Tonight, the Nuggets went all LARRY SANDERS on Larry Sanders' team by blocking 12 shots. Weird fact: the last time the Nuggets recorded 12 blocks as a team was one year ago to the day - against the Milwaukee Bucks. How about that! Guess who recorded the most blocks tonight. Timofey Mozgov? Kenneth Faried? J.J. Hickson? Nope. Randy Foye had a team-high 4 blocks, with Anthony Randolph and J.J. Hickson notching two more swats apiece. It was great to see lots of beefy swats from Foye tonight in a game that was a lot tighter than it should have been.
In the first half, the Nuggets looked hungover from their thrilling victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. The ball wasn't moving, and when it was, passes weren't crisp. Everyone except Ty Lawson looked a step slow, perhaps chilled by the sub-zero temperatures hovering in the Denver area over the last week. Brian Shaw took issue with the Nuggets lackadaisical approach and reportedly had another heated exchange with the team on the bench and in the locker room at halftime, where the Nuggets trailed 52-51. It's been a disturbing trend for this team throughout the season to start off very slow, sometimes to wake up and win the game, and in other contests to continue sleeping right on through it.
Emerging from the locker room in the third quarter was a different Nuggets squad. Whatever smelling salts Shaw used on this team worked - the Nuggets outscored the Bucks 33-20 in the third to seize an 84-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter on an array of Kenneth Faried dunks and J.J. Hickson putbacks. Ty Lawson's return for this team has been a welcome sight as the Nuggets have struggled to create effective looks, and he was again spectacular with a near triple double line with 18 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds. Wilson Chandler had a team-high 24 points on 11-19 shooting, including some clutch inside shots late to seal the game for the Nuggets. Chandler has to step up like this more often for this Nuggets team, badly in need of offense creators with Nate Robinson sidelined and Evan Fournier still learning the ropes. It's encouraging to watch Quincy Miller continue to develop as a dynamic offensive threat - he lead all bench scorers with 10 points on an efficient 4-8 shooting to go with 3 boards and a block in his 13 minutes.
Larry Sanders was expectedly intimidating, with 25 points to go with 15 rebounds and 2 assists on an absurd 12-19 shooting. Khris Middleton rained down 25 points of his own on 5-8 shooting from downtown and looked like Stephen Curry in spurts. However, despite good performances from those two, the rest of the Bucks were largely invisible. Brandon Knight and Ersan Ilyasova posted an ugly 24 points on 8-33 combined shooting, and if not for 11 made free throws by Zaza Pachulia, the Nuggets may have won this one by 20.
Despite a few scary moments in the 4th quarter where the Bucks closed within 3 points, the Nuggets ultimately took care of business at home against the NBA-worst Bucks. Even though the team absolutely shouldn't be happy with a 2-2 split at home, they at least have the last two victories to buoy them before they head out on a road trip that will see them away from Denver in 6 of the next 7 games. The Nuggets will next visit Melo's House of Horrors in Madison Square Garden on Friday night (gametime 5:30 PM MST).