Gallo hit a big shot at the end of this game - Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Nuggets slogged through three and a half quarters of uninspiring basketball, only to put the clamps on defensively and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91
Here is a nice, tidy box score for ya.
If you will observe, the Cleveland Cavaliers only scored 35 points in the entire second half. This was accomplished (after the Nuggets gave up 56 in the first half) by essentially denying as much penetration as possible and making the Cavs a jump shooting team. That strategy worked perfectly as the Nuggets were able to reel in a Cavaliers team that was gaining confidence by it's stellar first half performance.
In the first half, the team couldn't get out of it's own way. In fact, after the previous two games only having 18 turnovers combined the Nuggets finished the game with 22. Most in the first half. When the Nuggets turn the ball over that often it usually spells doom.
Ty Lawson spent most of the game disengaged and passive. I was prepared to write a several paragraph long screed about how he cowed down when faced with an elite opponent again (Kyrie Irving is rapidly gaining elite status, kid can ball. Had 28 points tonight when he wasn't feeling well). However, at the end Ty regained his aggressiveness and started to create. Two consecutive drives to the basket resulted in Nuggets leads. The last one came off a great offensive rebound by Andre Miller (!?) which was the go ahead bucked. It's a shame Ty has these games where he looks so disengaged. If he plays the entire game like he did the fourth quarter, things wouldn't have been as close as they were. Ty's stat line: 13 points 8 assists
Kosta Koufos had a very weird game. He had a career high in points tonight, and also missed 4 or 5 point-blank layups. I suppose it's a testament to his position under the basket that he got so many easy looks. He just couldn't connect with much consistency until the second half. K2 finished 10-17 in shots and collected 6 rebounds on a nice 21 point outing for the center. Additionally Kosta managed to play much improved pick and roll defense (which he struggled with in the Orlando Magic game) and contributed greatly to the Nuggets victory.
Andre Iguodala and Kenneth Faried collected 22 of the Nuggets 56 rebounds between them. Iguodala and Faried came up big in spots, and both had some good moments in the third and fourth quarter offensively but by and large both were inconsistent on that end of the floor. Iguodala finished with 13 points and Faried had 17. Corey Brewer (outside of a couple great defensive plays in the second half) was just awful. He had zero points and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn (to put it lightly). He was 0-6 and a couple of those missed shots were layups. Since Brewer is quite favored in the eyes of Karl, we will have to take performances like these and chalk them up to just having a bad night.
JaVale McGee had another sub-par game, and was essentially a non-factor outside of a couple blocks in the first half. His attempted dunks were silly, and he just didn't appear to have his head in the game. To go with that, by and large the bench was terrible, and only contributed 13 points. The starers carried the heavy lifting with 85 of the team's 98 points.
Danilo Gallinari had 23 points and 7 rebounds. More on him below.
Nuggets of Wisdom
I truly hope that the Nuggets' coaching staff has noticed a trend. This "trend" I'm speaking of is Danilo Gallinari hitting big shot after big shot at the end of games. It is on longer a question that Gallo wants the ball at the end, and I'm hoping that the Nuggets are now cooking up plays to get him free so he can hit the big shot. While there is much, much more involved in getting players open ... it seems to me that the Nuggets propensity (George Karl specifically) to get "cute" at the end of games resulted in helter skelter, disorganized basketball in crunch time (the Jazz game on the road and the Hawks game spring to mind).
Look at it this way, the Nuggets don't have to worry about close games if they have someone who wants to step up and take the shot. Gallo has done that. Now the Nuggets can proceed in the rest of the game with confidence knowing that someone on the roster wants to step up. The days of proving how clever you are need to be over. Simplicity and a desire to get Gallo the ball need to take over. Period.
Nuggets have won 4 in a row and 8 of their last 10. Time to put pedal to the metal.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78