Denver Nuggets 96, Houston Rockets 105: Takeaways from the final Summer League game

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

The Denver Nuggets couldn’t keep up with the Houston Rockets’ offense Saturday, as Houston outpaced Denver from beyond the arc in a 105-96 win. The loss marked Denver’s third in a row to complete 2019 Summer League play. Despite an advantage on the boards, the Nuggets were outscored by 21 points from three.

"This was a great experience for all of us," Nuggets Summer League head coach Jordi Fernandez said. "Our group of players was great. The team chemistry really stood out. These guys genuinely liked each other and were willing to create that, which is cool for (Summer League) teams that usually have their own agenda."

The Nuggets (1-3) attacked the glass to begin the game and held an 8-2 rebounding advantage at the first stoppage of play. Denver’s efficiency from the field supported their success on the boards as the Nuggets took a 22-19 lead into the second quarter. Rion Brown led the way with seven points in the frame.

The Rockets (3-2) attacked the basket and knocked down two 3-pointers to retake the lead midway through the quarter. Houston completed three separate and-ones around the rim during the run. As the teams traded 3-pointers, the Rockets were able to maintain the lead throughout the remainder of the quarter and took a 51-47 advantage into the half. Denver knocked down three 3-pointers in the quarter, while Houston connected on five shots from beyond the arc.

Denver battled back to take the lead early in the third quarter, as both Jarred Vanderbilt and Brandon Goodwin scored around the rim with ease. The two second-year players combined for 10 points in the first four minutes of the quarter. Houston continued to combat Denver’s inside scoring with a couple of 3-pointers to regain the lead at the midway point of the quarter. The Rockets’ success from deep propelled them to a double-digit lead towards the end of the quarter and they took a 79-66 lead into the final period. Houston knocked down six 3-pointers in the quarter as Denver’s offense struggled to keep up.

Jordan Davis came alive to begin the fourth quarter, as he scored seven points in a 9-2 Nuggets’ run. Davis continued to put pressure on Houston’s defense with a mix of drives to the rim and shots from the perimeter that kept Denver in the game. However, Houston was able to hit a couple of 3-pointers and convert timely baskets around the rim to maintain control of the game throughout the final portion of the game.

"I feel like I got better each game and the team played hard every game," Vanderbilt said. "Even though we didn't come out with the win, I think we played hard and we had a great group of guys, so it was a fun experience."

Here are three takeaways from the win/loss:

1) Brandon Goodwin has another strong performance

Goodwin has showcased his scoring abilities on several occasions throughout Summer League, which continued in Saturday’s game. Goodwin scored 22 points on 8-of-13 from the field and also dished out six assists. Goodwin and Davis were the main drivers of a late comeback attempt in the fourth quarter for Denver.

2) Denver struggled to keep up from deep

As is commonly the case in games against the Rockets, the game often boiled down to a battle from beyond the arc. Houston is known for its propensity for deep shots, and Saturday was no exception. The Rockets went 16-of-43 from three, which dwarfed Denver’s 9-of-25 from deep. Although the Nuggets maintained an advantage on the glass for the entire game, it wasn’t enough to make up for the Rockets’ firepower on the perimeter.

3) Davis made a lasting impression

In Denver’s final Summer League game, Jordan Davis came alive when it mattered most, as he scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to bring the Nuggets back into the game. Davis is from the Las Vegas area and Saturday’s game allowed him to show his skill set one last time for NBA teams in attendance.

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