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The Denver Nuggets came off another win against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 13th only to once again drop the next game. The Nuggets were sitting pretty above .500 with a 5-4 record, looking to continue a three-game winning streak against Phoenix; the Suns had other plans and rolled 105-81.
Despite it being their second game of a back to back, the Denver Nuggets came out with plenty of energy as they open the game up on a 7-2 run. Sadly instead of pushing the pedal to the medal, they let off the gas and allowed the Suns to respond with a 10-2 run of their own before Mike Malone called a timeout.
Malone responded with a small ball line-up of Nelson, Harris, Barton, Gallinari and Faried. It didn’t help one bit as the Suns continued their onslaught scoring another 10 points before the Nuggets managed to score once on a Jameer Nelson free throw.
The Suns were effective with their small ball line-up because they had a giant presence in the middle with Tyson Chandler and then Alex Len off the bench. The Nuggets simply did not have that in Faried. Jusuf Nurkic will allow the Nuggets to play small much more effectively once he gets back, and I believe Nikola Jokic deserves more time with the starters as well.
The Phoenix Suns made more 3-pointers (2-3) in the first quarter than the Nuggets (1-12) despite taking a fourth of the attempts. Simply embarrassing.
End of first: Suns up 27-13.
The Nuggets kept the quarter relatively close before the Suns put their starters in and blew the lead wide open. The Nuggets struggled to establish their identity and could not throw a basketball into the ocean (please shield your child’s eyes) 11-50 from the field and 2-20 from beyond the arc.
The Nuggets were down by just 30 before the Suns connected on a baseline out-of-bounds lob play to Tyson Chandler with under a second left. Disgraceful.
The Nuggets end the half with one team assist and 10 turnovers.
End of second: 60-28 all Suns.
Third Quarter – Starters: Mudiay, Harris, Barton, Gallinari, Hickson
Kenneth Faried did not return from the locker room due to back spasms.
The Nuggets came out with a bit more energy in the second half, but the Suns continued their hot shooting and kept Denver at bay. The game was just completely lost at that point as Eric Bledsoe operated at will against the Nuggets.
End of third: Suns 88-54
Fourth Quarter – Starters: Nelson, Foye, Barton, Kostas Papanikolaou, Jokic
The entire fourth quarter felt like a dress reherseal as both teams were going through the movements until the final buzzer. Jokic continued to impress and make his case for more minutes. I desperately wanted to see how well Jokic would play with the starters. We can dream one day of a Gallinari, Jokic, Nurkic trio.
The Suns continued to dare the Nuggets to shoot off of picks resulting in countless mid-range jumpers. That was the entire fourth quarter.
Final: Suns win 105-81.
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ | Nov. 14th | Regular Season Game 10 (5-5)
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Will Barton with a nice transition dunk
Faried with an early put-back slam
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME
The turning point of the game happened in the second quarter when the Suns took the score from “tough game” to “blowout”. The Suns went on multiple runs including a 14-0 streak to end the first half.
BY THE NUMBERS
Awful numbers across the board aside from Barton as he continued to provide a vital spark off the bench with a team-high 19 points.
Shooting woes continued to plague the team and will inhibit the Nuggets from having any real, sustained success until they figure out a solution. It created a catch-22 situation where the Suns were able to sink back into the paint, prevented the Nuggets from scoring inside and kept them shooting more and more jumpers. The Nuggets are getting a reputation for allowing teams to go under picks and not making them pay, something that can cripple offenses in a hurry. I keep having to reiterate myself — Jokic needs more playing time.
The Nuggets will need to take a long hard look in the mirror and make sure a night like tonight never happens again. The team is still .500 on the season sitting at 5-5 but is now reaching an absolutely brutal stretch of games including more Suns, the Warriors, Clippers and Spurs. If the Nuggets manage to stay at .500 through that stretch, it bodes well for the Nuggets’ lofty goal of dare we say… the playoffs.
The Nuggets fly to The Big Easy and try to rebound from a tough loss with a match-up against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans and their star Anthony Davis. Tip-off is at the Smoothie King Center on Tuesday Nov. 17th, 6:00 MT.