The Denver Nuggets started sluggishly in the second night of a back-to-back. And they never truly showed any fight in the biggest loss of the season.
The Denver Nuggets showed what they can do when at their best on defense and the offensive glass against the Orlando Magic. That completely evaporated in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors. Toronto was able to match the Nuggets rebound for rebound with much higher energy. But the biggest advantage that led to an 8-point lead at the end of the quarter was the 3-point shooting disparity. Toronto shot almost 70% from 3 (not a misprint) to the Nuggets’ paltry 17%. No team can keep pace with any other in today’s NBA shooting the trey like that.
Jamal Murray did his best scoring 12 points in the quarter, but with a -10 rating due to poor defense and rebounding by him and his mates. But when Joker is matched in his production by JaMychal Green, you are in trouble. The Nuggets were completely listless in the quarter and almost the entire first half. Similar to Orlando yesterday, the Nuggets did not have a single player who touched the ball that had a positive rating in the first half.Embed from Getty Images
Despite all this, Denver was able to keep it relatively close all things considered, because they only had 2 turnovers in the quarter. One of the biggest bugaboos early in the season, which is a big positive. All that positivity disappeared in the 2nd quarter though. Toronto came out on a mission after losing 9 straight. I was worried about this being a bit of a trap game for Denver because of this superficial stat. This Toronto team is way too talented to be playing this badly. They showed that in the first half of this game. They were able to grow that lead to as many as 24 points.
They did all of this because Toronto had 4-out-of-5 starters in double digits before the half, and none of them were named Kyle Lowry. The arguably biggest scoring threat on Toronto’s roster was 0-2 from the field with only 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in the stat sheet at the half. But when your 4 other starts throw down 20 (Pascal Siakam), 18 (OG Anunoby), 14 (Norman Powell), and 13 (Fred VanVleet). Your entire roster but one has a positive +/- rating. And the rest of the roster shoots 51% from the field and 59% from 3, your star can have an off night.
This was the exact opposite on the Nuggets side of things as Jokic (12) and Murray (14) were the only ones in double digits, and not a single player on the roster had a higher than -2 +/- in the first half. And when you shoot 42% from the field and 24% from 3 (MPJ was 3-4, rest of team 2-17), you are going to be blown out by even the worst teams in the Association. This is exactly what Toronto did in the first half, ending it with a 72-54 advantage over the Denver Nuggets. The bricked, wide-open, alley-oop miss by Jamal Murray with less than a minute left was a perfect encapsulation of the Nuggets” ineptitude to make anything happen in the first half of play.
Here’s at least something for Denver Nugget fans to enjoy courtesy of the Denver Nuggets Social Team:
The 3rd-quarter saw more of the same. Denver unable to score from seemingly everywhere outside the paint, and even that was inconsistent to say the least. While Toronto continued to rain down the threes with 4-out-of-5 starters shooting at least 50% from the arc. It looked like the Nuggets might have a run in them when they closed the lead to within 15 with 2:00 to go in the quarter. With Jokic, Murray, and MPJ doing their best to will the team back into the game as they raised their point totals to 20 (Jokic), 20 (Murray), and 17 (MPJ) by the end of the quarter. Jokic also got to 10 rebounds for yet another double-double.
You had the grey-bead Paul Milsap doing his best to turn back the clock with an 11/6/6 slash through 3 quarters. But again, unlike last night in Orlando, Denver only had 11 points, 2 assists, and 8 rebounds from their bench. While Toronto got 12 pts, 1 assist, 1 block, and 13 rebounds from theirs. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but anytime the Nuggets are beat at the boards, they are embarrassed. Add in the massive size advantage they had on Toronto, and I truly can’t make sense of how Toronto was able to bully them on the boards as much as they did.
Plus, no team has a chance when the top-4 scorers on the opposing team have no less than 19 points at the end of 3. Anunoby had 23, Powell and Siakam 22-a-piece, and Fred VanVleet chipped in 19. Toronto had 18 made 3-pointers at the end of the 3rd.Embed from Getty Images
The 4th-quarter saw Denver make some dubious history you don’t like to see unless you are the opposing team. They gave up 24 3-pointers (The most ever given up to any opponent, ever) to the red-hot Raptors who couldn’t seem to miss. I know many hate to hear this, but, it was just one of those nights.
Take a look at the insane box score courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:
The Nuggets started to figure things out from range as they raised their 3-point % to 32.6, mostly due to MPJ shooting 5-6 from distance. The rest of the team was 9-37 from behind the arc. This was just the product of a tired team on the second half of a back-to-back, and a proud team 2 years removed from a championship saying “enough is enough”. Toronto came out blazing from the blocks, knocked the Nuggets off balance, and just never took their foot off the gas. Denver on the other hand just had nothing left in the tank to try and keep pace.
Here’s to hoping the 6+ mins of rest at the end of the game with the Raptors up more than 30-points, with an off day tomorrow, and re-energize this listless squad before they travel to New Orleans for a re-match of this past Sunday’s matinee at a Mile High. One good thing that came out of this was Denver Nuggets fans getting a glimpse of the future with Bol Bol (7 pts in 8 mins.), Zeke Nnaji (7 pts, 7 rebs), and RJ Hampton (4 pts, 3 rebs, 2 assists) all on the floor at the same time. Then energy noticeably went up once the bench took over and the youngsters were able to shrink the lead slightly to a final score of 135-11.
One last silver lining, look for Denver to make a move before the deadline after this abysmal performance.
@New Orleans on Friday, March 26, 2021 at 6:00 PM MST
Where to watch:
Denver Market: Altitude TV/Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
New Orleans Market: Fox Sports New Orleans