Lacking energy, the Nuggets struggle with Timberwolves’ top guns

Falling 112-99 on Wednesday, the Denver Nuggets struggled to contain the Minnesota Timberwolves’ young stars, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Wiggins shot 10/14 by halftime and finished with a game high 40 points. Towns dominated the glass down low and finished with a game high 19 rebounds, while adding 24 points.

“Wiggins and Towns are a handful,” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said postgame regarding the dynamic duo.  “The point of attack, the containment, or lack thereof, was probably the most disappointing thing. You have to embrace that challenge and guard Andrew Wiggins. Don’t rely on the help. Know that it’s there, but don’t rely on it. Tonight, we just got beat at the point of attack way too easy.”

Wiggins simply could not be stopped. His silky jumper or strong penetration into the paint saw no resistance throughout the game from Denver. No assignment that coach Malone put together worked against Minnesota’s leading scorer.

As for Towns, he was effective on both sides of the ball. He consistently got the better of Nikola Jokic, as he and the rest of the Nuggets did not put on enough pressure offensively.

“Tonight, we made ourselves very easy to guard,” Malone said. “We didn’t cut, we stood, we watched and therefore, kind of bogged down offensively. I think at times Nikola was frustrated, he was trying to impose his will on the game and against Towns and obviously, sometimes, when you try to do too much, you get yourself in trouble.”

Center Mason Plumlee looked decent in his Nuggets debut (11 points, nine rebounds), playing above the rim with his athleticism. Forced to play more than was probably expected due to injuries, he did seem to have a little trouble adjusting to the altitude.

“I felt bad, geez,” Malone explained. “His first game, I played him 34 minutes, and he was gassed. It’s great to see him out there. The athleticism that he brings, the lob threat, the above the rim threat that he has, but he was definitely tired.”

That same laggy and tiring theme continued all game long with an offense that could be described as lethargic, bogged down or simply, not good. The whole team seemed tired as well, as there was little energy and there was no flow to the offense. The Nuggets will have plenty of time to rest and recover, as they head into the All-Star break. The 25-31 Nuggets will return to play Feb. 23, when the team visits the Sacramento Kings.

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