The Denver Nuggets defeated the New Jersey Nets tonight 123-115. Several Nuggets players had themselves great games. Offense was running smoothly. Things went well the whole game - for the most part...
...Hey, sometimes the ball just goes in the basket. It just so happened that the further away the Nets were, the more likely they were to make said shot...
An ungodly, and I would say unholy three-point shooting percentage kept this game from being another 20+ blow out again. I was thinking this shooting spree by the Nets (who sank and unbelievable 20 - 35 three-point shots) must have been aided by the hand of some malevolent three-point shooting demi-god. I'd like to know what sacrifices Deron Williams and the gang paid to this god because it tangentially rubbed off on the Nuggets (11-18 for a whopping 61%)
All that aside, I never got the feeling that the Nuggets were in any danger of losing this game. It was one of those confident feelings you just have about a game, and midway through the 3rd quarter when the Nets made run after run and couldn't ever get it close enough (closing to within 8 a couple times in the fourth quarter) even with their fantastic three-point shooting then you kind of know this game is going to the win column. Perfect example of this was Jordan Farmar ending up with 26 points and still having a -1 in the plus/minus stat. Same goes for Anthony Morrow's 23 and -12.
I have to say that Deron Williams is truly and elite point guard. Even though his flopping still infuriates me to no end, I still would love him on this team. He shoots well and makes plays (even though he still has a bad temper that get's him in trouble...like tonight). Yet, outside of Williams the Nets are seriously lacking play makers. They do have a bunch of shooters, but they are seriously lacking in dynamic players. While Kris Humphries is ok, he's not great. While Anthony Morrow is a great shooter, he is lost on a team that can't compensate for his deficiencies in other areas. New Jersey is a team in flux, and that could be by design.
The Nuggets had a nice all-around team victory tonight. Danilo Gallinari paced the team with 22 points and 5 assists. 17 of those came in the first quarter when Denver was still trying to find its offensive footing (hangover from the New Orleans game?). In a potentially bad sign, Gallo injured his foot and was icing his ankle at the end of the game. The one player the Nuggets can't afford to lose is Gallo and the hope is it's not too serious.
Corey Brewer had 19 points and provided that, dare I say it, J.R. Smith like energy ability off the bench. He was dynamic and exciting in the second quarter. In the third and fourth quarters Arron Afflalo came alive and started knocking down three point shots. He also finished with 19 points. There was definite ebb and flow to the game, but it was always in the Nuggets favor. There never seemed to be a point after midway through the first where the Nuggets weren't dealing from a point of control, or letting the Nets back in the game due to general sloppiness. The Nuggets mental lapses in the fourth quarter, combined with the unholy three-point shooting by the Nets made this game appear quite a bit closer than it actually was.
Bench contributions from Al Harrington (13 points), and particularly Rudy Fernandez were another bright spot tonight. Rudy finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals in back up point guard duty. I think I'm starting to understand the Spaniard a little better now. He is an all around play maker, and not just a three point specialist. If George Karl puts Rudy in this role again I believe he will flourish. Fernandez' ability to see the court is actually quite surprising and his passing is truly great (along with Gallo). These are the things that get you really excited about this team going forward.
Also, a special "He giveth" award goes to Andre Miller who dished out 12 assists tonight. Way to go Andre. The team certainly passed the ball alot tonight, and much of it has to do with 'Dre and his unique passing ability.
Nuggets of Wisdom
The team managed to snap out of their doldrums from Monday night and come back strong. Ignore the score, the Nuggets played far better than it indicates and it showed. Gallo is rounding in to the player the Nuggets believe he can be. Corey Brewer is a great surprise and poses a dynamic threat at any time. Rudy is moving on from being a straight three point shooter to just an all around play maker. AAA seems to have his legs back under him and is playing better than he has all season. It's these things that make me excited about this team going forward.
One sour note. Timofey Mozgov continues to befuddle me. He looked tentative and lost again tonight. At one point he has a small point guard on him, and rather than back down he passes out (AAA happened to hit a three on that possession but all the same) several other times he looked like he didn't want the ball in his hand at all. I'm not sure what is going on with Moz's head, but he needs to get it screwed on tight. Otherwise starting Kosta Koufos may be the ticket until Moz figures out what he needs to.
Other than that. Great win. GO NUGGETS!!
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78