The Denver Nuggets lose the first game of a back-to-back stretch to the dysfunctional Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tonight’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers is either an anomaly performance from a team followed by an ominous black cloud or the Denver Nuggets suffering from road trip fatigue. Regardless of the reason, Denver suffered defeat at the hands of the hopeless 12-27 Eastern Conference team.
Western Night at the Pepsi Center ended in a showdown despite the Cavaliers up by 17 earlier in the game. The fourth quarter saw the two-man crew of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray catch fire, ultimately leading to a brief lead for the Denver Nuggets.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers responded positively to the Nuggets’ counter jab. The collective production of Cleveland’s starting lineup deemed too much for the Nuggets to handle. Saturday night’s win plays a different tune considering the controversy in Cleveland.
Perhaps, tonight’s win plays the catalyst of a much-needed boost in morale. Between Kevin Love‘s apparent disagreement with the Cavaliers’ front office and head coach John Beilein’s confusion with words, Cleveland fans needed this victory.
Omen in the first quarter
The first possession started with a three-point field goal missed by Darius Garland, nothing new there. However, the following sequence would haunt the Nuggets for the duration of the contest. Tristan Thompson pulled down an offensive rebound then capitalized on an and-one opportunity.
Although teams centered around two frontcourt players aren’t ideal in this era, the Cavaliers, for at least one night, gave a dash of hope to a few Turner Sports “analyst”. The two bigs played a role in dominating the boards and stretching the floor.
In addition to the frontcourt, the inexperienced guards Darius Garland and Collin Sexton gave the Denver Nuggets’ backcourt a run for its max-money. Despite the lovely return, of Will Barton, the Nuggets ended on the wrong side of the scoreboard trailing 23-18 after the first period.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter
After the Nuggets fans spent most the night tossing and turning in their seats waiting for its beloved team to show some life, the fourth quarter granted them a chance to hope again. On the heels of a remarkable comeback victory, the momentum shifted in Denver’s favor.
The Nuggets blessed the fans with a 17-4 run to start the fourth period. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers dealt with Mike Malone’s zone defense assigned to deny the paint from destroying its comeback chances.
While the Cavaliers attempted to shake off the flurry of buckets, Murray and Jokic combined for 24 points. The crowd went nuts following a three-point basket from Murray to tie the game 93 all. Next on the cheer-invoking list is Jokic; the Serbian star banged one from deep to give the Nuggets its first lead since the first quarter.
However, in spite of Love and Thompson’s lack of productivity in the last period, the Cavaliers backcourt picked up the slack for its two veterans. Sexton, the igniter of Love’s on-court meltdown, scored nine points, deemed enough for the last stand.
Despite the Nuggets outscoring Cleveland 32-26, the sluggish start bit the home team where it hurts, the loss column.
Player of the game
Collin Sexton singlehandedly outplayed Jamal Murray and struggling guard Gary Harris. The Cleveland guard scored 25 points shooting 4-7 from deep and didn’t give Denver’s offense any freebies by only coughing the ball up once. The point guard also ended the contest with a game-high offensive rating at 126.9.