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Nuggets welcome Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves to Pepsi Center

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

So, Mo Williams put up 52 points in an NBA game, on Jan. 14th - to be exact.

Tuesday, Williams scored a franchise-record and NBA season-high 52 points. Of those, 37 came in the second half, 21 in the fourth quarter, as the Wolves shook off that losing streak with a 110-101 victory over the Pacers.

At one point Tuesday night at Banker's Fieldhouse Mo Williams went up to Indiana guard C.J. Watson and said, basically: Don't bother.

There is nothing you can do, no defense you can try, no tactic you can employ.

Not tonight.

"I said, ‘Man, there ain't nothing y'all can do today,' " Williams said. " ‘Don't even worry about it.' He shook his head and said, ‘Yeah.' And I said, ‘Yeah, I'm shooting it in the Pacific tonight.' "

Still, I'm glad the Nuggets brought in Jameer Nelson over Williams. In just one game, Nelson already showed that he has a command over his units on the floor, and can be a tremendous help on the offensive end - as more than just a scorer. These Nuggets need good points guards to run the offense, and Nelson foots the bill.

But the real story of tonight's game is the young talent that will be in the building. Andrew Wiggins is really starting to come on, as he's averaging over 20 points per game in January, raising his point total of 14.6 in December by about five points per game.

Game 40: 2013-14 NBA Season
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6-32 (3-16 on road)
Series 2-0 DEN
18-21 (12-8 at home)
January 17, 2015
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Mo Williams PG Ty Lawson
Andrew Wiggins SG Arron Afflalo
Chase Budinger SF Wilson Chandler
Thaddeus Young PF Kenneth Faried
Gorgui Dieng C Jusuf Nurkic
Notes
Canis Hoopus preview is up! Blogs Denver Stiffs
Kevin Martin: doubtful. Shabazz Muhammad: Out. Nikola Pekovic: Doubtful. Ricky Rubio: Out. 
Injuries WILSON CHANDLER - Right Knee Strain. Probable  DARRELL ARTHUR - Left Hamstring Tightness. Probable.  DANILO GALLINARI - Right Knee Meniscal Tear. Out  JAVALE MCGEE - Left Lower Leg Strain. Out  RANDY FOYE - Right Vastus Lateralis Strain. Out    
The Zach LaVine game? Etc... The Nuggets play J.J. Hickson a lot

We'll get another extended look at Wiggins in Denver tonight, and keep an eye on the Wolves' other rookie: Zach LaVine. He has been struggling recently, and his poor play has been reflected in his minutes played. LaVine was averaging just under 30 minutes a night in December, but has seen his time dwindle down to 19 per game in January. On the season, LaVine is shooting just 40% from the field and 24.6% from long-range. He seems to be having some growing pains, and also seems to be playing out of position.

The Wolves have LaVine running quite a bit of point guard, with Ricky Rubio out and LaVine calling himself a point guard throughout the pre-draft process, and I'm not sure that's the fit. LaVine posted decent catch and shoot numbers in college (just one year at UCLA), and could be much better suited for shooting guard duties aka off the ball. I'll be watching his career development closely.

Another set of rookies to watch belong to your Denver Nuggets. Jusuf Nurkic's role has been up and down. The game in Dallas was the first in which Juka didn't record over 20 minutes since Dec. 28th. With just two fouls and zero turnovers against the Mavericks, it was an interesting decision by Brian Shaw to play the rookie just 3:36 in the second half. On the flip side, J.J. Hickson played 18 minutes in the second half, and was a +10 on 4-5 shooting.

Check out the Mavericks shot chart in the second half:

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Denver did a pretty good job forcing the Mavericks into tough shots (or the Mavs got lazy and settled for jumpers?), except for in the paint. Dallas went 6-8 near the rim (75%), as Hickson and the Nuggets offered little rim protection. Teams have been attacking the crap out of the Nuggets when Shaw decides to go small, and that does not bode well for the team.

Perhaps Shaw saw some things that he didn't like out of the rookie, and went into teaching mode via a little second half benching. Nurkic has thick enough skin to learn that lesson. It's also some what of a balance trying to teach and show a young guy good habits, when you still have some other bad habits on display out of other players. One hopes that Nurkic develops the right way, but there has never been a solid blueprint on "the right way" - you just have to hope the individual figures it out on their own ... to a degree, to a big degree.

Shaw also leaned on his new point guard to the tune of 17 second half minutes for Nelson, along with 19 minutes for Lawson. We saw a lot of the two point guard lineup, and one has to wonder how much we'll see the rest of the season. It would be nice to see Gary Harris' minutes increase if the team's losses continue to mount, as well.

Did we see the Nuggets fall back to earth in their loss to the Mavericks? It's hard to argue otherwise when you consider the win streak and how the two good wins came against teams in difficult spots. Let's see how the Nuggets bounce back tonight at Pepsi Center.

Community note on Denver Stiffs:

Folks, we all like to root for the Nuggets, and have many different ideas on the team. Let's remember to be respectful of others when we post. Arguments are more than welcome, but let's continue to do so in a respectful manner.