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Nuggets' starters impress in preseason finale vs. Bulls

Harrison Wind Avatar
October 13, 2018

A week after Nuggets coach Michael Malone called his vaunted starting lineup “somewhat disjointed” after an unimpressive 96-88 win over the Perth Wildcats, Denver first five proved Friday against Chicago that they’re locked and loaded for the regular season beginning Oct. 17 against the Clippers.

In three quarters of action, the Nuggets first five featuring Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic spotted Denver’s bench a 10-point lead. Murray finished the night with a team-high 17 points. His backcourt partner Gary Harris added 18 points on 6-10 shooting. Barton added 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Millsap and Jokic 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Nuggets’ starting lineup was a plus-11 in their preseason finale.

That 10-point advantage was barely enough for the Nuggets’ bench, who played the entire fourth quarters as the starters rested and eeked out a 98-93 win. Denver finishes the preseason 4-1.

It wasn’t just what the Nuggets’ starting lineup did on offense. Their defense was also impressive.

Due to heavy ball pressure applied by the Nuggets’ guards, Denver scored 20 points off 19 Chicago turnovers and registered 13 steals. Those 13 steals would have been tied for the third-most the Nuggets recorded during the 2017-18 season. Murray finished with five steals. Harris, Barton, and Jokic had two each.

In what was billed as Denver’s dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Nuggets played 10 players regular rotation minutes. Trey Lyles, who’s been one of the stories of training camp, continued to play well and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Malik Beasley, Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris and Juancho Hernangomez rounded out Denver’s rotation. The one surprising omission from Denver’s rotation was Torrey Craig.

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