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

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 98-Boston Celtics 106

Denver went down big early and couldn’t quite ever get back into the game and fell to the Celtics 106-98. Most importantly Ty Lawson left the game with a left hamstring injury. Stay tuned at RMC for more information as it comes out.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111, Brooklyn Nets 87

Timofey Mozgov. Domination. Calamity. Explosions. Bazookas. Lasers. Apocalypse. Superhero. Awesomeness. What do all these words have in common? They’re all nouns and verbs and things that describe Mozgov’s upcoming Russian action-hero movie where he completely destroys all opponents in his path. But until then he’s still a basketball player for the Denver Nuggets. Confused? You should be. Read on for further explanation…

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Pickaxe Pulse for December 1, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

The Nuggets picked up four more wins this week and have won 9 of the last 11, leaving the team’s 1 and 4 start to the season as a distant memory. Nate Robinson has settled into his role as a scorer off the bench, averaging 18 points while shooting over 50% on threes in the last four games. Robinson has combined with Ty Lawson, Jordan Hamilton, and the surprisingly hot-shooting Andre Miller to give the Nuggets 8 or more made threes in 8 straight games, which is a franchise record. The Nuggets’ bigs continue to be inconsistent individually but effective as a group, with JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov each having at least one great game and one bad game this week. Darrell Arthur’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki helped in the win at Dallas. Randy Foye played well against Kevin Martin in the win at Minnesota and came up with a key late-game stop of Carmelo Anthony to seal the win against New York. The Nuggets’ bench, led by Robinson and Mozgov, put up 72 points in a comeback road win against Toronto to kick off a six-game road trip.

Current record and standings: 10-6 (6-2 home, 4-4 road), sixth place in the Western conference

Upcoming games: Tuesday at Brooklyn, Wednesday at Cleveland, Friday at Boston, Saturday at Philadelphia

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 102 Dallas Mavericks 100

The Nuggets withstand a furious second-half comeback from Dallas and grind out a two-point win to move back to .500 on the season. It wasn’t pretty but the Nuggets put six scorers in double figures and make just enough plays to escape with a win, their fifth in a row at the Pepsi Center.
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Ty Lawson is setting the league aflame, one dribble drive at a time

In the waning moments of an impressive first quarter in Minnesota, Ty Lawson casually brought the ball up the court as a ready Ricky Rubio, one of the best point guard defenders in the league, stood the lone obstacle between Lawson and the rim. After a one dribble crossover that left Rubio’s legs crisscrossed above the free throw line, Lawson had breached the paint before any Wolves defender had time to register the immanent threat to the basket.

The second a rotating Kevin Love had his foot planted in the restricted area, Lawson was in the air, his hand underneath the ball just long enough for Love’s momentum to carry him out of the passing lane, before a casual, mid-air flip to a cutting Mozgov put the ball in the 7-foot Russian’s hands before Lawson’s feet even had time to hit the hardwood.

The play was over as quick as it began, a bang-bang sequence that would’ve been shocking in its blinding display of skill and brevity if not for the fact that some varying form of that Lawson drive had not already victimized the Wolves just two possessions prior. The fact is that drive, the ease in which it was executed, and the results it produced, has become a staple of Lawson’s game, a weapon teams don’t seem to have an answer for.

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Pickaxe Pulse for November 17, 2013

Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend

During the preseason, NBA analysts, pundits, and fans were predicting the Nuggets to finish anywhere from a low playoff seed to near the bottom of the league. After nine games, the 4-5 Nuggets have done little to change anyone’s mind.

Ty Lawson’s current averages of 21 points, 4 rebounds, and nearly 9 assists are all career highs. Wilson Chandler has been shooting extremely well from outside, and Timofey Mozgov has been a force on defense and in the pick and roll. The Nuggets have had fourth quarter leads in all but two games. On the down side, long-term injuries to Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee will keep the Nuggets from reaching full strength until January or later. Aside from Ty Lawson, the rest of the Nuggets’ guards have played inconsistently on both ends, with only a couple of good games each. The defense is still a work in progress, particularly in the frontcourt. Coach Shaw continues to run experimental lineups that are sometimes successful but more often terrible. With three tough tests coming this week, the Nuggets will need to improve quickly to keep pace.

Current record and standings: 4-5 (3-2 home, 1-3 road), tied with Memphis for 10th place in the West.

Upcoming games: Monday @ Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Chicago, Saturday vs Dallas

Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111-Houston Rockets 122

The Nuggets trailed by double digits most of the night, including falling behind by 20, and ultimately fell to the Rockets 122-111.

The defense was invisible most of the night as the Rockets paraded to the rim, ultimately shooting 50.6 percent from the field. But don’t worry, I found all the D hiding in the grades.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 111-Los Angeles Lakers 99

Thanks to a dominating performance from Timofey Mozgov the Nuggets played well late and defeated the Lakers 111-99.

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How not to defend the high pick and roll – a Denver Nuggets tale

Going into the season, we were all mentally prepared for how bad the defense was going to be, especially when factoring in the absence of Denver’s two best wing defenders. But what has occurred over the span of these four games has been an organization-wide breakdown on a fundamental level when it comes to defense, from system to effort to the makeup of the roster. We’ve already covered the big man dilemma as well as the inability to defend the three, now it’s time to dig into the high pick and roll defense.

The basics of Denver’s pick and roll defensive principles is essentially for the traditional centers, McGee and Mozgov, to drop back to around the free throw line when defending a screener and for everyone else (essentially anyone guarding the screener) to hedge high. The theory behind hedging is basically for the defending big is to impede the ball handlers path around the screen enough so to give the ball handlers’ defender enough time to navigate the screen. Considering the kinds of athletes Denver employes at the forward positions, and the diminutive nature of the backcourt, this kind of help and recover system should, in theory, work out well. In theory.

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BREAKING NEWS: JaVale McGee Out Indefinitely

According to the official Nuggets twitter account, JaVale McGee will be sidelined indefinitely due to a stress fracture in his left tibia. 

Head coach Brian Shaw has not decided if he will start Timofey Mozgov or J.J. Hickson at center for Monday’s game against Utah but either way expect to see both players start logging more time at the position.

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Rapid Reaction: Phoenix Suns 114, Denver Nuggets 103

Although Ty Lawson turned in one of his best performances as a young Denver Nugget, his team couldn’t find any form of consistency on the defensive side of the ball and once again allowed the opponent’s front line to have career days all around. The Nuggets are now 1-4 on the season and looking more and more like a lottery team.

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Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 109-Atlanta Hawks 107

Thanks to a late important three from Ty Lawson and a key defensive stop at the buzzer by Andre Miller the Nuggets defeated the Hawks 109-107 to give Brian Shaw his first career victory.

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Roundball Roundtable: Reflections from June 2014

The Denver Nuggets have played two games. Neither has been pretty. And though there’s still 80 more games to be played, the first two outings have gotten our writers to thinking: Just where exactly will the Nuggets be eight months from now? In our latest Roundball Roundtable five of our writers have attempted to answer that very question. These are the answers they’ve presented…

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