The Denver Nuggets’ road woes continued Monday, falling 122-105 to a Dallas Mavericks team that entered this game with the worst record in the Western Conference.
Here are nine additional takeaways from the contest:
1. The opposite of “Home Sweet Home.” The Nuggets aren’t just losing on the road. They’re getting throttled, with seven of the eight defeats coming by double digits. And that shows in the defensive numbers. Denver is a respectable 15th in the NBA in defensive rating at home (103.3 points allowed per 100 possessions). On the road, the Nuggets are 27th at 111.5 points per 100 possessions.
2. Did we forget they’re shorthanded? The absence of Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap did not come up in any postgame media session that I was a part of. Players and coaches openly preached following the Bulls and Lakers games that they wouldn’t use injuries as an excuse. They showed that by not even bringing it up after Monday’s loss.
3. Just a bit rusty. In positive health news for Denver, starting small forward Wilson Chandler returned after missing four of the previous six games with lower back pain. But … he looked like a guy who hasn’t played much over the past couple weeks, going just 1-of-11 from the floor with wide-open misses from beyond the arc and close range. He did, however, contribute seven rebounds and three assists.
4. Silver linings. Coach Michael Malone noted his team “finally” took care of the ball on the road, committing just seven turnovers for nine points. Another positive? The Nuggets had 25 assists on 38 made field goals, after entering Monday’s game averaging 18 assists in road games. Will Barton led the Nuggets with six assists, while Mason Plumlee and Gary Harris both had four assists. Murray also notched his second consecutive game with 20 points or more on 7-of-12 shooting (including four 3-pointers), though he did not grab a rebound or dish out an assist.
5. Small ball. The Nuggets went small for a good portion of the night, with Plumlee getting just 19 minutes and Kenneth Faried tallying a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) in 28 minutes. Trey Lyles also wound up playing some center, a position he says he’s worked at in practice this week and knew he would play heading into the contest.
6. Puzzling Plumlee. His first-quarter line was one of the strangest I’ve seen: One point, four rebounds, three assists, zero field-goal attempts and a 1-of-6 mark from the free-throw line (including an air ball). He then did not play at all in the second quarter, and then 11 minutes total in the second half.
7. Beasley’s back. Malone highlighted the effort of second-year guard Malik Beasley, who finished with two points and three rebounds in eight minutes after not playing in Denver’s previous two games. After Beasley tried to track down a first-half loose ball that trickled out of bounds, Malone encouragingly stuck out his hand to high-five Beasley as he went back to the other end of the floor.
8. Fixer upper. Denver has five road games in a row remaining over the next 10 days. What can be fixed immediately before the Nuggets face the Pelicans in New Orleans?
“Our minds,” Murray said. “We’ve got to relax. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes a little bit quicker.”
9. The Commander in Chief. Monday was “Seats for Soldiers” night in Dallas, which honors local military. And a special guest showed up courtside — former president George W. Bush. He and wife Laura then spent all of halftime making their way around the arena to individually shake the hands of the men and women who serve.