The Denver Nuggets lost last night to the Orlando Magic 116-110 in a game where they lacked energy early. The starters for the Nuggets were unable in the early quarters to keep the game close, being down by five or more points for a majority of the first two quarters.
The bright side of this game was the Nuggets continued to fight even after falling behind big multiple times. The Nuggets were down by as many as 18 to the Magic in the third quarter, but because of the grit and determination they showed late, they were able to stay competitive down the final stretch of the game.
This game was quite similar to the Monday night game in the way that the offense was firing, but the defense just wasn’t there and the big stops were not made late when it mattered most. Seven separate players scored in double figures for the Nuggets, four of them coming off the bench. the bench in total, led by Will Barton and his 15 points, outscored Orlando’s bench 55-35.
Ex-Nugget Evan Fournier led Orlando in scoring with 30 points shooting 11-19 from the field and 5-9 from deep. Fournier was clearly playing with a little more motivation last night against his old team and there was even some exception taken to a late foul on him by Nikola Jokic. Earning himself a technical after shoving Jokic, Fournier played with some extra fire and was ultimately the dagger that put the Nuggets away.
The defensive scheme was just not working as they allowed the Magic to shoot 54.3%. Fournier with his 30 points and Victor Oladipo with 23 of his own fueled the Magic to this win. Even with seven players scoring in double figures for the Nuggets, no way stayed hot enough to carry this team to the victor and the late stops weren’t there for the Nuggets. Although the loss hurts, every loss means a more likely chance at a better draft pick.
For the young Denver Nuggets, the losses and wins really don’t matter at this point. Even if they pull off a miracle and make the playoffs, they will likely not get far. This doesn’t matter though. All that the Nuggets should be focusing on is developing their young players and preparing them for a playoff run in the next couple of years. The growth seen from the start of the year for players like Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Gary Harris has been staggering and the ceiling for these players is quite high.
The Nuggets play next on Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks. It will be a tough game, but certainly an exciting one and if the Nuggets manage to pull off a win it will likely be because of a couple of great performances from some of the young guys on the team.