Faried, Foye shine for Nuggets in first home preseason game

Newcomers Robinson and Hickson also click for Denver at Pepsi Center
by Aaron Lopez

Randy Foye can fill it up.

Fellow newcomers Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson are developing some nice chemistry.

Kenneth Faried’s motor is already running at full throttle.

Those are a few things Nuggets fans learned during Denver’s 98-94 preseason victory over the San Antonio Spurs at Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets, who finished 25th in 3-point percentage last season, acquired the veteran shooting guard Foye to help stretch the floor. He did just that in the first quarter Monday, scoring 10 points in an 80-second span.

Foye went 3-for-5 from long range and finished with 15 points.

“It’s just preseason,” he said. “I’m trying to get my shooting touch going and trying to work as hard as I can to stretch the floor for those guys. We have guys who finish well around the rim, so I’m just trying to spread the floor.”

While Foye was keeping the defense honest early, Robinson and Hickson (15 points) clicked while helping the Nuggets pull away late. They executed on the pick-and-roll on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth quarter, and Robinson twice found Hickson on the fast break later in the quarter.

“I come out of the pick-and-roll looking to attack, being aggressive,” Robinson said. “He’s rolling and he’s looking to attack, so I just told him the ball’s going to be there every time. If I beat my man and I see that the big is on me, I’ll throw it to him. I just told him to go dunk on somebody. He got a couple of and-1s and made me look good, so I appreciate that.”

Robinson, signed as a free agent during the offseason, also appreciated the warm ovation he received when he entered the game with 3:09 left in the first quarter.

“Beautiful. They didn’t have to do that,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve been working my butt off over the years and you can see that real fans appreciate it and they notice it, so I am very happy. I’m going to make them proud.”

Few players personify hard work more than Faried. He scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and finished with nine rebounds. In addition to his trademark breakaway dunks, he also showed a nice touch with a jump hook around the basket.

“The guards are trusting the bigs and throwing it down low, trusting that we’re going to make the smart play,” Faried said. “I like my jump hook. I’m able to finish through contact with it. It’s really helping me.”

Faried and the Nuggets will take the court again Tuesday when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road.

It will give coach Brian Shaw another opportunity to evaluate different lineup combinations.

Against the Spurs, he started Hickson in place of Faried at power forward and Anthony Randolph in place of Quincy Miller at the small forward. Shaw switched things up to open the second half, going with Faried at power forward and Evan Fournier in place of Foye at shooting guard.

“He wants to give everybody a fair chance,” Foye said. “It’s all about getting looks and seeing what guys can do, what meshes well together. I think that’s smart to give everybody a fair chance. Everyone is working hard, so give everybody a fair shot.”

One of the late-game combinations included 5-foot-11 point guard Ty Lawson and the 5-9 Robinson. Shaw likes the fact that either guard can run the pick-and-roll when the ball swings to the weakside, and he is confident that both can hold their own defensively.

“We don’t look at size,” Robinson said. “I tell people all the time (that) it’s heart over height. Ty is a tough competitor, just like myself, and we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure the opposing team feels us. We’re going to play hard. I’m not going to let anybody post me up. I’m really a big man at heart.”

Robinson and the Nuggets gave fans a glimpse of their heart Monday night. They hope to make it a season-long love affair.