Ty Lawson followed his best game of the season versus the Atlanta Hawks (32 points) on Wednesday, with possibly the worst offensive game I've ever seen him play. Ty finished with 2 points on 1-10 shooting and looked incredibly passive and tentative. This usually spells doom for your Denver Nuggets, particularly against a good defensive team in the Indiana Pacers ... that is until the old man, Andre Miller, stepped to the plate.
Miller finished with 15 points and 8 assists, but that doesn't tell the whole story. When the Nuggets offense was bogging down with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Miller provided the offensive spark that put the Nuggets up by 7 points in a flash ... scoring 8 of his 15 points in that stretch. It was shades of Philadelphia last season. Without Dre, the Nuggets may not come away with a victory tonight.
David West was killing the Nuggets, or rather, Kenneth Faried specifically. Faried was getting schooled by the perimeter power forward and he had a hard time staying in front of West on offensive possessions. At halftime West had 16 points. He finished the game with 18 points. This was largely due to Danilo Gallinari playing the power forward position and guarding West. The key is to stay in front of West (a la Kenyon Martin) and hold your position. Faried, far too often, gets either overpowered ... or he's completely out of position. When it comes to fundamentals, Gallo and Kosta Koufos are the most "sound" on this Nuggets team. While Gallo had a terrible shooting night (2-10) he did get to the free throw line and made plays. He finished with 9 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Nearly a triple double. However, it was his defense on the dangerous West that carried the day.
JaVale McGee had a fantastic game. He finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Hustle, grit, determination and the single dumbest play I have seen in many many years:
Funny: Javale McGee falls and throws ball away (via NBAGermany2011)
STILL though, you've got to love the effort by JaVale. He is trying in a positive manner and at this point that's all you can ask of him. Positive energy is a great thing to have on the road (particularly with all these road games the Nuggets are playing) and JaVale was extremely positive tonight.
Corey Brewer continued his recent streak of good play. While he had the occasional "I'm going all out" brain fart, he did provide the Nuggets with a significant offensive lift and finished with 20 points and TONS of hustle. Tonight, when channeled correctly, Brewer's energy was relentless and again ... positive.
Nice win, and when you couple it with the Nuggets good play against the Hawks on Wednesday (in a loss) this was that ray of sunshine the Nuggets may have been needing.
Nuggets of Wisdom
I'm just going to throw this out there (like ripping off a band-aid). It may be time to consider moving Gallo over to the starting power forward position, acting as a stretch-4, and move Kenneth Faried to the bench. That would move Andre Iguodala (who had another off night) to the small forward position and then the Nuggets would have to put someone in at the two (either Brewer or Jordan Hamilton). Maybe, just maybe, Faried's energy is best served off the bench for awhile.
I bring this up because, while Faried's chase down blocks and rebounding are invaluable, he is far to often getting owned on the block by larger and more "offensively minded" power forwards. This is in no way meant to slight the Manimal, but this has been a consistent pattern all season. I get the feeling if Gallo hadn't been switched to West in the second half that the result of tonight's game may have been different. Like I said, I'm just throwing that out there. There's arguments to be made on both sides, but moving Gallo to the power forward spot in the starring lineup opens up many more options for the Nuggets offensively while the one-on-one defense improves (with rebounding decreasing).
If Faried stays in the starting lineup (and I've seen no indication he won't) then the Nuggets must work HARD to compensate for Faried's lack of fundamentals in a team defense aspect until Faried can round into shape.
Still, good win for the Nuggets despite the starting unit's struggles. You will take any win you can get in this stretch and tonight they played a tough team on their home court and came out with a win.
Nice one boys.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78