Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 3/14/12

Corey Brewer has been an unsung hero in Denver all season long.  It’s kind of funny that you never hear a word about him, because, statistically speaking, he’s actually having his second-best NBA campaign to date.  However, his contributions (which include 10 points and a steal in just 22 minutes) tend to get lost in the shuffle.  Denver has depth like few other teams, and guys like Danilo Gallinari, Nene, Ty Lawson, Al Harrington, and Arron Afflalo get all the press for making the majority of the stand-out plays.

Last night it was Gallinari who played hero.  With the final seconds of regulation ticking off the clock, the young star nailed a tough three-point shot that ended up sending the game to overtime.  The opportunity wouldn’t have been there, though, had Corey Brewer not made what may be the biggest play he’s made all year.  Fittingly, you won’t find any sign of it in the box score.

With 10 seconds left in a two-point game, Atlanta had the ball and the lead.  Ty Lawson had just missed a layup that would’ve tied the score.  It was the kind of blown opportunity that will take the wind out of a team’s sails.  Corey Brewer’s sails always seem to have wind behind them, though.

Atlanta proceeded to inbound the ball to Jannero Pargo, an 86% career shooter from the stripe.  Pargo caught the ball just a foot or two from the sideline, and Corey Brewer pursued him, presumably to commit a foul.  There was no foul, though.  Brewer elected to swipe at the ball before he resorted to blatantly hacking (why more players don’t do this I have no effing clue).  He ended up jarring it loose, and it rolled out of bounds.  The officials initially gave the Hawks possession, but a video review revealed a deflection directly off the knee of Pargo.  The call was overturned and the table was set for Gallinari.

Corey Brewer wasn’t perfect last night.  You may have noticed that Gallo’s three gave the Nuggets a one point lead, yet the game ended up in OT.  Yeah, well, it was Brewer who committed the foul that sent Kirk Hinrich to the line for the game-tying freethrow.  He made the mistake of defending with his hands at a crucial juncture, and the officials blew the whistle.  He and the Nuggets caught a break when Hinrich missed the second of two.

Despite the foul, Brewer’s deflection is as big a reason as any that the Nuggets remain in 6th place this morning.  He made the big play that no one saw coming, and restored the hope that had been lost when Ty Lawson missed from point-blank range.  It was kind of a microcosm of his season, really.  Everyone but Masai Ujiri viewed him as a mere throw-in in the Rudy Fernandez trade.  While Rudy has been one of the many Nuggets to fall victim or injury, Brewer has stepped up in his place, helping to keep that hopeful flame burning when it looked like it might be going out.

In less cheesy terms, he’s run the floor like a madman and hustled his ass off, yet I feel like his efforts have been underappreciated.  It’s wrong to discuss Denver’s bench without mentioning Corey Brewer.  Just keep that in mind.

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