Denver Nuggets 110, Trail Blazers 104: Three takeaways

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@Eric_Spyros

In their final preseason game, the Denver Nuggets were able to clean up some aspects of their offense in a 110-104 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. As a result, Denver wrapped up an undefeated preseason as it prepares for another matchup with Portland to open up the regular season Oct. 23rd.

"I think overall we got better during the preseason," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. "The 4-0 record means nothing, but I thought we had a great training camp and now we've got five days to prepare for opening night. I think our guys are going to be excited for that."

Portland jumped out to a quick 14-5 lead in the opening minutes of the game, prompting an early timeout from Malone. Denver responded with an 11-2 run to get back into the game which was fueled by the 3-pointer. The Nuggets attempted 10 3-pointers in the quarter but entered the second quarter trailing 32-28.

Denver took the lead back early in the second quarter, as a Mason Plumlee 3-pointer and Malik Beasley alley-oop finish excited the crowd. It was a back-and-forth battle throughout the remainder of the quarter, as Denver took a 60-55 lead into the halftime break. Paul Millsap led the way for the Nuggets with 13 points (4-of-5 shooting) and two steals.

As the Nuggets’ starters sat to begin the half, they continued to build on their lead, as Will Barton and Monte Morris combined to score eight points early in the third quarter. As Juancho Hernangomez and Michael Porter Jr. checked in for their first action of the game, Denver took an 87-84 lead into the final quarter of the preseason.

Both teams emptied the benches for the fourth quarter, as Denver’s young players received one final opportunity to impress in preseason action. Malone won his second challenge of the preseason when the referees reversed a foul call against the Nuggets early in the quarter. Ultimately, Denver finished the preseason with a win over its division rival.

Here are some takeaways from the final preseason game:

Millsap continues to impress

Despite it being his 14th season in the league, Millsap has looked like his former All-Star self throughout training camp and the preseason. The 34-year-old forward dropped 13 points in 16 minutes of action in Thursday’s preseason finale, as he continued to score from all areas of the floor.

Millsap connected on both of his 3-point attempts and also added two steals on the defensive end. While Jerami Grant’s presence will likely reduce Millsap’s playing time during the grind of the regular season, he haas continued to show that he can be effective on both ends of the floor.

Offense limits turnovers in final tune-up game

Heading into Thursday’s contest, Denver was averaging 24.3 turnovers per game in the preseason. Malone had continued to preach the importance of cutting the miscues down as the team prepares for the season opener on Wednesday.

"We were turning the ball over at a high level and that was something we didn't want to carry into the regular season," Malone said following the win. "We did a much better job in that area today which is great to see."

In the win over Portland, the Nuggets only committed 11 turnovers and accumulated 26 assists.

Defensive activity contributes to final preseason victory

On the other end of the turnover spectrum, Denver’s defense was active throughout Thursday’s game. In the end, Portland committed 25 turnovers, while the Nuggets generated 16 steals on the night. It is that defensive activity that will be key starting Wednesday as Denver looks to open up the regular season with a road victory against these Trail Blazers.

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