Nuggets Journal: Hemorrhaging factors, Denver’s protection “nowhere near where we need to be”
CHICAGO – Aaron Gordon pulled up close to the elbow and buried the mid-range look.
It was the kind of play that ought to’ve pressured the Bulls to take the ball out of the basket, work the ball up the court docket and face a set protection — the sort that might probably impede an opponent.
But with 3:42 left within the first half of Friday evening’s second preseason recreation, the Nuggets meandered again up the court docket. Gordon, Jamal Murray, DeAndre Jordan and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had been all behind their respective males. Michael Porter Jr., backpedaling up the court docket, was not.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine inbounded it rapidly. He discovered Ayo Dosunmu, who was prepared to push the tempo. When Dosunmu regarded up, he noticed Javonte Green streaking previous Porter and towards the ring.
The ensuing alley-oop lob was demoralizing to a group already hemorrhaging factors. Even extra so, it had been a degree of emphasis all through the whole week and as not too long ago as Friday morning at shootaround. It was unassailable proof of how related a protection wanted to be, particularly in transition, to succeed.
Asked particularly in regards to the protection, Porter knew precisely the place the lapses had been.
“Just getting back,” he mentioned. “Too many guys crashing the offensive glass.”
The solely drawback is that on the play in query, Porter didn’t go wherever close to the glass. He simply didn’t hustle again.
After the sport – a humbling 131-113 defeat to the Bulls – Malone was downtrodden at how little of his message had landed.
At shootaround, they harped on transition protection. They drilled it in hopes it will turn out to be a behavior.
Instead, as Malone aptly put it, “Guys looked at me like I’ve got three heads.”
Denver gave up 23 fastbreak factors in Friday’s loss to the Bulls. In the primary half alone, they’d conceded 40 factors within the paint, a mind-numbing quantity and one so egregious it indicated breakdowns in each scheme and energy. When Denver shored up its inside protection within the second half, limiting Chicago to only 10 factors inside, it was their 3-point protection that bought gashed. Chicago hit 13 3-pointers over the ultimate two quarters, connecting on 65% of the appears.
“It was no (defensive) shift because it was bad to bad,” Malone mentioned.
In their preseason opener earlier this week, the Nuggets bought pounded for 50 factors inside in opposition to the Thunder. There was no enchancment.
At coaching camp in San Diego, the Nuggets talked overtly about attempting to be a top-five protection. That consists of defending the ball higher, defending the paint, speaking and shutting out.
“We’re two preseason games in, probably about 10 days into this preseason, and we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Malone mentioned.
Some might be attributed to Nikola Jokic’s absence Friday as he tended to a wrist damage again in Denver. Some might be attributed to Jamal Murray, who left Friday’s recreation attributable to a cramp in his hamstring, and the lengthy street he faces again to being himself. Porter remains to be easing his manner again, too.
There are new items up and down the roster. Eight new faces in complete, together with new components who’ll issue into the rotation. But there are solely three extra video games left within the preseason. The offense has but to gel, although that’s the least of anybody’s issues. The protection, which was emphasised and drilled all week, bought punctured. Even worse, it was the portion of the roster that was most closely addressed this offseason.
Malone ended his postgame news convention by reminding whoever was watching that nobody within the NBA was going to really feel sorry for them. If the Nuggets have actual championship designs, it’s time they begin laying the inspiration.
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