The preliminary round of summer league concluded on Tuesday night, with the Golden State Warriors clinching a top seed and first-round bye in the upcoming tournament. On the other end of the spectrum were the Denver Nuggets, who went into the evening ranked dead last in the seeding and further cemented themselves there after getting thrashed by the Washington Wizards.
Jan Vesely did most of the damage for the Wizards, scoring 18 points on 11 shots in just 21 minutes. Washington had little trouble establishing a comfortable lead midway through the first quarter and were able to put it on cruise control the rest of the night.
On the Denver side of things, it was a nightmare. There were glimmers of hope throughout the Nuggets’ first two double-digit losses in summer league, but the latest affair only confirmed what the standings already said: the Nuggets can’t get anything going and have been the worst performing club of the preliminary round by far.
With the losses mounting and the offense following the defense into a state of utter disarray, the Nuggets did their best to stay positive and upbeat. Coach Lester Conner delivered a lengthy speech following the game and seemed confident the Nuggets would be able to stick together and shake off the three big losses heading into tournament play.
“We’ve got to show that we can handle pressure” said Conner after another blowout loss. “23 turnovers for 35 points is way too much. We told the guys at the beginning of the game and the end of the game don’t let our offense dictate how our defense plays. And the last few games we’ve been giving teams fifty plus percent [shooting] from the floor.”
Conner spoke in broad terms when asked what was the number one thing Denver needed to work on heading into tournament play. “Execution on both ends of the floor” he said. “We’re not getting any execution on the defensive schemes and we can’t get into any of our offensive sets.”
There are no easy fixes for a team struggling in so many different areas.
Throughout all of the losing, Quincy Miller continues to show glimpses of a promising all-around game and told me he feels confident the team will be able to stick together and play with confidence in the upcoming games. When asked if a lack of experience and the loss of Jordan Hamilton were wearing on the team, Quincy said the Nuggets’ biggest problems were simpler than that.
“We ain’t trying to make no excuses. We should have played better. We gotta play hard, that’s the bottom line. If we play hard it’ll make up for a lot our mistakes.”
Miller and Evan Fournier were the lone Nuggets to score in double figures. Fournier led the team with 12 points on 9 shots and Quincy finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes.
The Nuggets are the #22 seed and are schedule to play #11 seeded New Orleans in round one on Wednesday afternoon. The game is scheduled for 3:00pm in the Cox Pavilion.
Quincy enjoys physical battle with Vesely
Coach Lester Conner continued to experiment with playing Quincy Miller at multiple positions. The long and versatile Miller started at the four again but spent more time at the three than he did in the first two contests. Miller was one of the few Nuggets able to get some defensive pressure on Vesely with his length, but Jan had a great game and made some pretty difficult shots.
Quincy displayed some toughness and a mean streak in a physical matchup with Vesely, which he seemed to enjoy. When asked about the chippiness early on, Quincy replied “I think Vesely’s a great player. He’s older than me, but I’m not gonna let you punk me — that’s never gonna happen. We was going at each other and that was pretty fun.”