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LINCOLN, Neb. — Head Coach Michael Malone announced before the game that Emmanuel Mudiay, Jusuf Nurkic, Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton would be taking the night off. This meant for the most part that Denver’s bench players and training camp invites would face off against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was playing a full and healthy rotation. The difference in talent showed tonight as the Nuggets fell to the Timberwolves 105-88.
Denver struggled to get out of their own way throughout much of a first half that saw the Nuggets turn the ball over 15 times and commit 19 personal fouls. Going into the break, Denver trailed by a score of 52-48.
It did not get much better in the third quarter as fouls and turnovers continued to plague the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic fouled out just one minute into the second half and the wheels seemed to come off the bus for the Nuggets at that point. Minnesota dominated the quarter and finished it with a commanding 81-64 lead.
From that point on, Minnesota went into cruise control and the Nuggets never seriously threatened to make a comeback. The Timberwolves took advantage of an inexperienced Nuggets lineup and won the game by a score of 105-88. Denver committed a preseason high 25 turnovers.
Nate Wolters, JaKarr Sampson, Axel Toupane and D.J. Kennedy all made their preseason debuts tonight. Toupane played the best of the foursome and finished the night with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Sampson also had some positive moments and finished with ten points and three rebounds. Wolters and Kennedy both struggled, finishing with seven and four points respectively.
Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska | Oct. 12, 2016 | Preseason game No. 4
NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME
Axel Toupane made the most of his opportunity to convince Malone and general manager Tim Connelly that he deserves to stick around in Denver. He played with effort and heart tonight, even well after the game got out of hand for the Nuggets. Look for him to build off this performance heading into the final week of preseason action.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Nuggets ball movement gets Murray the open look from three
Wolters hits the 18-foot runner
Toupane gets out in transition
BY THE NUMBERS
This was a night to forget for the Nuggets. Turnovers, unnecessary fouls and a lack of mental focus plagued Denver tonight in Middle America. With so many new faces and new lineup combinations the struggle was not unforeseen. However, it seemed that the Nuggets were uninspired and their own worst enemy tonight. These kind of efforts, preseason or not, are unbecoming for a team attempting to recreate themselves.
The Nuggets will fly back to Denver and practice tomorrow before taking on the Golden State Warriors at Pepsi Center Friday night. Denver will then face Portland and Oklahoma City on the road before closing out the preseason at home against Dallas on October 21.