The Denver Nuggets faced off against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. Well, kind of. None of Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., or Christian Braun played.

The Nuggets rested their entire starting lineup plus Christian Braun in Tuesday’s 116-103 loss to the Clippers. It was a good opportunity to get an extended look at some bench configurations against a really good team, and the Nuggets likely learned a lot about different matchups.

Still, it was a preseason matchup for the sickos, and those sickos were rewarded with a relatively subpar performance from Denver. There were good elements and moments throughout the game, including Hunter Tyson’s 19 points off the bench in his 27 minutes. Still, the Nuggets struggled as a team, and they struggled on both ends of the floor.

Here are two takeaways from Denver’s Tuesday night matchup against the Clippers:

Nuggets struggle to find consistency

For awhile, the starters and bench both found ways to impact the game and keep it close. Denver led in this game into the second quarter and hung around for awhile, but relatively inefficient shooting from all levels hurt the team. The Nuggets shot 42% from the field, 31% from three, and 79% from the line. Those shooting splits can win a game under distinct circumstances, but the Nuggets didn’t defend well enough to keep the game close by the fourth quarter. Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Jordan combined to score with efficiency in the starting unit, but Julian Strawther, Peyton Watson, and Justin Holiday shot a combined 9-of-32 from the field. That didn’t help Denver’s cause.

There were some good moments early from Strawther as a cutter and spacer, but he struggled after the first quarter.

In a quest to find effective scoring, playmaking, and defense in Denver’s non-rotation guys, the Nuggets may be left with more questions than answers after tonight. Zeke Nnaji struggled in his minutes off the bench, and though Hunter Tyson played well offensively, he struggled defensively and on the glass a bit. Without Jokić or Murray directing lineups on both ends of the floor, it may be a slow process for the Nuggets in finding bench combinations that work to begin the regular season.

Braxton Key and Hunter Tyson find a rhythm

After their miraculous connection on an alley-oop layup as time expired last week, it was good to see both Braxton Key and Hunter Tyson play well tonight. Key in particular has been mostly up and down, but he should some good things against the Clippers’ switching defensive scheme. Places where switches can be vulnerable are quick changes of direction and attacking the offensive glass. Key did both tonight, finishing the game with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in 19 minutes off the bench.

Tyson looked the part offensively tonight in his own right, scoring a team-high 19 points in his 27 bench minutes, The 6’8″ Clemson forward shot 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point range, including some late shot clock heaves. For the most part, Tyson did well within the flow of the game offensively, hitting the open shots that came to him and running the floor in transition. He was scored on a lot though, giving ground to quicker players and often watching as they shot over him. That’s a prt of the learning curve though, and Tyson will learn. If he can figure things out defensively while providing the offense he did tonight, he will play regular rotation minutes for the Nuggets at some point this year.

What’s next

The Nuggets will play the Clippers again on Thursday, most likely at or near full strength in the team’s final dress rehearsal of the preseason.