Feb 16, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) dunks during the 2013 NBA All-Star slam dunk contest at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
It’s the all-star break, and it’s time to look at the Denver Nuggets first half in review. The team itself has been a pleasant surprise to fans and heads into the break as a contender, at the record of 33-21. Playing in the same division as the OKC Thunder certainly doesn’t help, as they stand 6.5 games back.
The Nuggets have been exceptional at the Pepsi Center throughout the first half, posting a home record of 22-3. The only teams with better home records are Miami and San Antonio. Playing on the road is different story though, as they are 11-18.
The players have all played big roles in the teams success, as there hasn’t been a main superstar carrying them. The starting lineup, which mainly consists of Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, and Kosta Koufos, have all been consistent. JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, and Corey Brewer have been the key contributors off the bench.
Feb 7, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari (8) takes a free throw shot in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Lawson, who has started 52 of the 53 games, averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds throughout the first half. Gallinari has been huge in teams success, leading the team with 17 points scored per game. Igoudala, in his first season with Denver, has been steady, starting 52 of the 52 games he played in. Faried has possibly been the biggest surprise out of the whole team, as the second year player out of Morehead State, has averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds. Not only did he have a great first half, but he received some national spotlight, taking part in the Slam Dunk Contest Saturday night. The fifth starter, Kosta Koufos, has averaged the least minutes of the five, but is still doing his thing with 7 rebounds a game.
Miller, who only started two games the whole first half, has played a big role off the bench, averaging 25 minutes per game. His 6 assists a game is good for the team lead, which he ranks tenth all-time in. McGee averaged 10 points a game, to go along with leading the team in blocks per game. Brewer has done his best to help out, averaging 11 points a game.
Feb 7, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) dunks the ball in the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 128-96. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The highlight of the first half was, without a doubt, the ten game win streak the Nuggets put together from January 20th through February 9th. The streak started with a nail biter victory over the Thunder, and the Nuggets turned into one of the hottest teams in the league after that. They pulled out close games against the Pacers, Rockets, Cavaliers, and Bucks, and the streak eventually ended February 10th after a triple overtime loss to the Celtics.
One of the best games occurred on October 6th, when Lawson pulled off a game winning buzzer-beater shot to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 106-104.
All-in-all it was a successful first half for the Denver Nuggets. As I mentioned above, they will most likely have to shoot for a Wildcard spot if they are looking to make a push for the playoffs, as playing with the Thunder isn’t beneficiary at all. They open up the second half of the season, Tuesday, February 19th, against the Celtics.