There is something about adversity that brings out the best in this Nuggets team. As they did against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, the Nuggets put forth an energetic, spirited, team effort in their 106-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In general the Nuggets seemed to be edgy and defiant. Much like their response to the embarrassment against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday (and subsequent controversy of Arron Afflalo's 2nd half benching). In this game they seemed to clear out the lanes and give Ty Lawson some actual room to operate. They were reaching for steals. Leaking out. Very UN Brian Shaw like in fact. While the Nuggets did run some post up opportunities with a VERY active Timofey Mozgov.
Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Timofey Mozgov all had tremendously productive and exciting games in their own way. Such a heartening development considering it was a second night of a back to back and the third game in four nights (on the road). The Nuggets defense was excellent as they held the Cavs to only 97 points and put the clamps down defensively in the second half.
Must point out the exemplary play of Mozzy. 14 points 11 rebounds and made Anderson Varejao look like Sideshow Bob. Now you can see why David Blatt and the Cavs came-a-callin' for Mozzy before the season began. When he is playing well he can gobble up ALL the rebounds and get all the post up's.
Nuggets started the second half by CLAMPING down defensively on the Cavs, and hitting a high percentage of outside shots (again). This put pressure on the Cavs to compensate by rushing quick shots and depending almost entirely on LeBron James to bring them back. It just wasn't to be.
Two sour notes on an otherwise great evening. While his stats weren't too bad, Kenneth Faried again displayed how much he struggles against good power forwards in this league on defense. He finished with 8 points, 1 rebounds and was often pulled for a MUCH more active Arthur (13 points 10 rebounds ... 3 offensive rebounds on one possession). Faried just looked overmatched against Kevin Love, and while he gave effort at times (including a nice stop on Love in the third) but it wasn't to be for the Manimal.
Danilo Gallinari finished with only 8 minutes played. It's becoming more and more clear that Gallo is getting the Danny Granger treatment from the Nuggets. It's sad to watch and it seems increasingly clear that Gallo doesn't fit into the Nuggets future plans. No one knows, definitively, what the future holds but it seems that the cards are stacked against him in a team that wants to win now.
Aside from all that, it was good to see a win from the Nuggets. Any sort of win is good at this point. Now the Nuggets return to face the Oklahoma City Thunder ... a team that the Nuggets stumbled hard against in the second game of the season. Nuggets hope to exact a measure of revenge against the Thunder and prove that first loss was an example of a team overlooking an injury decimated team.
3-7 feels .... weird. Lets see if they can sustain it going forward.