The Nuggets Summer League squad lost tonight's game against the Charlotte Bobcats 99-86. With about five minutes left, Denver had a chance to sneak back into it, but a late run by Charlotte closed the door on the game. Quincy Miller may have closed the Summer League on Kenneth Faried, as well.
With about 9:00 minutes left in the second quarter, Miller came down on a loose ball around the foul line and his elbow caught Faried right between the eyes. Manimal went down awkwardly and when the camera zoomed back over to him, quite a bit of blood was trickling down onto the court and into his hands. His eyebrows bloodied, he walked off the court and later received three stitches between the eyes and viewed the rest of the game on the bench. Icing his fresh wound off-and-on and chatting with teammate Demonte Harper (his former college teammate too).
It was a sloppy game and it might have been best for Faried to get out of it when he did, with a non-threatening injury. The Bobcats (4-0) full-court press forced the Nuggets (1-3) into 11 first quarter turnovers and 21 in the game. Down big, by as many as 16 points, at various points during the game, Denver would battle back a little and then squander opportunities.
Evan Fournier (3-9) and Jordan Hamilton (2-9) didn't hesitate launching threes tonight and they finshed a combined 5-18 from distance or 27%. The Nuggets as a whole shot just 8-25 from deep (32%), we saw a lot of that last season from the regular squad.
Well, Mike Dunlop's gimmick paid off and has been working for the Bobcats this summer. The full-court press has confused these inexperienced teams and it continued to do so against the Nuggets. It was a sloppy contest and one that was only sweet when the clock finally ran out. Not a fun one to watch.
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Kenneth Faried: Before he left the game, due to injury, Faried put up 8 points on 3-4 shooting. He also had two turnovers in his 11 minutes and is continuing to try to work with the ball out on the top of the key, to mixed results. It's good practice to get Faried used to setting up the offense, take him out of his comfort zone a bit, and see how he'll grow as a player. He still finishes around the rim with amazing consistency. The guy just knows how to get his shot off and has sweet touch in the paint, when he's not jamming the ball through rim. He also had the highlight of the game when he caught a half-court lob from Fournier and flushed it down over a defender ... we'll be seeing that play a few times come October. I suspect Faried will sit out tomorrow's finale against the Trail Blazers, but we'll see.
-Evan Fournier: He played just over 30 minutes and scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting. He shot a poor percentage from deep, but I like how he squares up on his shot attempts. He keeps drawing unfair comparisons to Rudy Fernandez, from what I can see - he's nothing like the Spaniard. Fours sets his feet, squares his shoulders, and has nice form on his shots. He does like to get inside, at times, but he still maintains great body control when he draws contact. Fernandez didn't really do any of that. I love his defensive pressure and he's used to playing a more physical style in France (yep!) and needs to adjust to the no-hand checking rules of the NBA. Solid game from Fournier and I like how he kept pulling the trigger on his shot ... that's what the summer is all about.
-Jordan Hamilton: Roughly 35 minutes for J to go Ham and he put up a team high 21 points on 9-16 shooting. Like it was mentioned above, he too struggled from deep, but he kept going to his shot - all about the work. Hamilton left his feet a lot when he got into a bind in the corners and when he was trying to break the press and that caused him to make some awkward pass attempts. It's not always smart to try to throw the ball over the top of the defense and his passing still needs some work. He committed 3 turnovers and he can cut down on those by not getting himself into bad passing situations, like leaving his feet. He also likes to throw what looks like a soccer-inbounds pass ... two hands and over the head - sometimes very inaccurate. He wont get the minutes he wants if he turns the ball over when George Karl is running the team.
-Quincy Miller: The Youngster played 22 minutes and again seemed frustrated at the results. The camera caught him cursing to himself as he sat on the bench after one short stint on the floor. Besides injuring Faried (an obvious move for more playing time!) ... I kid I kid. Miller shot 3-9 from the floor for 8 points. He has an amazing free throw stroke (2-2), but needs to figure out ways to get himself to the foul line. He looked lost at times and you can tell that Miller is struggling a bit with the physical nature of these games. He was able to get by at lower levels based on his height and array of moves, but he now must learn how to excel at the NBA level. It's going to be an uphill battle, like Masai Ujiri said, for Miller to not only make the Nuggets' team, but to stick in the League. He has the talent, he now must learn how to use it and put some meat on those bones.
-I liked flashes of what I saw out of Gani Lawal, 15 points on 7-9 shooting, but he also has his hardships ... like the 7 fouls he committed. He's a big guy and I would think there would be a team out there who would want to take a flier on him - perhaps as an end of the bench guy, but he plays hard on the offensive end - but he doesn't rebound well. I think tomorrow night will be the last time he puts on an NBA jersey for another year.
-Josh Carter is another interesting player. He can really light it up and has a high release on his shot - sort of like Rashard Lewis. But he doesn't defend that well and he isn't super athletic. There are just not enough spots in the NBA for guys like Carter. He may get a shot with somebody at some point, but not with these Nuggets. The same can be said for Derwin Kitchen - he too can really shoot the ball, but he has been miscast this summer and he's tried to run the point for the Nuggets with very mixed results. Jorge Gutierrez has a nice story: from Mexico, to Colorado, and to the Pac 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year last season. But his story will end there, at the NBA level. He doesn't have the ball control to make it as a point guard in the NBA and he's too out of control on offense. These guys are trying to get their names out there and it's tough on this Nuggets team because they have four guys who are trying to jockey for position on the regular squad.
It was cool to see former CU stars Cory Higgins and Carlon Brown out there for the Bobcats. Higgins put up 12 points and Brown 15 points. I'm not sure that either guy will make the roster for Charlotte, but they could be heard from again at the NBA level, especially Brown.