The Denver Nuggets wrapped up their preseason with a dominating win against the Dallas Mavericks at Pepsi Center on Friday night, winning 101-75.
Chris Dempsey provided the analysis of Malone’s starting lineup to open the regular season because the team started the game with the three Euros.
So here's what we know right away: The starting front court for the #Nuggets will be Gallinari, Jokic and Nurkic— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) October 22, 2016
The game started, and then stopped in bizarre fashion due to clock issues. The first points came on a Jusuf Nurkic post up and a Danilo Gallinari three pointer. The Nuggets came out hot, getting open shots generated by the three Euros, with excellent passing by each of them.
Nice pass by Jusuf Nurkic for an easy basket by Jokic https://t.co/5QQCQnWDyC— BSN Nuggets (@BSNNuggets) October 22, 2016
Jamal Murray was the first player off the bench as Gallo hit two free throws to make the score 15-10, replacing Will Barton. Wilson Chandler followed immediately, replacing Jusuf Nurkic. After a few back and forth possessions, Deron Williams missed a three, Murray collected the rebound, and passed the ball ahead to Chandler for an And-1.
Murray struggled to end the first quarter. He was taken into the post multiple times by Wesley Matthews, got called for a couple of offensive fouls, and missed some open shots. The Nuggets as a whole struggled with turnovers (again) with nine in the first quarter, but their strong start allowed them to maintain a 24-17 lead.
Will Barton provided the first two points for the Nuggets in the second quarter with a pull-up jumper, but after that, scoring came to a halt on both sides. Through five minutes, ten total points were scored by both teams.
Then coach Michael Malone threw a curveball.
Interesting that Coach Malone went to Malik Beasley so early, wouldn't have anticipated him getting in until garbage time— Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash) October 22, 2016
Beasley entered the game at 7:50 remaining in the second quarter, which was interesting, as Malone had previously stated that this game would have rotations similar to a regular season contest. Is it possible that Beasley will play in the regular rotation?
Gallo drilled ANOTHER three at the 5:30 mark. He’s been hot the entire preseason and should carry his hot streak into the regular season.
The Nuggets went small with Gallo and Chandler at the forwards and Jokic or Nurkic at center. It was 36-27 at that point, and the half ended 51-33, meaning those two lineups combined to go +9. This is a good indicator for future lineups to come in my opinion. Gallo finished the half with 16 points on 4/4 shooting, and Chandler scored 12 points on 5/7 shooting. Sign me up for these two together.
Still, our fearless leader found something negative to highlight.
Nuggets point guards (Murray + Nelson) are a combined 1-11 and the Nuggets are up 18 at the half.— Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares) October 22, 2016
Interestingly, Malone started the second half with Chandler instead of Gallo and Faried instead of Nurkic. Chandler defended Nowitzki and Faried defended Barnes. Jokic began the half with an assist, a layup, and a rebound. He missed a three, but it was nice to see him take that shot. He immediately took and made a free throw line jumper, showing some added aggressiveness I had not seen before.
Right after the referees called another offensive foul on Denver, Chandler came back down the court and drove into the lane for a sweet underhand scoop shot. Juancho Hernangomez joined the fray at the 6:30 mark in the third, and he helped the Nuggets increase their lead even higher.
It really was amazing that the Nuggets lead by over 30 points in this game. The Nuggets simply turned it on in the third quarter after a great end to the second, and after a few scores back and forth, the Nuggets led 77-49 after the third quarter.
The Nuggets opened the fourth with their garbage time lineup of Nate Wolters-Murray-Beasley-Hernangomez-Jarnell Stokes. After Murray made his first three pointer of the night, he was subbed out for Robbie Hummel. Our own Zach Mikash tweeted out the garbage time lineup, embodying exactly what I was asking for in the preview:
With Robbie Hummel checking in for Murray the #Nuggets are in full risk mitigation mode, last 5 guys on the bench playing— Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash) October 22, 2016
The game went back and forth in garbage time, with Beasley using his perfect shooting mechanics and making a couple of midrange jump shots. Jarnell Stokes continued to be productive in the paint, scoring, rebounding, and providing enough interior defense to deter opponents from scoring easily. Back and forth went some ugly basketball, but in the end, the final score was 101-75 with the Nuggets finishing on top.
The Nuggets core veterans are ready to go. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Kenneth Faried were all excellent during this final tune up. All three scored efficiently in their spots on the floor, and all three did what it took to win the game handily.
Gallinari final line: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4/4 FG, 2/2 3PT, 6/6 FT
Chandler final line: 14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 6/8 FG, 1/2 3PT
Faried final line: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 3/3 FG, 4/4 FT
That will definitely get it done.
Balkan Buddy Ball impresses again. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic started the contest extremely well together, and they were able to do so because of the matchup against the Mavericks. Nowitzki and Bogut aren’t exactly fleet of foot, and the Nuggets took advantage. Both players played well together and separately, posting a +22 and +13 respectively. They each had their moments, and while I believe each is maximized separately, they are still effective together against the right matchup.
Point guard is going to be a problem again this season. Jameer Nelson and Jamal Murray combined to shoot 3/16 from the field and 2/9 from 3. While they accumulated seven assists together, they also accumulated five turnovers. Emmanuel Mudiay will continue to have some struggles this year as he grows into an NBA caliber point guard, but having two other players struggling just as much may be difficult. If the Nuggets want to win games in the 2016-17 season, they will need better point guard production. Last year, D.J. Augustin was the guy to come in and be a steady contributor. Will the Nuggets have that player come from within? Will that player emerge from outside the organization? Time will tell.
To wrap things up with some positivity:
Gallo finishes the preseason with 86 points on 34 shots. Amazing preseason from him.— Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares) October 22, 2016