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
Last night ESPN’s Marc Stein talked to a bunch of scouts to get their takes on a lot of NBA early season happenings for Stein Line Live.
Stein talked to an Eastern Conference scout on why the Nuggets turnaround has happened. The answer was mostly that Denver was running again, though the part that sticks out most is the scout’s take on JaVale McGee.
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.
The Nuggets don’t have any shooters.”
Even as the 2012-13 Nuggets were working towards their most successful season in franchise history, there could be heard (as is always true in sports) some recurring complaints and criticisms from both fans and analysts. Prevalent among these was Denver’s lack of shooters, and with the acquisition of 3-point specialist Randy Foye, the team sought to address that need.
At the beginning of the season Foye got off to a somewhat slow start, but proceeded to settle in fairly quickly and start delivering on the promise of bringing some reliable perimeter shooting to the Nuggets’ arsenal. So far this season, among players with ten or more points per game, he is 10th in made 3-pointers per 36 minutes. (Nate Robinson is 17th, and the last on the list). And while Foye’s limited point production and .376 3-point percentage prevent him from joining the ranks of the elite gunners, he’s adroitly performing the task he was brought to Denver to do.
And, as we shall see in the video and analysis below the jump, Ty Lawson is playing a huge role in helping him get the job done. In fact, 70 percent of Foye’s shots have been assisted by Lawson, including 72.6 percent of his 3-pointers. And many of those assist have been among Lawson’s most impressive this season. (more…)
I have seen the calls for my apologies. The demands that I come out and eat crow for predicting the Nuggets were clearly lottery team. The wonder at where I have been during the recent streak of great play. (For the record I was away for ten days for the holiday).
But I have been thinking about things, about how I was potentially so wrong, and it all led me to one conclusion.
I was wrong, but it was only because I was misinformed.
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
If the Denver ends up having a relatively successful 2013-14 season, it’s likely that on reflection these two big wins against Dallas will be seen as the turning point. The Nuggets never relinquished their halftime lead, thanks mostly to 13-point quarters (third and fourth, respectively) from both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, whose heroics kept the Mavs at bay every time they tried to claw their way back into the game. (more…)
Through the first 11 games of the Nuggets season the impact that each newcomer has brought has started to become very clear.
JJ Hickson stinks at defense but has done a good job on the glass and thrown down a few poster dunks. Nate Robinson shoots a lot, at times shooting Denver back into games and at time shooting them right out. Randy Foye shoots and makes threes and doesn’t do a ton else, either good or bad.
And Darrell Arthur plays good pick-and-roll defense, and compared to the rest of the power forwards on the Nuggets roster, really good defense in general.
So far this season the Nuggets defense is 6.8 points per 100 possessions better with Arthur on the floor, as they give up just 102.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor compared to 109.3 with him on the bench according to 82games.com
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.
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.
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
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.
Prior to the Nuggets-Timberwolves matchup tonight at 6 p.m. MST on ESPN, Roundball Mining Company was lucky enough to catch up with current ESPN analyst and three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen. In our brief interview Bowen discusses the value of JaVale McGee, being patient with Brian Shaw and which starting point guard has the edge between Ty Lawson and Ricky Rubio.
Thanks to a dominating performance from Timofey Mozgov the Nuggets played well late and defeated the Lakers 111-99.
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.