Well, I was (happily) wrong about the Denver Nuggets not running away with this one. In their first real blowout victory under Brian Shaw, the Nuggets zoomed past the listless Brooklyn Nets and left the Barclays Center with tacos intact, 111-87. Timofey Mozgov scored 17 points to lead the Nuggets and grabbed a career-best 20 rebounds a night after setting a career high with 16 boards.
This was a close game at one point early in the third quarter. The Nets, behind Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, had cut the Nuggets eight-point halftime lead to four. Then Randy Foye splashed a three. After a Ty Lawson jumper, Foye crossed over, stepped back, and dropped another three-pointer. These were the sparks that turned the Nuggets into a full-blown conflagration, as they led to a 24-5 run to close the quarter.
The massive run had several highlight plays, including a long alley-oop from Lawson to Kenneth Faried and two steals from Foye, one of which led to a fast-break alley-oop to Wilson Chandler. Darrell Arthur (who is 11-12 shooting his last two games) hit back-to-back jump shots. The crowd started booing their own team as the Nuggets stretched the lead to 18, with the Nets firing off an endless series of bricks and the Nuggets gathering every rebound. By the time Andre Miller hit Nate Robinson for a halfcourt-length alley-oop, the crowd had turned. The fans cheered and it sounded like the Nuggets were in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center.
Mozgov dominated the fourth quarter, and was a late missed three away from his first 20-20 game. He showcased nice touch around the rim, including a play where he ball-faked, dipped, spun and made the layup as he was fouled. The big man's defense was also very strong in this game. J.J. Hickson struggled to guard Lopez early, but the bigger Mozgov was able to keep him in check. Mozzy out-rebounded Lopez by 18. Yeah, that's not a misprint; Lopez grabbed a total of two rebounds tonight. It's hard to snag them when Moz was gobbling them all up, I suppose, but still, that's a pretty low mark from your starting center.
This was the kind of win Nuggets fans were hoping to see tonight. The Nuggets used their superior depth against an injured team and turned this game into a no-doubter. Personally, I'm thoroughly enjoying how this team is coming together. They seem like a very tight unit, maybe even more so than last year. Shaw's influences are starting to show, and this team is slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Keep in mind this is all happening without JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari. It's reasonable to think that this team might just be scratching the surface of what they can become, and that's a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.
Game Observations -
- The Nuggets strong team chemistry was very apparent in Mozgov's post-game interview, as two Nuggets came up to interrupt and congratulate him personally. Scott Hastings (who claims Mozgov calls him "faja") even gave him a hug. It brought an immense smile to my face.
|2013 - Timofey Mozgov||17||18.9||3.1||5.7||54.6||0.0||0.2||0.0||2.4||3.4||71.9||1.9||4.4||6.3||0.5||1.5||0.2||1.4||2.4||8.6|
- On the other end, the Nets appear to have very little chemistry. Their offense seems to be predicated on lots of isolation, with very little ball movement. They had 15 assists to the Nuggets 23, and it could have been worse if the last few minutes hadn't devolved into total garbage time. Lopez played well at first, but Mozgov slowed him down as did the Nuggets double-teams. Joe Johnson was their lone bright spot, with 22 points on 8-15 shooting, but he was only 1-6 from three-point range with one assist. I know they have lots of players hurt right now, but they just seem disjointed.
- Jordan Hamilton had another strong game off the bench, dropping 15 points and scoring from inside and out. My favorite play of his was when he lost his dribble, gathered control and drained a three as the shot clock ran down. He immediately turned to the Nets bench and gave a little look to former Nuggets assistant John Welch. According to Bill Hanzlik on the post-game show, Welch helped Hamilton develop that shot.
- Once again, the Nuggets bench was dominant, outscoring the Nets 57-31. Take away Andray Blatche's 15 points, most of which he scored when the game was out of hand, and it's even worse.
- The Nuggets bench may be shortening just a bit though, as Evan Fournier only logged 6 minutes tonight and would most likely have been a DNP-CD had the game not been a blowout. Right now it looks as if Foye is the undisputed starter at shooting guard, with heavy doses of two-point guard lineups featuring two of either Lawson, Robinson, or Miller. I think Fournier still can be a rotational player, but the Nuggets depth allows Shaw to play the hot hand(s). It's hard to justify playing Fournier over those other guys right now.
- Robinson landed hard on his wrist on a drive late in the game. He left the game and later was seen on the bench with an ice-pack on his right hand. Supposedly he would have been okay to come back in the game but chose not to with the outcome already decided. Hopefully it's nothing serious and he's able to play tomorrow night in Cleveland.
- The Nuggets came into the game on a team-record eight game streak of making eight or more three-pointers. They finished 7-18. It was just about the only thing that didn't go right for the Nuggets tonight.
Next 5 Games
|@ Cleveland||Wed 12/04||5:00 PM MST|
|@ Boston||Fri 12/06||5:30 PM MST|
|@ Philadelphia||Sat 12/07||5:00 PM MST|
|@ Washington||Mon 12/09||5:00 PM MST|
|Utah||Fri 12/13||7:00 PM MST|
Last 5 Games
|@ Brooklyn||Tue 12/03||W 111 - 87|
|@ Toronto||Sun 12/01||W 112 - 98|
|New York||Fri 11/29||W 97 - 95|
|@ Minnesota||Wed 11/27||W 117 - 110|
|@ Dallas||Mon 11/25||W 110 - 96|