Paul Millsap stood at his locker following the Denver Nuggets’ 122-120 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers — his first game in more than three months — and assured anyone willing to listen that Denver will fix its issues on the defensive end of the floor that allowed the Clippers to mount a 19-point second half comeback and stun the Nuggets on Tuesday.

“Trust me, we will get better on the defensive end,” Millsap said. “Tonight was a prime example of what we need to do to get better.”

Millsap had watched in street clothes as the Nuggets executed flawlessly on offense over the past few months and won 10 of their last 14 games. However, Denver’s defense struggled over that stretch and its lack of attention to detail on defense cost them against Los Angeles. It took just one postgame comment from the Nuggets’ de facto leader to make it clear where the team’s focus would lie over the next few days.

In his return, Millsap performed about as well as the Nuggets could have hoped for after missing 44 games. His play tailed off as the game wore on — as expected after missing so much time — but over the game’s first two quarters, he captained Denver to one of its best defensive halves of the season.

Here’s how.

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Harrison Wind

Harrison Wind is the Denver Nuggets beat reporter for DNVR Nuggets. The University of Colorado alum grew up in Boulder and has covered the Nuggets for the last three seasons. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Nuggets podcast.