The Denver Nuggets came into this game as one of seven undefeated’s. The Cavaliers riding a big win over Atlanta looked to change that.

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The Denver Nuggets were 2-0 on the strength of their defense holding the Suns and Spurs to under 100 points as has been talked about ad nauseam. They however were plagued by turnovers in both games and three-point efficiency in game 2. Both would rear their ugly heads against the Cavaliers early.

The Nuggets began the night 4-21 from three, with two of the four coming in the last 60 seconds of the first half. The Nuggets were actually down 10 points with 40 seconds left in the half. Then Joker drained his first three of the game and then after a quick turnover by the Cavs drew a 3-point foul with 3 seconds left. Which gave the 4-point first-half deficit 50-46.

These are the first and second quarter shot charts for both teams. Cleveland in red and Denver Nuggets in blue. Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

The Nuggets were extremely lucky that the deficit was that small. If the Cavs could have hit their own buckets that is. They started 3-11 from deep and only 19-39 from inside the arch. There was also early foul trouble from the Nuggets that necessitated the early departure of Michael Porter Jr. who had 2 less than halfway through the first quarter. His replacement P.J. Dozier didn’t fare any better as he ended up with 2 of his own before the quarter was over.

This led to something all of Nuggets Nation has been waiting for since the pre-season. Bones Hyland got his first taste of NBA action and boy did he shine. In just over 7 minutes of play in the first half, he put up 5 points on 3-5 shooting, a steal, rebound, and just created utter chaos on the defensive end in concert with fan-favorite Facundo Campazzo. This kid is another in a long list of 2021 Rookies that have started the year strong.

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The MVP Nikola Jokic helped this team stay in it with a 15 point/12 rebound double-double in the first half. But no other Nugget had more than 5 points or 4 rebounds. Half-time adjustments being needed would be a serious understatement.

Though you wouldn’t know half-time adjustments existed with how the Nuggets started the third quarter. They allowed the Cavaliers to build as large as an 11-point lead before the 7-minute mark in the 3rd. This was done on poor shooting by the Nuggets, and absolutely abysmal effort on the defensive end. Too many times the Nuggets defenders were caught watching the play, instead of actually playing their man.

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You thought some energy was injected into the team when MPJ made catch-and-shoot 3 at the 6:30 mark of the quarter. Then you saw Joker pick up the pace running the floor after rebounds. He would have had a triple-double by the end of the 3rd had his teammates just hit the wide-open shots he created. They ended up drawing to within one of Cleveland 66-65. Mostly due to poor shooting by Cleveland on their own end. Denver ended the quarter 7-31 from distance, Cleveland was 6-21.

The Nuggets would tie the game at 70, but that was just when the Cavs found their stroke and Denver went cold. Cleveland would promptly go on a 23-7 run. Denver would show flashes here and there of what made them 2-0. They held 3rd overall pick to just 10-points and 8 rebounds. The slack was more than picked up by Jarrett Allen 21 pts/16 rebs and Kevin Love with 22/6. The Cavs had 5 players in double digits total, as opposed to Denver’s 4. But Love almost outscored Denver’s bench by himself (22-24).

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The Nuggets didn’t do much of anything right in this one. Outside of finally getting to see Bones get minutes, there was nothing fun about this game for Nuggets Nation. They lost the Turnover battle 22-14, shot 23% from three, 22 personal fouls, it was just bleh. You can easily say this was. a “trap” game. But I warned about this in our preview. The Nuggets players outside of Nikola Jokic obviously weren’t listening. They held their third opponent to less than 100, but still lost 99-87.

The Denver Nuggets now get to hustle to DIA and jump on a jet to Salt Lake City to face a Jazz squad that hasn’t played in 4 days tomorrow.

Up Next:

@ Utah Jazz Tuesday October 26 @ 8:00 PM MST

Where to watch:

National Broadcast: TNT

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