Good, bad and ugly: Nuggets lose four-straight games

Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. talks with center Nikola Jokic (15) in the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center.
Nov 13, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. talks with center Nikola Jokic (15) in the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets started out the season 9-1 and they began getting national attention. Denver fully appeared to be a team that was ready to prove that they belonged among the NBA’s elite teams and were seemingly on their way towards ending their playoff drought. Since then, Denver has four-straight losses including a home loss to the Brooklyn Nets that has the team reeling.

On Tuesday, the Nuggets made it four-straight losses as they fell 109-99 to the Houston Rockets. They are now looking for answers being that they are 9-5 on the season. With that, I give you the good, bad and ugly.

The Good – New uniforms and Monte Morris’ strong play

Let’s just start it out with this.

The Nuggets had a special guest in the Pepsi Center as part of their throwback uniform celebration. Marcus Camby was honored with the Western Union first shot of the game, a video tribute,and a mural as Denver that was given to him. The Nuggets also unveiled their new skyline logo at center court for Tuesday night’s game. They also showed off their new rainbow skyline alternates as well before facing off against Houston.

In their 109-99 loss while there were not many good things to look at, but it was another big game for point guard Monte Morris. Morris had a career-high with 31 total minutes on the night and he was Denver’s first player off of the bench. Morris also is the NBA’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio finished the night with a game-high 19 points on 7-11 shooting. He was aggressive offensively and got shots to fall as he while also knocking down three of his six 3-pointers taken on the night. He was the first player off of the bench and has been a consistent source of energy and balance for the Nuggets all season long.

Morris is running the team as a true point guard, making plays for others, and has been rewarded with playing time for what he is giving Denver on a nightly basis. With his production only increasing, Malone will be hard pressed to keep him off of the floor. He was one of the brightest spots all night and will be a player to take a look at moving forward as a possible closer.

The Bad – Solid bench play unmatched

It is a shame for the bench unit to have such a solid game and Denver still lose.

Morris led the bench unit as he scored a game-high 19 points on the night and showed off his consistency. But for as consistent as Morris has been, the second unit has been just as good. Torrey Craig entered the game and made an immediate impact with limited minutes. Malik Beasley has had an energy that has been unmatched while Trey Lyles and Mason Plumlee both have been terrific. On Tuesday, that group once again found a way to keep the Nuggets in the game.

Denver’s second unit got it done defensively all night against the Rockets. The second unit also gave Denver their biggest lead of the night of seven points and was the difference in the game. For as good as the second unit played on defense, their offense was even better. Denver’s second unit outscored Houston’s bench by 22 points and continued to show why Malone has relied on them time and time again.

The starters have to find a way to match the second unit’s energy and play with the same type of zest. Far too often has Denver started the game off slow and allowed teams to stick around. If Denver’s starters are able to match what is shown from the bench, who is to say what place they can finish in the Western Conference.

The Ugly – The streak is now four

The Nuggets have gone streaking, but in a bad way

Tuesday night’s loss marks the eighth-straight time that Denver has lost to the Rockets. It is also the fourth-straight loss on the season and that number could grow even more if Denver allows the Atlanta Hawks to stick around on Thursday night. What is even more shocking is Denver has been one of the best teams at home for a couple of season’s, but Tuesday’s game was the third-straight loss in the Pepsi Center.

With four-straight losses and three at home, Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks is now as close to a must-win as there is which is interesting being that it is not a divisional game and it is so early in the season. Denver must find the rhythm they had early on in the season, capitalize in games on both ends of the court, gain and maintain a lead without giving a team that they are better than a chance to stick around, and — most importantly — get a win to end their losing streak.

Members of the Nuggets said that veteran Isaiah Thomas came into the locker room following the Houston loss and rallied the team. Thomas spoke about turning the season around, their current losing streak and also reminded Denver that they can easily reel off six straight wins as well. Maybe his speech is exactly what the team needed to hear, Thursday’s game against Atlanta will tell.

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