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 Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images) /

Maybe the Pelicans are better off without AD.

Silly, right?  They beat the Harden-led Rockets on Tuesday night before taking the second-seeded Nuggets to the wire on Wednesday.  All without the services of their erstwhile star.

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets /

Denver Nuggets

Davis may have put away his Pelicans gear for good after the team removed him from most of their media.  It’s an ugly situation for New Orleans and I do not envy them.  With Davis under contract until 2020, the Pels can exhibit some patience and wait out the right deal, similar to what Denver did with Carmelo.

Speaking of playing 48 minutes of defense, props to the Pelicans Jrue Holiday who was a menace defensively to the Nuggets on Wednesday night.  Going back to the value of a veteran like Isaiah Thomas on the roster, Holiday exhibits the wisdom of a veteran that knows the path to glory is paved on the defensive end.  That extra effort always pays off.  Denver players have it in spurts but the next step is to display that intensity over an entire game.

They did it for the first third of the season.  Injuries sapped their resolve for much of December and January.  Survival mode allows for a team to revert to what they know they do well and that is score the basketball.  With stalwarts Millsap and Harris back in the starting lineup, though, the Nuggets need to bring that full 48 mentality back to bear on their remaining schedule.

The game felt like the Nuggets had things working, they would surge to a lead, look like they were going to accelerate then fall flat and let the Pelicans recover.  It was frustrating but it never felt like the game was getting away as it did two nights before in Memphis.

Nikola notched his 24th career triple-double with 20 points 13 rebounds and 10 assists.  Beasley was there for his team again, scoring 22 including a 4-6 performance from three.  Mason Plumlee was his usual solid, productive self but we’d like to point out that he’s now hit 19 of his last 23 free throws.  He was 3-4 on Wednesday.  How often do you see bigs get better from the stripe?  A testament to Mason’s work ethic and first-year Nuggets assistant Mark Price‘s influence.

The hero on Wednesday though was Monte Morris.  With Jamal Murray’s injured ankle keeping him out of his fourth consecutive game, Morris did a fantastic job of being the floor general his mother described in an in-game interview.  When the Nuggets were struggling with their three-point shooting, it was Morris who drained the shots that kept Denver in the game.  While his play doesn’t inspire us to sign off on an IT trade, Monte has certainly proven himself a reliable, sometimes spectacular professional.

That’s huge for a team that seems cursed by the injury gods.  Morris’ presence kept the Nuggets afloat on Wednesday but it couldn’t fill the void left by the Murray injury: