LAS VEGAS — Malik Beasley scored a game-high 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting and Juancho Hernangomez added 18 points and 7 rebounds, but the Nuggets couldn’t overcome a sluggish start as they fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 90-71 and 0-2 in Summer League play.
“Same story. Same story as the other night,”coach Micah Nori said. “Just turnovers. We turned it over 23 times for 23 points and we allowed them 11 offensive rebounds.”
Here’s what stood out in Denver’s second Summer League matchup:
New starting 5
Nori adjusted his starting lineup after a lackluster performance in game one but the change didn’t help the Nuggets much in the early going against Minnesota. Nori inserted Nikola Radicevic at the point and Robert Carter Jr, who was coming off a 17-point, 6-rebounds game against Houston on Friday at center, but Denver still found themselves down 11-5 at the game’s first stoppage. The Nuggets racked up four turnovers in the game’s first eight possessions.
“We wanted to make sure (Carter) and Sims got some minutes today,” Nori said. “That’s why you saw Petr at the four. At the point guard situation, they’re both our guys so I’m pretty much going to alternate all the way through, Nikola-Monte-Nikola-Monte.”
We’ll see if Nori opts for another change to try and jump start Denver’s offense Monday against Toronto.
Henry Sims,, 27, who’s played for four NBA teams the past five seasons, played 22 minutes and scored nine points, with four rebounds, after not seeing the floor in the Nuggets’ opener.
Sims actually logged 73 games (32 starts) for Philadelphia during the 2014-15 season and averaged eight points and nearly five rebounds. Expect Sims to play around that same amount on Monday.
Beasley finds his stroke
After shooting 12-for-30 from the field and just 3-for-12 from three-point territory in Denver’s Friday night loss to the Rockets, Beasley got back on track against Minnesota. He had a strong first half, scoring 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, and finished with a game-high 20 points.
“A little bit better,” Beasley said of his performance. “Still could play better defense. Could attack the hole a little more. I didn’t get any calls this time but could have kept attacking, I would have gotten calls later if I kept going.”
Beasley has a lot to prove this summer after a rookie season where he bounced back and forth between Denver and the D-League, but he has been in the gym all off-season, readying for potentially a bigger role in year two.
“He kind of let the game come to him a little more,” Nori said. “Then late in the game, which you can’t fault him at all, his just trying to make some things happen and get us back (into the game).”
Waiting on Lydon
Lydon, the 24th overall pick in June’s draft has had a quiet opening two games at Summer League. The rookie scored six points on 2-for-6 shooting against the Rockets and only attempted five field goals today. Lydon finished with two points on 1-for-5 shooting.
“He can really shoot the basketball so we got to free him up,” Nori said. “The one thing he can do is catch-and-shoot.”
Lydon won’t be counted on for much production during his rookie year as he’s clearly behind a cast of power forwards in the rotation including Paul Millsap, Kenneth Faried, Trey Lyles, Darrell Arthur and even Hernangomez, but Denver will surely look to get him more open looks throughout the rest of their time in Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old is holding his own on defense and seems to be adjusting well to the man-to-man scheme played at the NBA level after playing exclusively zone in his two years at Syracuse.
“To a fault almost, he’s letting the game come to him almost too much,” Noris said. “But I’ve got to do a much better job of getting him involved in the action and getting some shots for him.”
Where’s the D?
Coming into tonight’s match-up, just one team at Summer League had crossed the 100-point threshold, with Houston scoring 102 against the Nuggets Friday. Tonight, Minnesota, who only reached 72 points in their opener, scored 90.
“Communicating. We haven’t been with each other a lot so our communication skills aren’t the best,” Beasley said of how to improve on defense. “It starts from the bench, or the coaches, or me being a leader and me and Juancho being leaders and talking more.”
The Nuggets face the Toronto Raptors on Monday (6 p.m. MT, ESPNU).