The Denver Nuggets have been a hot and cold team this season and Friday could be an example of the Nuggets getting hot. However, it also could be example of Denver’s squad growing and maturing.
There were numerous reasons for the Nuggets to lose Friday, they were facing a late deficit against a hot Western Conference team, they also saw a zone defense and the usually reliable Ty Lawson wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been. But Denver didn’t lay down, instead the Nuggets outscored the Phoenix Suns 13-2 over the final five minutes of the game and kept Phoenix scoreless for the final three minutes.
Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried were not going to let the Nuggets lose and George Karl put Denver in a great situation to win. He changed things around in the starting lineup, moving Kosta Koufos and Jordan Hamilton into the starting lineup and both answered the call.
- Hamilton scored seven of Nuggets first nine points and showed a lot of composure when he was on the floor. He also had a knack for attacking the glass, grabbing five rebounds in the contest. At 6-foot-9, Hamilton is a silky smooth shooter and has proven to be a pretty good rebounder.
- Koufos battled with foul trouble, but grabbed eight boards in 18 minutes.
- Afflalo really was great all over the ball. Sure he had 30 points, but it was his non-stop hustle and will to win that was impressive. His defense was the most impressive and what has been the missing piece to his game this season. He defended Steve Nash most of the game and literally played defense until the final buzzer.
- Harrington scored early, but provided a spark late. He hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the fourth and really played tough defense down the stretch too. Harrington’s 23 points led the Nuggets’ bench brigade.
- Miller probably loves defending Sebastian Telfair. He picked Telfair’s pocket twice in the first quarter and nearly forced him into another turnover in the first half. Miller was on his ‘A’ game all night long, but especially in the fourth quarter. He opened the quarter with a nifty basket, hit a 3-pointer and then had a pretty halfcourt pass to Faried for an alley-oop. Miller put up 15 points to go with seven assists and seven rebounds.
- Faried, the Manimal, seems to play better in the fourth quarter. He has an extra gear at the end of the game that opposing bigs just don’t have. However, the Suns really made a point to be physical with Faried from the start. Faried couldn’t get up and down the court without being pushed by Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat or Channing Frye, it might have something to do with Faried’s statement that NBA big man are slower than he expected.
Faried backed that statement on Friday as he outran the entire Suns’ frontcourt for the alley-oop dunk. And once again Faried had a key block to close the game. The only downfall to Faried’s game was his free throw shooting, where he shot 4 of 7 from the charity stripe.
- It wasn’t a great game for Lawson, who missed 7 of 8 shots but he did hand out eight assists.
- It really seemed like JaVale McGee’s asthma got the best of him Friday night. It was the third straight less than stellar game for the big man, who could be seen struggling to breathe throughout the game. The Suns also played Hack A Javale late, where he missed 4 of 5 from the charity stripe.
The win definitely helped the Nuggets get some separation from the Suns and Utah Jazz. Denver now sits in the eighth spot, with a game-and-half lead over the Jazz and two game advantage over the Suns.
Topics: Al Harrington, Andre Miller, Arron Afflalo, Channing Frye, Denver Nuggets, George Karl, Jared Dudley, JaVale McGee, Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns, Sebastian Telfair, Steve Nash, Ty Lawson, Utah Jazz