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Nuggets Weekly Digest - December 3

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The key to winning is poise under stress. -Paul Brown

After dropping another game to the Milwaukee Bucks last Monday, the Denver Nuggets went on to win their next 5 match-ups including a blow out over the Los Angeles Lakers, and a huge nail-biter win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Our Denver Nuggets now sit at FIRST place in the Western Conference standings making a solid comeback from their 6th place dip just a couple of weeks ago.

Going 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Nuggets are once again incorporating solid defense, along with execution on offense for a more complete game.

Let’s jump in to some of the top moments of the week.

“Take that L on the way out.”

Malone’s post-Lakers game commentary is currently the “L” heard round the Nuggets world, and it’s getting everyone fired up in a very good way.

After the Nuggets handed the Lakers an epic beat-down last week, the ever-passionate Malone couldn’t contain his post-game excitement. When asked if he converted any Lakers fans to the Nuggets’ cause, he made it clear that he wasn’t looking to pick up any fans noting that enthusiasts are either with them or against them.

He went on to say,

“So the Warriors fans can come in here, the Celtics fans can come in here, the Lakers fans can come in here, but take that L on the way out.”

I’ve previously been a sharp critic of Coach Malone, and there have been plenty of moments he has deserved it. However, I absolutely LOVE this statement. Here Malone is showing that he has a deep sense of pride in his team, and that he’s feeling confident and aggressive against the very best competitors and teams in the league.

This statement not only shows me that the Nuggets have pride in their work, but that they’re generating a culture. They’ve (mostly) figured out what does and doesn’t work, and now instead of the coaches shoving the strategy down the players throats, the players are adopting the techniques that they see working, and intuitively they complete the needed tasks at the right times.

This type of “bring it” attitude means good things are coming for the team. We will still see ups and downs, but what we know is that the chemistry is boiling hot.

Heavyweights pulling their weight

Paul Millsap’s $33 million per year contract is a mammoth deal that will set up his family for possibly generations to come, and lately, he’s really been pulling the weight of that contract. I was skeptical at first, but I’m happy to see him fully assume his role as the foundational veteran leader presence for the team.

What I’ve learned about Millsap is that he’s an All-Star, but not in the way most of us would think. He’s not necessarily the guy making all the plays, and posting the ridiculous stat lines. Instead, he looks for ways to fill a needed role and execute somewhat behind the scenes.

This past week, Millsap really stepped up to shoulder the leadership burden against the experienced LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers, and I believe his leadership set a platform for the team to capture a blowout win.

Millsap brought in 20 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks with 5 of his rebounds taking place on the offensive end of the court.

What I’m learning to really like about him is his ability to let his teammates shine when their skill set is best suited, and step up to do the heavy lifting when duty calls. Although I didn’t completely understand and appreciate this before, I’ve learned to value this maturity in Millsap, and I don’t think it could be a better fit for Denver.

Standout Nugget adding value this week:

Gary Harris

Just like Raymond, everyone loves Harris, and Nuggets Nation is deeply relieved to have him back and healthy. Sidelined with ankle soreness for a couple of games, Harris came back with a vengeance against the Portland Trail Blazers this week, and reminded us yet again why we are all proud members of the Garrison.

My favorite thing about Harris is his ability to be reliable in difficult situations. When the tough shot needs to be made, when the opponent’s defense needs to be penetrated to get to the rim, and when the Nuggets desperately need some free throws, Harris can always be counted on as an option to get the job done.

He did just that against Portland, with a three-point shot as time ran out, to seal the fate of the game. The Nuggets started well against the Trail Blazers, but they allowed Portland to come back a little in the second half.

Through consistent tough defense, and offensive execution, they pulled out the W, and they have Harris to thank for dealing the fatal blow.

The Nuggets take on the Raptors in Toronto today at 7:30pm so we will see if the win streak will continue!