Nuggets move to 3-0 in preseason with win over Warriors

Notes from Denver's 104-98 victory at Pepsi Center
by Aaron Lopez

Thoughts and observations from the Nuggets’ 104-98 preseason victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night at Pepsi Center:

  • It certainly didn’t take long for Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala to find his comfort zone at altitude. Iguodala played well alongside point guard Ty Lawson and actually led Denver with seven assists.

    “Usually playing here, you come in and you’re looking for your first wind,” Iguodala said. “You’re kind of sucking air and then you finally get it back and you’re fine in the second half. Tonight, I was fine the whole time. It felt like home.”

  • Nuggets coach George Karl continues to evaluate how different big men play with the first unit. Timofey Mozgov got the start at center against Golden State and had 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.

    Kosta Koufos, who started the preseason opener, finished with 13 rebounds and scored the game’s final four points. JaVale McGee, the starting center on Saturday, added nine points and four boards.

    “I don’t think there has been a lot of separation amongst our bigs yet, and that’s OK,” Karl said. “If that’s the way we have to live with it, then that’s how we’ll coach it.”

  • After struggling with his rhythm throughout the 2011-12 season, Denver forward Danilo Gallinari looks confident from three-point range. He hit back-to-back threes in the second quarter Monday and is 7-for-18 (.389) from long range in the preseason.

    “I feel better shooting from three,” Gallinari said. “I feel I have more rhythm and I’m using my legs more. I’ve been working on that this summer, so hopefully my percentage will be better.”

  • The only thing that can slow Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried is foul trouble.

    Faried, an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection last season, scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in 21 minutes. He was well on his way to a double-double but did not return after leaving with four fouls with 7:02 left in the third quarter.

    Faried certainly has the respect of Golden State coach Mark Jackson.

    “He’s a great worker, big-time intense player,” Jackson said. “He has a big-time motor that you can’t teach and high skill to go with it. I thought he had a very good rookie season and he is motivated to add to it.”

  • Corey Brewer is emerging as a leader on the court and in the huddle.

    After scoring 40 points in Denver’s first two preseason games, Brewer added 15 off the bench against Golden State. With the Nuggets leading by two in the fourth quarter, he converted three free throws and hit a corner three-pointer to stretch the lead to eight.

    The scoring burst came shortly after Brewer stepped up during a timeout and told his teammates to make smart decisions.

    “I’m more vocal now because I’ve been around here for a year,” said Brewer, who was acquired in a trade with Dallas on Dec. 13. “I know guys a lot better and I know what I can say and what I can’t say.”

  • The Nuggets are still trying to shore up their three-point defense, a trouble spot in 2011-12. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to make 8-of-11 shots from behind the arc, and the Warriors finished 11-for-20 overall.

    “We’ve got a lot to learn because we’ve been doing some stupid stuff,” Brewer said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very well and we didn’t play defense at all. It can only get better.”

  • After committing 51 turnovers in their first two preseason games, the Nuggets did a better job taking care of the ball, finishing with 16 turnovers Monday night.

  • Finally, I like the new look at Pepsi Center. Most of the seats in the lower bowl are now dark leather. They replaced the original brown fabric that has been in place since the arena opened in 1999.