The Nuggets went on the offensive against the Kings Wednesday (Jan. 4th) night winning a laugher 110-83. All 12 players in uniform played and all 12 players in uniform scored a minimum of 6 points each. With Nene sitting out for the second straight game, with a bruised left heel, Kosta Koufos stepped in again and recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. However, stealing the show was rookie Kenneth Faried aka Manimal - who electrified the remaining crowd with a couple powerful blocks, two free throws to ensure tacos, and a blow the roof off alley-oop from Rudy Fernandez.
What a dunk and what a pass from Rudy Fernandez. You all know the play that I'm talking about ... we'll get to it in a minute.
The Faried dunk didn't happen until the 8:40 mark of the fourth quarter. But the action before that was somewhat forgettable. The Nuggets came out and controlled the pace early and got out to a big lead. The Kings were playing their fourth game in five nights and just didn't have the legs or heart to stay with the Nuggets in this one.
Midway through the first quarter, Timofey Mozgov was finally rewarded for running the court when Andre Miller found Fernandez on a long lead pass and Rudy fed Mozgov for a nice jam, 19-14 Nuggets. Just moments later, the same play happened again as Miller found Fernandez on a leak out and Rudy fed Mozgov for another dunk, 23-14 Denver. The big Russian finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 20 minutes, but recorded some cheap fouls once again (3). I'd like to see Ty Lawson work the ball in to Moz in the post a bit, but it was great to see the big guy finally get rewarded for getting down the court in a hurry.
Koufos continued to show why he needs minutes. His height and nose for the ball were apparent once again as he collected 10 rebounds and his soft touch around the rim netted him 10 points in 24 minutes. It was great to see Karl recognize that the Ohioan-Greek was one rebound away from his first double-double as the coach re-inserted K2 into the game for Chris Andersen late in the fourth quarter to get that 10th board.
It's hard to remember what really happened in the first half as the Nuggets were on cruise control. Danilo Gallinari, Lawson, and Arron Afflalo all got plenty of rest as none of them played over 26 minutes in this one. Gallo finished with just 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 25 minutes and he didn't attempt a single three-pointer. As a team, the Nuggets were just 3-9 from downtown. Their lowest total of attempted treys this season ... nice to see.
Andre Miller finished with 6 assists, which leaves him with 1,999 total assists as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Who will get his 2,000 assist in Denver? Miller must have been working with Andersen on the lob this week in practice. The two tried, unsuccessfully to connect on two lob passes in the first half. Finally as the third quarter was winding down, the two connect on a nice 'Dre to Birdman lob pass alley-oop to get Miller to 1,999 and it gave Denver a 85-64 lead.
At the 9:49 mark of the fourth quarter, the Pepsi Center crowd was treated to Faried checking into the game for Al Harrington. I can recall watching Clinton Portis as a rookie for the Broncos and just knowing that at some point he was going to break a long one and we'd finally get to see all that speed on display. Similar thing with Faried ... Nuggets Nation has been waiting for a jaw-dropping dunk, and tonight they were finally treated to one. But before that alley-oop that he must have climbed 245-feet in the air to get, Faried had a nice block on one end that led to a Birdman dunk on the other, 92-64 Nuggets. And later in the period, Travis Outlaw was on the baseline and started flying towards the rim for a dunk attempt, Faried met him in the air and just stuffed the attempt. Outlaw didn't get near the rim and the Rookie got to show off his skills, once again.
I'm not sure what we learned from this game. The Kings didn't have much of a shot, even before stepping on the floor - playing not only their fourth game in five nights, but the second of a back-to-back-to-back set as well. Mozgov, Koufos, and Faried got some nice experience and boosted their confidence. Now the trio must carry the lessons they learned forward and continue to become bigger parts of the Nuggets rotation.
Faried looked a lot more comfortable on the floor tonight. Right before his monster alley-oop he was actually playing nice post defense and his man had to throw the ball back out to Isaiah Thomas, which led to the turnover that led to the Fernandez to Faried play. We saw Manimal grab a couple nice rebounds, had a nice putback after an offensive board, block shots, and he was an active defender. Faried finished the night with 7 points (2-2 shooting, 3-4 from the foul line), 4 rebounds (1 offensive), 4 blocks, 1 foul, and 1 turnover in 9:49 of playing time. Having a nose for the ball can't be taught, but Faried will still need to prove himself to earn more playing time. Don't get your hopes up for seeing Manimal too much, as the list ahead of him is a long one, but this was a very encouraging game.
A nice win and an expected one for the Nuggets.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets out-rebounded the Kings 50-36, but surrendered 15 offensive boards to the Kings.
- Denver shot a blistering 46-76 from the field (60.5%), Harrington finished 7-10 (1-2 from deep) from the floor for 15 points.
- The Nuggets tallied 31 team assists, 11 blocks, and out-scored the Kings in fast-break points 31-9. The perfect stats for a Step on the tired team's neck early game.
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