Nuggets vs. Rockets preview: Nuggets ready to tug on Superman’s cape

Maddie Meyer

Superstars vs. a deep bench tonight, as two teams with a lot of recent player turnover match up and try to establish themselves in the West.

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Game 9: 2013-14 NBA Season

Denver Nuggets (1977 - 1981)
@

Houston Rockets (1972 - 1972)

4-4 (1-2 road)
Series 0-0
6-4 (3-2 home)
November 16th 2013
Toyota Center - Houston, TX
6:00 PM MT
Altitude TV / 950 AM
Ty Lawson PG Pat Beverley
Randy Foye SG James Harden
Jordan Hamilton SF Chandler Parsons
Kenneth Faried PF Terrence Jones
J.J. Hickson C Dwight Howard
Notes
You're here! Blogs The Dream Shake
Ty Lawson (right eye cornea abrasion) is probable, Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out, JaVale McGee (leg fracture) is out Injuries James Harden (bruised left foot), Greg Smith (right knee)
7 double-digits scorers in their last game
Stat Harden returned 2 days ago to drop 36 pts on the Knicks

The Denver Nuggets ride a three-game winning streak into Houston tonight, and are finally starting to show signs of life and a belief in themselves and the system that Brian Shaw is trying to install. That’s heartening because success breeds a little patience, and make no mistake, there will be moments of patience required during the early parts of this season (at least) to see if they have the right pieces to fit their new scheme. Looking at other recent rebuilds as an example, even successful models such as Memphis took their lumps before building something consistent and cohesive.

On the other side of the court, the Rockets find themselves rebuilding with some pretty big blocks, adding Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and Dwight Howard in succession within the past two-plus seasons. They sit a couple of games above .500, with a recent win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. But they've struggled at times blending their new parts and pieces together, and are also looking to establish themselves as a top flight contender in the Western Conference, knowing they have to maintain their home court. They have an exceptional complimentary piece in Chandler Parsons, and a few other guys who are wont to have the occasional big game. The Nuggets will have to improve yet again on their recent efforts to keep themselves in the win column and put themselves above .500 after an 0-3 start.

What’s good for the Nuggets right now:

- Balance. The Nuggets had seven guys score in double digits against the T-Wolves. Even if the system has changed, the ability to score with a multitude of players makes the Nuggets difficult to defend and gives Shaw options on nights when Nate Robinson and Randy Foye (expected to be prime scoring threats this year) go for a combined 8 points. Last season, the Nuggets had 13 or 14 different leading scorers during the course of the entire season. That’s a staggering stat when you realize that comprises virtually the entirety of the team, and the preponderance of that squad remains this season.

- Effort. After some disconcerting peaks and valleys in the effort department to start the season, the Nuggets have come with better energy and focus, and Shaw has done a good job of rewarding individual effort with playing time. However, even his two DNP-CDs from the Wolves game, Quincy Miller and Anthony Randolph, have shown flashes of good things early this season (Miller in preseason), and Shaw may eventually have to short a few guys to start developing a shorter rotation for the second half of the season. Nice problem to have, if they can keep up this effort.

- Youth. Andre Miller aside, this is still one of the youngest squads in the league, and they seem to have a set of character guys who like each other as seen when they celebrate their successes and back each other up when they fall. That’s a good recipe for building something special, but there are a lot of steps between here and special.

- Andre Miller’s 3-point shooting. Who knew?

What’s troubling for the Nuggets right now:

- Inconsistency. For every step the Nuggets are taking forward, they still make a number of thoughtless errors as they continue to gel. For example, for all of Lawson’s brilliance this early season, he still makes a lot of unforced errors. Half of his turnovers against the T-Wolves were simply him losing track of the ball. For every moment you see Faried ignite this team with his passion and play, you’ll watch a good post player turn him inside out on the block. Fortunately, the players look to be conscious of those mistakes when they happen, and this team deserves as much credit for this three game winning streak as they do the 0-3 hole they dug to start.

- Scoring Guard. See Nate Rob and Randy Foye above. I appreciate the effort these guys are bringing thus far, but ... you’re here to light up the board, gents. Keep those chins up, but let’s work on that ROI. Shaw has started playing more of Evan Fournier in this spot, and although he’s been just as maddeningly inconsistent, he went for 10 against the T-Wolves, and could use more floor time to gain that confidence and consistency. Fournier outscored the Foye-Robinson duo single-handedly, with less playing time than either.

- Youth. Yep. Double-edged sword. This roller coaster ride is going to come with several of those "tick-tick-tick" noises this season right before we drop off another cliff. But should be a fun ride as long as you keep your hands inside the car.

Bottom line, the Nuggets are very hard to read just yet, and not just for us fans. The national game highlights for ESPN were hysterical in their lack of knowledge or coverage about the Nuggets just yet, with the highlights Cliff’s Notes going, "Love… Rubio… Love… Kevin Martin… Corey Brewer… Love, Love… Oh, yeah… 4th Quarter, Andre Miller, Nuggets win." The Nuggets will face a stiff test in taking this act on the road against an emerging West powerhouse, and win or lose (hopefully win), it will be interesting to see their mettle.

Go Nuggets!

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