Despite losing 118-110 in overtime to the Clippers on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, the Nuggets in many ways played their best game of the preseason. Against a team predicted to be in the mix at the top of the West and who was playing to win (Doc Rivers played Chris Paul for 42 minutes and Blake Griffin played 40) the Nuggets managed to force overtime despite missing a number of players.
A large part of this can be attributed to the bench players who scored 71 of the Nuggets points. Coming off the bench Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, and both Quincy and Andre Miller had good games as can be seen in the box score.
In this post I will use those players to show some areas that Denver had success in during the game. I will focus especially on Fournier and Randolph who lead the team with 16 points a piece and Quincy Miller who played perhaps his best game in a Nuggets uniform.
The Nuggets overall shot a very respectable 49.4 fg% for the game and Fournier, Randolph and Quincy all shot over 50% including some nice outside shots (though all were only 50% at the foul line). Evan especially was deadly from the outside and his only miss from three-point range was a 41-foot heave from half court at the end of the 3rd quarter.
While the 'inside out' offense that Shaw has mentioned has yet to be fully implemented, the Nuggets seem to be getting a little more comfortable with playing a different style in the half court and the ball movement continues to improve with the training and in-game practice of the preseason.
Chris Dempsey (of the Denver Post) described the first possession shown here:
Nuggets' best possession? This one, at 3:09 in the first quarter had to be on the short list, if not the winner. It started with a Quincy Miller sideline inbounds pass to Ty Lawson, who immediately gets into a screen/roll with Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov dove to the rim and Lawson probed keeping his dribble, drifting to the right side of the court. Miller came onto the court at the angle 3-point line on the left and Lawson hit him with a cross-court pass. Miller dribble-drives down the left side and dumps off a pass to Anthony Randolph. Randolph, surrounded by three Clippers, kicks the ball out to Evan Fournier, who drives and kicks back out to Lawson at the straightaway 3-point stripe. Lawson head fakes a close-out defender, takes a step in and kicks over to Fournier, who has drifted back out to just inside the angle 3-point line. Fournier knocks down the jumper.
The possession had nearly everything: Patience, player movement, ball movement and awareness. And when the open shot presented itself, the player - in this case, Fournier - was ready, caught the ball in rhythm and stepped into the shot.
The second play sees Fournier curl up on the weakside from under the basket past a Randolph screen to receive the ball. Fournier's man goes around the outside of the screen and Randolph's man doubles to cover the drive. Fournier delivers a quick pass out of the double to Randolph rolling to the baseline, and he sets and hits the open jumper.
In the third play, after Fournier receives the ball on the wing Randolph's man fronts Mozgov at the high post allowing Randolph to move to the other wing and receive the pass from Fournier. Randolph fakes a pass to Andre in the corner and both help defenders bite on it leaving him an open jumper.
The fourth play is an inside out play where A. Miller passes to Mozgov on the low block. Mozgovs see Quincy open on the weakside wing and passes to him. Quincy shot fakes the closing defender and takes one dribble inside to get an open elbow jumper.
Defense to Offense
In the following plays Denver is both able to prevent the Clippers from scoring and then score on their own possession.
In the first play Randolph moves nicely into the passing lane and is able to deflect the pass from Byron Mullens, recover it and score on the fastbreak.
On the next play Quincy goes under a (pretty poor) Griffin screen and uses his length to block Greens shot. Denver recovers the ball and on the offensive end when Fourniers man helps on some screen action with James, Quincy finds Fournier open in the middle for a three-pointer.
In the third play Collison uses the first 10 seconds setting up. Mullens screens Andre to get Paul open, he receives the pass and they try an on ball screen. Denver switches well and Randolph covers the drive. Paul swings to Mullens, who passes to Collison, who then passes back to Paul who throws up a shot well outside the three-point line as the shot clock runs down (note Shaw directing the defense from the sideline during the play). Fournier rebounds the brick and delivers to Mozgov (who ran the floor well) at the low block. The ball gets knocked away but Mozgov recovers and passes back to Fournier who swings a quick pass to Randolph for a jumper at the top of key.
On a number of occasions during this game Denver was able to get a good shot quickly after inbounding (often with Quincy as the inbounder).
In the first play after inbounding to Andre, Quincy cuts to the hoop. Mozgov screens Quincy's defender and Andre delivers a pass to Quincy at the hoop and he finishes the play.
In the second play the ball is passed to Foye going to the weakside corner. Randolph comes to set a screen but Griffin stays high so he slips towards the hoop. Foye delivers to Randolph and he is able to finish off the backboard.
In the third play Lawson dribbles around and under the hoop (often done by Steve Nash). Griffin picks up Mozgov cutting down the middle in the paint which means Randolph can pop out on the wing and receive the pass from Lawson (as he dribbles back out) wide open for the jumper.
In the final inbounds play Quincy inbounds to Andre. The ball goes to Fournier on weakside and Randolph and he run a screen and roll. At this stage Fournier is feeling it so he fakes a drive on the dribble to create space from Collison then steps back with a cross over and nails the three.