The Denver Nuggets narrowly fell to the Utah Jazz, 96-91, on Wednesday despite a valiant resurgence. With the loss, the Nuggets have dropped to 0-3 in Las Vegas Summer League.
Denver cut down a 25-point Jazz advantage to just 5 points but ran out of time to complete the comeback. Rebounding was once again a sticking point for the Summer League Nuggets, losing 48-34 on the glass with 10 of those rebounds occurring on the offensive end.
"It's just the intensity. It's just the effort," said head coach John Beckett. "Anyone that plays basketball, you know rebounding just comes to desire. You've gotta have that want. And being that we're starting two small guards out there, you've gotta have fight. Sometimes they're gonna be on a bigger guy, and they're going to have to push them out of bounds, they're going to have to get into his legs, and they've got to be aggressive. And I thought we did that, especially in the second half."
The Jazz opened the game blazing hot from the three-point line by nailing 7 of their 13 long-range looks in the first quarter. However, Denver tightened up the screws while defending the arc and allowed just 8 made three-pointers for the remainder of the game.
Denver was also particularly pesky in the passing lanes and on drives to the rim. Timely swipes at the ball forced the Jazz into coughing up the rock 20 times on Wednesday. Coach Beckett was pleased with his team's effort while forcing turnovers.
"We had a good talk at halftime, and they came out and they responded to it. We forced 14 turnovers for 20 points," said Beckett. "This (Jazz) team leads the Summer League at 107 a game; we held them to 96."
Julian Strawther led all scorers with 21 points. Though he didn't shoot the three-ball as well as he might've wanted to, he did an excellent job getting the basket. At one point, he hit a gorgeous spinning layup in transition. His determination with getting the rim also allowed him to get to the free-throw line three separate times.
"He plays hard. He gets after it. I know he's not making shots right now, but that hasn't affected his effort level out there. He's still trying. He's not turning down shots. When he has open three, he's still taking it, and we want him to take it," said Beckett. "We know that he's an elite shooter and he will make them eventually."
Hunter Tyson also turned in another solid performance and recorded his double-double at Summer League with 19 points and 12 rebounds. As a reminder, the 23-year-old logged the 11th most double-doubles in the nation in his final season at Clemson University, and this was by far his best outing crashing the glass in Las Vegas. He's also finished with double-figure points in every one of Denver's Summer League games.
"Obviously, that's been a focal point for us. The past two games, we really struggled with (rebounding). So my mentality coming in was I need to help the team. Try and rebound. So that was mentality going in," said Tyson.
Jalen Pickett finished with a team-high 8 assists to go with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Once again, he looked incredibly comfortable commandeering Denver's halfcourt offense and feeding his teammates willingly out of the pick-and-roll.
Denver will look to get its first win of Summer League on Friday when they play the 1-1 Miami HEAT. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. MT on NBA TV.