The Denver Nuggets lost their first game of the season on Wednesday night in a 110-89 blowout at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jamal Murray shot 0-of-9 from the field in the first half, the worst shooting half of his NBA career from an efficiency standpoint. He finished the game with 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds on 5-of-16 from the field, but not before the game was mostly out of reach. Nikola Jokić had 25 points on 11-of-23 from the field, also dishing out three assists compared to five turnovers. It was a performance for both players well below their usual standards and set the tone for a tough Nuggets loss all-around.

On the other end, Anthony Edwards led the way for the Timberwolves with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. It wasn’t his most efficient performance, but the Nuggets had trouble slowing down the dynamic shooting guard, and he was in control for most of the night.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets road matchup with the Timberwolves on Wednesday night:

Timberwolves size causes Nuggets issues

The Timberwolves are the first team the Nuggets have played all season that might actually be bigger than them.

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. struggled going toward the rim in this one, especially early on. Rudy Gobert was a strong rim deterrent playing off of Aaron Gordon in the dunker spot. Karl-Anthony Towns did a good job against Nikola Jokić in man coverage, and as a result, the Nuggets were unable to generate as many of the easy shots going toward the rim as they normally do against most teams. Gobert’s rim protection combined with rearview contests from Jaden McDaniels, who guarded Jamal Murray all night, were both major issues.

Last postseason, the T’Wolves didn’t have Jaden McDaniels to match up with Jamal Murray defensively. The had Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who was very good himself, but not the All-Defense candidate that McDaniels has become. The Timberwolves ran out of bodies to throw at the Nuggets defensively without McDaniels or Naz Reid available. The series result doesn’t change if those guys play, but it becomes a closer matchup for sure. The T’Wolves are built to give Denver issues offensively, a rarity in the NBA today. This is a matchup to watch going forward.

 Michael Porter Jr. struggles again

While the Timberwolves interior defense was strong, there’s little reason why Porter should have struggled so much from the perimeter tonight. While Murray struggled mightily in the first half, he bounced back in the second half with a 5-of-7 shooting stretch. Porter stayed stuck at five points on 2-of-11 from the field and 0-of-5 from three, and the majority of the shots were open and in rhythm.

Porter’s begun the season shooting 10-of-32 from three-point range, good for 31.2%. It’s only been five games, and Porter’s still working his way into rhythm after missing the entire preseason. This was the first time the Nuggets were burned by a bad shooting night from their ace shooter. He’s due for some regression to the mean, and the Nuggets starting lineup could certainly use his shotmaking capabilities, especially against a team like the Timberwolves that prefer to pack the paint defensively.

The 82-0 dream is finally over

The Nuggets were due for a regression to the mean at some point. After beginning the season 4-0, they finally faced a team that made them work for it on both ends of the floor. The T’Wolves are way better, especially against the Nuggets, than their record states. They’re one of the tougher matchups for Denver in the NBA for that reason.

Now though, the Nuggets will have to regroup. There’s been a lot of discussion about the Nuggets being the unquestioned best team in the world from several national outlets after the hot start. They’re not levels above everyone when they can’t generate the shots they want, and the Nuggets will have to find that aggressive gear again, especially ahead of another back-to-back coming up next.

We will see if this game was a blip or something more.

What’s Next

The Nuggets head home for a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls. The Mavericks matchup on Friday night is the first game of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament, so pay special attention to that one.

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