Denver trailed 44-58 at the half, but following a a classic George Karl speech and some stifling defensive intensity the Nuggets erupted for a 14-2 run in the third quarter. They actually held the Wolves to just 36 points in the entire second half, after giving up 32 in the second quarter alone.
So while the defense pressure and a solid showing at the free throw line were major factors in the win, it was the balanced scoring attack of Denver’s bevy of perimeter players that ultimately decided this one. And I mean, Kenneth Faried didn’t exactly hurt either.
But as always, what good is a win unless I get to over-analyze and overreact to each players performance?
Still a win? Well, you’re stuck with me anyway. (players will not appear if they were not active for at least 15 minutes*)
Danilo Gallinari: A
At the risk of actually acknowledging it, Gallo appears to be finally hitting his stride. He’s averaging 20 points on 51 percent shooting over his last three contests and has been unwavering presence down the stretch. His game-high 19 points came largely in the pivotal 14-2 push by the Nuggets in the third. He also notched six rebounds, two blocks and was six for six from the line.
Kenneth Faried: B+
It takes a once in a decade kind of player who can single-handedly impact the outcome of a game with his presence on the glass. The Manimal is that player. Faried hauled in 14 boards on the evening, dominating one of the league’s most respected glass-eaters in Kevin Love throughout the entire second half. He only finished with four points alongside four turnovers, but his energy alone was one of the the Nuggets biggest assets in the win.
Kosta Koufos: B
-Sigh- Koufos is never really all that bad, he’s just glaringly average in such a talented starting lineup. Fortunately, he somewhat broke that mold Wednesday night as he finished with 6 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks. He’s now averaging 1.7 blocks in 23 minutes, you could do worse.
Andre Iguodala: A+
18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. He had, in the words of Clark Kellogg, a “stat sheet stuffer, supreme!” kind of performance. He’s struggled to find his shot at times this season, but his three of five from downtown was some pretty nice eye candy. Speaking of, he also had these two little nuggets of awesomeness above the rim.
Ty Lawson: B
It’s a Christmas season miracle! Lawson was a bearable 5-12 from the field and he even went 6-8 at the line. Whether you would consider that reaching or not, his nine assists was a nice bounce back from his four and five assist performances the previous two games.
Jordan Hamilton: B+
J-Ham has staked his claim in three point land and he’s drawing gold. His 3-6 shooting from downtown and 12 points was crucial off the bench in the win. He also tossed in six board, just to avoid being one dimensional.
Andre Miller: A
Watch your nickname, Jerry West. Miller was about as clutch as they come in this one, scoring all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter. He also had five assists, but that’s just gravy.
Corey Brewer: C+
7 points, a rebound and a block. Stop looking, there’s nothing impressive in his stat line. But as we all know, his impact is typically felt well beyond that.