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Warriors edge Nuggets 129-128 in overtime as Denver's twin towers frontcourt impresses

Harrison Wind Avatar
October 15, 2016

 

DENVER, Colo. – The Denver Nuggets twin towers frontcourt featuring Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic faced its most significant test to date, as the Nuggets took on the Golden State Warriors in Denver’s first home preseason game of the 2016-17 preseason.

Despite a 129-128 overtime loss, they passed with flying colors.

The “Jurkic” frontcourt finished with a +7 plus-minus in roughly 17 minutes of action and even outscored Golden State’s vaunted “Death Lineup” 13-6 during the last five minutes of the second quarter. Jokic and Nurkic combined for 23 points on 10-20 shooting, and 17 rebounds. The Nuggets ended up out-rebounding the Warriors 60-52 on the night.

“They went to their really small lineup end of the second quarter and we didn’t chase it. We stayed big and we actually wound up outscoring that small ball lineup,” Malone said. “You’re gut is telling you, we got to go small, we got to go small, but we gave Jokic and Nurkic a chance to play and we were effective we hurt them on the glass and we did some good things.”

Danilo Gallinari, however, refused to be out shined by the Nuggets frontcourt. Gallinari scored a team-high 19 points on 7-8 shooting including a perfect 4-4 from three. What was special from Gallinari tonight, besides his scoring, was how he got his points on offense. The swingman took shots within the flow of the offense and didn’t fall into too many isolation situations like he became accustomed to last season.

“That’s something that we’re trying to have more of,” Malone said of players scoring within the flow of the offense. “We don’t want one guy holding it and holding it and holding it. We become easy to guard when that happens. You look at his numbers, he took eight shots tonight, had 19 points. So efficient. He had 8 rebounds, three assists. He’s playing the right way.”

The Nuggets took a 59-54 lead into the half. Yet, the Warriors did not go away quietly. Stephen Curry came out of the break guns blazing, scoring 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter. Denver managed to survive Curry’s onslaught and took a 89-85 lead into the fourth.

A furious Golden State fourth-quarter rally while both team’s bench units were on the court brought the Warriors to within two with just under a minute left to play. From there Jamal Murray nailed a three, but Golden State’s promising rookie Patrick McCaw answered with a deep three of his own. McCaw was impressive in his own right for the Warriors, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. Murray, who went back and forth down the stretch with McCaw, couldn’t get a shot off at the other end and preseason overtime’s black clouds drifted over Pepsi Center like a 6 PM Denver thunderstorm.

After Golden State reserve guard Phil Pressey missed two free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining and the Warriors up one, Murray found Jarnell Stokes inside on a nice drive and dish to put the Nuggets up one. However, McCaw would have the last laugh. The second-round pick’s driving layup at the buzzer gave the Warriors a thrilling preseason win.

Despite the loss, Murray was impressive tonight. The rookie made two three’s in the first half and was crafty in the pick-and-roll. He also showed nice chemistry with Kenneth Faried, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, and Denver’s second unit.

“He’s confident, he’s not afraid of the moment,” Malone said of Murray. “I think his biggest challenge right now, he does too much at times. He over-dribbles at times and he knows that. We have to get him to be a little more efficient with his game. He steps up and he makes big shots and he makes big plays. I think that speaks to his upbringing, his confidence, and the fact that he’s ready for the moment.”

Footnotes: Emmanuel Mudiay (nine points, two assists in 20 minutes) sprained his right ankle in the third quarter after coming down on awkwardly following an acrobatic layup. He did not return to the game. The right ankle was the same one Mudiay sprained last season that caused him to miss 14 games.

Jarnell Stokes made a case for Denver’s 15th roster spot. The reserve big man scored 16 points (5-5 shooting) and grabbed four rebounds in 12:37 of playing time. He also almost had the game-winning layup on a crafty dish from Murray inside.

Juancho Hernangomez continues to play significant minutes with Darrell Arthur sidelined and impressed again tonight. The No. 15 pick finished with eight points and five rebounds in just over 27 minutes, but was all over the floor.

WHERE/WHEN

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado | October 14 2016 | Preseason Game No. 5

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Gallinari had his best and most efficient game of the preseason tonight. 7-8 from the field, 4-4 from 3-point range, and eight rebounds. Gallinari also got most of his points in the flow of the offense like Malone mentioned postgame. We didn’t see that much ISO Gallo tonight, like we saw quite often last year.

BY THE NUMBERS

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(NBA.com)

QUOTE OF THE GAME

Malone on Hernangomez, the “wild stallion”:

“I think for all of our young guys, the greatest advice I can give all of them is slow down. I think when you’re young and you come into the NBA, you try to do so much. You try to showcase everything you can do and sometimes, take what the game is giving to you. Don’t fight the game. What I love about Juancho is he’s like a wild stallion. Just plays hard man. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell he’s going to do, but I know he’s going to do it hard. Attack the basket, rebound, look to make a play. As he continues to get settles becasue I put myself in his shoes there’s a lot coming at him, he’s going to be a hell of a player.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The Nuggets head out on a two-game road trip to Portland and Oklahoma City before returning to Pepsi Center for their last preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday October 21. Denver opens the regular season on the road in New Orleans on October 26.

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