Tag Archives: Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets Battle in the Bayou

The talk was about the Denver Nuggets’ Joker and the Pels’ Zion. But a player averaging 8.7 ppg steals the show in New Orleans.

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As much as I and Santiago talked about the deadly trio in New Orleans and the dynamic duo of the Denver Nuggets. It came down to. a battle of the benches in the bayou. The Pelicans’ bench outscored the Nuggets 59-18. You always hear coaches talk about if you contain their best and get beat by their secondary options, you gotta chalk it up to it being their day. But Nuggets Coach Michael Malone was tossed after two technicals with a few minutes to go in the fourth.

Regardless of the antics on the Nuggets bench. It was quite the day for Jose Alvarado. Alvarado came into the day averaging 8.7 pts and 36% from three, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech. He had also never scored more than 29 points at any level in his life and scored 38 of those 59 pts off the New Orleans bench. Alvarado went 8-11 from three, almost all of the catch-and-shoot variety. He outscored the Nuggets bench by 20 points all by himself.

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Brandon Ingram of New Orleans didn’t play in this contest due to a toe injury. You can live with Zion Williamson putting up a slash of 25 pts/4 ast/6 reb and C.J. McCollum putting up a measly 7 pts/3 ast/6 reb. You got plenty out of Nikola Jokic with a 32 pts/9 ast/16 reb double-double. You got enough from Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, and Bruce Brown.

Unfortunately Jeff Green and Michael Porter Jr. were both still in street clothes. And Bones Hyland was only able to go for 5:00 minutes. You don’t want to make excuses, especially after this Nugget’s loss on Friday to a short-handed Hawks squad. But it is what it is.

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The silver lining, which I’m sure is hard for Denver sports fans to see after watching both active teams struggle offensively in the third quarter and their defense falter when it mattered most. This is only the second time this season Nuggets have lost back-to-back games. Speaking of the third quarter which is the Bermuda triangle for this Nuggets’ squad. The Nuggets had a five-point lead with 5:00 minutes to go in the frame. Then Nikola Jokic went to the bench and the Pelicans went on a 19-4 run.

The Nuggets only made 7 total shots in the 3rd quarter. Graphic courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

The Nuggets starters played well defensively, Jamal Murray had 2 blocks, and Joker 2 steals. Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown combined for 14 total rebounds. The depth of this Denver squad we have touted so much just has not shown up in the last two games. You saw a lot more staggering starters and bench players.

At one point four guards (Murray/Smith/Brown/KCP) were on the floor at the same time. Although I liked what I saw at times with those four on the floor, you are giving up some serious size with that lineup. And there were times when they were forced into bad iso’s because nobody was big enough to set any high screens for the pick and roll. This led to multiple turnovers and bad shots.

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The league’s 2nd best three-point team the Nuggets only went 8-31 from deep as a team. This means they made as many threes as a team as Jose Alvarado did off the Pels’ bench in three times as many attempts. Coach Malone needs his guys MPJ, Bones, and Uncle Jeff back.

He is trying to cover for the lack of offense from the bench by overusing his starters. All four starters played more than 30 mins. With Jokic, Brown, and Gordon all logging over 37 mins. It is way too early in a long season to be having starters on the floor that long, especially when one is coming off a major injury. Those are playoff minutes.

The Denver Nuggets get a chance at a rebound on Tuesday with a home date against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. They will need more than 4 players to show up if they want to avoid wearing a third straight L.

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Denver Nuggets vs Pelicans Preview

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Two of the best in the NBA clash as the Denver Nuggets host Zion and the Pelicans. Who will continue their torrid pace?

Not too many Sundays have been a blessing for Denver sports fans as the football town has dreaded the play of the Broncos the last few weeks. But the Denver faithful will have something to look forward to as the 14-8 Nuggets will take on the 14-8 Pelicans. A game that screams playoff atmosphere. Both teams are currently tied for the second seed in the prestigious western conference. Denver is coming off a frustrating 109-117 loss against Atlanta on Friday. The Pelicans are coming off an 18-point victory against the Spurs.

Both teams have had their share of injury issues, Nuggets Forward Michael Porter Jr. will sit out his sixth straight game with a heel injury. While the Pelicans will be without All-Star Brandon Ingram and second-year role player Herb Jones. As good and exciting as the Nuggets have been the Pelicans have developed their own storyline through the first 22 games of the season. Here are two things to look out for during Sunday’s afternoon match-up.

Denver Nuggets Sweep Rockets at Home

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Back-to-back home games for the Denver Nuggets against the Houston Rockets lead to back-to-back double-digit wins. The latest is a 120-100 drubbing on Wednesday night.

We told you last game the Denver Nuggets dynamic duo was back, but Wednesday the rest of the Bat Family showed up. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were back at it going for 33 pts./14 asts/13 rebs/1 stl/1 blk combined with Blue Arrow firing up a game-high 26 points. That may not seem like much until you realize they both only played a little over 5 minutes in the 4th combined. And you don’t need the gaudy numbers from game 1 against Houston when Bruce Brown and Aaron Gordon combine for 38 points and 6-11 from three.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Slovenian Sniper Vlatko Cancar did his best Dr. J impression from the Denver Nuggets free throw line:

Denver Nugget Vlatko Cancar takes flight from just inside Free Throw line.

Cancar did more than put up a highlight dunk as he put up 13 pts and 5 rebs on 5-6 shooting while going 3-4 from deep. Fellow bench player Ish Smith had a nice contribution of 6 pts/7 asts/2 rebs. That slash from Ish isn’t his biggest contribution, it’s his leadership and control of the floor as a vet. He showed it best after the game when he apologized to Coach Malone and the starters for not being good enough to keep them on the bench in the 4th of a 20-point win. He does a great job of being a defensive pest and keeping everyone involved and energized on offense.

I want to see a bench lineup with him and Bones, I don’t think you need to pick and choose who to have on the floor. Calvin Booth is showing exactly why Minnesota was able to poach Tim Connelly. Bruce Brown has already shown to be a free-agent steal, Ish is starting to show he was more than a throw-in for the KCP deal with the Wizards. I think Ish as the backup PG and Bones as the backup SG will make a deadly second unit once this squad is fully healthy.

The Rockets’ starters were not terrible as you can see below courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengen were most impressive, not just because Porter lead his team in scoring at 23 points, or because Sengun had a double-double. But because Porter Jr. went 5-7 from three and 8-18 overall in over 32 mins on the floor. Sengun was even more efficient with 8-12 shooting. They didn’t just pad their stats in a blowout by chucking up 25+ shots.

The Rockets look to be well coached as well as they did fight hard enough at the end to force Coach Malones hand on the Denver Nuggets bench and send his starters back on the court to insure an easy victory. This forced Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon to spend more than 30 minutes on the floor, something you don’t want in a 20-point win against a rebuilding bottom-feeder. The Rockets came into Ball Arena with the worst winning percentage in the NBA. They left with it even lower, just as it should be.

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That may seem harsh for those who root for the Rockets, but when a top team in any league faces the bottom, this is what should happen. Unfortunately, for those who root for the Denver Nuggets, that’s not how it always goes. So you can forgive those of us in Nuggets Nation that began the series with bated breath after the Rockets were coming off back-to-back 120+ point outings. The Nuggets though gave yet another reason to be optimistic about what they can do in the 2022-2023 season.

What’s Next?

@Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Dec. 2nd at 5:30 PM MST/7:30 PM EST

Denver Nuggets Clean House

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Dan and Santiago both called for a double-digit victory by the Denver Nuggets over the Houston Rockets. What they didn’t predict was a vintage Joker and Blue Arrow two-man performance.

March 30, 2021 that’s 607 days from Sunday’s game that pit the Denver Nuggets against the Houston Rockets. It’s the best of the west vs the worst. And we got to see Jamal Murray go for 30+ for the first time in 607 days. We also got to see something that took even longer at the same time, 618 days to be exact, since Joker and Blue Arrow both went for at least 30 pts. The NBA’s deadliest two-man game is back.

I and Santiago have been back and forth on when we would see this type of performance from the Nuggets franchise cornerstones. We were both wrong, but Nikola Jokic, as always, was spot on. Back in the pre-season Joker was asked when we would see the old Jamal. He said pretty plainly “I love to play with him, of course. I know he’s gonna be really bad for the next 20 games, but we’re gonna survive,” Jokic said, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

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Some tried to take it as a jab, but even Murray knew he was only being honest. After that much time away from competition you have the proverbial “rust” to knock off. Well, Sunday night showed exactly what this well oiled ore-cart could do at a mile high. Once Jokic and Murray got started down the tracks, nothing could derail them other than rest at designated stops. I said I wanted a game where the starters didn’t play in the fourth, we got exactly that. All 63 points, 14 rebs, and 13 assists by the dynamic duo came in the first three-quarters.

That left Young Justice (Ish Smith and Zeke Nnaji) coming off the bench in the fourth and closing out a double digit victory with a little flash from the backup duo themselves dishing out 25 pts/8 asts/8 rebs/2 stls/1 blk combined. Ish has been impressive in his two games back from the calf-strain that sidelined him. Blocking shots, playing sticky defense, as well as some slick passing as the backup PG in Bones Hylands absence due to a non-Covid illness. Davon Reed was another bright spot going 3-6 from deep and playing top-notch defense in 25+ mins. on the court.

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We keep talking about it, but it’s a worthy item of discussion, and that is the depth of this team. As Santiago stated, it wouldn’t be a Denver Nuggets game if there wasn’t a few names on the injury report. That was the case yet again with this one that saw Michael Porter Jr. and Jeff Green in street clothes. That has not, and seemingly will not be an excuse for this team. It’s next man up, and nobody flinches.

So down key players again, this squad responded with an oldie but a goodie that included a dominate third-quarter. This has been a bugaboo of this Denver Nuggets squad that has gotten entire segments on talk shows about it. And that is how bad this Denver Nuggets team has tended to be in the 3rd quarter of games. Houston was able to keep up in the first quarter with the Nuggets only amassing a 3-point lead 42-39. Then Houston won the 2nd quarter 29-28 despite Murray putting up over a third of his point total in the frame. I’m sure most in Denver felt a “hear-we-go-again” mentality creeping in during the halftime show.

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Then Joker exited the locker room, and he could. not. miss. Almost literally (he missed one free-throw), Jokic went 7-7 in the third including two 3-pointers for 17 of his 32 points on the night. This lead Denver to a 106-91 going into the 4th and Joker and Murray getting the rest of the night off. This was well earned and should leave them well rested for game two of this mini homestand versus the Rockets on Wednesday night.

What’s Next?

vs Houston Rockets Nov. 30 @ 7:00 PM MST/9:00 PM EST

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Preview Game 21 Rockets @ Denver Nuggets

Game two of the Denver Nuggets vs Houston Rockets will take place Wednesday at Ball arena. Denver took care of Houston with no issue in the first meeting on Monday with a 129-113 victory.

By Santiago Salazar
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A game that featured a nostalgic Jamal Murray performance. Scoring a season-high 31, the most points since returning from the ACL injury he sustained back in March of 2021. Despite Blue Arrow making an appearance, the best performance goes to two-time MVP Nikola Jokic who tallied 32. A dominating performance all around, nonetheless the reigning MVP gave praise to the Rockets’ young big man Alperen Sengun, who has idolized Jokic since before joining the league. Sengun, who led his young team with 18 pts, looks forward to the second half of this back-to-back matchup and showcasing what he learned while guarding the Serbian Sensation during Monday’s contest. If the Nuggets want the same result as Monday they will have to come up with a no-mercy approach against a team with the worst win percentage in the Western Conference. Here are three things to look out for ahead of Wednesday’s game

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Denver Nuggets Continue Road Dominance

The Denver Nuggets have quietly moved into 2nd place in the West, just a game back of Phoenix. Being 8-5 on the road after beating the Clippers in L.A. is a big reason why.

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I’m sure many will want to put an asterisk next to the Denver Nuggets win Friday night in L.A. After all both of the Clippers biggest stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were both in street clothes. The reason I reject that caveat is this Nuggets squad has had an infuriating habit of playing up, or down, to their opponents level. Friday night, despite missing one of their stars (Michael Porter Jr.) and best bench player (Bones Hyland) was a buck in that trend.

In the last two weeks we have watched this Nuggets team lose their first home game against a below average Knicks squad. Then lose 4 of 5 starters due to COVID and other illnesses in Dallas yet pull out an improbable victory over an almost fully healthy Mavericks team on the road. Then give Detroit their first road win despite all those stars returning. Only to bounce back with consecutive wins on the road against the Thunder and Clippers. So I don’t care who was or wasn’t on the court for Los Angeles, the Nuggets needed this win to improve to 12-7, first in the Northwest Division, and second in the Western Conference. They are only .5 games back of the 12-6 Phoenix Suns.

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There were no triple-doubles, even though Nikola Jokic had a 19 pt/10 reb double-double, the burden was spread around the Nuggets stars on the court. I just told you about Joker, Jamal Murray had 21 pts/9 asts/6 rebs, and Aaron Gordon lead all scorers while staffing every stat column with 29 pts/7 rebs/3 asts/2 stls/2 blks. Air Gordon was his best self against L.A. and it helped the Denver Nuggets to absolutely dominate beyond the final score of 114-104 would lead you to believe.

Even despite a typical poor 3rd and average 4th quarter that actually led L.A. to outscore Denver by two points in the second-half. You never really felt the ending was in question. John Wall lead all Clippers in scoring with 23 off the bench. No L.A. starter scored more than 16 with three not even cracking double digits. Only Marcus Morris and Terance Mann accomplished that for the Clippers.

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As you seen above, Nuggets were one Joker free throw made from three starters cracking 20. That starting five included Bruce Brown with MPJ out. That means the nuggets are now 6-2 with Brown in the starting lineup. I love Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and what he brings but I still believe the Denver Nuggets best-5 includes Bruce not KCP. Pope has been lights out from three still shooting an absurd 49.4% from deep. But Bruce is no slouch at 38.7%, where the biggest difference comes is in the paint, both offensively and defensively. With Bruce starting the Nuggets average more than 60 points in the paint per game. That drops to less than 50 with him coming off the bench. There is also an almost 20 point swing in how many points opponents score in the paint against the Nuggets starters with/without Bruce.

I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say KCP is best served off the bench, salary is secondary to winning. Bruce brings a hustle and controlled chaos to this squad no one else can match. I have a fever, and the only prescription is more Downtown Bruce Brown. He’s not just a hustler, he’s a closer with a killer instinct the Nuggets have lacked outside of peak Blue Arrow since they started this journey during a Taco Bell commercial. He leads all Nuggets in 4th quarter minutes with 128, number 2 is Joker at 107. Some may say I’m crazy if they just look at the boxscore and see his slash of 8 pts/4 asts/4 rebs/1 stl. But you can’t just watch the highlights and be able to appreciate what this man brings to the team.

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This team was dealt a tremendous blow when multiple viruses wrecked the locker room heading to Dallas. But the way they have responded as they slowly get healthy and still have Murray and Porter on pitch-counts after both missed all of 2021-2022. The way Bruce has been able to cover every hole that has ruptured in the Nuggets flagship so far this season has earned him a bigger role even when they are bak to full strength. Coach Malone said it best per Mike Singer of The Denver Post “Some guys are in the foxhole with you, some guys, like they’ve got one foot in, one foot out,” Malone said after the game. “Bruce is, he’s all the way in.”

You may ask, “Who takes his place off the bench? The natural answer might be, well who he replaces, KCP. But I posit that being a much bigger human in Vlatko Cancar. He does all you get from Bruce but with a less consistent shot. I believe Vlatko can iron out that shot if just given time on the hardwood. Here’s to hoping the Denver Nuggets are “all the way in” with Bruce as they head back home for their first home back-to-back of the season against the last-place Houston Rockets. And to them finally being over that roller-coaster of matching the opponents level and playing to their potential on a consistent basis.

What’s Next?

vs Houston Rockets at 7:00 PM MST/9:00 PM EST on November 28 & 30.

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Denver Nuggets Bounce Back vs Thunder

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After a disappointing loss to Detroit. Denver Nuggets dig deep against OKC and pull out an OT victory 131-126.

Many wondered if the Denver Nuggets would have enough energy to put up a fight in Oklahoma City after the hard-fought loss to Detroit at home Tuesday night. You could understand if the team’s stars didn’t have 100% to give on the back half of a back-to-back with a flight in between. Significant stars and role players were out as Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Bones Hyland, and Jeff Green all with a mix of non-Covid illnesses/injuries. Third-string point guard Ish Smith has been out with a right-calf strain for a while now. Which meant the Nuggets were playing will all three PGs inactive. Things got so thin 2-way player Jack White logged almost 10 mins. pitching in 2 blocks and a rebound.

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The Denver Nuggets came out of the gates hot building a 17-point lead after the first quarter horn sounded at 38-21. Then the defense decided to be optional as the Nuggets gave up 76 points while only scoring 46 of their own in the 2nd and 3rd. The Thunder had an 86.6% win probability and a 13-point lead at this point. Then the 4th began, Air Gordon was cleared for take-off, and the Denver defense came along for the ride giving up only 29 points to the Thunder in the 4th and overtime combined.

Aaron Gordon put it best after the game when he said “It was a point-guard by-committee approach.” People have spent a lot of time asking “who cares if you have a 5 that can pass?” when talking about Nikola Jokic. Well, now you see how it is so much more than a luxury. After a night where I and Coach Malone pointed out a lack of production from those around Joker, you got 30 points from Aaron Gordon, and Bruce Brown produced his first career triple-double. It wasn’t cheap either, Bruce put up a 17 pts/10 asts/13 reb slash line. More importantly, the Nuggets improve to 5-2 with Downtown Bruce Brown in the starting lineup.

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We haven’t even mentioned AG being 2 rebounds shy of a double-double, or the 19 points he scored in the 4th and OT to spark the Denver Nuggets to a comeback and the season-high 30 points we mentioned before. Oh, and the Slovenian Sniper Vlatko Čančar(chawn-char) had a career-high 20 off the bench. This was only a night after Čančar didn’t log a single minute against Detroit. We didn’t get the two-man game from Joker and Blue Arrow we love so much, but you got the next best thing with Niko and Vlatko. Despite constant double teams Jokic fell one assist shy of a triple-double, again, with a 39 pts/9 asts/10 reb slash. All of this led to a season-high 131 points for the Nuggets.

For a second consecutive night, the 3-pointer abandoned Denver for stretches. They finished 36.8% from three, but that was buoyed by a less than likely 4-5 from deep from Air Gordon. Without him, the Nuggets barely reach 30% from beyond the arch. They were better at the stripe shooting 80.5% but is still below where you would like it. You want it more in line with OKC’s 85.7%. The only truly worrying thing though is the fact that for the second consecutive night you allowed sub-.500 teams to have a 20+ point scorer off the bench. Tuesday it was Alec Burks (21), and Wednesday it was Isaiah Joe (20). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his torrid 2022 pace with a 31 pts/11 asts double-double. The most impressive part of SGA’s 31 points is he only had 12 points at the half on 4-of-7 shooting. You expect SGA to get his, you can’t allow the same lapses from the Denver bench against good teams.

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Despite all the adversity, all the injuries/illnesses, poor officiating, and going from a 17-point lead to a 13-point deficit. The Denver Nuggets improved to 3-0 against the Thunder and setting. upa season swee on January 22, 2023. There never was any quit in this team, it’s something I talked about after the Detroit game that had nine lead changes. This Nuggets squad has depth and pride never before seen in Ball Arena. No matter who is on the floor, or who isn’t, this team expects to win.

This is the second road win this week they had no business pulling off. The defensive effort might not always be as consistent as you would like. It has shown up when it’s needed most more often than not. Games like these are why you go out and get Aaron Gordon, Bruce Brown, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This trio has held opponents to less than 34% from the perimeter. You don’t like back-to-back nights of 60+ points in the paint to teams that are plainly not on the same talent level. But you will always take the notch in the win column.

What’s Next:

@L.A. Clippers Friday, Nov. 5th at 8:30 PM MST/10:30 EST

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Denver Nuggets Give Detroit First Road Win

The Denver Nuggets came in with the best home record against a Pistons team that had yet to win on the road. After a seesaw affair, Detroit squeaked out a 110-108 win.

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After one of the more improbable wins in recent memory in Dallas on Sunday night. The Denver Nuggets followed that up with a dud at home against the 3-win Detroit Pistons. It seemed like an endless uphill battle all night, every time the Nuggets pulled it close with an impressive run, Detroit always had an answer. All this after the three starters missing in Dallas (Jokic/Murray/Gordon) all returned to the lineup for the Association’s fewest 6th home game of the 2022 season.

This tweet by James L. Edwards III of The Athletic sums up just how unlikely this Denver Nuggets loss was:

We have talked a lot about the Nuggets rebounding woes, Nuggets are still undefeated when they out-rebound the other team. They are under .500 when they don’t. Even Coach Michael Malone said it after the game in his presser “They out-worked us on the glass, to me that’s the story of the game”. Rebounding has zero to do with talent, it’s 100% about hustle. To punch his point home Coach Malone advised that Detroit had 12 offensive rebounds for 17 pts. The sloppiness on the offensive end wasn’t helpful as the Nuggets committed 18 turnovers for 26 Piston points.

The Nuggets did get some offensive production as six players left Ball Arena in double digits. Led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic who fell one rebound short of a triple-double with a 31 pt/10 asts/9 reb slash. But the defense that held Luka Doncic and Co. to just 97 in Dallas, was non-existent for too many stretches Tuesday evening. The Pistons were even missing their most dangerous scorer in Cade Cunningham yet still managed to shoot over 50% from the field for only the second time all season.

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There were nine lead changes in this game, while lead changes are not abnormal in basketball, this is a lot in a game where the trailing team was 12-point home favorites against a team winless on the road. This is made possible when your depth disappoints. Many will point to Bones Hyland not playing in the second half (non-Covid illness) as why Detroit’s bench outscored the Denver Nuggets bench 53-22. In comparison to the Nuggets’ six players in double digits, Detroit only had 4. Where it gets to Detroit getting so much from the bench as opposed to the Nuggets. Detroit had 10 players make at least two buckets, the Nuggets only had seven. The depth that impressed in Dallas dried up in Denver.

This is not a five-alarm fire, it’s not even a candle glow. This is the first half of a back-to-back that has Denver flying from DIA to Oklahoma City after the game for a 6:00 pm tip-off. You hate to call this a trap game as you assume all three starters that returned gave it their all and the focus was there to almost erase a 15-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining to almost force OT on a last-second desperation shot that came up just short by Aaron Gordon off an intentional free-throw miss by Jamal Murray with 3.4 seconds left.

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Speaking of missed free throws, missing nine continues a troubling trend for the Nuggets. The Denver Nuggets are 24th in the NBA in free-throw percentage at a paltry 75.5%. Here’s a quick reminder they only lost by two points. Free throws are named thus for a very obvious reason. How a team can shoot 40.9% (1st) from three and 49.2% (2nd) from the field and be so bad from the charity stripe is staggeringly mind-bending. I have a feeling Coach Malone is going to emphasize both free-throw shooting and hustle on the boards over the next several practices. This is a team full of vets that haven’t let a bad outing snowball into bad outings. Just look at the responses from losses to the Utah Jazz and L.A. Lakers as examples of how this team tends to bounce back. Here’s to believing that trend is the one that continues against the Thunder.

What’s Next:

@Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 6:00 PM MST/8:00 PM EST

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Denver Nuggets Defense Falters Against Celtics

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Denver Nuggets start the road swing strong at 3-0, then run off a cliff in New England. After a thrilling 122-119 comeback win against Indiana on Wednesday, the Nuggets get out-rebounded and out-hustled defensively by Boston losing 131-112.

The last time we spoke here the Denver Nuggets were pwned by Portland. But, if you listen to me and Santiago on the Nug Life Podcast and followed my picks you should be sitting pretty this week. I advised that the Nuggets would start 3-0 and then run out of steam on the due east swing by the time they reached Boston. I of course was hoping to be wrong, but a 3-1 start and no worse than a 4-2 week long road trip is nothing to snuff at. These are humans, after all, their energy is finite, especially with no comforts of home.

Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics set the tone early hitting his first 10 shots before finally bricking a lay-up. For all the credit you want to give Boston for playing a solid game, you can’t help but blame lackluster effort on the glass by the Denver Nuggets within the same breath. Nothing gives this sentiment life like the video below:

Denver Nuggets vs Boston Celtics Highlight

That is not NBA basketball, that is Rec-League at best. The Nuggets got away with some bad quarters against inferior rosters of San Antonio and Indiana. You can’t have those extended lapses against teams like Boston and expect to win. Compounding the issue for the Nuggets was the fact they started so poorly falling to a 33-25 deficit by the end of the first. The Celtics started the game with a 61.9% chance of winning, which was the lowest that probability ever fell. The Nuggets allowed Brown and Co. to deliver no less than 31 points in every quarter.

The Celtics had three players exceed 20 points in the aforementioned Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. Grant Williams’ 13 made it 4-out-of-5 Boston starters with double-digit points. Former CU Buff Derrick White and Payton Pritchard had 10 and 11 off the bench respectively. The Nuggets’ offense from the early portion of the road trip was only seen in spurts, not nearly good enough against the defending Eastern Conference Champions.

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For those that have been calling to see more Joker, you may have to argue we have seen too much over the last two contests. He has played almost the entire second half of both with four fouls. Jokic still managed to be the leading scorer in both games. He had 24 against the Pacers and 29 on Friday night. Unlike in Indiana where Nikola Jokic had five teammates join him with at least 15 points and a double-double by Aaron Gordon. On Friday night in Boston, he only had 3. Though Jamal Murray (14 pts/10 assists) and Bruce Brown (16 pts/10 rebs.) added double-doubles. The most telling stat though is 46-38, that’s how the Nuggets were out-rebounded by Boston. The Celtics never quit and the Nuggets never started.

It is only game 12 of 82, you can’t reasonably expect the energy level to be consistent over that many minutes on the floor. But the number one telling stat of the early season for Denver has been rebounding. When the Nuggets win the battle on the glass they are 7-0, they are 1-4 when they don’t. Although that seems pretty cut and dry, there is some nuance here to consider but is a storyline worth watching. We will see if a day off Saturday can re-energize this Denver Nuggets squad for another tough test in Chi-To

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What’s Next:

@ Chicago Bulls, Sunday, November 13 at 6:00 PM MST/8:00 PM EST

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Portland Pwns Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets start hot, Anfernee Simons dominates third, and Portland pwns the Nuggets on Monday night.

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If you turned the tv off after the first, you would have to imagine Denver dominated Portland. The Denver Nuggets jumped out to as much as a 13-point lead in the opening quarter, before settling on a 31-23 lead to end it. Air Gordon was on-time for all take-offs, MPJ was stroking from a distance, and Joker was doing vintage facilitating circus acts. Then the wheels fell off.

In the 2nd quarter, you had a taste of what was to come as the Trailblazers shaved 2 off the lead by winning the quarter scoring 32 to Denver’s 30. The Nuggets still had a lead though and were competitive. No way a Blazers squad on the second leg of a back-to-back could out-work the boys from a mile high, right?

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Anfernee Simons entered the locker room with 7 of the Blazers 55 points, he came out in the third and showed Blazers wasn’t just the nickname of his club. The fourth-year Shooting Guard went unconscious in the 3rd-quarter. Simons had 22-points, and went 6-7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the third alone. He would finish the night with 29 pts/3 reb/5 ast, second only to Damian Lillard in scoring who had 31. Denver’s defense can’t hope to contend for championships if they can’t stem the tide of a 4th-year player that averaged 10 points per game on 40% shooting in his career coming into Monday night. But hats off to the TrailBlazers for riding the wave all the way to the shoreline.

Look at this shooting chart for Simons in that third frame courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

Anfernee Simons 3rd-Quarter Shot Chart vs Denver Nuggets Monday Oct. 24, 2022 via Yahoo! Sports

The Denver Nuggets has no answer for Simons and the Blazers offense until it was too late as Portland would take the lead 99-86 with a 44-point third. Denver could only muster 25 points in the quarter as a team. As I told you all on the latest Nug Life Podcast, the Nuggets cannot win with Aaron Gordon as the leading scorer on a consistent basis. Four games into the season, two of them Gordon has lead the Nuggets in scoring, both are losses. Small sample yes, but worth watching for vindication. We love AG here at TAI42, but he is a supporting actor, not the lead. Michael Porter Jr. was solid again with 18 points, and Bones was busy with 15 of his own. No other Nugget reached double-digits. Yes that means Joker didn’t either.

After the 78th triple-double of his career against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nikola Jokic managed a 9/9/9 line. Your back-to-back MVP cannot disappear like that, regardless of foul trouble. The Nuggets need to stop pleading to the refs for call, albeit deservedly so, and play through the whistle. The lack of hustle has been unacceptable in their two losses, and at times in their two wins. The defensive effort will be key going forward. Can they rebound at home against a poor-shooting Lakers squad? That seems like their best shot.

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What’s Next?

vs L.A. Lakers Wed Oct. 26 @ 8:00 PM MST

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