BROOKLYN – When the Denver Nuggets lost to the Brooklyn Nets, it came down to one singular reason; Denver’s complete inability to keep the Nets out of the painted area.

“Too many layups,” Nuggets starting point guard Jamal Murray explained when asked to sum up Denver’s loss. “It was like basket after basket and layup after layup. It can’t be that easy. Guys are just walking into the paint and doing whatever they want. We have to be stronger down there. If you need to take a foul, take a foul, but the whole game, it was just points in the paint.

“It was just too easy for them all night.”

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone also shared the exact same sentiment that Murray did when he spoke during his postgame press conference.

“They dominated the paint 66-22,” Malone stated with a hint of frustration in his tone.

“It seemed like all night long, it was easy layup after easy layup and that makes it really hard. We had a chance even in light of that, but tough loss.”

By the time the Nuggets fell 105-102 to the Nets for their fourth loss in their last five games, Brooklyn had accumulated a laughable 66 points in the paint. The Nets hit 33 of their 55 attempted shots in the same area and there was seemingly nothing Denver could do about it.

So what went wrong for Denver? What led to their stout defense collapsing in such a horrific way?

“Honestly, our defense and our urgency were there sometimes, but not all of the time,” Monte Morris explained after putting up nine points and four assists in his 15 minutes of action. “I feel like they just knew they could drive us and get into our paint and just lay the ball up.”

“They were going under a lot,” Malone explained. “We hit 18 threes so we took away the three and ended up giving up the paint in the process. They took away the paint and ended up giving up the three in the process.”

Another reason that the Nuggets struggled to defend the paint was because they did not have their free safety patrolling the paint as the low-man.

All year long, Paul Millsap has been a menace as an off-ball defender, but because he was stuck out on the perimeter guarding Taurean Prince, he was never in position to be his usual disruptive self.

“Because you have to respect Tauren’s jump shot and run him off,” Will Barton III told Mile High Sports when asked if Millsap being drawn out of the paint was an issue for Denver’s defense against the Nets. “A lot of times he is floating on the perimeter so Paul wasn’t in the paint a lot tonight.”

There was no more brutal 12-mintue stretch for the Nuggets than the third quarter; a quarter that Malone called “a joke”.

“That third quarter was a joke,” Malone explained. “They had I think 26 of their 29 points in the paint…We took away the three-point line, but there was no resistance at the rim.”

In that third quarter, the Nuggets allowed the Nets to unleash 19 shots in the painted area and the Nets hit 13 of them for 26 of their 29 points in the quarter. No team, regardless of who Denver has defending the paint, should ever be able to score 26 points in the paint in a single quarter.

“It seemed like it was layup lines out there,” Malone said.

Because the Nuggets paint defense was so porous, Denver’s offense began to struggle as well. Seemingly every possession began with the Nuggets passing the ball in from the baseline after giving up yet another easy basket at the rim. Because Denver was never able to get out and run, no rhythm was established.

“I don’t know; I don’t have the answer, but I just know that it was too many layups,” Murray said. “I’m on the court and I am taking the ball out of the net four or five times in a row.”

Denver could only muster 102 points despite hitting 18 shots from beyond the three-point arc because they were never able to create easy looks at the rim which is represented by Denver’s disastrous 22 points in the paint. Somehow, in a 48-minute basketball game, Denver only took a measly 23 shots in the painted area.

But Denver’s issues did not stop there. They were haunted by a former University of Colorado Buffalo who constantly tore the Nuggets defense to pieces.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who hit the final two layups to give the Nets their narrow victory over the Nuggets, was slicing through Denver’s defense every second he was on the floor. He finished with 24 points on 10-17 shooting to go with eight assists and each and every bucket looked effortless.

“Dinwiddie got whatever he wanted,” Will Barton III told Mile High Sports. “He scored at the rim, made the right passes at the rim, or hit shooters; he picked us apart tonight. He did whatever he wanted and we really couldn’t contain the ball in those pick and roll situations.”

For now, the Nuggets must go back to the film to diagnose what affliction is hurting their defense, but no one is panicking. The Nuggets still have the second-best defensive rating in the league at the time of this writing and have been incredibly consistent all year long on that end of the floor.

Denver is not panicking, but no one is pretending that they don’t have issues to address.

“We’ve done it before,” Morris explained. “We know what we are capable of doing, but tonight was one of those nights where we did not execute our game plan and play Nuggets defense.”