In a sloppy and turnover-filled affair Wednesday, the Denver Nuggets dropped the final game 99-85 in their season series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The loss means that the now 18-54 76ers have swept the 27-45 Nuggets this season.

And boy, the way the Nuggets played Wednesday was just the icing on the cake of that little factoid.

Robert Covington had 25 points for Philadelphia, and Nerlens Noel lived up to his defensive reputation, causing absolute havoc in the paint along with power forward Jerami Grant. Noel finished with four blocks, Grant with five; the 76ers as a team finished with 12 on the night, and forced Denver into a jump-shooting, hesitant squad that turned the ball over 16 times.

When the Nuggets weren’t turning the ball over, they weren’t making shots either. The team shot under 35 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from downtown. Wilson Chandler probably had the best night for Denver – he finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds and shot 4-8 from three-point range. Ty Lawson also added 19 points and got to the foul line, but like the rest of the team, struggled from the floor (where he finished just 6-16).

Bad shooting night happen, and the Nuggets were actually tired with Philadelphia mid-way through the final quarter. That was thanks in part to 16 Philadelphia turnovers, which led to some easy buckets at the rim that Denver wasn’t generating. Lawson made a pair of threes, followed by a Jameer Nelson lay-in, that put Denver up four, and it looked like the team was starting to settle in and would survive the clank-fest.

But after giving up their narrow lead in the fourth, the Nuggets could do almost nothing down the stretch. Hounded by Noel, the Nuggets made just four field goals in the fourth, one of which was a meaningless Lawson jumper with under a minute remaining. It didn’t help that the Nuggets were already on their heels and not attacking the basket with their usual vigor.

Despite Denver’s improved play of late, the Nuggets are still playing down to their competition. If there’s one thing departed coach Brian Shaw had right, it was that Denver can’t afford to play anything but their best night-in and night-out. Poor shooting nights happen, but the Nuggets allowed the 76ers to take control of the paint and style of play early on, and it cost them down the stretch. It was strange to see Jusuf Nurkic, in a tough match-up for Faried and center with Noel, only play seven minutes. Either his ankle is still bothering him, or the Nuggets simply didn’t want him out there against Noel.

The big question now, is what does a blowout loss like this mean for the fate of interim head coach Melvin Hunt?


The Nuggets will try and rebound against the Utah Jazz Friday at the Pepsi Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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