The Nuggets played the Kings tonight in the second night of a back to back, ultimately falling to them 120-113. While the game had a promising start, the end of the game showed that the Nuggets weren’t ready to play a full 48, even when they knew that the 8th seed was on the line. They now sit 1.5 behind the Kings at the 10th spot in the Western Conference.
In the first quarter, the Kings (and two of their three former Nuggets) outscored the Nuggets 29-28 and continued that into the 2nd when they, once again, outscored the Nuggets 31-23. At the half, the Kings led the Nuggets by 11, 60-51. You would think that the Nuggets would come back in the 3rd ready to attack the paint and put a stop to DeMarcus Cousins and while they came close, the Nuggets were once again outscored 37-34. In the final quarter of the game, the Nuggets came in ready to fight but that fight wasn’t enough as they were outscored again 26-25.
The Kings are a team that average just under 102 points per game but the Nuggets gave them 120. Just last Friday night, the Nuggets gave 124 points to a team that averages 99 ppg. What does this tell us? That the Nuggets continue to lack on the defensive end of the court. While it was expected that DMC was going to put in work tonight, the Nuggets weren’t ready to put up the fight against him and that showed when he led all scorers with 31 points.
Our Nuggets were led in scoring tonight by Danilo Gallinari with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. We shot 49.4% from the field, 47.4% from three-point land and 100% from the line. The Kings shot 52.3% from the field, 37.9% from downtown, and 94.4% from the line and were led by Cousins with 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
A big post-game topic in the locker room was the lack of defense (something that I continue to discuss in game previews and won’t stop until I see a change). Coach Malone called the Nuggets the worst defensive team in the league and Gallo agreed when he stood by for a post-game interview.
“I thought our offense was very good—our defense was not. If you wanna win games in the NBA, you gotta bring your defense night in and night out and we didn’t do it tonight.” -Gallo
When asked if he thought tonights loss was more mental or physical, Emmanuel Mudiay replied with “it’s mental but that isn’t an excuse.”
Regardless of tonights loss, the Rooster doesn’t think that it’s a turning point to kiss the playoffs goodbye. He, and every other player on the team, wants to win and they’re not ready to back down just yet.
“It’s only the second game of 2017.”
Now that their own coach has admitted that they have the worst defense in the league and the players have finally begun to recognize it, will this be a turning point for this team?
We’ll find out when the Nuggets face the Spurs on Thursday night in the Mile High City.