A great second half performance by Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson help the Nuggets to overcome three of the most incompetent officials in the NBA to win over the Houston Rockets 117-105.
Sometimes with the sweet, comes the sour.
Ty Lawson ladies and gentlemen. Let me just ease this stat line in on ya ... you know ... so you don't get excited too early. Ty had 22 points, much of which came in the fourth quarter while being aggressive and taking the ball relentlessly to the basket. As someone who has been quite harsh about Lawson's passiveness this was indeed a sight for sore eyes. Several key baskets at the end helped to make the evil Kyle Lowry work on the defensive end (Lowry had 12 points in the fourth quarter). Wait, THERE'S MORE!! Ty also dished out ... wait for it ... you ready? You may want to sit down. Ok, you're sitting? He had 15 assists as well! YES! The ultimate sign of Ty being aggressive can be found in his assist making. Fifteen of those bad boys is an even better sign than his scoring. This is the Lawson the Denver Nuggets need to see night in, night out.
Let us not forget Afflalo. After what could have been one of his worst halves of basketball this season (1 point and three fouls), AAA came roaring back in the second half (with 16 of his 17 points), hitting three point shots and playing fairly good perimeter defense on the pesky, annoying, and irritating Kevin Martin (who finished with 35 points and roughly 300 flops). I was glad to see the Afflalo of old come to the fore. He got angry, and took it on himself to make shots and play better. The Nuggets have needed that all season, and with any hope this will continue.
Two other players deserve special mention. Kenneth Faried continued his impressive play. The energy he brings is contagious and his play is infectious. Manimal finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a couple highlight reel blocks and effectively neutralized Louis Scola. He is rounding into the player that everyone was excited about when the Nuggets drafted him and has been more impressive than just about anyone could have imagined. Kosta Koufos stepped in on some spot duty (more on why later) and continued to display why he is the best Nuggets pick and roll defender. K2 is the only one who consistently hedges on screens when the pick and roll is being run. He also has a nose for put-backs and offensive rebounds. Koufos finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. K2 has a value in teaching the Nuggets big men how to consistently play team defense. Gotta love the Greek.
Al Harrington and Andre Miller both played well. Al still seems to be struggling with his shot, and he looks out of it (most likely from being ground into dust with as many minutes he has played), but he played okay tonight. Miller had some iffy turnovers, but had a very nice drive on Kevin Martin late in the game and he had 16 points and 4 assists. Good overall game by Dre.
Nuggets of Wisdom
One bad note for the Nuggets tonight was Timofey Mozgov stepping on a cameraman midway through the third quarter and re-spraining his left ankle. This is bad news. Moz was starting to get better and round in to shape from his previous left ankle sprain just as this happened. It's a bit concerning when big men have several leg injuries, but I'm chalking it up at this point to really bad luck. Sprained ankles are a hazard of NBA life. Hopefully Moz can get better soon and start playing. He was interviewed after the game on Altitude and said the ankle injury isn't as bad as the previous one, let's hope not.
Other than that, it's nice to head into San Antonio on a two game winning streak. It was a nice "team" win tonight for the Nuggets and hopefully these good vibes carry forward as they continue to get healthier. One more game before the nine game home stand starts on Monday. It would be great to get a win in San Antonio to avenge the pitiful performance the Nuggets put on in their last game against them before the All Star break. We shall see. In the mean time, bask in the glow of a victory over the Rockets and the good thoughts that come with it.
Good things are happening Nuggets fans.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78