After a competitive start to the first quarter, the Spurs proceeded to thoroughly dismantle the Nuggets, extending a 19 point halftime lead to a 31 point blowout.
The grades are after the jump. (more…)
According to HoopsWorld.com, the San Antonio Spurs have taken a significant interest in Denver Nuggets free agent Timofey Mozgov and could potentially offer up a sign-and-trade deal to obtain him. This is obviously speculation for the most part; however, the Spurs are one of the few teams in the league who have a high success rate with their reclamation projects, so it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in Mozgov. He certainly has the talent to play at the NBA level, so perhaps the Spurs feel they can act as the catalyst to usher him from third-string center to the glamorous position of Tiago Splitter’s backup. Stay tuned as details continue to emerge.
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Denver Nuggets are targeting 33-year-old 3-point specialist Mike Miller, who entered the free agency market after being waived by the Miami Heat:
The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a new suitor at the forefront of the free-agent pursuit of Mike Miller, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Nuggets are now getting strong consideration from Miller along with the early frontrunners in the race to sign him: Oklahoma City and Memphis.
The Nuggets, however, will be facing some stiff competition in the Miller sweepstakes. (more…)
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!Sports.com, San Antonio Spurs assistant Brett Brown is now a “serious candidate” to fill the Nuggets’ current head-coaching vacancy. Brown reportedly traveled to Denver on Sunday night to meet with Josh Kroenke and new general manager Tim Connelly. In a different report Wojnarowski claims Kroenke was prepared to offer Doc Rivers an annual salary of $7 million had agreed to coach the Nuggets. So much for the cheap ownership narrative.
In the race for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets greatly strengthened their position with their big Wednesday night victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
This cleared the most difficult remaining game on their schedule, and reduced their magic number (combination of own wins and opponent losses) with respect to both the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers to three. With four games remaining, Denver can lose one game and still clinch third even if Memphis and L.A. win out (though since they play each other, at least one of them can’t).
Here is a side-by-side look at the remaining schedules of the three teams competing for that third seed which carries the benefits of both home court advantage in the first round and a matchup with the No. 6 seed: (more…)
|Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -18
Faried was quite bad, getting routinely abused on defense despite San Antonio having no one remotely athletic enough to match up with him. Couple that with a measly one offensive rebound and it sure looks like he was simply outhustled and outworked by a hobbled, inexperienced Spurs front line. He made a big defensive play and secured a key rebound late, but his 25 minutes were pretty generous considering the way he played most of the night.
|Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10
Koufos had a confusing game. He’s never been much of a rim protector but he normally beats opposing bigs to the paint and takes away the easy angles. Koufos’ paint defense alternated between sublime and uninspired in this one, but he saved his best play for when the Nuggets needed it most. At this point I expect some consistency and something more than a total zero on offense, where Koufos seems to have lost some confidence.
|Andre Miller, PG 34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -7
Miller was not a net positive in this game. He was a spectator for the first 10 minutes and most every meaningful stretch of play. Miller closed the game like a pro and his ability to make free throws and manufacture offense paid off late, but he was not on the floor for the crucial stretches where Denver looked dominant.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 41 MIN | 11-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 29 PTS | +6
What a great performance, and it’s really easy to forget that Wilson has already scored 30+ two other times this season, both off the bench. Wilson caught fire in the second half and practiced much better shot selection than we’ve seen in the past. He stayed off the midrange stuff the entire night and created several running opportunities with his defense. He has not missed a beat since moving into the starting five.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 43 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-4 FT | 13 REB | 10 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 12 PTS | +5
Yes, he had seven turnovers and still hasn’t looked decent on offense all year. He also nabbed the first triple-double by any Nugget since Marcus Camby in 2008 exactly one game after predicting he’d soon get one. There were a lot of things working against the Nuggets early and Iguodala’s unwavering effort anchored the defensive push that got Denver back in the game and kept them there.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +6
I gave his grade a bump because he looked good as part of an uptempo bench that reinvigorated the Nuggets’ transition attack. Brewer went nuclear off the bench so it just wasn’t his night to see many minutes.
|Corey Brewer, SF 34 MIN | 12-25 FG | 2-5 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 28 PTS | +30
Is this not a match made in heaven? Teams generally don’t want bench players hoisting 25 shots a game but Brewer’s outburst was just what the Nuggets needed after starting the game with two Miller turnovers followed by two Miller isos and predictably, zero points. Karl went small with Brewer early which paid immediate dividends for Denver’s anemic offense. I worry about where else Brewer will play if the Nuggets can’t bring him back because this is just too fun to watch.
|JaVale McGee, C 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +18
Much like Brewer did for the offense, we saw a drastic change in the Denver defense pre-McGee and post-McGee. Denver was flat out soft in the paint until his resounding arrival in the second quarter with three huge blocks. JaVale capped off a nice night with an improved effort on the defensive glass and his second straight game with no turnovers
|Evan Fournier, SG 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +20
He should have played much more. Fournier was assertive with the ball in his hands and was the Nuggets second-best creator behind Iguodala. He wasn’t great on defense and didn’t have his shot going but the guy showed remarkable poise under pressure and has a knack for finding Denver the right kind of shots. With Lawson out and the offense quite frankly struggling under an overused Andre Miller, he could use more minutes.
Karl waited way too long to get Miller out of the game. Other than that, his adjustments worked and he got the most out of a small Brewer-Chandler lineup San Antonio had no answer for. He’s pushing his players hard and getting results, but Koufos, Miller, and Chandler all looked gassed after long second-half stints with no relief. Karl should be more trusting of his bench, who clearly got him the win and turned around one of the most dreadful starts in recent memory.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -2
It’s a shame Gallo’s best overall effort yet had to come in such a lousy game. Gallo was attacking early and looking to be aggressive while the rest of the team seem to lay down as quick as possible. This should be a normal so-so night for Gallo, not one of his best offensive outings of the year. Defensively, Gallo was the only starter to approach a respectable level of pride and effort so he gets a pass.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -15
He got into foul trouble and really couldn’t get a hold on DeJuan Blair early. At some point the Nuggets will have to be competitive in a game without a double-double from their fourth scoring option. Faried had another efficient 14 points and has been the Nuggets’ best offensive player this season.
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -21
Awful. There’s just no two ways about it. He got off to a horrendous start and played most of the first quarter anyway, setting the tone for Denver’s laughable paint defense the rest of the night. He was slow to loose balls and looked just plain out of it most of the night.
|Ty Lawson, PG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 13 PTS | -29
Ty played 35 minutes again and scored this time, so if it’s progress you’re looking for there you go. Ty also had 5 turnovers, bricked his first two free throw attempts and just sort of padded his stats in garbage time while racking up a -29
|Andre Iguodala, SG 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -13
A truly invisible game out of Iguodala, who was not looking to get involved on either end and grew increasingly disinterested as the beating got worse. Iguodala has to show more poise and leadership in difficult circumstances like tonight.
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS | -10
Consider this grade an incomplete, because he played about 6 scoreless minutes in the first half before being benched and never returning again til extended garbage time. The Nuggets just can’t seem decide if they want to play him or not while they try to fix their rotation.
|Corey Brewer, SF 28 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | 0
Brew put up solid numbers but wasn’t able to hit his rhythm when the Nuggets could have made it a competitive contest. He gambles a ton on defense and his inability to stay solid on that end of the floor makes him difficult to play when the Nuggets need to catch up or protect a lead.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 13 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -22
Mozgov came in early after Faried picked up two fouls. Physically he was moving around much better than we’ve seen since training camp started, but Denver’s defense did not improve with him on the floor. It’s really tough to blame Mozgov for not being all over it in his first meaningful game of the year, but the Nuggets’ frontcourt desperately needed him while Koufos struggled through his worst game yet.
|JaVale McGee, C 20 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -1
If there’s a bright spot in these losses it’s JaVale’s improving play off the bench. The last few games he’s come into pretty horrible situations and been able to do some positive things. McGee’s earned his minutes and looks ready for a little more run with the Nuggets’ top lineups.
|Andre Miller, PG 19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -14
Let’s be honest, he doesn’t look very in shape yet and will throw up a dud every once in a while as he gets ready to play the season. After a poor start to the first half Miller saw essentially all of his minutes in garbage time.
|Evan Fournier, SG 8 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -3
The Nuggets trailed by 20 most of the night but didn’t insert Fournier till midway through the fourth, where Evan proceeded to pour in 10 quick points in the only quarter Denver managed to win. Evan could get a chance to earn minutes going forward with the Nuggets lineup currently in a state of utter disarray.
The Nuggets and Spurs are currently tied 45-45 at halftime. Here are some quick thoughts on the first half:
It the latest edition of Roundball Mining Company’s 5-on-5 series we explore which potential playoff scenarios could benefit or hinder the Nuggets success in the postseason. Fellow readers T.J. McBride and Mitchell Carroll have been selected to participate this time around. If you’d like to contribute next time, be sure and follow Charlie, Jeremey and Kalen on Twitter. As always, please feel free to leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
In Roundball Mining Company’s latest edition of our 3-on-3 series, we examine what lies ahead for the Denver Nuggets in the near future. There are 13 games remaining on the schedule: seven on the road and seven against teams currently at or below the .500 mark. Right now the Nuggets sit in seventh place in the Western Conference standings and would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Playoffs. Is this the same position the team will find itself in roughly three weeks from now? If so, would it be able to handle a well-coached Spurs team in a seven-game series? These questions and more are detailed inside.
|Corey Brewer, SF 33 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +2
Take away the three 3-pointers he missed and Brewer shot a much more respectable, and efficient, 4-8 from the field. While there’s nothing wrong with him taking a few open threes, keep in mind Brewer has never been a strong outside shooter and is much more effective when cutting to the basket.
|Kenneth Faried, F 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -2
Faried had a relatively quiet night from a statistical standpoint. In 29 minutes you’d expect him to be well above a double-double; however, what can’t be ignored is Faried’s effervescent attitude and unrivaled enthusiasm that overflow into the rest of his teammates. His willingness to do the type of dirty work many NBA primma donnas won’t even consider is the epitome of the phrase, “a breath of fresh air.” Is it a coincidence that at the same time George Karl is showing confidence in Faried by prescribing him a heavy dose of minutes, the team is suddenly playing with a renewed sense of passion, heart and energy? I think not.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +4
Prior to Mozgov exiting the game for the second time in as many nights, he was having yet another solid performance. While it’s frustrating watching him fumble more often than Brett Favre, it’s also encourage to watch him grow in other aspects of the game. His defensive effort is still there while his confidence continues to expand. Hopefully his injury was nothing serious as Mozgov needs as much playing time as he can get in order to keep evolving as a player.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | 0
Yes, his stat line isn’t gaudy but Afflalo gave the Nuggets nothing but positive output, and when you’re facing the Spurs, that’s EXACTLY what you need to do in order to win. Limiting mistakes must be No. 1 on your gameplan list when going up against San Antonion and no other player embodied this philosophy as much as Afflalo.
|Ty Lawson, PG 39 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 9 REB | 11 AST | 22 PTS | +6
Ty Lawson. Just let it simmer. Again, words aren’t going to do justice for just how big of a role he played in a huge road win for the Nuggets. He was one rebound shy of his first triple-double yet hit the first game winner of his career. This is the second night in a row where Ty Lawson has virtually won an important road game for the Nuggets by being unconsciously aggressive and taking control of his team’s offense as a whole, all while flirting with a triple-double. If this Ty Lawson keeps showing up the rest of the season, the Nuggets will be a totally different team than is currently constructed.
|Al Harrington, PF 33 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +3
Harrington hit some huge shots when the Nuggets were on life support and for that alone, he gets high marks. Not only were these shots important, but many of them were difficult as well. Making difficult shots in tight games is not an easy task. You really can’t say enough bout “Big Al” in this regard. He also played pretty decent defense on Tim Duncan most of the evening.
|Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 5-18 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 11 PTS | +4
Fans have struggled with Andre Miller all season long and while his “defense” has always been the topic of discussion, it’s now his selfishness that’s really driving people bananas. Against the Spurs, this culminated with a stretch — late in the game, mind you — where Miller missed 10 straight shot attempts, three of which didn’t even come close to going in. It was as if Miller totally disregarded the fact that (A) he even had teammates and (B) was in a close game that his team was in position to win. Almost every instance where he received the ball Miller immediately tuned out everyone else but himself and decided then and there that it was he who would attempt to score the basketball. Had Miller not been so self-centered the Nuggets probably would have won in a more comfortable fashion.
|Chris Andersen, C 19 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3
It’s tough grading “Birdman” in this scenario. He was more efficient and productive than Faried on a minute-per-minute basis, but also committed several frustrating mistakes that the Nuggets couldn’t really afford. For example, his two unnecessary fouls on Tim Duncan within 10 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter could have easily come back to bite the Nuggets in the ass. Thankfully however, Denver didn’t commit many more ill-advised fouls after that and kept the Spurs off the free-throw line to close out the game. Additionally, Birdman just looked tired out there. Perhaps all the trade rumors are wearing him down. Either way, he gave it his all and that’s enough for one night.
|Julyan Stone, G 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Stone was again inserted to play defense on one possession and did his job. Now if he could just share a few of Andre Miller’s minutes and actually make an impact on the defensive side of the ball like he’s capable of doing, we’d actually be able to give him a real grade.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +5
Hamilton hit one huge 3-pointer but was otherwise somewhat invisible. It’s hard to do much in 11 minutes and at this point, it’s unclear as to where Hamilton stands in George Karl’s pecking order. You’d like to see him log more time but as has been mentioned above, mistakes must be limited against the Spurs. In this sense, Karl deserves some credit for recognizing this was probably not the best game for Hamilton to experiment in.
|Corey Brewer, SF 29 MIN | 9-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS | -18
It’s really tough to rely on Brewer’s offense, but his constant energy and enthusiasm sure is fun to watch. Brewer was having a pretty poor start to his night before exploding in the fourth quarter where he scored 12 of his 23 points. In an interesting development Brewer guarded Tony Parker with Andre Miller off the floor and was able to pressure him. Brewer’s being asked to fill too big of a role with all of the injury problems and his all effort deserves praise.
|Kenneth Faried, F 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -18
He was benched for Al Harrington yet again, but Faried proved he is indeed still a rookie and struggled to keep the fundamentally sound Spurs off the boards. The “Manimal” has been expanding his game and showing flashes of offensive talent but needs to be more consistent on the rebounding front to solidify his place in the rotation. Games like these will happen for the inexperienced Faried and while he struggled to be effective you never once had to question his effort and his ongoing drive to improve.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | -1
Mozgov was playing solid ball before getting injured against the Lakers and he’s really struggled to get back into form since returning. He once again started poorly, showing his penchant for fouling and turning the ball over too much. Mozgov did play better as the game wore on, but was generally dominated by the Spurs front line and it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s largely ineffective in his minutes right now.
|Andre Miller, PG 27 MIN | 7-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 20 PTS | -17
Miller is more reliable as a starter than a reserve, so his impressive stat line doesn’t come as huge surprise. What the numbers don’t tell you is that Miller held the ball a lot and struggled to create decent opportunities as Denver fell behind by as much as 28 points with him directing the offense. Staying in front of Tony Parker also proved to be a nightmare for the slow-footed Miller, who tallied four fouls in 27 ineffective minutes.
|Arron Afflalo, SG 39 MIN | 6-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | -8
Afflalo is banged up, clearly feeling the effects of nagging injuries and being asked to assume a big-minute, high-responsibility role as the Nuggets battle through numerous injuries. Despite Arron tweaking another muscle and struggling with fatigue he battled through a 39-minute night the best he could and came within one point of another 20 point performance — which would have been his seventh in the past nine games.
|Al Harrington, PF 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Eight points on 10 shots and another tough performance to grade. While Big Al has continued putting up numbers in this injury-riddled stretch, the team is getting killed on defense as the ball movement on offense grinds to a halt. Harrington hasn’t missed a game yet and is clearly exhausted, but as a veteran leader he needs to focus on defending and getting the Nuggets offense back to their high-efficiency ways.
|Chris Andersen, C 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
It wasn’t totally clear why Birdman entered the game, but he didn’t do anything of note outside of blocking two shots and badly missing a baseline jumper. Birdman could have come out with better energy, but he didn’t get much of a chance and was not in the game long enough to have an impact either way. It’s another example of why the Nuggets are struggling to keep Birdman involved considering they have no idea what to expect when he’s inserted into a game.
|Kosta Koufos, C 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2
Koufos played very few minutes until the game was well out of hand, but he was part of a unit that sparked a second half run and showed life for the first time all night. He grabbed three offensive boards and was clearly more effective than most of the other Nuggets bigs, most notably Harrington and Mozgov. On nights like tonight you’d like to see him get rewarded and show what he can do in a big minute role.
|Julyan Stone, G 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 9 PTS | +2
When Stone becomes more of a threat to score the ball his game will really start opening up. Right now it’s clear he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his scoring ability and he gets out of control trying to attack and do too much. Defensively, Stone’s play was top-notch and sparked a run where the Nuggets actually put up some resistance to Tony Parker and threatened to get back in the game. Stone is a rookie who needs work, but he brings great energy and in terms of overall point guard play I believe he thoroughly outplayed Andre Miller despite not being able to score.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 27 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Rough night for Hamilton, who took some bad shots early and showed where he still has a lot of room to grow in terms of figuring out how to best use his array of offensive moves. Jordan was hesitant tonight and often caught in between trying to drive or shoot. Although Hamilton was a dud in the scoring department, he grabbed nine boards and showed off his versatility as a big guard who can compete on the glass. Ultimately Hamilton’s role is to score and while he needs to be more aggressive and decisive with his offense, Jordan showed there’s more to his game than just shooting.
After three straight solid home wins, the Nuggets are carrying nice momentum into their second road trip of the season. It’s a quick back-to-back in New Orleans and San Antonio against two teams which provide unique challenges for this new Nuggets team. While the Hornets and Spurs appear to be reeling from injuries, let’s not forget these are still road games against well-rested opponents.
How do you build a championship roster?
That is a question that General Managers and Presidents of Player Personnel must ask themselves every day. What complicates things is while every team starts every season at 0-0 not every team is created equal. What works in one market is not feasible in another. Add in the fact that no two teams are at the same point in their process of building a team and the possibilities for every team are endless. Every decision creates a ripple in the pool of NBA chaos.
When you think of the Spurs, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Nuggets fans might be tempted to say flopping or a number of other four-letter words first, but when you really examine it beyond that I think of defense and championship team basketball. One of the untold stories of the year is the transformation of the San Antonio Spurs that’s seen them jump out to the league’s best record by far. They are now doing it with unselfish and efficient execution on offense first. Sound familiar? Tonight’s game in Denver actually featured the two best offensive teams in basketball. I know the Spurs were without Tim Duncan, but with the post-trade Nuggets undergoing their own transformation we may no longer be seeing San Antonio as the familiar team-oriented kryptonite to Denver’s attack. Nuggets fans have never been close to having a team in the Spurs’ championship mold and tonight’s game was another exciting reminder that big changes are coming and already here.