Denver Falls at Brooklyn, Drops Second-Straight

For the second straight-game, an abysmal second quarter wound up being the Denver Nuggets’ undoing.

Less than 48 hours after being outscored by 15 in the second in a loss to the Detroit Pistons, their most lopsided defeat of the season, they were bested by 17 in the second on their way to being beaten 135-130 on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

However, things couldn’t have started off better for the Nuggets.

They jumped out to a 16-5 lead at the 8:26 mark of the first, sparked by big man Mason Plumlee, who scored 14 of his first season-high 24 points in the first quarter to help Denver to a five-point lead. But things would fall apart for the Nuggets, who rolled out their ninth different starting lineup, a result of fielding a roster that’s missed the most games in the league to injury.

They’d trail by a dozen at the half and fall behind by as many as 21 in the second half.

“He was everywhere. The guy was blocking shots on defense, running the floor, finishing around the basket, screening, rolling,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone of Plumlee’s play early. What didn’t Mason Plumlee do to start that game? Mason played hard. Mason cared. Mason left everything he had out on the floor until he fouled out. You have to give a guy that plays that hard a lot of respect, which I do.”

Utilizing a lineup that included reserves rookie Jarred Vanderbilt - playing in just the second game of his career - Monte Morris, Trey Lyles Juancho Hernangómez and Torrey Craig, coach Michael Malone's team trimmed its deficit down to 12 with 6:31 to go in the third amid a 9-0 run.

Denver (37-17) trailed by eight with 1:53 to go when center Nikola Jokić scored off an assist from Morris. Morris connected on a free throw with 1:22 remaining to cut the Nets’ lead down to seven at 130-123 but could not capitalize late on its way to dropping back-to-back games for the first time since late December.

Jokić recorded his 10th triple-double of the season, scoring 25 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 10 assists. Point guard Jamal Murray put up a double-double with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting and 11 assists in his first action after missing six games with a sprained ankle. Morris (18), Malik Beasley (17) and Lyles (15) also finished in double-figures in scoring.

All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and 11 assists to lead Brooklyn (29-27), which snapped a three-game losing streak. DeMarre Carroll (18), Joe Harris (17), Treveon Graham (16), Jarrett Allen (15), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (15) and Shabazz Napier (10) all had impressive offensive outings.

Brooklyn also knocked down 19 of 34 attempts from 3-point range.

“The 3-point line was a byproduct of the real difference in the game which was how hard they played,” Malone said.

The Nuggets will face the Philadelphia 76ers on the road Friday at 5 p.m. MST. The game will be aired on Altitude TV and streamed on AltitudeNOW.

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