Oct 29, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) drives to the basket past Detroit Pistons forward Kyle Singler (25) during the first half at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets kicked off the 2014-15′ season in winning fashion Wednesday night, defeating the Detroit Pistons at home by the final score of 89-79. It was a grind it out type of game, one you’d expect for the first game of the season. Without further or do, below I’ll tell you the positives and negatives of what I saw Wednesday night – what I liked and didn’t like.
- Rookie center Jusuf Nurkic was fantastic in 13 minutes of play, recording 7 rebounds and 5 points (2/4 shooting). Denver’s got themselves a real intriguing product in the 20-year-old from Bosnia.
- Arron Afflalo was sensational in his return in a Denver Nuggets uniform. Afflalo shot 6-of-16 with 15 points, recording 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 40 minutes. Having a two-way player like Afflalo – including his competitive nature, will drive this team to be better night in and night out.
- Kenneth Faried‘s explosive double-double. Faried recorded 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a couple of 15-foot jumpers. Faried’s growth in front of our very eyes is a treat to watch.
- Alonzo Gee‘s defensive effect. Gee came in and recorded a steal from Pistons PG D.J. Augustin, leading to a 2-on-1 break. Not only is Gee going to have an impact on defense, but he showed he can knock down the corner three.
- Timofey Mozgov was solid. Mozgov cemented the center role during the second half of the season last year and hasn’t looked back. The 7-foot-1 center recorded a double-double, adding 13 points and 11 rebounds — including 2 blocked shots.
- Free-throws were alright but not bad for opening night. Denver shot 23-of-31 (74.2%) percent from line, Afflalo and Mozgov missed two each. Don’t expect that to happen much. The free-throw line has been a hassle the last couple of years for Denver.
- Team defense looked great. Denver held Detroit to just 79 points — Josh Smith also helped a tad-bit by taking so many elbow-jumpers. Denver was third-worst in terms of points allowed per game last season. Which ties into rebounding. Denver outrebounded Detroit 51-45, in-large part due to Faried, Mozgov, and Nurkic.
- Ty Lawson didn’t play well. Denver’s point guard shot just 1-of-7 from the field, going 0-for-3 from beyond-the-arc. 3 points in 33 minutes isn’t going to cut it midway through the season and down the line for him and this Nuggets team — they will depend on Lawson scoring and facilitating more.
- Danilo Gallinari was rusty. This shouldn’t be a negative in any way as Gallo missed the entire year last season, but we will put it here anyways. Gallo shot 1-of-8 from the field in 18 minutes, but did however go a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Like Lawson, Denver will depend on Gallo in the scoring column.
- Bench players such as Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Nate Robinson were also rusty. Denver will depend on these guys to come in and make an immediate impact off the bench.
- No Gary Harris. I personally wanted to see Gary Harris in action Wednesday night – especially his defensive presence. Can’t be displeased with the outcome, however.
All-in-all, it wasn’t a bad opening night for the Denver Nuggets. The shooting and three-point percentages will improve but you have to like what you saw. Denver returns back to action Saturday night as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road.