Skip to content

Three Stars of the Night: The Nuggets are still very odd

Jan 21, 2013, 1:00 AM EST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

If you needed further confirmation that the Denver Nuggets are in fact very strange, tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder provided some material.

Andre Iguodala, the All-Star swingman, the Gold Medalist, the highest paid player on the Nuggets, didn’t play in the fourth quarter and barely played in overtime.

JaVale McGee…did JaVale McGee things. He tried playing point-center on one possession and headed up a fast break that eventually, predictably, ended up in a turnover. A few possessions later, he ducked out of the way of a pass headed right for him.

Andre Miller, who shoots a flinging set shot (and 19 percent from 3), acted as the team’s crunch time shooting guard.

Put it all together, throw in some big buckets by one of our stars, and what do you get? A win over one of the best teams in the league. I don’t understand the Nuggets, and I’m not going to try to. Let’s get to the Three Stars from Sunday’s action:

Third Star: Russell Westbrook – (36 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocked mascot shots)

Remember all the stories about how Michael Jordan used to look for perceived slights so he could have the motivation to go tear an opponent up? Russell Westbrook is like that, except he doesn’t have to manufacture the criticism. Seeing Westbrook sort of embrace the fact that he’ll never be the “true point guard” fans want has become one of my favorite things about this season. For all intents and purposes, he’s the NBA’s new super villain. He’s demonstrative, he robs fans of free queso, and you can tell he genuinely enjoys getting under everyone’s skin. Westbrook was in full-blown bad guy mode on Sunday against the Nuggets, driving to the rim with reckless abandon and throwing his body in defenders to get to the free throw line a whopping 17 times. Westbrook’s a momentum player, both in the sense that’s he unstoppable when he gets to full speed, and that once he gets a few shots to go down, he usually gets on a roll. The Nuggets survived a comeback spurred by Westbrook that included a huge deep 3-pointer, but if Westbrook is truly the villain he portrays, he won’t forget this game the next time these two teams meet up.

Second Star: Jose Calderon – (22 points and 9 assists in 30 minutes)

Was the Lakers defense deplorable? Of course. But a lot of credit also goes to Calderon, who really saw the floor brilliantly and probed in the pick-and-roll for the Raptors all night. Toronto shot a ridiculous 54 percent from the field against the Lakers, and Calderon’s 22 points magnified the big weaknesses of the Lakers’ defense. The Raptors were great in transition, but even when the game slowed down, Calderon moved the ball to the open man and always made the correct swing pass. If Calderon really is available come trade deadline time, some contender would be very lucky to have his decision making and shooting abilities added to their team.

First Star: Corey Brewer – (26 points, 6 rebounds, 15 points in the 4th quarter)

George Karl went with his gut, and Corey Brewer rewarded him in a serious way. When he wasn’t harassing Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook defensively, Brewer was spotting up in the corner and letting ‘em rip from deep. For a team that has both struggled to shoot from the perimeter (29th in 3-point percentage) and put away games in clutch situations, every one of Brewer’s 15 points were like manna from heaven (the non-Darko Milicic variety) for Karl and the Nuggets down the stretch. Although Oklahoma City eventually caught them in regulation, Brewer’s hot shooting and aggressive nature kept Iguodala on the bench in overtime, which was probably a good thing on a night where he clearly didn’t have it. That’s the luxury Karl has with this deep roster, and although questions about their title chances remain, players like Brewer make the Nuggets a very tough out during the regular season.

Latest Posts
  1. J.J. Redick, Andre Drummond latest to receive flopping warnings (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    J.J. Redick AP

    Both players successfully tricked the referees into calling a foul.

  2. Paul Pierce hits 2,000th three pointer of career (VIDEO)

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He’s just 23 behind Jason Terry for third most on the All-Time list.

  3. LaMarcus Aldridge looks good with 26 points, 9 rebounds playing with bad thumb

    Jan 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Nene AP

    He hd 26 points and 9 boards. That brace worked out pretty well.

  4. Brandon Jennings leaves game in wheelchair, may have torn Achilles

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:01 AM EST

    Brandon Jennings Brandon Jennings

    Can we just get through the rest of this season without any more major NBA injuries, please?

  5. Report: Celtics may keep Tayshaun Prince if he’s not traded by the deadline

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Brad Stevens reportedly likes Prince, so a buyout may not be in the cards.

  6. Derek Fisher didn’t realize motivating his players would be such a big part of being an NBA head coach

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Derek Fisher AP

    Fisher played 18 years, and claims that his motivation always came from within.

  7. After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade was fined for flipping off some fans who he believed crossed the line.

  8. Dwight Howard leaves arena in walking boot after suffering ankle injury against Suns

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Dwight Howard AP

    Howard left the game after just eight minutes and did not return.

  9. LaMarcus Aldridge decides to delay surgery, will return for Blazers Saturday vs. Wizards

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:17 PM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Aldridge has a tear in his left thumb, and was originally set to be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

  10. Report: Cavaliers players say they ‘had lost faith’ due to lack of depth and roster construction

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Before recent trades, players believed the team would go no further than the second round of the playoffs.

  11. James Harden hits step-back game winner to beat Suns (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    James Harden, Isaiah Thomas AP

    That is as good a step-back jumper as you will see.

  12. Kobe Bryant will be back next season, he can’t resist the challenge

    Jan 24, 2015, 2:00 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    There are $25 million Kobe will be back next season.

  13. If injury is serious, it would go against history for Kobe to be productive again

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:16 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Lakers star could also above and beyond and chase Michael Jordan’s comeback

  14. Kevin Durant: ‘I don’t need the All-Star vote to validate me as a player’

    Jan 23, 2015, 10:15 PM EST

    Kevin Durant AP

    It’s a good thing, because he received fewer votes than Marcin Gortat.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (8104)
  2. L. Aldridge (7750)
  3. D. Wade (7580)
  4. A. Davis (6703)
  5. J. Noah (6476)
  1. R. Rubio (6288)
  2. K. Martin (6246)
  3. H. Whiteside (6095)
  4. J. Holiday (6051)
  5. C. Anthony (5866)