Ty Lawson had 26 points and 9 assists tonight. For all intents and purposes he has played lights out the last several games. Driving the lane, kicking out and dishing for open baskets. It's been a sight to behold and it gives you hope that he will live up to his recent contract extension for the coming years. However, as of tonight it's abundantly clear that the most important players on this Nuggets team were out with injury.
There's something that Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari provide that cannot be replaced easily. That is spacing on offense and crisp rotations on the defensive end. With those two out the Nuggets versatility has been sapped and the defensive rotations suffer. While Jordan Hamilton had for all intents and purposes a good night off the bench (15 points), he was routinely abused by Joe Johnson off the dribble on the defensive end. For every great rebound Ham would get, he would give up a second opportunity on the defensive end, Same thing goes for Corey Brewer who did some good things offensively but was caught "cheating" and going for the steal so much that Johnson and C.J. Watson were being left wide open for three point shots (of which the Brooklyn Nets made 16-27). The defensive "effort" the Nuggets put forth was so lackadaisical that my Junior High School team the Oberon Vikings would have hit at least 10 three pointers.
This was a weird game. Outside of Lawson, every player who did good things on the offensive end did bad things on the defensive end. JaVale McGee had 14 points and 4 rebounds and had some defensive presence. Yet it will bother me to no end why he has such a hard time boxing out and grabbing rebounds. McGee had at least three more defensive rebounds in his hands that slipped away, and didn't box out while letting Brook Lopez (23 points 8 rebounds) and Gerald Wallace (9 rebounds) slip by him. JaVale didn't have a bad game by any stretch but it seemed like he didn't put it together. Same with Wilson Chandler (11 points 7 rebounds), who seemed to struggle with Joe Johnson as well.
The Nets did what a team should do. Beat an under-manned team at home. Give them props for extending the lead in the third quarter and hanging on against a furious Nuggets comeback in the fourth. One can't help but wonder though, what would have happened if a rested and healthy Nuggets team was playing tonight.
Nuggets of Wisdom
This point needs to be made over and over again. Maybe the Nuggets have built a triumvirate of good players in Lawson, Gallo and Iguodala ... but what I saw tonight is a team that already struggled with perimeter defense completely fall apart. Iguodala is clearly the Nuggets best perimeter player, followed by the length and fundamentals of Gallo. You add in their ability to space the floor on offense and hit big shots and you get a pretty good team that is backed up with depth.
The Nuggets will go as those three players go. With Ty playing lights out of late it would be nice to have the other two important players in the lineup. This team doesn't just go as Ty Lawson goes. They go as Iguodala and Gallo go as well. This is no longer in dispute.
While the Nuggets wait until next Tuesday for their next game (against the Boston Celtics at home) hopefully both Gallo and Iguodala can get better and come back soon.
The Nuggets need them. Badly.
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78
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