The Denver Nuggets lost to the Chicago Bulls 131-113 on Friday night, dropping to 0-2 on the preseason. The Nuggets were without Nikola Jokić (out due to sprained right wrist), and though the offense performed at a solid level, the defense that Michael Malone had preached throughout a week of practices simply wasn’t present.

Jamal Murray struggled in the first half until near the end of the second quarter when he grabbed the back of his left thigh. He exited immediately and was held out for the rest of the game with left thigh soreness, accumulating just two points and five assists.

DeAndre Jordan started in Jokić’s place, playing 23 minutes and producing seven points, 10 rebounds, and three assists, though also four turnovers on some fumbled passes. Bones Hyland led the team with 24 points off the bench while Michael Porter Jr. added 20 of his own.

Here are my three primary takeaways from Friday night’s preseason game:

Michael Porter Jr.’s scoring never left

After Porter scored 12 points on seven shots in Denver’s first preseason game, he looked to build on that effort on Friday night. In 22 minutes, Porter put up 20 points on 8-of-17 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point range, showcasing a wide array of jumpers on the perimeter. He got up a ton of shots without Jokić on the floor and with Murray looking to distribute in his first half minutes. Porter also added seven rebounds, one assist, and three steals to the boxscore.

With Porter, there’s certainly still some randomness to where and how he comes by his shots, but he makes enough to almost always justify taking them. Tonight, he pushed those bounds and explored some creative shots around the mid-range area. This is the time where the Nuggets should encourage him to explore those bounds as a shot creator off the dribble. As he continues to work his way back, the Nuggets will continue to hone in on exactly how he can pick his spots when Jokić’s out there too.

Defense gets demolished

The Nuggets started off the game pretty well defensively with their starting group, containing the Bulls perimeter slashing attack well with DeAndre Jordan in drop coverage.

Unfortunately, that did not last. The bench entered and immediately let go of the rope. Zeke Nnaji struggled with Andre Drummond’s size. The transition defense Michael Malone had consistently preached at practice this week was nowhere to be seen. Ultimately, the Nuggets gave up 45 points in the second quarter, 72 in the first half, and 131 in the game. The Nuggets couldn’t stop the Bulls from anywhere when it was all said and done.

If there’s a long term concern for Denver, it’s that the defense has to find new levels this season. So far, it hasn’t happened, but there’s plenty of preseason left.

Bones filled it up off the bench

After a rough first game of the preseason, Bones recovered well in the second game, contributing 24 points on 7-of-14 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point range. Bones added two assists compared to three turnovers, but it was nice to see the scoring pop. He also played with improved effort on the defensive end and came up with some stops in 1-on-1 coverage.

Around Bones in that bench unit, the Nuggets were decidedly lacking in firepower. The only other bench player to score more than seven points was Ish Smith, the third string point guard, who had eight. Bruce Brown, Davon Reed, Jeff Green, and Zeke Nnaji are all fine complementary scorers in their own right, but Bones can’t do everything. He’s going to need some help this year.

Final Rotations