Lakers top-ranked defense should be all the motivation Nuggets need to improve – The Denver Post

Posted: February 17, 2021 at 5:47 pm

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Denvers recipe for success is middle-school simple: defend and win.

And yet through nearly two months of this season, the Nuggets understanding of that formula has fluctuated far too much for coach Michael Malones liking. The offense, sitting comfortably in the top-five, has never been the problem.

Coming off back-to-back wins where the Nuggets (14-11) held their opponent to 95 points each, respectively, Malones squad is still in search of a reliable defensive identity. Hes said countless times as long as their defensive effort is there, theyll have a chance to win. But the truth is that defensive focus has been hit or miss all year.

Through five games in February, Denvers defense ranks 13th in the NBA. Over the three consecutive losses that preceded their two recent wins, all three opponents scored at least 114 points.

Asked whether hed seen any signs of consistency on the less heralded side of the court, Malone was blunt.

For two games I have, Malone said. The three games prior to that, we played little to no defense.

Sundays opponent, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, left no room for a team trying to find itself defensively. Not when they come to Ball Arena riding a seven-game winning streak.

Lets be honest, the Lakers are a different animal, Malone said. Well be tested (Sunday). Thats been our challenge early in this season has just been defensive consistency from game to game, from quarter to quarter.

It was only 10 days ago that the Nuggets went into halftime with a 12-point lead against the Lakers only to sputter that away amid an incessant transition attack. Los Angeles punished the Nuggets 37-17 in the third quarter of that game, exposing lackluster effort and questionable gameplan discipline.

If you dont get back and set your defense against this team, nothing really matters, Malone said. Last five games, theyre averaging 64 points per game in the paint, which is first. Theyre averaging 22 points per game in fastbreak, which is first. Theyre averaging 21 points a game off of turnovers that they force, which is first.

When the Nuggets defend, they give themselves runway should the offense hit a lull. And when they dont, they give themselves hardly any margin for error.

Case in point? The defending champs. Entering Sundays matchup, the Lakers were the No. 1 defensive team in the NBA. With that blueprint, the Nuggets should need no further motivation to commit defensively.

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Lakers top-ranked defense should be all the motivation Nuggets need to improve - The Denver Post

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February 17th, 2021 at 5:47 pm

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