The Nuggets earned their first victory of the season tonight against the Detroit Pistons, 109-97.
The Nuggets wound up with six players scoring in double-figures on the evening. Andre Iguodala led the team with 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds. But Iguodala's play was overshadowed a bit by the performances of Kenneth Faried (15 points and 8 rebounds) and JaVale McGee (16 points and 3 blocks). The athletic bigs brought the home crowd to their feet on a number of occasions with a variety of dunks and blocks (in McGee's case).
"The pick-and-roll defense was good and bad tonight," said Karl. "We can't let their point guards have as many easy basketball plays as they got tonight. I think our young big guys have to learn how to communicate better. Understand where we want to send the ball in situations. It's not complicated, but they look like they are confused sometimes. We got better in the second half, most of that was because we went to switching and let them have the mismatch rather than have the pick-and-roll game."
During the second quarter, McGee was burned for an alley-oop as the Pistons guards figured out that he would show for a blocked shot on them and they could toss the ball over him for easy buckets to their big men. A lot of Stiffs point to Chris Andersen and his desire to leave his feet and his man to go for blocks; hopefully McGee will learn over time that that isn't always the best basketball play.
Monroe continued the onslaught of big men having big nights against the Nuggets, but his stats did not feel like anything more than ... stats. His impact on the game wasn't the same as Spencer Hawes, Glen Davis, and Chris Bosh. The Nuggets controlled the pace and energy of the game for all but short stretches when the Pistons made some runs to stay within fighting distance of a competitive game.
Ty Lawson was a big part of the reason why the Nuggets controlled the feel of the game. Once again he was in attack mode and his offense was such a threat on his drives that he was able to find big men, Kosta Koufos in particular, for wide open for dunks as he drew multiple defenders.
"He's (Lawson) doing what we want him to do and that's attack every opportunity," Karl said. "Every situation where we move the ball to him, we don't want him to settle, we don't want him to defer, we want him to create. The last two games we've got his personality in the game, much more in Miami and tonight probably even more."
Lawson finished with 15 points, 9 assists, 4 steals, and only 1 turnover in 39 minutes. I'll be keeping an eye on him tomorrow in Houston to see if playing big minutes has any lingering effects on his aggressiveness. Lawson was pretty special tonight and the Pistons couldn't stay with him. The Nuggets go as Lawson goes, no surprise they won tonight.
Faried dominated in his 22 minutes going 7-10 from the field for 15 points and grabbing 8 rebounds (3 offensive). I was a bit surprised that Karl didn't turn to him down the stretch when the Pistons started to make a little run, but he should have plenty of #UNLEASETHEMANIMAL energy for tomorrow's game.
Unfortunately, Wilson Chandler won't be playing tomorrow (still bringing him along slowly from off-season surgery), but he started looking better this evening. He turned in 5 points and 7 rebounds in 16 minutes and is still searching for his offensive rhythm. He shot 2-8 from the field and his shots are looking good and they should start falling. I liked his shot selection more tonight. Karl talked about trying to get his confidence level up; hopefully that will lead to better play for the recovering Chandler.
The Nuggets finished 10-30 from downtown and Corey Brewer poured in 3-7 from deep. I love Brewer's energetic play and his reckless defensive effort. I still battle with how many minutes are "good minutes" for Brewer, but I liked his 20 minutes this evening.
Andre Miller, 8 points and 6 assists. He's easily the best distributor on the team and his chemistry with McGee is clear. Lawson doesn't often look to feed the bigs in transition with traffic around, but Miller almost relishes on making passes fit through tight spots. When Miller has the ball in transition, with guys ahead of him, it's a joy to watch.
Gallo played 31 minutes and had another rough shooting night, going 3-11 from the field and 2-8 from deep. Gallo's importance as a floor spacer continue to help the team, but I'm not sure he'll ever become the consistent shooter that his form makes you fall for.
The Nuggets debuted their new alternative uniforms tonight and they started off in them on the right path with the win. Even coach George Karl seemed somewhat pleased with the bright yellow look.
"I don't know if I can handle that much yellow," said Karl. "I'm glad we don't do it every game, but it looked good."
The Nuggets will travel to Houston tonight to face the Rockets tomorrow.
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