Nuggets look for shots to drop in summer finale against Lakers

Denver has cooled after quick start in Vegas
by Aaron Lopez

Four games in five days can lead to fatigue. Combined with unfamiliarity, it can also lead to some funky shooting percentages.

Look no further than the Denver Nuggets’ summer league statistics for proof.

After hitting 14-of 26 3-pointers in their opener in Las Vegas, the Nuggets connected on only 14-of-70 shots from behind the arc in their subsequent three games.

“The 3-point shooting might be a little bit of fatigue,” Denver assistant Noel Gillespie said. “These guys are capable shooters. We got good looks. We executed plays we wanted to execute. We just couldn’t knock them down.”

From third-year forward Quincy Miller to rookie Gary Harris to point guard Erick Green, just about everyone has struggled from long range. That’s why Gillespie and fellow assistant Patrick Mutombo continue to encourage the Nuggets to attack the rim.

The drive-and-finish, or drive-and-kick, philosophy has been a significant part of Denver’s offense over the past several seasons. Ty Lawson is among the quickest point guards in the league, and his ability to get in the paint creates havoc for defenses.

Gillespie and Mutombo want to see that attacking mentality from the Nuggets in their summer league finale Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers. They also want to see Denver wrap up their five-game schedule on a high note.

“We still want to finish strong and finish what we started,” Gillespie said. “We sent that message to the players. We’re all professionals. We’re still not only trying out for Denver but the other 29 teams as well.”

Friday’s finale could feature an interesting matchup in the paint. Lakers first-round draft pick Julius Randle is averaging 12.0 points in three games in Las Vegas, while Jerrelle Benimon is averaging 7.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games for Denver.