With Friday's blowout loss to the Houston Rockets, the Denver Nuggets have officially been bounced from the NBA's inaugural In-Season Tournament. The reigning NBA champions finished the group-stage with a record of 2-2 and a point differential of -10.
After the 105-86 defeat in Houston, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was none too pleased with his reserves. The man in charge took the opportunity to put them on notice in his post-game press conference.
"I just told them, I'm going to start playing different people," Malone told reporters postgame (h/t Harrison Wind). "You just can't go out there because you think you're going to play and go out there and do nothing. You've got to bring something to the party. "
The Denver Nuggets didn't get much from their bench against the Houston Rockets
Malone's message to his bench came after they put on a rough display against the Rockets.
The six reserves who took the floor for Denver in Houston combined to score just 10 points while shooting just 4-of-15 from the field. Things looked rough during Peyton Watson and Julian Strawther's brief appearances in the In-Season Tournament finale. In just under six minutes of play, Watson logged a +/- of -18 and Strawther was a -15.
It looks like the Nuggets are finally beginning to feel the departure of Bruce Brown, who left town to join the Indiana Pacers over the summer. Brown served as a key piece of Denver's success on their way to their first-ever NBA title last season.
Christian Braun has been solid in Brown's absence, averaging 9.5 points per game on 48.4% shooting from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc.
Friday's loss marks Denver's third in their last four games, bringing their overall record to 10-6 on the season. Of course, things will improve when Jamal Murray returns from injury. Murray has missed the last nine games after injuring his hamstring earlier this month.