Denver hits 1st two-game skid
BY VINNY BENEDETTO firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
The Nuggets lost consecutive games for the first time this season. Here are three takeaways from Denver’s 121-109 loss against the Cavaliers. 1. It doesn’t happen often, but the Nuggets needed more, and better, from Nikola Jokic. He was his typical efficient-scoring self, making 8-of-13 shots for 19 points. He added 10 rebounds and seven assists, but he had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists at halftime. The low point came early in the third quarter when Denver’s star was called for back-to-back offensive fouls, giving him five for the game. After being whistled for an elbow to Jarrett Allen’s midsection with just under 8 minutes left, Jokic elevated his elbow on the ensuing possession. His fifth foul, which sent him to the bench for the remainder of the third quarter, was upgraded to a flagrant. Down 15 when he picked up his fourth foul, there was enough time to mount a comeback, but it was a 17-point deficit when he returned to start the fourth quarter. Although there was reason to be frustrated with the way he was officiated at times, Denver needed more for its best player Sunday. 2. That sounded like a pretty loud message from Michael Malone to Peyton Watson. Watson was expected to be one of the more important players off the bench this season, but he’s struggled to hold onto his spot in the rotation. Watson didn’t play Sunday in Cleveland, not even in the final minutes when Malone used Hunter Tyson and Collin Gillespie in garbage time. Sunday marked the first time this season Watson did not play. Through the first 12 games of the season, Watson’s averaging 4.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in just over 14 minutes per game. 3. There’s no need to make too much of the past couple of games, even if another loss comes Monday in Detroit. This feels like the stretch last season where the Nuggets lost at Atlanta, at New Orleans and at home to Dallas in early December. Denver lost consecutive games on six different occasions last season and still managed to go 16-4 in the playoffs. This year’s squad should be even more confident after the championship run. Jamal Murray’s absence is an easy excuse, and the ramifications have impacted Denver’s bench rotations that remain in flux, but it’s better to have these problems early in the season than late.