JaVale McGee makes his debut and is the hero in what was a beautiful start, an awful middle, and a sweet ending at the Pepsi Center as the Nuggets beat the Pistons 116-115. Ben Gordon was perfect on the night from beyond the arc, but he didn't take his final shot from deep. And Arron Afflalo has been a clutch free throw shooter since his 3-3 performance against the Kings at the end of regulation, but not tonight ... but that was okay because of McGee's game-winning put-back. This kid McGee can play ...
If you saw the game, feel free to skip ahead to the "Game Recap" towards the bottom.
- Here we go ... Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov to start ... love Chandler being back on the team. Still feel like he's the best overall player on the Nuggets roster. Kid can get to the rim (finish there), defend, pass, post-up, shoot, and create his own shot ... love his game - wish he was a touch more aggressive with the ball.
- Pistons do not have a big team AT ALL. Greg Monroe dwarfed by Moz and Jason Maxiell is a tweener like Faried. Chandler bangs home his first shot ... a three! Nuggets up 5-0 with 10 minutes to go still.
- Chris Marlowe tells us that the Nuggets are 19-13 when Mozgov starts ... wonder how good they'd be if he played more ... or any bigs for that matter ... with 8:30 left we get our first timeout and Denver is up 11-2 and looking good so far. Can Denver hold the Pistons down all night, break their will?
- First sub of the night is Al Harrington for Manimal ... the usual sub. Not sure I love Big Al and Chandler on the floor at the same time, but it looks like that's going to happen a lot. If this were Twitter, I'd put a #dealwithit hashtag on the end of this paragraph. At least Moz is still in with them tonight, for now.
- JAVALE MCGEE IS COMING IN FOR MOZ!!!! HERE WE GO! The McGee Era is underway! At the 3:35 mark he enters the game and ... McGee gets an O-board, but the whistle blew just before - AAA to the foul line to give the Nuggets a 28-14 lead after hitting both freebies. McGee's first bucket comes off a put-back dunk off an AAA miss ... looked way too easy and it's 30-14 Nuggets.
- On the defensive end, a usual sure lay-up for the opposition's point guard is swatted by McGee - awesome. Then gets an alley-oop from Andre Miller on the other end ... 34-14 Nuggets with 1:43 left.
- 40-18 Nuggets after one ... hell of a quarter against a bad team. That's how you gotta do it.
- Starting here: Miller, AAA, Corey Brewer, Big Al and McGee. If the Nuggets could play the Pistons the rest of the season McGee may average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks! Kid is ballin' and dunkin'! 45-20 now and McGee has three jams, nearly a fourth on a 1/2 court lob from Miller that McGee didn't handle, turnover. Denver needs to stay focused and not go into highlight mode, keep the Pistons down.
- Damien Wilkins with a jam as the Nuggets are lazy getting back on defense ... 47-29 Denver now as the Pistons are heating up. Wilkins is still in the league? Ben Gordon with a three and it's 47-32 ... George Karl takes a timeout, good timing, and the Nuggets need to regroup.
- Back from the timeout and Lawson and Moz are in for AAA and McGee. Nuggets offense still stalling, I'd like to see Chandler come back and he's up off the bench! Miller is a decoy out there as he's not shooting, he should play short minutes tonight (not meaning Karl's plan of 30+ minutes!).
- The Nuggets 20-point lead has been dwindled down to just nine at 49-40, pathetic by Denver. Effort and focus are gone. Another timeout with 5:37 to go. Gordon now with 22 points on 7-10 shooting, isn't AAA supposed to be a shut-down defender? It's 51-44 Nuggets now after another three by Ben. Gordon hits another three and gets fouled by AAA ... wow, AAA needs to get up on his man ... 54-47 as Gordon misses the freebie.
- The Nuggets are up 62-57 at the half. Horrible quarter for the Nuggets as they give up 39 points to Detroit and only put up 22 ... wow. Denver needs to refocus, only good thing is Karl using Moz and McGee in every lineup.
- At the 9:40 mark the Pistons finally have the lead at 67-66 ... what is wrong with the Nuggets?
- The Pistons are reigning down threes at a rapid rate ... the Nuggets are giving them open looks, closing out a little, and running around like crazy on defense. On the other end, Denver is having to work for just about every shot they get. Ugly game for the Nuggets, epic collapse as well. It's 86-81 Pistons ... what a bad game after such a nice first quarter.
- With :47 seconds left the Nuggets look disorganized and frustrated out on the floor. This team is a mess defensively and needs time to gel with the new pieces of Chandler and McGee. Too many moving parts and injuries ... it's like pick-up ball out there.
- Somehow it's 91-91 at the end of the third ... ugly game and probably an appropriate way to end this ugly home-stand. Let's see who closes out the best ...
- Nuggets open with Miller, AAA, Brewer, Big Al, and McGee. Will Big Al and AAA play the whole quarter? Will Miller? Nuggets turn it over to start as Brewer can't handle the hot pass from Miller on the baseline, cutting to the rim ... 91-91 still.
- Big Al bricks a three ... 91-91 still. Nuggets need to be aggressive on the offensive end, not jack up jumpers this quarter. Denver needs to win this game and end the home-stand 5-4. McGee with a steal off a pick-and-roll, Harrington finishes at the rim and gets hacked ... And-1 attempt coming and Al bricks the freebie, but a lane violation gives him another chance - he makes it and it's 94-91 Nuggets.
- After keeping a big in all night, Karl goes small with nine minutes left with Faried in for McGee ... I do not like this lineup with Lawson, Miller, Chandler, Big Al, and Faried ... 97-96 Nuggets as Lawson buries a three.
- With 7:51 left McGee comes back in for Big Al ... McGee has been great tonight for Denver protecting the paint and dunking the crap out of the ball. Faried with a jam and it's 99-96 Nuggets.
- Miller's bum shoulder finally gets him out of the game with 5:29 left as AAA checks back in. We have Lawson, AAA, WC, Faried, and McGee in ... Lawson with a half court alley-oop to McGee!!!! Wow, 105-102 Nuggets.
- With 3:00 left Big Al is set to check in for ... Faried, whoa. Would rather have seen Big Al for AAA and WC cover Gordon who has 45 points, and has been KILLING Afflalo. It's 115-111 Pistons as Brandon Knight nails another three for Detroit. Denver is in serious trouble.
- Just :58 ticks left and Denver is down 115-112 as Big Al bricks another big free throw (what's up with him and free throws?) and the Nuggets are needing another miracle.
- Biggest offensive possession of the night, after Denver gets a stop, and Afflalo goes into the paint and air-balls a jumper in the lane - yuck. Awful game for Afflalo on both ends of the floor. Denver will get one more shot to tie this game with 11.2 seconds left.
- The play: Brewer will inbound it ... to Lawson, to AAA who drives the lane and gets fouled as he makes a lay-up ... whoa! McGee in for rebounding and defense, AAA bricks the free throw, but MCGEE WITH THE PUT-BACK DUNK!!!!!!!!! Can the Nuggets defense get a stop to win the game? Five seconds left! It's 116-115 Denver.
- Tayshaun Price to inbound ... to Gordon, AAA defends ... Gordon misses!!!!! McGee Era is underway! Nuggets win 115-114! A MIRACLE WIN!
What happened out there? The Nuggets scored 40-points in the first quarter, were out-scored 39-22 in the second, and were just one point better in the fourth - but it was enough.
Who said McGee doesn't have good basketball IQ? On Denver's final possession, Afflalo drove the lane and picked up a foul on his way to the rim (where he made the lay-up). Everyone in the Pepsi Center had to feel comfortable with Denver down 115-114 and AAA at the charity stripe. But McGee, with just Greg Monroe boxing him out, went hard to the rim as Afflalo's shot went up and bounced up and barely off the cylinder. McGee found himself alone floating in the air and ready for the put-back dunk ... but he waited for the ball to clear the cylinder before his massive wing-span helped him ease the ball back over the rim for the go-ahead points 116-115.
After getting killed all night by Ben Gordon, Afflalo drew the defensive assignment with just five seconds left. Gordon got the ball in the corner, dribbled inside the three point line and fired off a jumper. His 9-9 performance stayed intact from beyond the arc, but his final two-point jumper bricked off the rim and AAA gobbled up the rebound and the Nuggets got an unlikely win.
Major props to George Karl for keeping a big man in the game for most of the night in either Timofey Mozgov, 21 minutes (who started) or McGee, 24 minutes (who came off the bench). And even bigger props to Karl for subbing offense for defense on Afflalo's final free throw by putting McGee back into the game for that put-back attempt.
It was a crazy game as the Nuggets defense once again left them down after they started off so hot. Denver gave up a 14-18, or if you take Gordon's numbers out: 5-9, night shooting for the Pistons from deep. That's just more of the same from the Nuggets poor perimeter defense. The Pistons got on a role, took the lead, and should have taken the game, but it wasn't to be as the Nuggets somewhat salvaged a nine game home-stand with a win tonight and a 5-4 home-stand overall.
Nuggets of the game:
- JaVale McGee: 15 points (7-11 shooting), 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He was active on the offensive glass (3 boards) and will get plenty of lobs from Lawson and Miller going forward. Great debut and if McGee plays like this the rest of the season ... he'll be a big part of what the Nuggets want to do this season.
- Ty Lawson: 25 points (10-12 shooting, 4-6 from deep) and 6 assists. Lawson had a big night, but was overshadowed by Gordon and McGee's exciting nights. Lawson should have fun finding Faried and McGee on the offensive end.
- Wilson Chandler: 11 points (4-11 shooting), 10 rebounds, and 1 steal. WC is getting used to the NBA game and is showing why he's one of the best overall players on this team with his rebounding and defensive performance. A circus shot and a big steal on Gordon helped the Nuggets get this win.
Stiff of the Night:
- Ben Gordon ... right Mr. Feinstein? Which reader called out Andrew on his calling out of Gordon? Ben went for 45 points, but missed his final shot - that might have been good had he not ventured inside the three-point line ...
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