Ty Lawson (32 points,7 assists, 5 steals) carried the Nuggets - with minimal support from Corey Brewer (19 points) and Danilo Gallinari (16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) - but the Nuggets didn't have much firepower elsewhere. And with Andre Iguodala ( 5 points, 7 turnovers) and Kenneth Faried (5 points, 8 rebounds) having below average games, the Nuggets lost to a high-scoring Atlanta Hawks offense.
1st Quarter- Ty Lawson starts off blazing fast, scoring his first three field goals, getting to the rim and even making a three-pointer and getting two quick steals which lead to points. Timofey Mozgov looks like he was still shaking off the rust but had a nice block on Jeff Teague early on.
Both teams scoring quickly in a nice, quick pace which favored both teams, who were well rested. Faried has a sweet dunk off a turnover and a LeBron James-esque block on Al Horford. The Nuggets overall look like they are clicking with a 20-14 lead at the halfway mark of the first quarter.
The Hawks switch to a zone at the 6:03 mark, Brewer and McGee come in while the Hawks who were absent without Kyle Korver tonight bring in another three point specialist in Anthony Morrow.. This could be interesting. The Hawks half-court offense looks shaky with a lot of one-on-one isolations. Faried gets two first quarter fouls, which gave Anthony Randolph some meaningful minutes ... how would he respond?
Quickly the Hawks start to kill the Nuggets in the paint, mainly Horford, while Teague is able to cut into the Nuggets offense and gets some easy dishes, the Nuggets need some hard clean fouls to stop this momentum. The team struggles on offense while Lawson sits on the bench.
The Hawks end the quarter on a 13-6 run to go up 27-26.
2nd Quarter- The Hawks' mid-range shots do not fall, but they continue to get second chance points which lead to easy baskets. Brewer is getting solid minutes and when the Nuggets are in the fast break he gets three or four easy layups with Andre Miller distributing well. I noticed that Randolph, aside from his atrocious interior defense, seemed to play better in the Nuggets fast-break offense than Kosta Koufas and Mozgov. He hits a nice mid-range jumper.
George Karl takes out JaVale McGee who didn't play well along with Randolph and inserts Mozgov along Randolph, hoping to find a good mesh in the front court interior defense. Morrow misses a few wide open three-pointers, thankfully for the Nuggets. Once Randolph sits on the bench, he and Hamilton do not come back into the game, with Brewer playing excellent and Randolph not able to contain Horford or Zaza Pachulia in the paint.
Lawson finally comes in at the 8:00 mark for Andre Miller, who had a few turnovers and seemed to struggle in the half-court offense. The Hawks continue to destroy the Nuggets on the offensive boards as Pachulia grabs an offensive rebound and scores on an and-one. The Nuggets could use Faried but he picks up his third foul just a few minutes after coming in. The Nuggets offense struggles finding ways to score without Lawson aside from Brewer layups and Gallinari, who got to the line 10 times tonight to balance out his 3-10 shooting from the field.
Iguodala struggles the most, however, as he can't buy a bucket. He attempts a few hard contested floaters in traffic which don't even touch the rim. On defense he didn't seem to adjust well to the Hawks two point guards on the court as on numerous occasions his man was able to cut to the rim. Iguodala always seems to get a pass for his defense in every game but tonight was not his night on either end, As he commits an offensive foul near the end of the quarter. Lawson has a sweet slash to the rim. The Hawks continue to score in the paint and get second chance points.
Halftime: Horford seems to have no player on the Nuggets who can stop him, but luckily for the Nuggets, Josh Smith had a cold first half. Lawson finishes first half with 15 points and 5 assists.
3rd Quarter- Lawson gets two early three-pointers and the momentum shifts back to the Nuggets. Iguodala has a crazy dunk on Smith ... it looks like the Nuggets could pull away with the momentum. Faried picks up his fourth foul as the score is tied at 61. Lawson was a thief tonight with five steals, one in the third quarter where he picks Josh Smiths pocket clean. The Hawks half-court offense was poor tonight, but they keep getting bailed out with second chance points, Pachulia having a all-star game.
Mozgov might not be scoring with 0 points up to this point but his offensive rebounds were nice to see with Faried on the bench in foul trouble. McGee comes into the game and attempts a dunk, Horford blocks him and on the following possesion, he gets an and-one on a McGee foul where Horford got him on a pump fake.. Horford continues to dominate the Nuggets.
The Interior defense is still weak, with no answer for the scores in the paint from Pachulia and Horford. Lawson carries the team throughout the quarter. Finally the Hawks have a double digit lead, but they settle for bad isolation offense for the rest of the quarter, as the Nuggets claw back. Final Nuggets possession in the 3rd quarter is a bad one as Gallinari tries to get to the rim and draw a foul without even attempting a shot, the Hawks get a buzzer beating 3 pointer to end the quarter at 85-78, killing the Nuggets momentum.
After 3 quarters, the Nuggets give up 44% from the 3 point arch to go along with the bad interior defense but the Hawks have no answer for Lawson.
4th Quarter: McGee gets a quick alley-oop dunk that silences the crowd to bring the game within 80-85. Andre Miller tries to take over the offense in the early minutes of the 4th quarter with mixed results.
Mozgov finally gets his first points in the game, 88-93. Ivan Johnson gets an offensive board and scores ... they are playing similar to how we win. The only difference between us and them is that they don't turnover the ball, one of the best in the league at doing so compared to the Nuggets ... who are one of the worst. Iguodala turns the ball over again. He is not having a good game. The Smith isolation's are keeping the Nuggets in the game since he continued throughout the game to take bad shots. Lawson gets Mozgov involved with a sweet dish.
Smith gets an offensive rebound and gets an and-one ... which is the story of the game ... too many offensive rebounds for the Hawks who finished with 19, many leading to scores. Both defenses tighten up and both teams struggle in the half-court. Lawson is not getting many touches in this quarter ... which puzzles me since the Hawks had no answer for him. Horford has 5 fouls with 5 minutes to play, but no one attempts to go at him on offense ... Horford ended up with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals.
Gallinari gets to the rim again and hits two free throws to get the Nuggets a lead finally at 98-97. Smith gets a easy dunk on the following drive. The play I thought would seal a Nuggets win is when Faried gets an offensive rebound and Lawson hits a three ... with the momentum in the Nuggets favor.
An odd possession occurs where the 24 second clock's buzzer doesn't sound leading to confusion on who got the ball, which went to the Nuggets. Under a minute to play and the Nuggets went with a Faried mid-range jumper which clanks off the rim. Why not give the ball to Lawson? Lawson finally gets the ball with the Hawks up one but the Teague defends him well and the ball goes off his foot, Smith takes it and gets a dunk on the other end with Brewer fouling him.
Iguodala hits a wild three point shot but the Nuggets foul Lou Williams, an 87% free throw shooter at the end which sealed the win with a four point lead. The Nuggets get their final pass stolen and that ends the game, on to the Nugget awards! It was a tough loss on the road against a good Hawks team, but Lawson's play was very encouraging to see tonight.
Cloudburst's Nightly Nuggets:
Gold Nugget- Ty Lawson. He carried the team throughout the game and aside from his late turnover blunder should be credited for his aggressive style of play, shooting 4-4 from long distance, and getting his teammates involved.
Silver Nugget- Corey Brewer. Obviously not the guy you want to be as your second best player, but his continued momentum from the Raptors game was seen on display and his scoring on the fast break and his steals were the "good brewer" but when he was on the court in the 4th quarter and the game turned into a gritty half-court game, he was invisible on the court.
Bronze Nugget- Timofey Mozgov. His rebounding was huge, especially on offense and even though he couldn't defend Horford, neither could any of the other Nuggets. He kept possessions alive and got into the scoring action in the 4th. Even though Koufas's reliable defensive rebounding was sorely missed in this game.
Coal- Andre Iguodala/ Andre MIller- Both Andre's combined for half of the teams turnovers and the offense struggled when the ball was in their hand. They both deserve some coal. Miller left his man open quite a bit around the perimeter while Iguodala didn't seem like he was there.
The Hawks improve to 10-5 while the Nuggets are now 9-10 in their tough schedule so far.