Denver Nuggets: 3 Takeaways from the Mini Road Trip

Denver Nuggets(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Denver Nuggets(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Remember 174-1.

That’s the record this season for teams that held 25-point leads in a game.  The one belongs to the Denver Nuggets after erasing a 25-point third quarter deficit to beat the struggling Memphis Grizzlies 95-92 on Monday night.

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What do we make of this game?  Do we lament the play that got Denver down 25 or do we celebrate the comeback (including a 35-15 fourth quarter surge)?

I can tell you that watching both the Memphis game and Wednesday night’s game in New Orleans, I felt concerned about Denver’s defensive effort.  Though they turned it on in the fourth in both games, they were playing struggling teams and in the case of the Pelicans, a team that was missing 4 starters including Davis and top bench player Julius Randle. Good basketball teams are not going to collapse or make inexplicable mistakes down the stretch to bail the Nuggets out.

The defensive effort must be 48 minutes.  Opponent three-point shooting is climbing rapidly and it’s been a problem for the Nuggets.  It’s going to be a bigger problem if they can’t find that early-season energy. The playoffs, particularly in the West are brutal for teams that can’t defend the three-point line. Steph Curry, James Harden, Paul George, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can all torch a stout defensive team.  A lazy defensive effort against those guys and there won’t be any 25-point comebacks.

So while we do celebrate the win, any win on the road is special, we do so with appropriate concern over Denver’s defensive effort.

Malik Beasley was special on Monday, scoring 13 of his 18 points in that big fourth quarter.  Will Barton made the three that capped the Nuggets comeback and Nikola Jokic added 24.

Wednesday night was another tight contest: