Well... We won. So, we've got that going for us...
There were some good things to be seen when watching the Denver Nuggets play the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center tonight, including a monster game from Kenneth Faried (26 points, 25 rebounds), double-doubles from Ty Lawson and Timofey Mozgov, and double-digit point totals for each of the five starters. That said, there were some troubling moments in tonight's game which deserve some attention. Let's alliterate, shall we? A different sort of triple-A tonight.
Denver was nearly undone this evening by a number of sloppy plays, and no player was immune. 18 turnovers are far too many for any game, especially against a young and inexperienced team such as the Wolves. Only Nate Robinson and Wilson Chandler weren't bit by the turnover bug tonight, and NateRob only had 10 minutes in the game. Lawson and Arron Afflalo only had five between them in 81 minutes of play, but Denver needs to be far more careful with the ball.
The team also seems to be especially struggling in the pick-and-roll of late, with Lawson's passes coming in low and tight, and Mozzie and Jusuf Nurkic both struggling to pick the ball up because of it. Denver is far enough into the season to have remedied this issue by now, and need to take more time to give it its due.
Wilson Chandler had two of Denver's three made three-pointers tonight, unfortunately taking nine attempts to snag those. The Nuggets total beyond the arc of three of 19 (16%) was atrocious, and to keep jacking up shot after shot against a team who struggles with teams in the paint was lazy and ineffectual.
The only thing that rescued their overall field goal percentage (41%) were high-percentage performances from Faried (73%) and Nurkic (75%). Removing those two gents, the rest of the team hit 33% from the floor against a woeful Minnesota squad.
As mentioned in the quick recap, Stiffs writer Chris Meirose was in town from Seattle and got to attend the game tonight. I'll paraphrase his note to say that it was as quiet as attending church. As a pastor, Chris oughta know. Jeff Morton has also regularly remarked on the Stiffs pages this season about the lack of energy and enthusiasm from the Nuggets crowds.
But the energy from the players isn't much better. Yet again, when faced with a tough challenge to end a game, there was very little cohesion, banter, or camaraderie shown amongst the guys on the floor. I'm not looking for a knitting circle, but the team clearly doesn't appear as close as Nuggets squads past, and you have to wonder how much of their apathy and spotty play has translated to the mood you get from the crowd in many of these recent home games.
Not meaning to dwell on sour grapes, as the Nuggets do pull out a win tonight against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, 106 - 102, with the Toronto Raptors paying us a visit back at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night. What might get this team over a few of these humps to play a better game against a much better Raptors squad?