Nuggets 104-119 Pelicans: Three Takeaways
The Nuggets’ lack of perimeter players proved costly in a 119-104 defeat to the Pelicans.
Denver’s beloved videogame lineup, which featured all frontcourt players largely returned (Torrey Craig replaced Paul Millsap) but their size couldn’t keep with New Orleans from the start of the contest.
Troy Daniels continued his hot streak, leading the Nuggets with 28 points. Nickeil Alexander-Walker paced the Pelicans with 21 points.
Here are the takeaways:
Turnovers a concern
Over the past two scrimmages, the Nuggets have surrendered 45 turnovers to just 39 assists. Although some of it can be attributed to the team’s lack of guards, there were moments of carelessness and bad decisions overall that can’t become a habit when the real games start.
"In our first two scrimmages, we've had eight guys [available] in both of those. It's really hard to judge and analyze where we're at," Malone said. "We've been very limited with the amount of bodies we've had."
Before the hiatus, Denver was eighth in the NBA in turnovers per game at 13.7 a contest. The team gave away the ball 12 times in the first half alone, Saturday night. In the last 10 games of the season, Denver had a 5-5 record and tumbled to 26th in turnovers as it gave up 15.9 turnovers.
It’s an area that bears watching in the final scrimmage on Monday against the Magic.
Troy making his case
Troy Daniels was one of the two perimeter options available to Malone, along with Craig, and he showed once again why he could earn some playing time in the seeding games and playoffs.
Daniels was almost unguardable from behind the arc, where he converted 7 of 10 attempts. Considering that the Nuggets are currently 25th in made threes per game at 10.9 per contest, the reserve guard’s ability to excel in that area could be a welcome addition for Malone should he choose to dig deep into the roster when the games begin to count.
"It's hard to play 10,11, 12 guys once the playoffs come around, but I give Troy a lot of credit," Malone explained. "He's gone out there and shot the ball extremely well."
Malone added, "We struggled to make threes in the postseason last year. So having that option, having that weapon off your bench is something we have to consider."
Daniels came to Denver as a largely unheralded signing in early March. He’s gained some warranted attention after the first two scrimmages.
Center trio all shine
As disjointed as the Nuggets were at times, all three of their pivotmen, Nikola Jokić, Mason Plumlee, and Bol Bol stood out.
Bol opened the game by coolly draining a three-pointer just seconds in and finished the contest with 15 points, three rebounds, and two blocks. Bol wasn’t as efficient as he was in his debut as he shot just 6-of-19, but he continued to prove his potential and current value. He continues to make an impact on both ends of the floor. If he can show improvement on the glass, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes an appearance during the seeding games in August.
Jokić would have likely finished the game with a triple-double if he had played more than 25 minutes, pouring in 11 points, 10 rebounds, and eight dimes. He was a big reason why the Nuggets rallied from 19-down to bring the score to 88-80 in the fourth.
Plumlee also played a role in the Nuggets rally as he added 18 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists.