The Denver Nuggets entered Moda Center Sunday on what could be described as a scheduled loss.
Denver lost a hard fought and physical game against the Detroit Pistons Saturday night and had to travel to Portland to face the Trailblazers who were coming off a rest day. Defeating the Trailblazers was going to be a tall task especially with the injuries the Nuggets are dealing with and proved to be one, as Denver dropped their fourth straight game, a 112-105 loss to Portland.
Tonight was a story of two halves. In the first, the Nuggets did everything they needed to do to leave with a win. They only turned the ball over a meager six times and held the hot-shooting Trailblazers to just 3-14 from beyond the arc. The Nuggets led after one quarter 28-20 behind Kenneth Faried's energy and that lead ballooned to 17 with around five minutes remaining in the half. The Nuggets proceeded to let off the gas towards the end of the second quarter and went into halftime with a 57-50 lead behind Faried's 15 points and eight rebounds.
Once the third quarter began it was obvious that the fatigue of a treacherous start of the year and tonight's back-to-back was setting in. The controlled and polished Nuggets of the first half were no more and after only having six turnovers throughout the entire first half they came out and gave the ball away nine times in the third quarter alone. The Trailblazers won the third quarter 36-15 and all of a sudden led 86-72 heading into the fourth.
The Nuggets never got within striking distance until it was too late and finished most of the fourth quarter playing their rookies. Denver finished with 18 turnovers, 12 of which came in the second half. The lone highlight for Denver in the fourth was Jamal Murray, who hit three shots from behind the arc in the final 1:30 of the game on his way to a career-high 19 points.
Injuries remained an issue and the Nuggets were without the services of Darrell Arthur, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Jarnell Stokes tonight. The loss of Harris was felt the most with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combining for 53 of the Trailblazers 112 total points. Mudiay also looked much less comfortable without his partner in the backcourt.
The injuries in the Nuggets' backcourt did allow for Murray to continue getting extended minutes and he had his best scoring night as a Nugget. Regardless of the fact that Murray scored a lot in garbage time, he put up 17 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and hit five of his nine 3-point attempts. Although, he did contribute to the turnover epidemic by having six of his own tonight.
Malone had some kind words for the rookie after his career night.
Mona Center, Portland, Oregon | November 13, 2016 | Game No. 10
NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME
Faried came out of the gate with his usual hustle plays while injecting energy into the Nuggets' starting unit. By the end of the first quarter Faried accumulated 15 points and seven rebounds and was the reason the Nuggets won the quarter for only the second time this season. Faried finished the night with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and four big time blocks. Whether it was defense or offense, Faried left it all on the court tonight.
This season Mudiay has 32 assists to 44 turnovers and has had only one game in which he recorded over four assists. For whatever reason, Mudiay's playmaking has vanished while his turnovers have increased. If Mudiay is to make up for his lack of shooting he needs to be able to make plays for others and make his teammates better when he is on the court. So far none of that has come to fruition and Mudiay is still looking for answers. He needs a big bounce-back performance now more than ever.
The Nuggets begin a needed four-game homestead starting against the Phoenix Suns and their young sharpshooter Devin Booker. Denver then faces Toronto, Utah and Chicago, all at Pepsi Center.