Going into this game, I had one expectation and that was a loss. Point blank. So, yes, I am pleased with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies — 97-92 –, which Denver snapped their 8-game winning streak, but Denver is far from a ‘gelled’ team. With that being said, this was a game where one player took a step forward, and a few more looked much of the same.
The best player of this game — hands down — was Danilo Gallinari and wouldn’t you believe it when he attacks the basket and garners free throws, he’s effective for Denver. Surprise! Surprise! That was sarcasm, but that’s something myself and every other NBA enthusiast has been begging with Gallo to do over the past 5 or so games. Look, he does it, and amazing things happen.
Kenneth Faried – on his birthday nonetheless — acquired 13 points and 13 rebounds — 7 of those are offensive — and was doing Manimal things, but was having a difficult time defending big men like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph during the game. JaVale McGee closed out the game, and I believe this is a step in the right direction, but Denver fans — and myself included — would like to see McGee play around the 25 minute mark. McGee accumulated 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot. It’s not a marvel that when JaVale is in the game, Denver is the most productive and they tend to lead games this way, and it was shown during this game.
For example, McGee was inserted into the lineup early in the 4th quarter, Denver had its second highest NET rating. For 2:32 minutes to start off that quarter, Denver went on an 8-0 run (+6) with Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton, Corey Brewer, Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee. He was also in lineups with a +2, 0, -1, +2, and +4 NET; needless to say McGee is a positive influence.
I know Denver fans want more out of McGee, but when he is physically struggling, Head Coach George Karl, has no other option than to rest him. With that being said, I believe 25 minutes isn’t too much to ask from Karl, but Karl never does what the fan base desires, right?
Corey Brewer, once again, demonstrated why so many call him an “energizer bunny” as he sparked the Nuggets, and had a few key buckets that picked up Denver’s tempo.
Now for a few players that did anything, but sizzle in Memphis, and one is Andre Iguodala is far more timid than he is aggressive. If Denver wanted timid, they would employ a mime, not an All-Star. This is not acceptable play for Iguodala, but it’s somewhat understandable considering roles are still not defined on this team. Then Ty Lawson, who started out aggressive, withdrew when his shots were getting blocked. Also, it’s been noted and exhibited, that Lawson is hesitating too much on the offense, which is true. Once Lawson stalls on the offense, the opponent’s defenses collapse on him — Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs games are great examples — and he’s rendered useless.
Conventional wisdom dictates, once a player loses confidence, their shooting falters, which is an issue with Lawson. He’s become a liability and Denver can’t and won’t be successful if he continues his play. Lawson hesitates to shoot the three-ball, which causes the paint to become clogged, thus he can’t drive as he would normally. He has the speed, but he isn’t using it to his advantage currently.
While, Denver did win and beat — arguably — the best team in the league, it’s difficult to become too optimistic because this squad could easily lose to the wheelchair team — Minnesota Timberwolves – on Wednesday, but this win was definitely a feel-good win considering how abysmal Denver has looked as of late.