The Denver Nuggets closed out 2017 with an offensive clunker in the second half of a 107-102 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Here are seven takeaways from the defeat:
1. Sharing is caring. The stat that most pops in the final box score? A Philadelphia team that entered Saturday ranked third in the NBA in assists recorded 33 on 45 made field goals. T.J. McConnell, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric all totaled six or more. Denver, meanwhile, totaled 18 on 35 made field goals, with Nikola Jokic leading the team with six.
2. Hack-a-Plumlee. For the second time this season (also at Dallas earlier this month), a Nuggets opponent deliberately started fouling starting center Mason Plumlee, who is now shooting just 38.4 percent from the free throw line this season. He missed his first five attempts Saturday before making his sixth, prompting a huge sarcastic cheer from the crowd. Denver coach Michael Malone went to bat for Plumlee, saying “I hate the fact that when he makes a free throw, the whole place is going crazy. Mason Plumlee’s not trying to miss free throws. I wish our fans would get off his back in that regard.” But the coach did acknowledge he’ll have to pull Plumlee if other teams deploy that strategy and Plumlee cannot convert from the line. And Plumlee was not irked by the crowd, calling his misses “inexcusable.”
“It bothers me when I miss them,” Plumlee said. “The reaction doesn’t mean anything.”
3. An even shorter bench. Malone believes fatigue played a factor in Saturday’s loss. That can at least partially be attributed to a short bench, which recently shrunk to eight players but was essentially down to seven Saturday when Torrey Craig got just six minutes. Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 40 minutes, with Gary Harris just behind with 39. Jokic, Wilson Chandler, Will Barton and Trey Lyles all played more than 30 minutes.
4. Temporary spark. Remember when Lyles hit that half-court heave at the end of the third quarter? Man, Jerryd Bayless quickly and single-handedly squashed that glimmer of momentum when he began the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run.
5. Good guards. The Nuggets’ backcourt of Murray, Harris and Barton combined to go 23-of-52 from the floor overall and 6-of-21 in the second half. But Saturday’s outing also drew some positives. Murray scored 30 points for the fourth time this season and second time in his last six games. He’s also totaled 20 points and seven rebounds in his last three contests. Barton dished out at least five assists for the fourth consecutive game. And Harris swiped five steals, his second-highest total of the season.
6. My ball. Denver is averaging 10.3 turnovers over its past three games, well below its season average of 15.4 per game. And those lower numbers have come against a Utah team that corralled 21 and 17 turnovers in these teams’ first two matchups, a Minnesota team that took away 21 in their first meeting and a Philadelphia team that ranks in the top 10 in the NBA in steals. Noteworthy: Former backup point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who averaged 2.1 turnovers a game, is no longer in the rotation.
Malone on the 76ers’ offense: “Each possession, you’ve got to work your butt off, because it’s constant movement. JJ Redick isn’t standing in a corner. You’re chasing. You’re chasing. You’re chasing. When you do that for two quarters, into the third quarter, into the fourth quarter, that gets tiring, man.”
Malone on his team’s progress in 2017: “When you take everything into account … overall, we’re heading in the right direction. Hopefully we can use January — which (includes) a lot of home games — to kind of build and get ahead and not just be two games over .500.”
Published at Sun, 31 Dec 2017 13:00:27 +0000