With the Denver Nuggets clinging to a playoff spot, questions have emerged about George Karl’s fourth-quarter rotation. Karl has gone away from the Nuggets size and have instead he has turned to his veteran duo of Al Harrington and Andre Miller, which has baffled some fans.
Denver has its most size in years, with JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos and Chris Andersen all listed at the center position and with Kenneth Faried playing bigger than his size. McGee tipped in a game-winning basket in his first game with the Nuggets and Faried has shown an ability to provide a spark on the defensive side of the ball. But yet, they have each found themselves on the bench late in contests as Karl has gone to a smaller lineup, good or bad.
On Sunday it paid off as Harrington scored seven points to help the Nuggets push their lead to seven and Miller hit some clutch free throws to seal the contest. However, on Wednesday it didn’t pay off as Denver had only three field goals in the fourth quarter and was held to only two points in the final eight minutes.
It’s a flashback to when Karl would use Anthony Carter in late-game situations. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it would not.
To Karl’s credit, this is probably the most inexperienced squad that the Nuggets have had since he has been in Denver. This team lacks experienced post players like Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin or Nene, who Karl could turn to in the fourth. This team also doesn’t have Danilo Gallinari, who is out with a thumb injury and may be the Nuggets best frontcourt player.
Over the last couple of games, Karl has lost faith in both McGee and Mozgov. Mozgov hasn’t been in the same since his injury and McGee play has been really inconsistent of late. In Sunday’s win against the Orlando Magic, McGee had five turnovers and the Nuggets had a minus-19 deferential with him on the floor.
However, it doesn’t make sense for Faried not to be on the floor in the fourth. He is still a rookie, but has shown an ability to make timely plays in Nuggets wins. Karl hasn’t shown much patience for rookies, or a willingness to depend on them in clutch situations – but if Denver is to make the playoffs or even have a chance to be competitive in the playoffs Karl needs to trust Faried.