The Nuggets entered this game in an intense negative spiral. The team had questions surrounding them about their work ethic, their energy and their desire. Some fans and media members wonder whether or not the Nuggets should tank this season. Also, yesterday the team found out they would be without their starting center JaVale McGee for the foreseeable future with a stress fracture to his left tibia.
Yet, amidst all this, and the severe questioning from the media of some of coach Brian Shaw's decision making (particularly in his decision to start J.J. Hickson over Timofey Mozgov at starting center) the Nuggets managed to put in their most spirited effort of the season in defeating the Utah Jazz 100-81.
Can't really pick out a star of the game. Tonight was a very balanced effort from many different players in the lineup. While coach Shaw's rotations were still a bit on the odd side, they seemed to normalize as the game wore on. The entire starting lineup with the exception of Jordan Hamilton seemed to gain in confidence as the contest wore on.
Nuggets high spots
J.J Hickson (14 points 9 rebounds), Kenneth Faried (15 points 13 rebounds), Ty Lawson (17 points 10 assists) all stepped up their games in the second half and really played their best collective games of the season. This is all typified by a monstrous two handed dunk by Hickson over Starvin' Marvin Williams in the second quarter that sent the bench into hysterical glee. Wanna see it? Eh? Oh alright..
I called up the family of Marvin Williams and gave my condolences. No family should have to witness such brutality and I'm sure the appropriate authorities in Utah have been alerted for the crime of humiliation that was just committed.
Aside from that, the Nuggets just played with more energy in general. Their defense played with vigor and most importantly the rebounding was there. That rebounding was what keyed much of the Nuggets fast breaks. This was the best all around effort we have seen from the Nuggets this season. Also, it must be mentioned that Mozgov notched another double digit game with 10 points and he added 6 rebounds. All around good effort from Mozzy aside from his infuriating penchant for picking up the most ticky-tack of fouls.
Overall, not much to complain about.
Oh, and Danilo Gallinari did color commentary for Jason Kosmicki on the Altitude radio broadcast. He actually was quite good, and funny at times while still being insightful. Here is a sample.
Nuggets low spots
While the game was going on, Chris Dempsey put out an interesting and troubling tweet regarding Wilson Chandler.
And Wilson Chandler is clearly mad that he's not playing. Hasn't stood anywhere near huddles during timeouts.— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) November 12, 2013
The circumstances of the announcement of Wilson Chandler playing, then suddenly being told to sit out the game is strange. It leads to odd speculation, but it could be nothing more than the Nuggets training staff being overly cautious with Chandler before he comes back. It is ... strange though. And Chandler, according to Dempsey, clearly wasn't happy about the turn of events.
Jordan Hamilton, despite hitting a three, kinda regressed in this game. There was a moment at the end of the first half where Jordan completely lost awareness of the time of the game while Andre Miller was screaming at him from across the court to throw him the ball. This shouldn't negate the good that Ham has done of late. Hopefully he can get his groove back against the Lakers on Wednesday night.
Nuggets of Wisdom
Nuggets seemed to get off the schneid tonight. Playing with more energy and vigor than we have seen all season from them. This is going to need to be a consistent thing going forward. They are shorthanded for awhile and in order to win games they need to be absolutely perfect every night. Hopefully they can repeat this same effort when the Lakers come to Pepsi Center on Wednesday night.
Hickson at center wasn't the trainwreck I was anticipating. Hopefully he can continue to prove me and other skeptics wrong. It will go a long way toward the Nuggets avoiding the dreaded town of Tanksville as this season progresses.