The Denver Nuggets drop the final game of the preseason as the Oklahoma City Thunder grab a 96-86 victory in the Pepsi Center.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony took it to the Nuggets on Tuesday night. The trio combined for 55 points, 21 rebounds and 12 assists in a 96-86 victory at the Pepsi Center.
George finished with 19 points, collecting 14 rebounds and four assists while contributing five steals. Westbrook had a monster first quarter and finished with 20 points on 9-13 from the field. Melo dropped 15 and picked up 9 rebounds in 22 minutes of action against his old team.
For Denver, the offense wasn’t there like it usually was. But on the bright side, the defense was vastly improved from the team’s last game against the Spurs. The Nuggets held the Thunder to a 42.9 percent field goal percentage and caused 22 Thunder turnovers. They did allow the Thunder to make 15 three-pointers, which was a major issue against San Antonio as well.
Jamal Murray started at point guard and scored five points, grabbed four rebounds and had four assists in 30 minutes of action. Murray looked more tentative with his shot tonight and passed up a couple of open looks that Malone has been encouraging him to shoot. He did value the basketball though, with only one turnover on the evening.
Defensively, Murray stepped up to challenge against Westbrook. Russ had his way, as he often does, but Murray played tough and physical defense.
Jameer Nelson handled the Nuggets back up point guard minutes. The veteran scored five points and had four assists in 21 minutes of action. Mudiay received rave reviews after a strong training camp, but still he was underwhelming in the preseason. He went into camp with hopes of earning the starting job. But after an inability to cutback on his turnovers and step up his defense, he may be fighting just to secure the back up role.
The story of the night was Will Barton, who exploded for a team high 26 points. Will “The Thrill” shot 50 percent from the field and hit four of his six threes from beyond the arc. Barton provided the spark the team needed off the bench. He vaulted the Nuggets back into the game by igniting a run when Denver was down 21 with 9:06 left in the third quarter.
Barton possesses the ability to get his shot off whenever he wants. He plays outside of Denver’s offense, known for it’s excellent ball movement, but his play style has value as the team’s primary scorer off the bench. Barton has drawn criticism for his play at times, but when he’s on, this second unit can really light it up.
Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Wilson Chandler, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray were on the court to start the game. Mason Plumlee, Juancho Hernangomez, Jameer Nelson, and Will Barton were the first to check in off the bench.
We didn’t see any Trey Lyles in this final preseason game. Meanwhile, both Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay rode the bench until the final minutes of the game.
As a team, the Nuggets only had three players in double figures: Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Will Barton. Denver shot just 34 percent from the field, 33 percent from three and had 17 turnovers on the night. The Thunder took advantage of the turnovers, scoring 25 points off of Denver’s mistakes.
With the loss, the Nuggets fell to 3-2 on the preseason. Denver will tip off their regular season in Utah, next Wednesday, October 18th at 7 pm MT.