Home / World News / Denver Nuggets live out “reoccuring nightmare” in loss to Minnesota Timberwolves – The Denver Post

Denver Nuggets live out “reoccuring nightmare” in loss to Minnesota Timberwolves – The Denver Post

Karl-Anthony Towns closed the gap, before Jimmy Butler delivered the knockout blow against the Nuggets.

Yet when Denver coach Michael Malone emerged from the home locker room, his box score marked up in red pen centered again around his team’s “reoccurring nightmare.”

The Nuggets failed to protect the ball against one of the NBA’s best at swiping it. Denver allowed 21 points off 22 turnovers Wednesday night, a huge factor in its 112-104 loss at Pepsi Center.

“Every night, we’re spotting (the opponent) 20 points,” Malone said. “That’s ridiculous. If you really care about winning, you’ll take it upon yourself to say, ‘I have to value the basketball. I have to make better decisions. I have to stop making silly plays and value this ball like it’s the most important thing in the world.’

“If we do that, we win this game tonight. And we probably win a couple other games.”

Boxscore: Minnesota 112, Denver 104

Instead, the Nuggets (16-15) saw their eight-game home winning streak snapped. They also dropped their first matchup against the rival and Northwest Division-leading Timberwolves, before a quick rematch on Dec. 27 in Minneapolis. They fell to seventh place in the Western Conference standings entering a pre-Christmas road back-to-back at Portland and Golden State on Friday and Saturday.

Denver’s 22 giveaways were their second-highest total in a season in which the Nuggets have been a fixture at the bottom of the NBA in opponent points off turnovers at 20 per game. That turnover total came against a Timberwolves team that entered Wednesday ranked in the top 10 in the league in takeaways (16 per game) and points off turnovers (18.5 per game), making it the Nuggets’ top focal point entering the contest.

But poor passes, too much dribbling, deflections and uncharacteristic passed-up shots were at the root of the sloppy ball security. A career-high 10 turnovers came from Nikola Jokic, who is widely known as one of the NBA’s best passing big men.

“I need to take care of it,” said Jokic, who also finished with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists in his return to the starting lineup while working his way back from a sprained ankle. “It’s a big number, 10, but I was just trying to get my guys open.”

Denver committed three turnovers during what Malone called the game’s key stretch, a 14-4 Timberwolves run to finish the third quarter that trimmed a 14-point Nuggets lead to 84-80. Denver then coughed up five more in the final period, when Minnesota outscored the Nuggets 32-20.

Still, the Nuggets used a patchwork lineup — Jokic started at power forward alongside center Mason Plumlee, while recent G League call-up Torrey Craig started at shooting guard in place of injured leading scorer Gary Harris — to build double-digit leads in both halves. Point guard Jamal Murray scored 30 points, including a 5-of-6 mark from 3-point distance, to keep Denver within striking distance as Minnesota made its second-half charge, while Plumlee added 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his second double-double of the season.

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