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Emmanuel Mudiay "Thank you Byron Scott for saying I'm not a point guard," Nuggets win 120-109

An Nguyen Avatar
November 4, 2015

 

The Denver Nuggets left Los Angeles tonight with their second win of the season as the Lakers continue to search for their first victory. Despite Jordan Clarkson’s 30 points and what felt like Julius Randle’s 100 dunks on the night, the Nuggets pulled out the victory, 120-109, and continue to tread water as they weather the storm of injuries that have hit the team so early in the season.

THE RUNDOWN

First Quarter – Starters: Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson

In our game preview we focused on Randle and how he could give the Nuggets nightmares; the Lakers big man wasted no time getting to work. He bullied the short-handed Nuggets front court with an early and-1 plus another basket the very next possession. He also protected the rim well as he stuffed Danilo Gallinari in addition to a drive and kick to a wide open Clarkson for three. This kid is special.

With 3:31 left in the first quarter Mike Miller made an early appearance at the power forward position as the Nuggets elected to go small. Miller rewarded Michael Malone with a pair of threes. I’m sorry Gallo and Randy Foye, but Miller is without a doubt the best shooter on the Nuggets roster. His shot is money in the bank.

Jameer Nelson gave the Nuggets a little momentum as he closed out the first quarter with a statement:

End of first: Lakers lead 36-30

Second Quarter – Starters: Jameer Nelson, Randy Foye, Will Barton, Mike Miller, Darrell Arthur

Looks like this Malone trend of starting the second quarter with small ball continues. Surprisingly, the undersized line-up defended well as Miller’s outside shooting propped up the otherwise bland bench offense.

With all the starters back in at 6:09 left in the second quarter, Randle continued to establish his dominance with dunk after dunk while Kenneth Faried was getting out-rebounded by the likes of Lou Williams. Not the greatest sight for Nuggets fans. To his credit, the Manimal was producing as he led all scorers with 20 points (6-7 from the field) and 9 rebounds in just the first half.

Just as impressively, Faried was 8-8 from the charity stripe as the entire team continued to attack the rim aggressively. The Nuggets shot a whopping 23-27 on free throws in the first half to the Lakers’ 10-13, single-handedly keeping Denver in the game.

In my preview I also detailed the importance of Harris’ defense on Clarkson. That defense was ineffective in the first half as Clarkson also led all scorers with 20 points on 8-10 shooting (4-5 from outside).

Once again the Nuggets got a momentum boost at the buzzer as Will Barton grabbed an offensive board and laid the ball up to extend the Nuggets lead to three.

End of second: Nuggets 60, Lakers 57

Third Quarter – Starters: Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson

Randle got poked in the eye in the first half and came out at the start of the second wearing clear sunglasses. Unfortunately, the eyewear didn’t slow him down as he continued his onslaught in the paint.

D’Angelo Russell came alive with a quick 5 points off a three and fast-break layup. The rookie continued displaying his court vision as he hit Roy Hibbert on a nice fast break feed for his sixth assist of the night.

Halfway through the third quarter, Hibbert literally threw Faried on the ground in front of the ref without a whistle. Even the Lakers announcers were shocked.

Hickson surprisingly gave the Nuggets quality minutes as he pulled off a gorgeous spin move for the and-1 and blocked Clarkson’s shot to preserve the Nuggets double-digit lead.

End of third: Nuggets 93, Lakers 83

Fourth Quarter – Starters: Jameer Nelson, Randy Foye, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur

Faried started in this line-up instead of Miller in a move that sacrificed spacing and outside shooting in lieu of size and rebounding. In my opinion, Miller should have been playing instead of Randy Foye purely based on the fact that he’s a much better shooter. This idea is reinforced as I watched Foye miss a wide open corner three.

The Nuggets played well, but shot themselves in the foot by fouling a 3-point shooter not once, not twice, but a face-palming three times. The game should be out of reach, but the Nuggets allowed the Lakers to crawl back to within just six points.

That lead eventually whittles down to a one possession game before Gallinari pulls off an absolutely nutty play to give the Nuggets a six point lead in crunch time:

The Nuggets closed out with a lineup of Nelson, Mudiay, Gallinari, Faried and Hickson as J.J. continued to give his best effort as he hit a clutch jump hook to give him 17 points on the night. Great job tonight from the unpopular Nuggets big man.

Gallinari finally decided he’d had enough as he put a cap on the game with yet another and-1 to push the Nuggets lead back up to 11. The Lakers never recovered.

Final: Nuggets 120, Lakers 109

WHERE/WHEN

Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA | Nov. 3rd | Regular Season Game 4 (2-2)

STAR OF THE GAME

Faried continued to play well under Malone’s tutelage as he absolutely dominated the box score. The Manimal was seemingly everywhere on the floor tonight as he gobbled up 15 rebounds to go with a whopping 28 points (10-13 from the field).

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Mudiay finds Faried on the fast break with a gorgeous no look pass:

Will Barton fakes the pass and throws down this absolutely vicious dunk:

TURNING POINT OF THE GAME

In the third quarter the Nuggets went on a 27-11 run to close out the period, turning a six point deficit into a double-digit lead going into the fourth.

Mudiay pulls of the rare four-point play on Russell:

BY THE NUMBERS

NBA.com
NBA.com

Gallinari played extremely well adding in 21 points and 8 rebounds in addition to a few close-out buckets to end the game. When the Nuggets offense stalls, look for Gallo to bail them out by knocking down tough jumpers or getting to the charity stripe.

Mudiay shot poorly (3-13 from the field), but put up his first double double of his career with 12 points and 10 assists. He credits his playmaking performance to Lakers head coach Byron Scott:

Ironically, the rookie’s only makes were from beyond the arc. Mudiay’s struggles at finishing around the rim pre-date his NBA career and look to be a more serious problem than originally thought. If opponents don’t respect his ability to score on his drives it gives them the leeway of being able to play the passing lanes Mudiay will inevitably use. This is already causing the Nuggets young guard consistent turnover problems.

The most eye-popping stat to me is the Nuggets shooting 27-31 from the free throw line, good for an excellent 87.1 percent. Free throw shooting has been a weakness for the Nuggets ever since Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups left town and it would be great to see it become a strength once again. Gallinari and Faried deserve a ton of credit for being aggressive and setting the tone for the rest of the Nuggets team.

LASTING IMPACT

The Nuggets stay afloat at .500 with a win against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers (0-4). Look for them to continue playing hard in games and give Nuggets fans what they’ve been yearning for the last two years: a competitive team. The Nuggets will surely struggle this year, but at least fans can rest easy knowing Malone has instilled some fight in them.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Nuggets fly back to Denver and prepare for a tough match-up against a young and hungry Utah Jazz team (2-1). Tip-off is at the Pepsi Center on Thursday Nov. 5th at 7:00 MT.

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