth quarter. Hopefully Brewer can find more time in the future, especially with Fernandez struggling.
Rudy Fernandez, SG
1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Fernandez disappointed yet again. Though he shot .333 percent from beyond the arc — which isn’t bad — he still made himself a one dimensional player throughout much of the contest by not incorporating himself into the flow of the offense and simply parking outside the 3-point line waiting for the ball. This kid is so talented and so much better than he’s showing at the moment. Let’s just hope he finds a way to turn it around before Karl permanently places him on the bench.

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