The Denver Nuggets notched their first win of the preseason with a 96-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, who were short handed with several starters out of action, including Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews. It was a game the Nuggets should have won, and did. The play was sloppy at times (the Nuggets had the same number of assists and turnovers at 22) but there were solid moments as well, including active hands on defense to force 11 steals and another good showing by our European front line of Joffrey Lauvergne (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Nikola Jokic (8 points, 3 boards, and defensive effort all the way out to the three point line). That will be crucial with the rust Jusuf Nurkic will have even once he can get on the floor.
As for the three things I was looking for before the game:
1) Continued growth from Emmanuel Mudiay. I would say it was more of the same, which isn't necessarily bad. He started off roughly but got stronger as the game went along. He still had more turnovers than assists, but he was involved in a lot of good play tonight.
2) Whether Mega-Gallo rears his head. Danilo Gallinari did not throw his head back and roar, likely because of those camp two-a-days sapping his legs. At halftime he was halfway to a triple double, but he clanked most of his second half shots, and few of those involved penetration of any kind. He was content to bomb away from 3 after the intermission, and without his legs under him there wasn't a lot of success. His chemistry with Jokic was great to see, and he brought the ball up several times, showing his point-forward approach early.
3) Bench Wars - did our bench players come together. Most of our bench got into the game, but we didn't dominate their bench. Players are still getting used to one another. Still, as I said: "As long as we can limit the presence of J.J. Hickson, though, all should be well." 6 disastrous minutes for JJ were all he got, and he wound up as the only Nugget with a negative +/- (though somehow only at -1). Result? Victory. I'll take it.
A full recap will be up in the morning for those who want more of a play-by-play of the action and may have missed the game - easy to do since Altitude for some reason didn't carry this one. We do care about preseason games, in case they are curious.
Box for the Nuggets: