I’m still sweating from running around the block after that game winner, but… let’s get there slowly.
There’s been a great conversation over the Denver Nuggets season, where the phrase, "As goes X, so go the Nuggets", with X being Randy Foye or Timofey Mozgov or even Quincy Miller… but it’s become readily apparent that the Denver Nuggets engine is predicated by the play of Ty Lawson. With Ty back on the court the Nuggets were back in the game, and as they have been wont to do this season, the Nuggets played better ball against a better team, and pulled out a win against the Pacific Division leaders, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ty started the game out on slow legs, and you wondered if he wouldn’t be getting back into game speed. But after 5 minutes, Ty had cleared the jets, and started burning his way past whichever guard Doc Rivers put on him. And a good thing Ty was feeling it, as Brian Shaw played Lawson 45 minutes on the night (and the three minutes Ty was out were the Clippers best ball of the night). Ty finished the night with 27 points, four assists, and a worrisome five turnovers and was clearly problematic for Los Angeles at every turn.
Ty wasn’t the only key player for Denver tonight, as Kenneth Faried set a new season high in scoring with 28 points, many of those coming off a Manimal-style 11 boards, and was a huge part of the Nuggets out-rebounding the Clips by 15 (52-37). It was not all roses, as the Nuggets had 17 turnovers and missed 13 free throws, which took what should have been a comfortable win by the Nuggets, and had them down by two with 6.2 seconds on the clock after neglecting to cover out on a Matt Barnes three late in the 4th quarter. The Nuggets took the ball in in the frontcourt and spent the better part of their last six seconds just trying to get a handle on the ball. Once they were able to hand it over to Randy Foye with about 2 seconds left, he came off the curl terribly high on the key and covered decently by Blake Griffin. Foye rose as he came past the block and shot in a single motion, with the clock expiring as the ball was in the air. The shot fell, Randy Foye fell, and his teammates fell all over him as well, with the Nuggets first game-winning shot as the clock expired of the season.
All in all, each of Denver’s five starters got into double digits tonight, and each of them played over 30 minutes. It was great to see a few of the breaks fall Denver’s way tonight, and might have been the best way to ease a few broken hearts for any Denver football/basketball fans in the crowd.
Kenneth Faried played one of his most inspired games of the season, and seems to always get up for games against Blake Griffin. Griffin had 36 points on the night, but was clearly frustrated by Faried at times, and seemed to get half of his points on phantom fouls. Faried and J.J. Hickson matched boards with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (this season’s current leader in rebounds), and blocked out well enough against the Clips that the other starters picked up 15 boards of their own. Ty’s game is well chronicled above, but his impact on the team can’t be understated. Ty isn’t just the team’s heart, he’s their personality. When he’s driving and showing effort, the rest of the team follows. And finally, Randy Foye lifted the Nuggets with his prettiest shot of the season under serious duress. A nice capper for a guy who has shown effort all season long, even when his shot isn’t falling. Foye had had his ups and downs here, but he’s been a pro’s pro, and it’s good to see him get some love tonight.
A rough night for Timfoey Mozgov tonight, with four points, four boards and three turnovers in 17 minutes of play. Mozzie had one of those nights where everything and everyone around him seemed to be going about two notches faster than he was, and his numbers reflected it. Evan Fournier also had a slow night (which is why Lawson and Foye had 45 and 40 minutes respectively). Fours looked lost in his first half series, and I’m not sure he saw any time in in the second half, with one point and one assist in nine minutes on the floor.
I know most of you are still drying orange and blue tears, but a real thriller tonight by the Nuggets, and a fun run around the block for me. How are we feeling tonight, Nuggets Nation?