It was the best of times, it was the...
Our semi-schizophrenic Denver Nuggets showed up tonight, at the apogee of their hot streakiness this season. After some lackluster performances (especially on the defensive end) in their last three losses, Denver found their way back to a solid defensive effort against one of the league's best teams, the Memphis Grizzlies. Denver won all four quarters tonight, and walked away at the end with a 114-85 manhandling of the Griz. With so much going right, let's start off with the few things that were off for the Nuggets tonight. It's a really short list:
Timofey Mozgov. Sorry, Mozzie... You were the weak link this evening, in a night full of bright spots for the Nuggets. Four points, five boards, four fouls and one assist in 25 minutes. It was obvious no one was more frustrated about it than you. The only other minute blemish on the night (in my opinion).
Nate Robinson's wrist. NateRob put up only two points in the game, but was keeping the second string offense in motion before taking a spill on a hard foul during that two point layup. Nate tried to take his free throws left-handed, left for the locker room, and never re-entered the game after he returned to the bench. Though he's struggled in backing up Ty Lawson this season, his absence would still be tough on an already overloaded Lawson.
And the good:
Jusuf Nurkic. Nurk was a man possessed tonight, with five blocks in the game, including a couple of key stuffs down low against Marc Gasol. The Bosnian Bear had his ursine counterparts so flummoxed that Gasol was lucky to not pick up a second technical foul in the second half after Nurkic yet again denied him the basket. As mentioned in the quick recap, Nurkic has a lot to learn and room to grow. But he's been a bit of a revelation in a season without many. Should be fun to watch his second half. Nurk checked out with a double double of 11 points, 10 boards, and those five blocks.
Kenneth Faried. Faried took advantage of the missing Zach Randolph tonight, logging a double double himself with 13 points and 13 boards. More important, Faried limited his defensive liabilities often, and took what the game gave on offense. A good game for Faried.
Ty Lawson. Bringing up the last double double, Lawson had 25 points off a variety of shots, most (shockingly) from outside the lane. He added 11 assists, and had his way from the floor all evening. It always easier to take your shots when they are falling, but Ty stepped up for the first time in a while offensively.
Arron Afflalo. AAA abused the Grizzlies D down in the post, and once they were honoring that, his mid- and long-range games opened up as well. Afflalo hit from all over the floor, going 75% in FG, 67% in 3PT, and 100% (5-5) from the line. A brutally efficient game from AAA tonight, which led to:
A strong-shooting Nuggets night. The Nuggets seem to go hot and cold all together, but tonight's averages were solid: 52% FGA, 47% 3PT, and 81% from the free throw line. Let's keep THAT up for a while, huh boys?
Bottom line, an impressive win from a team as hard to read as the first 100 pages of a James Michener novel. What comes next for these Nuggets? Only they know, and they don't seem to be spilling those beans. What are your expectations after this notable game, Nuggets Nation?