Takeaways From the Nuggets Summer League Win Over Boston
LAS VEGAS – Malik Beasley promised a bounce-back offensive performance, and on Saturday that’s exactly what he provided. His 19 points helped lead the Nuggets to an 82-69 win over the Boston Celtics at Cox Pavilion, giving them a 2-0 start in the Las Vegas Summer League.
As he did in the first game, Beasley started aggressively with 11 points in the first quarter on 4-of-6 shooting. He finished the game 6-of-13 from the field and 2-of-6 from the 3-point line.
The biggest difference in Beasley’s offense from the first game to the second?
“Keeping it simple,” Nuggets summer league coach Jordi Fernandez said. “Play the way he needs to play in the NBA – guarding, shooting, shooting the open three; one, two dribbles, get rid of the ball and get it back. I think that he’s been really good. I liked his energy and his attitude.”
Beasley was one of three Nuggets in double-figure scoring. DeVaughn Akoon Purcell scored 19 points as well, all in the final three quarters, 15 of them in the second half. Monte Morris continued his solid play with 14 points and six assists in the game.
“I just came in with the mindset, coming into the whole summer league tournament…to just be aggressive,” Purcell said. “It starts on defense. I feel like me playing hard on defense helps me on offense.”
These are the takeaways from the Nuggets win over Boston.
Morris playing through fatigue: This was a big challenge for the high-energy point guard. It was the second of a back-to-back. He’d expended a ton of energy on Friday night running the offense and picking up ball handlers full court on defense. On Saturday, the Celtics were physical with him, didn’t allow him to get into the open court and he had to make shots, stay focused and play tough defense through fatigue.
“It takes a lot (of energy),” said Morris, after the game. “Right now, I feel good but I know once I get to my room and relax I’ll definitely feel it. But, if I’ve got to do that to get a contract, I’m not going to complain.”
And he’s done all of this while taking care of the basketball, which was his trademark coming out of college. Morris has 10 assists and just two turnovers in the first two games.
“Just trying to find my teammates,” Morris said. “I try to go out there and not even think about turnovers.”
Kenrich Williams gets a start: In the press conference following the summer league opener on Friday night, it didn’t take long for Nuggets summer league coach Jordi Fernandez to single out the defensive effort of Kenrich Williams. And for that effort, Williams was placed in the starting lineup. He made more defensive plays against the Celtics, including a blocked shot in which he showed good lateral quickness by staying with a driving ball-handler, then swatting away a pull-up jumper attempt. Williams was a plus-13 for the night.
Defense steps to the fore: One of the emerging team storylines is the fact that these Nuggets are turning out to be a very good defensive bunch. In two games, they’ve had just one bad quarter – the fourth quarter of their win over Minnesota on Friday. Still they’ve allowed just 26 field goals in each of the first two games, have held their first two opponents to 38.2 percent shooting (52-of-136) overall, and just 9-of-47 from the 3-point line (19.1 percent).
In addition, the Nuggets have forced 33 total turnovers and average 14.0 points per game off of them.
First action: Center Petr Cornelie and guard Stan Okoye both got their first taste of summer league action on Saturday night. Both came off the bench in the victory. Cornelie finished with two points and three rebounds in 14 minutes, while Okoye had four points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.
Cancar continues to impress: In the starting lineup with Tyler Lydon not playing due to rest, Vlatko Cancar played well again with nine points, six rebounds and two steals in the game. He made 4-of-7 shots from the field, and bounced back from a turned ankle to finish the game. He is not likely to be on the roster this season, but the progress he’s made has many in the organization very encouraged about his future.
“Every time you look at the kid, he’s got a smile on his face,” Fernandez said. “Every time. A lot of people have bad body language and they feel sorry for themselves. Him? Every time he walks around he’ll say hi to you and he just smiles. I think that’s contagious, and as much as that’s a little bit of ‘rah rah,’ in a team it helps a lot.”
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.