Nuggets overwhelmed in preseason opener, my column

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles upcourt during the second half of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 02: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles upcourt during the second half of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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The Denver Nuggets were overpowered in their preseason homecoming.

I was actually pretty impressed by the number of people that arrived to the Pepsi Center tonight.  A fair number of Thunder fans or not, it was still pretty good for a Tuesday preseason game at The Can in Denver.

Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets /

Denver Nuggets

Something about walking into the stadium had a different electricity to it tonight.  Everything, aside from the Nuggets play down the stretch.

Within a first few minutes of the game, Westbrook intentionally gives a hockey check into the chest of Jokic.  For being a divisional opponent, I wonder if this is how teams are game planning this year.  Try to get some impact into that two 2L a day body and try to get a rise out of him.  Will have to put a pin in that theory for later this season.

As for Jokic’s play, it was smooth and silky as you remember it being from December 10th on last year.  So glad there are no “Twin Towers” or any experimental line up play to start out the season this year.  (Who thought of that term by the way? Surely not a New Yorker.  I still stand by Ghosts Under The Post.  Tell me a better name for two smooth white guys under the hoop. I’ll wait.)  Jokic takes a chapter from Bruce Lee’s Jeet Keet Do.

For those of you who haven’t spend time in your mother’s basement reading about Bruce Lee, the elegance of Bruce Lee’s martial art was not to meet impact with impact.  Rather, to take the flow of impact, take it in, and use it back on your opponent.  Saw that early into the game as Adams would roughly jab in to push the ball of Jokic’s hand.  In a Matrix like slow scene, Jokic simply spur around that outreached hand, found himself behind Adam’s and did his 2 inch layup for the score.  Pure beauty.  (I spent longer than I should trying to track down a clip of that play.  Sorry, reader.)

The Nuggets spent most of the half behind and playing catch up. I was excited to see Torrey Craig play with the starters.  Game was clearly still to fast for him.  His head was snapping back and forth from Carmelo to Westbrook to George so fast, I thought he was going to go full Exorcist pre-Halloween.  (And with no Steve Hess, I would fear for his recovery.)

The only positive from the first half was the intensity in which Murray played Westbrook on both sides of the court.  Diving for loose balls.  Playing him close.  Not afraid to drive.  You could tell the kid was determined to prove to himself that he was good enough to play with the reigning MVP.  You’ll get your chance more than you’d like this year, kid..

In the second half, the Nuggets were able to close the gap and go up 20-25 in the third.  Going into the fourth, they were down 5 and basically held that distance until 5 minutes left in the game when Paul George stepped on the Nuggets proverbial throats with two back to back threes.

With the game basically wrapped up as a loss, Malone put in 2017 first round pick, Tyler Lydon.  Initially, I caught myself muttering under my breath…”thisss guy”..but before I could finish, Ty-Ly blocked a shot off the glass..recovered the turn over..ran to the other side of the court with the ball..drained a three..only to run back and block a dunk back on the defensive side of the court.  OKAY, LYDON. OKAY.  We see you.

It was almost funny to see 18 players on the bench.  For most of the game, Josh Childress sat behind the basket with fans.  I want to say poor guy but I don’t see him making this roster.  Sorry, Josh!

All in all, good to be back at Pepsi Center again.  Went to the shop afterwords to check all the new Nike gear and was surprised by how many people were walking around.  (I bought a flag. It will be exhausting switching out the Bronco flag in between games for this flag, but I don’t want my neighbors thinking I’m not fully committed.  Can you imagine?)

Next: Recap: Nuggets host Thunder

The Nuggets kick off the regular season next Wednesday in Utah against the Jazz.  This season going to be one hell of a ride.