A sight for sore eyes appeared in the Nuggets’ most recent loss, this time to the Atlanta Hawks. Ty Lawson posted 32 points, 7 assists, 5 steals and a rebound as the Nuggets nearly walked out of Atlanta with a win. The Denver fanbase has been restless with Lawson as of late, and it was impressive to see him bring his game to a level that many expect.
As most analysts like to say,”as Lawson goes, the Nuggets go.” This was not especially true, as Lawson had his best game of the season, but the Nuggets’ interior D and the struggles of Andre Iguodala hampered any chance of a victory. Iguodala had a frustrating night, going 2-10 for 5 points and a stat stuffing night of 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 7 turnovers. In addition, the Nuggets gave up a combined 52 points to the frontcourt trio of Al Horford (25 pts, 12 reb), Josh Smith (16 pts, 13 reb) and Zaza Pachulia (11 pts, 7 reb). While Nuggets center Kosta Koufos sat the night out with the flu, the interior and post defense was matador-esque in its effectiveness. That’s not to say that the bigs didn’t post up decent numbers; Timofey Mozgov grabbed 13 rebounds and Javale McGee picked up 11 points, 3 rebounds and a 2 blocks. It’s just that the Nuggets were killed on the defensive end by big men, a troubling symptom of this year’s team.
This game was confusing because the Nuggets were fixing a number of things they were doing so poorly. Free throws improved (21-25), three pointers were sinking for Ty Lawson (5-5), and the Nuggets shot 48% on the night. All these point to improvement for the Nuggets, but further accent the needs that still exist. Turnovers (Nuggets 20, Hawks 14) plagued the Nuggets and eventually iced the game as Josh Smith stole the ball off Lawson’s foot in the final minute. The execution of this team needs to improve, and hopefully will, as this brutal road schedule subsides. The Nuggets though, have no time to feel sorry for themselves, as they continue their road trip with four more before returning to Denver. This team is learning and improving, but they will have to find a way to gut out some wins to remain competitive at the end of the season. The Nuggs will continue their season in Indiana on Dec. 7 at 7:00 ET.