Nuggets look to correct mistakes after preseason-opening win

Denver coach Brian Shaw cites turnovers, defensive rebounding among areas to improve
by Aaron Lopez

As a father of three, Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has learned to be patient.

In basketball, just as in life, mistakes are going to happen. The important thing is how you adjust and move forward.

“As long as they’re trying to do the right thing, I can live with it,” Shaw said. “If I have to keep telling you over and over the same thing and then you’re making mistakes doing the wrong thing, I can’t live with that.

“I’ve been on teams that have reached the mountaintop. I know what it takes and what the work ethic is supposed to look like. And if it’s not looking like that, I’m going to let them know. That’s what separates a mediocre team from a top team.”

After a solid week of training camp, the Nuggets opened their seven-game preseason schedule with a 97-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. They held Los Angeles to .323 shooting and forced 22 turnovers, but also allowed 13 offensive rebounds and committed 28 turnovers.

“We have a lot of work to do, but I was impressed with our intensity, especially on the defensive side,” Shaw said after the game. “That’s to be expected in the first preseason game. We’ll be trying to put it all together. Overall, I feel pretty good about our performance.”

The Nuggets will look to improve again Tuesday when they take on the Lakers, this time in Ontario, Calif.

Among the standouts in the opener were point guard Ty Lawson, forward J.J. Hickson, center JaVale McGee and swingman Jordan Hamilton.

Lawson had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a team-high 27 minutes, and McGee added 12 points and seven rebounds despite running into foul trouble. After working on his midrange shot throughout the offseason, McGee made a pair of elbow jumpers and hit all six of his free throw attempts.

Hamilton, fighting for a spot in the rotation, scored 15 points in 16 minutes, while Hickson finished with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Hickson is one of four offseason acquisitions expected to make an impact for Denver this season. Forward Darrell Arthur and guards Randy Foye and Nate Robinson also were solid playing for the first time with their new team.

“It was big,” Robinson said. “New coach, new faces on the team, including myself. We have to do a little cleaning up, but I think we’ll be okay.

“We have great team chemistry, and to have that between a young group of guys is huge for us to get momentum going and get ready to play Tuesday.”