The enigmatic Nuggets – a search for coherence in a dissonant season

The NBA season is really just a string of smaller ones, held together by a unifying narrative we superimpose over all 82-games for the sake of coherence. It’s how we give meaning to the ultimate inconsequence of a mid-January game: What can we use in this one game to help fuel the overriding story of the season? It’s a practice that, despite being arguably irrelevant, helps both the fans and media talk about the regular season while playing the waiting game until the playoffs, when things start really mattering again. When a team plays harmoniously with what their narrative would dictate, even if that means getting blown out because they’re a tanking team, it becomes much easier to contextualize and, thus, far more comforting.

But sometimes there’s a team whose season is as tough to pin down as a water drop with a thumbtack. Every stab succeeds only in warping its shape.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 103-Phoenix Suns 117

Denver fell behind 8-0 to start the game and never was able recover as they fell to a struggling Suns team in Phoenix by double digits 117-103.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 120-Orlando Magic 94

Denver stayed hot and destroyed a decimated Orlando Magic team playing the second game of a back to back 120-94. The game was never all that close as Denver got up double digits in the first quarter and built on that lead as the game went on. Everyone did a bit of everything in a game that included a Timofey Mozgov poster dunk, a Randy Foye transition block, a big Kenneth Faried steal and slam and the Nuggets setting a franchise record by hitting 12 threes for the fourth straight game.

 

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 129 -Boston Celtics 98

The Nuggets got up big early, extended the lead to huge in the middle and coasted late on their way to an absolute destruction of the Celtics tonight in Denver.

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A Roller Coaster of Performance: A Win/Loss Splits Tour of the Rotation

At 16-17 with a seven game winning streak and an eight game losing streak to their names so far this season it is hard to see the 2013-2014 version of the Nuggets as anything more than a confusing inconsistent and mildly talented collection of basketball players.

When things go well and shots fall the Nuggets win, when they don’t and Denver turns the ball over, they lose. Through the first 33 games of the season it has become clear that Ty Lawson is far and away the best and most important player currently healthy on the Denver roster, meaning it¬†seems like the play of Lawson more than anybody determines if the Nuggets will win or lose a game.

But a deeper looking into the win/loss splits of the main nine rotation players for Denver this year (Lawson, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, JJ Hickson, Nate Robinson, Jordan Hamilton, Darrell Arthur and Timofey Mozgov) show that there are actually a few other players that make more of a difference in win or loss than Lawson. Below is a quick breakdown of some interesting splits for each of those nine players.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102-Philadelphia 76ers 114

The Nuggets gave up 44 points in the second quarter and dropped their eighth straight game 114-102. Everyone gets an F tonight for grades because that is what happens when you get blown out at home by a team with nine (now 10) wins, and just two (now three) on the road. Below is a recap though.

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Five Denver Nuggets New Year’s resolutions

Like many Americans, the Denver Nuggets have a lot of crap wrong with them. And like many Americans, the Denver Nuggets will make a conscious effort to resolve their nagging issues in the coming week. On Friday the Nuggets will play the New Orleans Hornets (insert owner’s wife’s favorite animal) Pelicans to put them just over one third of the way through the 2013-14 NBA season. After dropping five of their last six games, and coming off three full days of rest, the Nuggets should be more than ready to turn over a new leaf — even if January 1 is still a few days away. And though the Nuggets have a plethora of problems to be addressed, here are five of most imperative heading into Friday’s game…

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 91 at Los Angeles Clippers 112

The Nuggets shot poorly all night, and forgot to defend the three point line, on the way to a big loss to the Clippers on a back to back.

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Time for a Change.

Winning in the NBA isn’t an easy task. Even games against bad teams can swing on a single play, a made jumper or bad bounce on a deflection that leads to a run out.

So continuously getting off to bad starts is something that teams should want to avoid. Unfortunately for the Nuggets in the past nine games that isn’t something they have been avoiding, thanks to a porous defense that allows just about everyone to blitz them to start games.

Against the Jazz, a team that is getting better but is still bad, the Nuggets gave up 18 points in the first 4:33 of the game. Brian Shaw hinted after that game that he had thoughts about changing the starting lineup to halt those early game problems, but in the two games following that contest the starters have stayed the same and in both games Denver trailed after a quarter because they allowed their opponents to get off to hot offensive starts.

It is time for Shaw to make the change. Luckily for him there are two good options to do so.

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Pickaxe Pulse for December 16, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets held pace in the Western Conference standings, remaining in the playoff hunt after an up-and-down week. The team ended a six game road trip on Monday with an ugly win against the Wizards. Nate Robinson’s constant energy and a late block and dunk by Kenneth Faried were key to the 75-74 victory. Back at home with three days rest, the Nuggets starters came out flat against the Jazz. Timofey Mozgov and Jordan Hamilton led a comeback in the second half that gave the team a brief lead, but the Nuggets ultimately couldn’t hold on. Speedy point guards Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson took charge in a strong win against the Pelicans on Sunday, with Robinson in particular filling up the highlight reel with drives, jumpers, and even a couple of blocked shots. A tough schedule awaits this week, with all three Nuggets opponents currently in the top six in the West.

Current record and standings: 14-9 (7-3 home, 7-6 road), 7th in the Western Conference

Upcoming games: Tuesday vs Oklahoma City, Friday vs Phoenix, Saturday at LA Clippers

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102-New Orleans Pelicans 93

Denver bounced back from the tough loss to Utah on Friday to defeat a tough New Orleans Pelicans team 102-93, thanks to solid efforts from a lot of different places including Nate Robinson, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. Please post your thoughts on the game while the grades are prepared (after David finishes up in the locker room.)

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Data Mining: How Wilson Chandler is (and isn’t) regressing to the mean

As the Nuggets got off to a rocky start to begin the season, it was hoped that help would be on the way in the form of Wilson Chandler when he returned to play after missing their first six games due to a hamstring injury. And while he has made helpful contributions to an extent, he has clearly fallen short of making the impact many Nuggets fans were hoping for.

For starters, his impact on the court versus off has been essentially neutral. Consider, for example, the discrepancy between Chandler and Mozgov in this regard: (more…)

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 93-Utah Jazz 103

The Nuggets starters were outscored 82-36 by the Jazz starters and despite a valiant attempt from the bench unit Denver lost to Utah 103-93.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 75 Washington Wizards 74

Nate Robinson came up big as the Nuggets clawed their way to victory in DC with three game-saving stops in a row. It was one of the uglier affairs of the season featuring 20 turnovers and a Kenneth Faried benching in the second half, but Denver hung around and did just enough to come away with a win.
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Pickaxe Pulse for December 8, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets travelled east for a difficult stretch of four games in five nights, winning two and losing two. Timofey Mozgov was a dominating force in the paint against Brooklyn on Tuesday, with 17 points and 20 rebounds in a blowout win. Ty Lawson struggled with his shot the next night in Cleveland and the Cavs’ Tristan Thompson pulled down a Mozgov-like 21 rebounds to hand the Nuggets a defeat. Boston got off to a quick start on Friday, and an injury to Ty Lawson ended the Nuggets’ shot at a comeback. The team rebounded from two tough losses by going in to Philadelphia and pulling out a win thanks to Jordan Hamilton hitting back-to-back-to-back threes late in the fourth period to blow the game open. With injuries and fatigue taking their toll, the Nuggets will be glad to end their road trip on Monday in Washington and spend three days getting healthy before their next game.

Current record and standings: 12-8 (6-2 home, 6-6 road), 7th in the Western Conference

Upcoming games: Monday at Washington, Friday vs Utah

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