After controlling the game for three quarters, the Denver Nuggets struggled to maintain control of the ball throughout the final quarter and ultimately fell 73-69 to the Golden State Warriors in Summer League action Wednesday. The Warriors used a 24-7 fourth quarter to take the victory away from the Nuggets.
“We played really well for three quarters, but nine turnovers for 11 points in the fourth quarter, that kills you,” Nuggets Summer League head coach Jordi Fernandez said. “This hurts because these guys have done a great job and have worked really hard.”
Denver (1-2) jumped out to a quick start in the first quarter, as Brandon Goodwin scored six of the team’s first eight points. At the end of the quarter, the Nuggets held a 20-13 lead, which was mainly a result of the team’s strong defense. Denver forced eight Warriors turnovers and held Golden State (3-1) to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field in the period.
The Nuggets continued to play stout defense to begin the second quarter, as Golden State shot 1 of 6 during the first four minutes of the quarter. Denver capitalized with some timely baskets in transition to jump out to a double-digit lead. Golden State chipped away at the margin throughout the latter stages of the quarter, but Denver was able to bounce back, led by Jarred Vanderbilt, who scored seven points in the quarter. The Nuggets took a 38-27 lead into the halftime break.
“I feel like each game I’ve gotten better and been more comfortable,” Vanderbilt said. “I was a lot more under control tonight and made plays for myself and teammates. I like the effort we competed with.”
It was more of the same to start the second half, as the Nuggets continued to make good on Golden State mistakes to maintain a double-digit lead. After struggling from beyond the arc in the first half (1-14), Denver knocked down two 3-pointers in the third, which helped build a 62-49 lead heading into the final frame. The Nuggets went on a late 6-0 run in the quarter to pull away.
The Warriors put together a furious 11-3 run to begin the fourth quarter to get back into the game. Denver committed four turnovers during the stretch, leading to several fast break opportunities for Golden State. Golden State went in and out of a 2-3 zone defensively, which caused issues for the Nuggets’ offense. In the end, Denver wasn’t able to generate enough quality offense to combat Golden State’s energy and activity on the defensive end.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Vanderbilt thrives on both ends of the floor
As Denver’s Summer League play has continued, Vanderbilt has sharpened his play on both ends of the floor. Wednesday was no exception, as Vanderbilt made key defensive stops, brought the ball up the floor off of rebounds and attacked the basket. The second-year forward’s play energized his teammates throughout the first half. In the end, Vanderbilt finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds and three assists in the loss.
“He (Vanderbilt) was extremely aggressive,” Fernandez said. “He played with tons of energy. I’m happy with how he’s played, he’s played really well.”
Nuggets came to play defense
Unlike Denver’s 95-82 loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the Nuggets’ defense tightened up against Golden State. Denver was active in the passing lanes and was quick to contest outside shots throughout the game. Golden State finished the game with 21 turnovers and the Nuggets scored 18 points off of those mistakes.
Denver closes preliminary play out on a sour note
After their first game was canceled, the Nuggets only played three games in the preliminary stage of Summer League. After an impressive victory in their opening game, the Nuggets struggled to maintain that momentum in their past two games.