Nuggets at Pistons: Nuggets engine was sputtering in victory

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Well lookie there. Nuggets win on the road and even their record at 11-11 with a 101-94 victory over the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills. The team managed to survive a horribly sluggish start, horrible shooting by their starting wing players, and a referee who hate's the word "continuation".

Before we continue, here is a widget containing the quarter breakdown. Take a quick look.


Final - 12.11.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Denver Nuggets 17 31 24 29 101
Detroit Pistons 25 17 24 28 94

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Look at the first half. The quarter breakdown doesn't adequately explain the absolute lack of energy and desire that this Nuggets squad started out with. At one point the Nuggets were down by, get this, 17 in the first. I happened to be watching the first half of this game with my dad at Old Chicago's in Thornton. Now, keep in mind I only drink when feeling euphoric ... and despite the copious amounts of alcohol available to me I chose to sit and grow increasingly agitated. So much so that my dad was slightly worried about me. Here is a vision of how I may have reacted if the Nuggets didn't close out the quarter well:

Chris Farley's funniest sketch (via Daniel Bein)

Maybe not to Farley's level, but you get the idea. Rage was building and it didn't seem to be getting any better. Luckily "Aggressive Ty" made a very rare appearance tonight. You know the one, slashing to the basket, creating for teammates off the dribble, hitting mid range shots with regularity. Ty Lawson was excellent this evening and his stats show as much: 26 points and 7 assists. Coming through when the Nuggets need you is the definition of a leader ... hopefully this version of Ty keeps coming back for more.

Meanwhile Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The shooting combined for both men was 6-25. However, I will say this for both - they stayed aggressive throughout the game and just kept at it. If this was earlier in the season both would have retreated and done "other things" to help the team. Iguodala made some nice drives and played some good defense on the perimeter, and Gallo hit a dagger three with a minute left to basically ice the game for the Nuggets. While a collective 6-25 is never ok, both men still gave it their all and that was good to see. Still ... pick up the shooting percentages gentlemen. From the wing position it's a good thing Corey Brewer chipped in with 15 points and 3-5 three point shots that carried the Nuggets through the first and early second quarter.

JaVale McGee had another solid game after an atrocious one against the Knicks. He seems to be following the Lawson pattern of games lately. McGee had several lob dunks (even one from Ty!!) and he finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting. Even had himself a patented "JaVale fast break" where he finished with a dunk after a steal. So it was good to see McGee creating space and getting to the rim, at least in the first half. It gave the Nuggets a lift they sorely needed at the time. Heck, even rarely used Anthony Randolph got off the bench in the first half (and didn't score) and had a couple of blocks.

Kenneth Faried got into foul trouble early and just never got into the flow of things. More than that, he was just kind of ineffective in general. Teams have adjusted to how the Manimal likes to play and he now has to adjust. Faried finished with just 3 points and 6 rebounds; rather sketchy for a man of his talent and he needs to find a way to adjust to the way teams are playing him. Meanwhile Kosta Koufos played angry in the second half and amassed 9 points and got himself some nifty dunks. K2 is Mr. Fundamental on this Nuggets team, and his efforts helped counteract the toughness of Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe underneath the basket (even though the Nuggets were outrebounded 51-37).

Overall you will take any victory on the road, regardless of starts. Nuggets are now .500 ... once again.

Nuggets of Wisdom

Alright. One win at a time right? The Nuggets face a tough task tomorrow in Minnesota on the second night of a back to back with what is certain to be a highly motivated Kevin Love. Who knows what will happen. In the meantime the Nuggets need to keep collecting wins where they can get them with this horrendous road schedule to start the season. If the Nuggets can gut out a win tomorrow then things shape up fairly pretty for the stretch run of December.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets need to get everyone playing consistently and WELL at the same time. So far it's been hit and miss. One encouraging sign from this road trip is the Nuggets have been in every game, and have given 100% effort (except for the first quarter tonight). It's easy to root for a team that always keeps you in games. Now they need to take these close games and start winning them consistently.

All in all? I will take it.

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78

mortonagency@juno.com

Be sure and listen to Les Shapiro and Tom Nalen every Monday-Friday on 102.3 ESPN from Noon to 3 pm.

FNDfilms.com

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