The Morning After: 7 takeaways from Denver Nuggets’ loss to Portland Trail Blazers

The Morning After: 7 takeaways from Denver Nuggets’ loss to Portland Trail Blazers

The Denver Nuggets limped through their worst offensive performance of the season Monday night in a 99-82 road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Here are seven takeaways from the game:

1. Not Nikola’s Night. It’s rare when Nikola Jokic is the only Nugget not in double figures. He finished with six points to halt his double-double streak at three games. The recently named Western Conference Player of the Week did contribute seven rebounds and three assists and was one of two Nuggets to have a plus/minus that was not negative (zero). Trey Lyles was the other, and he only played the final 4:13.

2. Backcourt struggles. Early on, it looked like the Nuggets’ new-look starting backcourt of Jamal Murray and Will Barton (filling in for an injured Gary Harris) was picking up right where it left off against Orlando, starting 4-of-5 from the floor for nine points to help the Nuggets build a seven-point first-quarter lead. But that combo went just 8-of-26 (including 2-of-11 from 3-point range) after that. Murray also had a season-high six turnovers.

3. Millsap from deep. Paul Millsap tried to keep Denver within striking distance with a season-high five 3-pointers, the bulk of his 18 points. He went 6-of-16 overall and added five rebounds and three turnovers. He also picked up two early fouls, which messed up Denver’s rotation and was called for a technical in the fourth quarter for arguing with an official.

4. About that rotation. The Nuggets started the second quarter with the following lineup: Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Richard Jefferson, Millsap and Kenneth Faried. It’s safe to say that look has not been deployed during a game at any other point this season. And it did not go well Monday night, with Portland starting the period on a 16-6 run before Nuggets coach Michael Malone subbed his starters back in. That group did put together a nice spurt, with a Murray pull-up jumper getting the Nuggets within 50-47 in the final two minutes. Two Wilson Chandler free throws also trimmed the Trail Blazers’ advantage to three points early in the third quarter, but that was as close as Denver would get.

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5. Chandler solid. Chandler, who has struggled with consistency as a new starter this season, quietly put together a nice line: 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds and six assists.

6. Hey, Nurk. Malone and Nuggets players were very short when asked about former Denver big man Jusuf Nurkic. Jokic said after the game that he thought Nurkic shared the ball more and was aggressive defensively. Nurkic also spent a lot of time catching up with Denver people during pregame warm-ups, including Harris.

7. Portlandia. As many of you know, I moved to Denver from Portland, where I spent the past 3 1/2 years covering college football. I will always adore this city, even on crisp and rainy November days. It was a joy to reunite with tons of friends and former co-workers in a short amount of time, and to cover a game in one of the NBA’s best environments. Pro tip for future Portland visitors: Go to the restaurant called Imperial downtown and order the fried chicken. It’s was my first stop after arriving in town because it’s life-changing. Also: It’s very bizarre to stay in a hotel in a place you used to live.

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