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Nuggets start slow, fail to finish in loss to Nets

T.J. McBride Avatar
December 8, 2016

 

The Denver Nuggets came into Barclays Center desperate to start stacking up wins and stay relevant in the Western Conference playoff race. They started slow and lethargic but cut a 29-point deficit down to three points thanks to a blistering run to end the third and start the fourth quarters. The Nuggets, somewhat predictably, faltered late once again by failing to get the ball in-bounds with a chance to tie and 13.8 seconds on the clock, dropping another winnable game, this time to the Nets 116-111.

Denver started the first half the same way they have all year – lacking energy and defensive intensity. The starting-five of the Nuggets, which consists of Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic, has struggled to play together all season.

This year they have logged 57 minutes together and are an atrocious -34.9 net rating as a unit. They quickly gave up four turnovers to start the game and the Nuggets found themselves quickly down 13-2.

The Nuggets bench continued doing what they could to keep the Nuggets afloat but Denver ended up allowing the Nets, one of the worst offensive teams in the Association, to score 68 points on 53 percent from the field and 55 percent from distance in the first half. The Nuggets did not help themselves by giving up ten first half turnovers that led to 15 points for Brooklyn.

In the first half, the Nuggets were paced by Nurkic, who ended up with 15 points and three rebounds, and Barton, who finished the night with 15 points, nine rebounds and six turnovers. The Nets got scoring from everywhere with five players scoring in double-figures in the first half alone and ended up leading the Nuggets 68-53 at the end of the second quarter.

Things were not the same to start the 2nd half. Instead of Malone sticking with Faried as the staring power forward he elected to slide Darrell Arthur, who had just three points in the contest, into the starting lineup (more on this later). The Nets proceeded to extend their lead to 25 to start the third quarter prompting Malone to call a timeout.

The Nuggets went from being down 29 at one point in the third quarter to down just 17 entering the fourth after Malone received a technical and was ejected for arguing a foul.

Denver kept on the gas and used a 13-0 run to bring the score to within 12 points. Nikola Jokic continued his run as one of the Nuggets’ best players and finished his first game back with a highly efficient 14 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists in just 21 minutes.

Nuggets veterans also were big as Denver clawed their way back into the game. Jameer Nelson finished with 14 points, five rebounds ,and five assists, while Wilson Chandler had a huge night with 27 points and 15 rebounds.

After only playing four minutes in the 1st quarter Faried finally found himself back on the court to start the fourth period and finished the game with four points and five rebounds in just 11 minutes. The Nuggets managed to get the game to within three points behind a 32-8 run and their relentless bench unit of Nelson, Chandler, Jokic, Faried and Murray.

The Nuggets fought to overcome a seemingly insurmountable 29-point deficit and had a chance to tie the game with 13.8 seconds left but Nelson failed to inbound the ball and the Nuggets lose another game by starting slow and failing to execute late. Sean Kilpatrick gets his revenge on the Nuggets and had 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists on the night.

FOOTNOTES

Malone elected to start Arthur in the second half over Faried.

“Kenneth is not injured, it was more of a coach’s decision,” Malone said postgame.

The switch did not immediately pay dividends but Arthur is seemingly the right guy to slide into the starting five. Mudiay needs as many shooters around him as possible, which Arthur provides, and Jokic needs a frontcourt player who can space the floor as well as switch defensively onto the perimeter. Do not be surprised to see Arthur starting in the very near future.

“We have to look at everything,” Malone said after the game regarding his starting lineup. “Forget the wins and losses. It’s how we played. We’ll look at starting groups and combinations..”

WHERE/WHEN

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York | Regular Season Game No. 22

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Chandler scored 27 points on 10-24 shooting and 6-11 from beyond the arc while adding 15 rebounds and a steal to the mix. Right now Chandler is the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year and is the Nuggets best player while leading the team in scoring 18.6 points per game.

BY THE NUMBERS

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PLAYS OF THE GAME

Mudiay with the tough finish.

Gallinari with the strong take to the rim.

Barton with the nice jumper from the elbow.

Murray with the baseline bank-shot.

Barton with the pretty reverse lay-up.

Chandler with the long three-point basket.

Murray with the jab-step three-pointer.

Faried with the push-shot off the great pass from Murray.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Nuggets are now half way through their six-game road trip and head to Washington D.C. to take on John Wall and the reeling Wizards in a game both teams desperately need to win.

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