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Recap: Nuggets lose to the Timberwolves 90-71 in Las Vegas.

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Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley made plays, but it wasn’t enough to match a fundamental bashing from Minnesota.

2016 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets dropped their second game in a row at Las Vegas Summer League, losing 90-71 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Malik Beasley put up 20 points on just 17 shots this time around, while Juancho Hernangomez added 18 points of his own in various ways. That said, the talent offensively was lacking behind those players, and the rest of the roster shot just 13/33 from the field and committed 18 turnovers.

The Nuggets made a couple of changes to the starting lineup in their second game, putting Nikola Radicevic and Robert Carter Jr. into the starting five over Monte Morris and Petr Cornelie. It didn’t really help with the beginning of the game though. A gaggle of turnovers in a variety of ways prevented Denver from getting into any sort of offensive flow. The defense was okay, but there was very little in the way of actual resistance as opposed to simply missing shots on the Timberwolves’ side.

Denver eventually settled down, and Juancho Hernangomez was the catalyst for the change. A nice four-point play and tough drive to the rim helped calm the nerves of the Nuggets team.

Between some nice drives by Monte Morris and Malik Beasley and some better defense overall, the Nuggets were able to battle back to a five point deficit, trailing 22-17 after the first quarter.

The second quarter began about as well as the beginning of the first quarter. The Wolves went on a 13-5 run to begin the second, led by Charles Cooke and former Kansas standout Perry Ellis. The Nuggets had no one to counter. Petr Cornelie really struggled during these minutes, and he’s struggled throughout the majority of Summer League. Things really spiraled, and while there were positive flashes from Hernangomez and Beasley, they were few and far between for the rest of the squad. Henry Sims made a nice backdoor pass to Monte Morris, but that was basically it. The Wolves shot over and around the Nuggets on the other end, and it helped them to a 50-36 lead at halftime.

The Nuggets started out the third quarter with a nice dribble hand-off set that ended with a Carter layup. Beasley stayed aggressive on both ends, but that mentality hurt the Nuggets defensively, as he gambled for steals and allowed a couple of wide open shots. Tyler Lydon made an appearance with a couple of rebounds and a block in transition, but he struggled to remained involved offensively. Sims hit a midrange jumper, while Morris and Hernangomez combined for a nice defensive series, but Denver couldn’t generate any momentum on both ends. They finished up down 73-55 after the third quarter.

The fourth quarter began with Michael Malone commenting on the Nuggets’ current situation. He and the Nuggets’ contingent believe that the Paul Millsap/Nikola Jokic duo is the best passing and playmaking big man duo in the NBA. While he was talking, the Nuggets did very little. Hernangomez continued to be a focal point passing and generating good shots though. He dribbled into a rhythm three-pointer at one point, which was nice to see.

That pretty much wrapped it up though. The Nuggets defense struggled throughout, and while Beasley and Hernangomez continued to show why they were legitimate NBA prospects, the rest of the roster struggled to follow suit. The Wolves won the game 90-71.

Notes:

  • Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are superior to the roster around them. Beasley finished with 20 points on 8/17 shooting, a much more efficient line than last game. Hernangomez finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds, while also making 3/7 from the 3-point line. Beasley’s explosiveness was on full display on both ends, but he will have to learn to play within himself in an NBA setting. Hernangomez’s pick-and-pop ability is already at an elite NBA level, but does that project more as a small forward or power forward skill?
  • All three Nuggets forwards in Juancho Hernangomez, Tyler Lydon, and Robert Carter have poor hands. Basketballs careened off outstretched fingers multiple times and caused turnovers for the Nuggets and second chance opportunities for the Wolves. A lot of the time, this is a symbol of lack-of-dexterity, and it means a lot with regard to creation off the dribble. I don’t ever expect Hernangomez or Lydon to be more than dribble-drive guys with their handle at this point.
  • Petr Cornelie still doesn’t look like an NBA player. The Frenchman showed a variety of tools during last year’s Summer League, shooting the ball well and blocking shots. This year, he has been out of position very often defensively, and the shot simply doesn’t look right. It’s going to be interesting to see if he can recover, because his skill set projects well to the NBA if his mind can follow.
  • These in-game tweets sum up the Nuggets’ defense.
  • There are flashes, but only flashes, from everyone else. Lydon continues to come in and out of focus on both ends. He doesn’t make a ton of good plays throughout the game, but he doesn’t make a bunch of bad ones. He only had two turnovers and five shot attempts, so the impact isn’t as negative as people want to believe. Nikola Radicevic and Monte Morris continue to have their point guard battle, but it is uninspiring. Henry Sims has a nice jumper as a big man but doesn’t protect the rim and makes a variety of mistakes offensively. Torrey Craig was invisible.
  • Kyle Freeland took a no-hitter into the 9th inning which was pretty cool. His family’s response to the first hit is basically what Nuggets fans felt this entire game.