Las Vegas - The Nuggets are now 2-0 in Summer League play. This one wasn't much of a contest, as Denver won it 98-76 and held the Kings under 23 points in each quarter - and just 32 points in the second half. Denver's big second quarter (33-23) and third quarter (24-14) put this one away and the team was led by Emmanuel Mudiay's first double-double, in powder blue and gold, of 19 points and 10 assists.
"I like getting my teammates involved," said Mudiay. "They're going to miss some, they're going to make some. I'm going to keep throwing it to them."
Mudiay was a big reason why Ian Clark went for 19 points, and 5-5 from downtown. He provided Clark with timely passes in the corner, for open look after open look. It was a nice bounce-back game from Clark, as his shooting was on full display. He looked much more comfortable shooting the ball, and really let it fly.
In Mudiay's 35 minutes of action, he shot 7-15 from the floor and took a variety of shots. He, again, had no issue getting to the rim when he wanted to, finished through contact a few times (4-7 from the foul line), and showed off his favorite step-back shot.
Mudiay's passing, and desire to move through tiny cracks in the defense can lead to some turnovers, he had 6 turnovers today, but that aggression leads to some beautiful plays - like this one where he drove and kicked it out to Erick Green.
You can't help but love Mudiay's ability to be a floor general. Time and again in this match-up, he was directing where guys should go on the offensive end. One play in particular in the second half, he called out for Gary Harris to move from the right corner to the left corner, and made sure Erick Green found his way to the right corner to space the floor. It's a little thing, but Mudiay's voice can be a powerful weapon for a team in need of an Alpha Dog.
"The main thing, I just want to give off a winning attitude," said Mudiay. "We are 2-0 right now, but we can't be satisfied."
However real the competitive spirit is at Summer League, Mudiay says the right things and does even better things on the floor. The game becomes easier for guys with him on the floor. Mudiay finished with a +19, Gary Harris +18, Nikola Jokic +23, Joffrey Lauvergne +24. Great numbers from the starters.
Game two for Mudiay with Jokic went pretty well, too. The two found themselves in pick-and-roll situations quite a bit, and Summer League Head Coach Micah Nori followed through on his word to get Jokic a few more post-up looks in this one.
"Jokic, although he's a young kid, understands basketball, understands spacing," said Nori. "Whoever had him as a young kid and coached him, really did a great job of understanding the timing of the pick-and-roll and the angles of the pick and roll."
Jokic finished the day 4-9 shooting for 10 points, he also recorded a double-double with his 11 rebounds (5 offensive). There were mixed results with Nikola in the post, but if he is to succeed he needs reps down low. While he can also shoot the ball (1-1 from distance), a blend will be good with him.
"What he's great in doing is making that pass, not only out of the post, but when he's rolling," said Nori. "He's such an unselfish kid, you almost forget about him until coach says, 'Hey, make sure we get him down on the block so we can see what he can do.' But it's just a little bit of patience, and he's still very very young. The one thing that you'll see down there, he's got a lot of moves from the right and left block, he's a very efficient passer out of the post, and again the thing we keep going to is just unselfishness and knowing how to play. The sky's the limit for him, if he's stays healthy."
Healthy was the Nuggets defense in this one. Time and again they either turned the Kings over, or just pushed the ball down the floor for easy looks, and quick looks. Denver again won the turnover battle 21-15, and that led to good things - like Erick Green open mid-range jumpers, and drives to the rim late for Gary Harris.
Green has been playing off ball with Mudiay on the floor, and while he's an undersized shooting guard, he can score in bunches and provided some pop off the bench with 16 points on 7-11 shooting, including 2-4 from deep.
Harris didn't have the same success in this one that he enjoyed against the Hawks. In the first half, he passed up a couple corner three looks - not so bad, but on one attempt he stepped in and wound up taking a leaning in to the defender jumper that resulted in a turnover. He has to pull the trigger and trust his shot. His quick decisions have been good thus far, but we're still waiting for better numbers from deep (2-9 in this one from three).
Denver has quick turnaround tomorrow as they face the Miami Heat at 6:00 pm MST.