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Recap: Nuggets collapse on road against Trail Blazers

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The Nuggets started the game with great energy, but an epic collapse wound up with the team headed to their seventh loss in ten games.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 48 points and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets by a score of 109-102.

Kenneth Faried had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks for the Nuggets, picking up a double-double in 28 minutes. The Nuggets didn’t start the “Jurkic” frontcourt for a second game in a row, but the two Nuggets big men finished with 8 points (8 for Nurkic, zero for Jokic).

I’ll be honest - this game must have slipped through the schedule, and I jumped in to cover the action during the second quarter. I have a fever and am on a sweet medication cocktail, so if you disagree with any hot takes I dish out, please consider that before responding.

From what I can discern, Kenneth Faried helped the Nuggets get off to a good start. He was active on the glass and getting to the free throw line, which is always a good way to start the game. The Nuggets went on a nice run to recover from an early deficit and finished the quarter with a 28-20 lead.

The reserves banded together during the second quarter and outworked the Trail Blazers reserves, stringing together buckets from Wilson Chandler and Jusuf Nurkic to increase the lead to 17 with 5:54 remaining in the quarter. That’s about when I started watching, so of course Portland responded with a 19-7 run to go into halftime with the score at 57-50 (I’m so sorry).

What was more beautiful about the Nuggets first half, other than the score, was the number of turnovers - six. On the second game of a back to back, limiting themselves to six turnovers is a huge accomplishment, and hopefully the players will be able to see what happens when they take care of the basketball.

The third quarter - well, it was pretty bad. The Nuggets were outscored 36-15, which is almost unbelievable, but I watched every minute and it actually happened. The Nuggets defensive execution just wasn’t there, and things got out of hand fast. After going 24 minutes with six turnovers, they had nine in the third quarter. When they weren’t turning the ball over while trying to move the ball to create offense, they were isolating and missing jumpers.

The fourth quarter was just 12 minutes of garbage time. The Trail Blazers knew that they could put the Nuggets away at any moment, and the Nuggets knew that no matter what they did, they weren’t going to win the game.

The Baby Bunch (Murray, Beasley and Hernangomez) closed out the final five minutes of the game, giving fans a glimpse of the fruit of the 2016 NBA Draft. If you stuck around and watched until the end, there was a lot to like, including Jamal Murray spitting fire and forcing Portland to put Damian Lillard back in the game. The seven-point lead would have been a lot worse for Denver without Murray and the rest of the rookies.

Here’s how the game went, in a nutshell, from halfway through the second quarter to the end of the game.

Three takeaways

The Nuggets have too many players for easy rotations but too many injuries to have their good players on the court. Without Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, and especially Gary Harris, the Nuggets depth evaporates. They don’t have enough players that know how or want to win to compete without those players.

That’s how the Nuggets end up closing the ninth game of the season with Jameer Nelson and Jamal Murray. It can’t be what Michael Malone wanted to start the season with.

Jamal Murray set a new career-high with five 3-pointers. Emmanuel Mudiay’s career high of four 3-pointers came in Game 51 last season (he also reached that mark in the game against Detroit). Jamal Murray reached that mark and then added one more in Game 10. Spare me from your “they are different type of players” talk - Murray can put the ball in the basket, which, last time I checked, is one of the most important parts of basketball. I took sleep medicine 30 minutes ago and my head is going to explode.

The Broncos won. The Nuggets lost. Goes to show you that no matter how crazy things get in the world, there will always be constants in life that we can rely on.

Lonzo Ball is averaging 16 points, 8.5 assists, and 8 boards a game while shooting 71/50/72 from the field. Hashtag “just saying” or whatever the youths use nowadays.

Box Score