After suffering a 7-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday Night, the Denver Nuggets summer league team picked up their first victory of the tournament tonight with a 84-76 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thanks to a big game from Peyton Watson, the Nuggets now have a win under their belt with two pool play games remaining.
It all started for the Nuggets when second round pick — Ismael Kamagate — set the tone right out of the gate as he started at center instead of Jontay Porter, who started Denver’s first game of summer league. Kamagate played with great energy on both ends of the floor as he finished with eight first half points to go along with four rebounds on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
Even though Kamagate was playing well, the Nuggets still trailed 26-21 after the opening frame and were 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. The second quarter was a much different story as Adonis Arms (2) and Kellan Grady (1) made three of the Nuggets first five threes in the quarter as Denver built a 50-46 lead going into halftime.
Denver's leading scorer at the break was Watson, who scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, while also hauling in five rebounds. Watson played a lot more confident in his second summer league game and his offensive production shined in the process. The Nuggets other first round pick — Christian Braun — scored just six points in the first half on 2-of-8 shooting from the field, 0-fo-4 from three, but did dish out three assists.
The Nuggets were able to expand their lead in the third quarter courtesy of a 13-3 run as they were playing much better team basketball than what we saw in game one. Similar to what we saw in the first game, Collin Gillespie started to take over for the Nuggets in the second half as he had 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists through three quarters.
Cleveland also had a run in them to close the quarter as Denver ended up outscoring the Cavaliers just 15-14 in the third. The Nuggets took a 65-60 lead into the final quarter as they were just 12 minutes away from their first victory of summer league.
Denver was able to maintain their lead in the fourth quarter thanks to the work of Jack White, who finished the game with eight points and 15 rebounds off the bench. White gave the Nuggets tremendous energy on both ends of the floor and certainly threw his name in the hat of Denver’s final two-way spot.
In the end, the Nuggets were able to pull off a 84-76 victory as they are now 1-1 in summer league. Denver was led offensively by Watson, who bounced back from his first summer league game scoring 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, 1-of-4 from three. Watson also hauled in seven rebounds as he made a ton of eye popping hustle plays on both ends of the floor.
Gillespie also finished in double-figures with 17 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists, while Braun scored 10 points on just 4-of-18 shooting from the field, 0-of-8 from beyond the arc. Braun is now just 1-of-15 from three at summer league, which is a number you would like to see improve as the Nuggets continue playing.
Kamagate also scored in double-figures with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and just missed out on a double-double finishing with nine rebounds. Through two games, Kamagate has played extremely well and looks like a player who could potentially fill one of the Nuggets final two-way spots.
The Nuggets will now have two days off before they are back in action on Wednesday night for a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip-off for that game is set for 8PM MST and will air on NBA TV and ESPN3.